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Leftist community unite on May Day at VAG

by Kyrstle Alarcon

Leftist community unite on May Day at VAG
Tammy Sadeghi, member of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran
Tammy Sadeghi, member of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran
Frank Martin and Helen Michell
Frank Martin and Helen Michell
Gil Aguilar, Hanane Benzidane and Alexandra Hanao with AWA and UFCW
Gil Aguilar, Hanane Benzidane and Alexandra Hanao with AWA and UFCW
Latino group against bill C-31
Latino group against bill C-31

Also posted by krystle.alarcon:

Despite the blowing winds on May Day, union leaders and activists chanted and waved their banners in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery on Tuesday.  They all had their own calls and campaigns, but there were also a common thread of the need for unity among the speeches.

“You know what happens when we are divided, we’re conquered,” Joey Hartman, president of the Vancouver and District Labour Council, says loudly into a microphone. “We’re here today to call for workers’ unity, people’s unity, and to save the planet,” she continued.

The VDLC organized May Day this year with the BC Federation of Labour and Occupy Vancouver, a collaboration Hartman described as a delight. Historically, socialist, communist and anarchist groups unite on May Day – an array of colors swept across the VAG.

Red was a predominant one – with the hammer and sickle. “I think we condemn the way Canada is going, what they’re doing is making labour cheaper and destroying the unions,” says Tammy Sadeghi, member of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran. “Healthcare, education, hospitals, and anything you know, they’re cutting back,” she says.

Other groups used May Day to call specific attention to Harper’s inhumane capitalist projects – such as the Enbridge Pipelines. An indigenous couple, Frank Martin and Telqaa (Helen) Michell, were some of the first to take to the mike and rally the crowd. “Enbridge pipeline comes through without telling our people it will destroy everything from the fish to the animals. This is the last place on earth that have nice animals living with us, we have to look after each other whether we’re man, animal or plants,” Michell says.

There was also a strong presence of the Latino community, as the Agricultural Workers Alliance (AWA) and a recently formed group against Bill C-31 bore slogans and pamphlets against racist capitalist projects in Canada.

Alejandra Lopez and Isabelle Ramirez held signs up against the recently proposed anti-refugee bill. They disagree with how Bill C-31 limits the amount of refugee claims by deeming certain countries under a “safe” list. “It’s like a war on the poor, you know, because they are making rules just to let only the ones that got money in,” Ramirez says.

Gil Aguilar, with the AWA, wanted to raise awareness about exploited migrant labour provided by the Latinos under the Seasonal Agricultural Program, which recruits farm workers to temporary jobs in Canada. The AWA is campaigning an end to blacklisted workers who have joined a union, the United Food and Commercial Workers. “We actually presented a case before the Labour Board against the Mexican consulate – right now what they’re saying is that they’re diplomats, so they have immunity – which means they have impunity to do whatever they do and we can’t stand by that.”

May Day did just that – to hold Canada’s capitalist state accountable. It ended peacefully after several speeches in front of the VAG, with the groups taking their banners to the streets and people drumming cheerfully. This year was indeed representative of the multiracial leftist community in Vancouver.

 
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