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Build the opposition to Trumpism in Canada

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Joe Brusky, Love Resist Divest by the Overpass Light Brigade

Currently, the United States is headed in directions I couldn't have foretold in my worst nightmares. Perhaps I lacked imagination. Perhaps I should have read George Orwell's 1984 more closely. I have been working to organize within the political system in the U.S. and Canada for decades and, now, all I can do is resist. As I am drawn into new networks of organizers who are building locally and globally to oppose the attacks on everything we believe in, I am inspired by the tools I am finding.

I hope you find these Canada-focused recommendations useful as you build your ability to resist and fight back. Please share any additional tools and campaigns you are building. I will share tools to fight things like Right to Work and other Trump proposals in the United States, but this blog is about policies which directly apply to Canada.

1. Combat Islamophobia and stand for civil liberties

 Quebec had racist incidents before the recent attack at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City. So did Alberta, so did most provinces in Canada. Here is a great video by Aba and Preach laying this out.

Islamophobia, racism, and the attacks on civil liberties were not invented by Trump and are not solely Trump's fault.  Fuel is being added to a long-standing movement which uses hatred, racism, sexism and xenophobia for cynical purposes. This is becoming a global phenomenon and it is gathering momentum due to the events in the United States and the convenient organizing tools on social media.

In a recent Toronto Star article , Farheen Khan pointed to recent history in regard to national policy, "We had a Conservative government for a decade create laws and policies and legislation that detrimentally harmed Muslim communities, be it C-51, the anti-terrorism act, or...the Barbaric Cultural Practices Act. Both are still in place." We have a lot of work to do to reverse racist and Islamophobic policies. Here are some upcoming actions.

  • March: This weekend, people in provinces from coast to coast to coast are marching to stand against Islamophobia in the US and in Canada. In regard to Bill C-51, organizers have moved the National Day of Action on Surveillance, C-51 and Press Freedom to February 25, 2017. Let's make sure that Bill C-51 and the overreaching attacks on civil liberties are revoked.
  • Donate: Support national organizations like Islamic Relief Canada, which has set up an online fundraising campaign for the families of the victims killed in Sunday's attacks, and the National Council of Canadian Muslims. We also know that many people are organizing ways to combat Islamophobia locally. Tell us about what you are doing at [email protected]
  • Get involved in leadership races: Currently there are 14 people vying to lead the Conservative party and the NDP leadership race is slated for October 2017. Sign the petitions linked to the respective names and act to demand that Kellie Leitch and Kevin O'Leary drop out of the race. We also need an NDP that can be an effective opposition to the effective right-wing field organizing and messaging strategies that helped the Tea Party and Trump win in the U.S. The Harper government had been an excellent student of the organizing strategies of the U.S. Republicans and made significant changes to stack the deck in their favour when in power. The Liberal government has not rolled back all of these changes and has now rolled back their promise to implement proportional representation. Stand for fair elections and leaders who reflect our values.

2. Boycott and divest

Now there is an app for that. Boycott Trump and Grab Your Wallet which help you boycott his products easily. If you want to go further, these are the CEOs of companies that were originally selected to sit on the Trump administration's business advisory council. A great organizer in a group I work with found their contact information. Maybe they support his policies, maybe they don't. Regardless, they meet regularly and they are global companies. Voice your dissent against the #MuslimBan and his other policies that infringe on our human rights. On February 2, Travis Kalanick from Uber resigned from the Advisory Council and Elon Musk wrote about opposing Trump's policies.

