Canada: "S’en sortir ensemble", forging links between Quebec and Ontario’s community movements

in collaboration with the Metro Network for Social Justice (MNSJ), the Student Activist Network (Ontario), the Mouvement pour le droit à l’éducation (MDE) du Québec, the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN), the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) and the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP).



This project tried to promote dialogue and solidarity between the community movements from Québec and Ontario, particularly around the claims of citizens of the two provinces more effective social programs and for greater access in politics debates. A few years after the failure of the Meech Lake Accord, the conversation was also part of an interprovincial conversation to develop a new vision for Canada’future.



Concretely, the project took place in thematic meetings which gathered members of the community movements of the two provinces. Over 1500 people attended these various meetings held in Toronto and Montreal. This conversation allowed a better understanding of each other and strengthened the common desire to develop concrete forms of solidarity. Several activities were conducted throughout the year of 1997.

-April: meeting on the economy and social experiences of the community movement in job creation projects that brought together over 100 people in Montreal, including several representatives of grassroots groups in Toronto, including the Metro Network for Social Justice (MNSJ).

-May: a meeting was held in Toronto in collaboration with the MNSJ about the privatization policies of public services, including distribution of water. The coalitions from Montreal and Toronto for a public debate on the privatization of water were present, along with several members of the community movements of Quebec and Ontario.

-August: a weekend of discussions on the national question which was attended by over 150 people was held in the Laurentides. The discussions focused on the national question as it is experienced in Canada and on "nationalism and nation in today’s world."

-September: a meeting was held in Guelph in collaboration with the Student Activist Network (Ontario) and the Mouvement pour le droit à l’éducation (MDE) du Québec. Four militants from Quebec participated in this meeting involving about fifty people in order to discuss different issues in the field of education and the strategies planned by various student movements.

-October: a meeting was held in Montreal on the topic of women in struggle against fundamentalism in all its forms and was attended by over 500 people. The meeting, among others, focused on the impact of economic and religious fundamentalism on women, and on strategies to resist and promote the values of democracy and tolerance.

-November: a meeting in Montreal was attended by over 250 people to address the impact of policies related to economic globalization, particularly around the new Asia/Pacific cooperation project (APEC). Subsequently, a national meeting attended by over 800 people was held in Vancouver. These discussions led once again to review the life conditions for the people most in need and to discuss the claims and strategies of community movements.

-December: A meeting was held in Toronto on the new realities of social programs as a result of the cuts announced on social welfare in Quebec and Ontario. Fifty people were present.

This extensive project also permitted to establish contacts between various labor groups in Quebec and Ontario, as well as to forge links between groups working on the issues of unemployment and poverty. The many activities that took place highlighted the similarities between community movements of the two provinces, which often share common issues, challenges and obstacles.