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Our country is at a crossroads. Inspiring social movements are meeting a wall of Conservative spin. The incredible power of the Idle No More movement is being belittled in the mainstream media. Conservative forces are attempting to divide Indigenous voices, and paint the grassroots as out of touch and politically naive.
Environmental charities and labour organizations are under attack. Bill C-377 saddles trade unions with accounting measures stricter than any other type of organization has to comply with, and violates privacy rights of employees and contractors. In last year's budget, the Harper Conservatives created an eight million dollar fund to audit charities accused of too much political action, mostly targeting groups fighting tar sands expansion. These policies are meant to create a chill effect on political activity by targeting powerful civil society voices that are speaking out against the Conservative agenda.
The Harper Conservatives are also going to extreme lengths to erode Canadian democratic systems. Harper has prorogued Parliament twice. The Conservatives have started pushing through massive Omnibus budget bills to hide nasty pieces of legislation and to stifle debate in the House of Commons. Ongoing investigations into electoral fraud call into question the validity of a Conservative government.
The laundry list of important programs, organizations and causes that the Harper government is attacking is dizzying. But it is time we stop fighting our battles as one off, separate fights. Harper's attacks on Idle No More, on workers and on environmental policies are part of a larger neo-liberal agenda to privatize control of our common public resources and put more power in the hands of the corporate elite. Cuts to vital public services like Employment Insurance, Old Age Security and environmental protection are part of a larger plan of shrinking government.
If the Harper Conservatives are allowed to continue on this path, I am afraid that soon we won't recognize the country that we live in. People in my generation will grow up in a Canada whose rivers are becoming more polluted, and in a Canada that has completely turned its back on migrant rights. We will live in a country that failed to take action to stop climate change; a country that let its graduates rack up unprecedented levels of student debt while sidelining its seniors to live in poverty. We will live in a country that has further ignored its responsibility to negotiate with First Nations on a nation to nation basis.
I don't want to live in a country like that. This is why on January 28th, when MPs come back to the House of Commons, I will be standing up for a different agenda for Canada as part of a joint call out from Idle No More and Common Causes.
Common Causes -- a new initiative bringing together social justice, environmental, labour and other activist groups, is organizing for a global day of peaceful action in solidarity with Idle No More. The goal is to fight back against targeted attacks by this government on Indigenous communities, environmental protection, our public services, workers rights, a women's right to choose, charitable organizations, civil liberties, migrant and immigrant and refugee rights.
This day of action follows an activism-filled weekend in Ottawa. Over 100 organizers from all over the country are meeting in Ottawa for the founding assembly of the Canada-Quebec-Indigenous Social Forum, and a discussion of the exciting and much needed Port Elgin Coalition.
We are at a critical time for social movements in Canada. We need to stand together and build movements that are resilient, grounded in anti-oppression and that foster solidarity across movements.
I truly hope that January 28 can be the beginning of the end of the Harper Conservatives.
Tria Donaldson is a youth activist with roots in the climate justice and labour movements. She is helping with social media for Common Causes. You can follow her on Twitter @TriaDonaldson
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