Imagining a government that works for Canadians

Climate change and cuts are creating student activists – how far will they go?


Everyday, it’s getting to be a shorter step from being a student to a student activist. Especially in Doug Ford’s Ontario.

And taking that short step is something New Democrats and the labour movement need to support and encourage.

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Students Against Public Education Cuts – SAPEC – is one of many new student activist groups fighting back against Doug Ford’s attack on their futures. On Sunday, I was proud to speak at their Queen’s Park rally.

Student speakers spoke out about the impact of Ford’s education cuts – particularly on students with special needs. But their anger at Ford was also connected to their fears and frustrations about climate change.

SAPEC asked me to speak about the labour movement campaigns I’ve built, fighting cuts and privatizations by right-wing governments.

When I was research director with the Amalgamated Transit Union, I organized the campaign to stop privatization of TTC’s Wheel-Trans – and we won.

And when I was with OPSEU, I worked on the Walkerton Inquiry – leading the effort to stop provincial plans for municipal drinking water privatization. We won that, too.

What I’ve learned in the labour movement, winning fights to stop privatization and improve health and safety laws, is the same thing I’ve learned on winning NDP campaigns in Parkdale-High Park. We win when we talk to people about what matters to them.

Opposition to climate change and Ford’s cuts is spanning student activism from the very local to the completely global. Yesterday’s global politics have left a local crisis of austerity, inequality and climate. The scope of today’s student movement gives hope tomorrow’s politics will fix an out-of-control economy.