It was the beginning of hopefully a much longer, and even more seismic march: NDP leader Thomas Mulcair kicked off this year's Toronto Labour Day Parade 2015 Parade festivities, at Nathan Philips Square, with a rootsy union speech. [@ Star] He then marched elbow to elbow with our UNIFOR and other worker marchers to the corner of Queen St. W. and University to the teachers rallying point for this year's parade.
It's early morning, the last day before fall classes resume, "We the Ontario teachers" were gathering, among cheerful, waving ETFO, OECTA and OSSTF flags, and sporting our bright florescent "Time For Change: Our Future Depends Upon It" t-shirts. Also, ever practical, there were of course plenty of pencils and rulers to hand out to the young folk along the parade route. It was a very grass root moment, as Tom wandered among us, laughing, talking, shaking hands while we posed for our mugshots and selfies on his much longer march to election day Oct 19 2015.
Regretfully, it was a modest teacher gathering this year, much to my and many of my fellow colleagues dismay. Without doubt, the all affiliate Toronto locals were all eagerly there: OSSTF D12, ETT, OECTA TSU/ TECT. I also met OECTA members from York and Halton too! However, last spring's "army of teachers" would seem to have folded up their tents and headed back to class, at least pending the upcoming ratification votes, the momentum now surrendered.
Our provincial union presidents were conspicuously MIA. Granted ETFO's Sam Hammond would soon be hunkering down for more negotiations at the towering, nearby Sheraton Hotel. OECTA's Ann Hawkin's and OSSTF Paul Elliott's were apparently scattered across the province at our other equally joyful if not so newsworthy Labour Day Rallies. I saw hide nor hair of AEFO. I would've expected a rather more highly prominent and robust CUPE presence in emphasizing the educational support worker timely contract issues. However, UNIFOR and our other labour colleagues still provided a most formidable labour march with much aplomb down along Queen St. W and into the CNE [Canadian National Exhibition] grounds thru the Dufferin St gate.
The NDP "Orange Crush" was prominent all along the parade route. I met Olivia Chow. Peggy Nash, Andrew Cash and Cheri Di Novo also were present. A gentlemen set up a make shift Trudeau booth. A lone, cantankerous "taxpayer" [unlike the rest of us ....?] sat on his scooter with a particularly vile placard sign, cursing as we marched by. Being retired, I enjoyed the distinct "solo" pleasure of being able to stop by for a moment or two to enthusiastically, encourage him to "kiss my union butt", much to his chagrin. I've always soooooooo wanted to do that ....
Grrrrrrrrrrr! Gnnnnnnnngggggg! Ggggggggggggggggggg!
TYLC John Cartwright greeted us as we marched into the CNE grounds, surrounded by a bevy of labour endorsed, local, election candidates. However, I thought the grandstand otherwise notably bereft of the usual show de force of the local provincial and municipal leaders we have come to expect, accept of course for the NDP. I would've thought any Liberals who dared wade into this year's big labour moment moment would've gotten crushed by the wave. Especially when we consider the vile Liberal betrayal of Ontario's teacher and education support workers in their present, shameful round of still ongoing negotiations and yet unratified contract votes. However, more than a few of the teachers I talked too confided they will be working for Liberal candidates, though usually shoring up an incumbent, in ridings were they will need help against the PC's.
Walking the talk ....
Be that as it may, UNIFOR sucessfully launched it's federal election media campaign with much ado. [@ Globe] "Heave Steve" and "Stop Harper" signs flourished, everywhere to be seen. There was a strong showing of solid, pro working family NDP MP's, MPP's and election hopefuls. The Liberals and of course the Conservatives, were once again conspicuous by their absence. Janet, I and our union friends and family enjoyed a leisurely group picnic in the CNE and an afternoon wandering the grounds, on the last day of summer holidaze for many; the grand finale of our annual Toronto Labour Day CNE Parade.
Rank and File's Weekend Video on the Origins of Labour Day is @ R+F.Ca
PS: More photos in slide show top left screen!