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Appeal: December 2012

Your generous support for the Centre for Social Justice is deeply appreciated and of vital importance to the cause of progressive social change. We are living in a difficult time with ongoing economic uncertainty, growing inequality, and a trend to political conservatism most of us would have thought would have ended with the clear failure of neoliberalism. But here we are.

We may well be in for a very tough year ahead for social justice struggles. In a very bad economy already, agencies like the International Monetary Fund and the OECD are cutting growth targets for the coming period. All levels of government in Canada are doing the same. It is no wonder the ruling political and economic elites tell us we should prepare ourselves for another decade – or even two – of austerity in our wages, pensions and government social programmes!

The Centre has a long history of campaigning against austerity, tax cuts, and social inequality for years. Our poster, Exposing the Face of Corporate Power, is still popular several years after publication. We were one of the first groups to launch a campaign against tax cuts, specifically linking this to government cuts and austerity. Clearly, we need to keep thinking of new ways to expose, educate, and resist corporate influence and fight the austerity agenda.

The failures of the world financial system as a result of greed and deception are far from over. Unemployment is growing and permanent well-paid jobs are disappearing. Where workers have managed to keep their jobs, they are under pressure from employers to give up benefits and pensions and to lower salaries and wages. Unemployment will rise for young people, new Canadians, and others offered little in the way of skills retraining. Spain's 53% youth unemployment rate warns us of the waste of a generation of skills and talents.

As a result, now more than ever, we need your ongoing support. 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.

The CSJ has also supported numerous social justice groups by providing space, organizing and promoting events, subsidizing speakers and using our resources to promote educational initiatives. In the past few months, we have hosted reading groups and sponsored forums on anti-austerity and on the continuing economic crisis, on alternatives to capitalism, on the crisis in Europe and many others. The Centre also supported the No Pipeline 9 conference as part of the fight for climate justice and indigenous rights.

We have also worked with the Greater Toronto Workers' Assembly as it builds new labour networks in response to the financial crisis, such as the new alliances forming among teachers, students and parents over the crisis of the education system. This is part of our efforts to build new networks of unionists and community groups.

Earlier this year we moved to our new location (720 Bathurst Street) in a large building designed especially for the Social Innovation community. This allows office space, equipped properly for tele-communications, including access to the internet, but also the sharing of office equipment, board rooms, copying machines, and a wonderful cafe for meeting and relaxing!

The Social Innovation space also allows us to use the large rooms for booking our public events, and to continue to publish our weekly community newsletter. If you want to receive it in your inbox every Thursday, please send us a quick note with your email address to office@socialjustice.org.

We have held a number of workshops in our new space. One was especially designed for activists who wanted to master website design using a template system called WordPress. A second workshop was conducted by professional artist Mike Constable on how to create animated images for the internet. We look forward to more such workshops in the future.

In addition, the CSJ continues to operate as a strategic hub for community meetings, public forums, and offers project space for initiatives such as the Free Public Transit Campaign, attempting to address the crisis in public transit in Toronto and Canada. The CSJ continues to work with VoteToronto.ca on GTA municipal political finance issues. We'll be reporting on financing from the last campaign and keeping watch on any future mayoralty by-election.

We could not keep the Centre’s programming going without your significant financial support. Our capacity to continue our work and give social justice issues the prominence they need is entirely derived from your generous commitment. Neoliberal policies should be in crisis. But the austerity agenda pushed by the bankers of Bay St. continues on. We need to meet their challenge, and work hard to finish them off.

I want to thank all of you who have helped us fund programming at the Centre for Social Justice. Without your support we could not continue to be such a key part of building a new politics in Ontario and Canada.

Robert MacDermid
Board Chair,
Centre for Social Justice