By Drew Garvie,
March 15 2010
Members of the newly expanded provincial committee, comrades,
The outgoing provincial executive wishes to welcome you to the committee at a time when there is an urgent need for a strong and dedicated leadership in the province of Ontario. We are confident that the incoming members of the committee will provide this. We would also like to thank Jeff T. and Shone B. for their work on this committee. Jeff who has been on the committee since 2008 and Shone who has been on the committee since 2004. We will continue to build on these comrades’ past hard work.
This meeting is being convened at a time when our class and the youth are being attacked and our rights and past gains rolled back, not least here in Ontario. While the recent economic crisis has led many young people to understand that capitalism is not a humane, sustainable or realistic long-term economic system, the ruling class has attempted to use the crisis to their advantage. In the initial stages of the economic crisis they denied its existence. Now they say we’re on the road to recovery, but contradicting themselves they also say it is time for the state to tighten its belt and reduce essential and already inadequate social spending. The hypocrisy of the "jobless recovery” combined with their insistence that the working-class must bear the burden is what young workers and students in Ontario must immediately fight, in our workplaces, on our campuses and in our communities.
We are coming into a very intense year of struggle for the youth in Ontario, which is why we decided to expand the committee. The federal Conservative government's hold on power is unstable, and its budget will be a direct assault on the vast majority of Canadians. The Harper government continues to support imperialist occupations and wars in Palestine, Haiti and Afghanistan. Now Afghan families are being displaced and vaporised during a major offensive at the same time as the so-called “Olympic truce.” The sooner the Tories are out of office the better.
Provincially the McGuinty government is floating dangerous ideas like "Dalton Days" and continues to erode our socialized medical care system through the backdoor through P3’s and a manufactured crisis of underfunding. Ontario tuition is now the highest in Canada and will increase again this year. The pitiful increase in the minimum wage still leaves many young workers under the poverty line, even if they are lucky enough to get fulltime hours. This year in June, Toronto, like Vancouver over the past month, will be turned into a police and military occupied city while the capitalists descend for the G20. The provincial legislature officially condemned Israeli Apartheid Week, which is an attempt to brand anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist views as “hate speech” and anti-semitism. The municipal elections coming up in the fall are another arena where this committee can, working with the Ontario Committee of the Communist Party of Canada, present real alternatives to young workers and students, who do not see their interests reflected in any of the big parties or elected officials.
We need to help bring the youth and student movement onto the front lines of the labour movement with several important strikes courageously being fought in Ontario such as the strike of Inco workers in Sudbury and Port Colbourne. Federally, Employment Insurance is inaccessible to the vast majority of workers our age. The YCL-O has started to become more active in workers’ struggles; doing strike support during the drive-test strike, at supporting the Inco workers in Port Colbourne, hosting the Hamilton “young workers’ conference” and the beginnings of an unemployed workers union. We will continue to build our efforts in this area of struggle.
On campuses we have seen an increasingly active right-wing, which receives support from its puppeteers in the Conservative Party. These tiny-Tories have led an attack on progressive movements on campus such as looking to infiltrate and defund Public Interest Research Groups, forming alliances with Zionists to stamp out free speech around Palestinian rights and most recently the dangerous move to defederate from the Canadian Federation of Students, which is the only mass progressive student organization which unites student unions from across English-speaking Canada. The young worker and struggles are part of the same parcel and are all tied into the people's struggle in Ontario. All members of the YCL, be they young workers or students, should be concerned with all struggles that concern our class.
The YCL also has other important things on its agenda that will help to expand, strengthen and unify the league. This May delegates from across Canada will come together for the YCL’s convention where we will have a vigorous debate on our analysis of the international and cross-Canada situation, set the plan of action for the next few years and elect our leadership. The Convention is the highest decision making body in the league, and it is this committee’s responsibility to ensure that the necessary fundraising is carried out by the clubs, that the discussion documents are thoroughly circulated and reviewed by clubs and allies, that submissions are solicited from Ontario and that Toronto is a successful host for the convention. We also need to grapple with the discussion documents ourselves as a committee, and there will be a proposal coming from the outgoing executive on how to best do this.
Also on the not so distant horizon is the World Festival of Youth and Students coming up in December 2010 in South Africa. Tens of thousands of progressive and anti-imperialist youth from around the world will be in a country which saw one of the most brutal, racist, fascist regimes and one of the most courageous and dynamic resistance movements of the 20th century. We need to work with our friends and allies, like the Canadian Federation of Students, the Student Christian Movement, youth from the Canadian Postal Workers, Six Nations and other Aboriginal youth, as well as anti-war activists, and other student and young worker militants in Haiti and Palestine solidarity, culture and activist music, progressive artists to make a delegation from Ontario that is part of a cross-Canada delegation, and truly reflective of the youth and student movement in this province. While fundraising for this seems like a daunting task, we will not be alone. Building for the youth festival is a unique opportunity that will help to build the League across Ontario. We will forge new ties with local allies, renew the YCL’s commitment to internationalism, popularize WFDY and strengthen connections with sister organizations within WFDY.
The YCL is a small organization with big ideas that strike a chord with the victims of capitalist savagery and have a disproportionate positive impact on the youth and student's struggles. As the Ontario YCL provincial leadership it is our job to coordinate this involvement, unite the clubs, formulate a province-wide fightback and help to grow the League, so that the League as a whole can provide leadership to youth and student struggles.
United with the Communist Party of Ontario, we have demands that we bring to the youth movement. Demands like the $16 minimum wage; the reduction then elimination of tuition fees; public, quality, accessible childcare; nationalization of energy; and a Canadian foreign policy based on peace and disarmament. People are not going to hear very many of these ideas outside of the YCL. It is up to us to put forward these demands so that the youth can use them as a weapon against the capitalists and their government, similarly we support the Communist Party in bringing these ideas to the working class of Ontario.
We look forward to the incoming committee’s work with these goals in mind and hope to have a discussion on this report in order to kick off the meeting.