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Appeal: December, 2010

Now Is The Time For Social Justice!

It is getting close to the end of the year and, if you are like me, it is time to think about financial support for some of the social justice projects that you believe in and have supported in the past. In the last few months the Centre for Social Justice has been very busy for what is essentially a volunteer social movement. Not only have we been advancing our own projects but we have been lending our support to many other groups as well.

As we have for thirteen years, we again organized the Social Justice Summer Retreat from August 26-29 once again at Camp Arowhon in Algonguin Park. Once again we have to thank the Atkinson Foundation, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Steelworkers Humanity Fund, and the Ryerson and York Faculty Associations for support that allowed us to subsidize the attendance of about 50 people who could not otherwise have been there. About 150 attended the Retreat and participated in about 20 workshops and plenary sessions that dealt with a range of issues including Ontario’s energy future, Eco-sustainability and Human Rights, lessons for activists, and direct action. Our two plenary sessions, one led by CSJ Board member Greg Albo, "The Neoliberal Agenda: How does it affect the public sector and what can we do about it?" and a second, "Reflections on the G8/G20 Organizing Process," could not have been more relevant.

The CSJ has also supported other social justice groups by providing space, organizing and promoting events, subsidizing speakers and generally using our resources to promote educational initiatives. In the past few months we have hosted or helped sponsor reading groups on Latin American and Bolivian politics and on the continuing economic crisis. The Centre also supported the conference Building a World Movement for Climate Justice that builds on the Cochabamba Declaration, a commitment to build a sustainable international economy.

We have also worked with the Greater Toronto Workers' Assembly as it builds new labour networks in response to the financial crisis and right-wing populism. This is part of our efforts to build new networks of unionists and community groups. We need to continue building new spaces for educating and connecting social activists.

The Centre also published a new study, Urban Social Justice Movements in Toronto, an in-depth look at the state of the social justice movement in Canada’s largest city and the prospects for building movements that can affect real change.

The recent municipal elections in Ontario saw the CSJ lend its support to VoteToronto and its work in developing awareness of the influence of the development industry in municipal politics. Through VoteToronto’s work to remove corporate influence in election, the Toronto City council experienced an unprecedented turnover, partly due to the ban on corporate contributions to candidates. In the cities that surround Toronto, where developer influence is unchecked, a number of candidates took positions against development interests and won office and particularly in Vaughan, the public threw out councillors with close attachments to the industry. VoteToronto and the Centre through my work helped the campaigns of Environmental Defence, the Sierra Club, the Greenbelt Alliance and Fairvote Canada to promote awareness of campaign funding issues and urban sprawl more generally.

We also supported teaching and workshops around the G8/G20 mobilization and have helped host several public fora on the unprecedented suspension of civil rights during the protest as well as forums on the ongoing disaster in Haiti, the Obama Presidency after Two Years, and the new public sector austerity. The Centre has also supported work on access to public transit in Canada and Toronto.

The CSJ continues to offer a key place for community meetings, public forums, and office space, such as for the Free Public Transit Campaign and the Canadian Labour International Film Festival. And we distribute the email Social Justice News to about 2,000 emails keeping people up on the latest activities.

We depend on continued support from donors to keep social justice issues in the foreground.

Please write us a cheque and help sustain these important activities. Or, if you like, please visit the link below to make a direct donation on-line.

Thank You!


Robert MacDermid


Centre for Social Justice