chapter  6
20 Pages

Knowledge and the Impasse in Left Politics: Towards a New Democratic Imaginary?

Throughout 1996, the level of MNSJ activity on multiple fronts was dizzying. A major conference convened activists working on employment, ecology, immigration and anti-racism to think about a reformulated urban politics. A base-building project prioritized solidarity with equity-seeking groups and saw the MNSJ organize for and participate in events like the International Women’s Day march, Gay Pride Day, Caribana, and the Toronto leg of the cross-Canada Women’s March for Bread and Roses, Jobs and Justice, a forerunner of the World March of Women. New forms of labor-community solidarity included picket line support in the historic OPSEU1 strike in February 1996. New initiatives in EPL reached out to youth and to the “political middle.” A major media project successfully launched MNSJ activists on talk radio. An “unbanking” campaign aimed at exploring credit unions as an alternative to commercial banks was launched. In October 1996, the Metro Days of Action, co-sponsored by the MNSJ and the Labour Council, were a heady climax to five years of community-labor coalition building in Toronto and the culmination of a series of citywide strikes across Ontario in opposition to the policies of the Harris government and their ‘Common Sense Revolution.’ The strike saw the closure of over 300 workplaces and the effective shutdown of the city followed by a mass demonstration the next day of over 200,000 people. Through 1996, the rising tide of mass action, including strikes, demonstrations and rallies, created a widespread sense of rebellion and possibility.