Thousands of union leaders from across Canada converged on Toronto from May 8-12 for the triennial Canadian Labour Congress convention. The congress’s 28th convention was focused creating a “fair future” with good jobs and equity for all.
To focus delegates on the task at hand, the CLC had a number of inspirational speakers. The headliner was Angela Davis, an academic superstar and former Black Panther Party leader, who spoke of the intersections between race, gender and labour. Davis observed that the Fight for $15 campaign to raise the minimum wage is the most important movement in North America because of what it would mean for women and racial minorities who are overrepresented in low-wage work.
The congress also heard from inspirational Indigenous women Cindy Blackstock and Candy Palmateer, as well as comedian Mary Walsh, who argued that unions are an essential check on the power of corporate elites.
As with each convention, delegates voted for the four executive officers that will lead the CLC over the next three-year term. Incumbent president Hassan Yussuff was acclaimed to a second term and Executive Vice President Donald LaFleur was also re-elected. Joining Yussuff and LaFleur are Marie Clarke Walker as Secretary-Treasurer and Larry Rousseau as the second Executive Vice President. With Yussuff, Clarke Walker and Rousseau, it is the first time three or more people of colour have been elected among the four executive officers.
SEP sent a full delegation to the convention and used the opportunity to build national support for improved legal aid funding. Where the federal government used to fund 50% of provincial legal aid programs it now funds just 15%. With representatives from across the country in one place it was an opportunity to reach out to other unions who represent legal aid workers to begin working together. More is expected to develop in the coming months but members can learn more and support a better legal aid system by clicking here.