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Activist Communiqué: Happy May Day Canada!

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May Day might not be as big of a spectacle here in Canada as in Europe, but with fresh blood from the Occupy movement, the working class struggle has been given a big boost of vital energy and relevancy regarding the struggle of the 99% against the 1%.

It's cool to be anti-capitalist these days.

Check out a round up Canadian May Day coverage.

Vancouver, BC:

At 1:00 p.m., May Day rallies were held at the Vancouver Art Gallery -- Occupy Vancouver's former stomping ground -- that swelled to 500 people before marching through downtown Vancouver ending on Commercial Drive. This small but mighty march was a successful collaboration between the Vancouver and District Labour Council, the B.C. Federation of Labour and Occupy Vancouver.

Later on in the evening, a small anti-capitalist march of 100 activists -- incorrectly labeled as Occupy Vancouver -- again took to the streets. Activists returned to Commercial Drive and Charles Street where at roughly 9:30 p.m., the group lit a bonfire in the middle of the street.

This prompted the Vancouver Police Department to don riot gear to control the crowd, informing everyone that the assembly had become unlawful and ordering the march to disband. No arrests were reported at the scene. You can view photos from the scene here.

You can watch a video from Vancouver's May Day here.


Toronto, ON:

May Day in Toronto kicked off with an 11:00 a.m. chess game of the Queen of the 1% vs. the People, which the People won fair and Square and the Queen stormed off with her minion in tow.

Next was a 4:00 p.m. rally at Nathan Phillips Square which led to a 3,000-person May Day march which wound its way through downtown Toronto, stopping to occupy different intersections to interrupt the Business As Usual flow of capital in Canada's heart of the economic beast.

The May Day march was hosted by No One is Illegal-Toronto, Occupy Toronto and the May 1st Movement, a coalition of over 40 community groups.

After the march and cultural celebration in Alexandra Park, the more militant Occupy Toronto march set off at 9:00 p.m. in a cat and mouse game with police until finally arriving at their secret 24-hour occupation site -- Simcoe Park.

Occupy Toronto was able to remain at Simceo Park for the full 24 hours, during which there was a Barrick Gold protest, Free Skule workshops during the day and a 5:00 p.m. General Assembly before activists cleaned up and packed up.

For a full account of Toronto's May Day celebrations, please see here.

You can view a video of Toronto's May Day march here.


Ottawa, ON:

In Ottawa, hundreds of government workers, labour activists and members of Occupy Ottawa gathered outside the Minister's office to protest Stephen Harper's newest budget.

In their Solidarity Against Austerity march, roughly 1,000 people marched from Confederation Park to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

There was a heavy presence from the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) as the May Day rally coincided with its national conference. One of the major themes heard during the rally the public's anger was the 4,000 job layoff notices delivered by the government.

"Stephen, baby -- we're just visiting here today," began Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) president John Gordon in his opening speech for the 12:00 p.m. noon rally. "We're going to come here more often and we're going to come in larger numbers. You may as well get used to it."

During speeches at the PMO's office, a speaker announced that a delegation of students from the Maple Spring movement in Quebec had been prevented from crossing the bridge from Gatineau to Ottawa, but this rumour was handled by Const. Henri Lanctôt of the Ottawa police who later commented, "That's false. We did not prevent anybody from crossing to Ottawa. If there's a group of people that want to demonstrate they have a fundamental right to demonstrate,"

Either way, a small group of activists in Ottawa headed across the Portage Bridge to Gatineau to link up with the Quebec students.

On May 5, 2012, there is a call-out to Occupy Parliament from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. that Saturday afternoon. You can find more information here.


Montreal, QB:

1er Mai Anticapitaliste 2012 / Anti-capitalist May Day 2012 began at 4:30 p.m. as student and labour groups and anti-capitalists activists began to gather at Métro Champ-de-Mars, organized by the Anti-Capitalist Convergence of Montreal (CLAC) and fueled with the power and passion of the Maple Spring student uprising.

Within the hour, the crowd had swelled to 3,000 people, some dressed as clowns and some blocked up. A group of black clad activists taunted a unit of police officers with donuts tied to fishing poles, dangling the treats just ahead of the cops.

Many demonstrators carried red or black flags and wore small red patches of red cloth pinned to their shirts as a simple of the student uprising.

You can watch video of the march from the brave CUTV livestreamers here.

As the May Day rally grew even bigger at 6:00 p.m., Montreal police announced over loud speakers on top of police vans that drove through the streets that they had declared the march illegal. At this point, bike and mounted crowd control units were dispatched to disperse the large crowd. Police also used sound grenades and chemical weapons into the crowd. Some demonstrators hurled rocks, cobble stones, paint bombs and molotov cocktails at police in return. Groups of Black Bloc protesters stood between the police and activists as a form of protection for the march.

The swift moving march dispersed but then regrouped to continue their march well into the evening.

Montreal police announced at 10:00 p.m. that on Tuesday, nearly 100 people had been arrested during the demonstration; 34 people had been arrested for criminal acts, including mischief and assault, and another 75 detained for breaking municipal by-laws when they refused to disperse on police orders.

You can watch more video of Montreal's May Day demonstration here.

Occupy Montreal is planning to re-occupy on May 12, 2012. You can find out more about their plans here.


Halifax, NS:

At 12:00 p.m., Occupy Halifax, in conjunction with the Halifax-Dartmouth and District Labour Council, held a rally and march through downtown in celebration of May Day. Kyle Buott, President of the Halifax-Dartmouth & District Labour Council, called May Day a "more radical" version of Labour Day held on the first Monday of September.

200 activists gathered in the Grand Parade at lunch hour to listen to speeches and before they began their march.

According to the Halifax Media Co-op, "Having the march begin and end at Grand Parade Square was a bittersweet reminder of what was, and what might still be. The afternoon dance party atmosphere, and the numerous chalked messages of hope and love at the foot of the Cenotaph, were reminiscent of the heady days of last October when Occupy seemed an unstoppable force. That the group was instrumental in organizing one of the more successful May Day marches in recent Halifax history speaks well to their ability to continue to capture the public's imagination."

For photos of the event, please see this link here.

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