  1. Stephen A. Schwarzman CEO of Blackstone [email protected] 212-583-5000
  2. Paul Atkins, CEO of Patomak Global Partners LLC 202-862-3920 [email protected]
  3. Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors 313-556-5000 [email protected]
  4. Delos Toby Cosgrove, CEO of the Cleveland Clinic 216-444-6733 Twitter: @TobyCosgroveMD
  5. Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co. [email protected] 212-270-6000
  6. Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock [email protected] 212-810-5300
  7. Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber [email protected] (stepped down on Feb 2, 2017 due to community pressure)
  8. Bob Iger, CEO of Disney [email protected] 818-560-1000
  9. Rich Lesser, CEO, The Boston Consulting Group (BCG)
  10. Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart [email protected]
  11. Jim McNerney, former CEO of The Boeing Company [email protected]
  12. Elon Musk, CEO, SpaceX and Tesla, Twitter: @elonmusk
  13. Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo [email protected]
  14. Adebayo "Bayo" Ogunlesi, Chairman and Managing Partner, Global Infrastructure Partners 212-315-8100
  15. Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM
  16. Kevin Warsh, economist
  17. Mark Weinberger, CEO of Ernst & Young [email protected] 202-327-7720
  18. Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric Twitter: @jack_welch
  19. Daniel Yergin, Vice Chairman of IHS Markit Twitter: @DanielYergin

For some of them, she couldn't find direct emails or phone numbers, but it is a great start for researchers and organizers among us to build off. Contact them, tell them what you think as a global customer, see what you hear back and build pressure on them.

3. Refugees and immigrants

Trudeau is talking a good game on the role of immigrants and refugees in building Canada. Right now policies like the "Safe Third Country Agreement" actually preclude Canada from accepting refugees who are not accepted in the United States. Leadnow has a petition to demand changes to these policies. As refugees come into Canada, we are going to need services that meet their needs. The Activist Toolkit has been interviewing people working with refugees to meet their needs and the consensus is that Canada will need to ensure that resources are available to meet the complex needs of newly arrived refugees in the longer term. Articles like this one about the shortage of jobs for refugees are coming out more and more frequently, and we need to ensure that we can meet refugee needs.

4. Climate change, pipelines, and international trade

Trump has already approved the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. Given his cabinet pick for Secretary of State, his administration will likely be approving rampant oil exploration and pipeline growth. A set of legal challenges by Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish and Coldwater Indian First Nations communities in British Columbia and by eco-justice allies have been filed. Donate to Pull Together to support the Kinder Morgan lawsuits 

In terms of international trade, Trump has signed an executive order against the Trans Pacific Partnership and is promising to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. His goal is to abandon these agreements in favour for direct partnerships which may be more exploitative and harmful to workers and the environment, with fewer regulations. Write letters to your MP demanding that the federal government support good jobs, the environment, human rights and other key principles as central to any trading partnership.

5. Organize in your community

After the Civil Rights Act was passed in the United States, a bunch of activists from SNCC and other groups were in a meeting where Kwame Ture of the Black Panthers was speaking. A white activist asked him "what's next?" He answered, "now you organize your communities and we will organize ours."

Fundamentally it comes down to working people through the question Toni Morrison chooses to answer in this interview where she speaks about the impact of racism on white people. She asks what happens "...if I take your race away and there you are all strung out and all you've got is your little self. And what is that? What are you without racism? Are you any good? Are you still strong? Are you still smart? Do you still like yourself? I mean these are the questions." The entire excerpt is brilliant because the question she answers is not "how can I help you?," instead it is about how the person who is racist is impacted by racism.

It is not easy to organize your family, your friends, to challenge them instead of laughing or ignoring the sexist, racist or other ism that you would address among other activists. Here is a funny but really useful video on Diet Racism about the everyday racist things that one may hear or do.

When you engage in a conversation on race, here is a great guide from Black Lives Matter - Toronto to avoid five traps in conversations abut race. 


Currently,  I am busily vetting and compiling tools which would be helpful to build campaigns and will have more available soon. In terms of impacting U.S. policymakers, one of the best guides I have seen is the Indivisible Guide put together by former Congressional staffers about how to influence lawmakers. It would be amazing to see something similar for Canada. Hardy Merriman of the University of Denver has also compiled a list of organizing and research guides for people interested in community organizing.

The Activist Toolkit is an ally and amplifier in the work being done to fight for a Canada free of the contagion of Trumpism. Please do continue to send information about the work you are doing and the tools you are developing.

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Image: Flickr/Joe Brusky

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