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In Canada, Progressives Stand Against Harper in 'Common Cause'

Nationwide day of action brings social justice campaigners from all quarters together under one banner

- Jon Queally, staff writer

Social justice groups, indigenous groups and Canadians from communities across the country are coming together under a banner of “Common Causes” on Monday as part of what organizers are calling an "unprecedented movement" to push back against the Harper government's erosion of environmental protections, workers' rights, and the general social welfare.

Common Causes ( or Causes Communes in French) is an assembly of movements, say the nearly 50 groups involved, dedicated to "defending democracy, social justice, the environment and human rights."

"In keeping with the values of the significant majority of peoples who reside in Canada, Quebec, and on Indigenous lands, we provide alternatives to the current Conservative government's agenda," the coalition group explained in a statement. "We believe that coordinated action is needed to take a strong stand against this agenda that is changing society in critical areas such as the economy, the environment, labour rights, health care, food safety, education, social programs, culture, civil liberties, peace, and poverty."

The day's actions are being held in cities and provinces across the country, including Ottawa, Nanaimo, Sechelt/Sunshine Coast, Vancouver, Kelowna, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Toronto, Guelph, London, Windsor, Montreal, Halifax, Charlottetown, Saint John, and elsewhere.

The new effort of 'Common Causes' is both part of and in support of the ongoing First Nations movement known as 'Idle No More' and specifically champions both the rights of Canada's indigenous people and notes the broad concerns that all members of Canadian society share.

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Describing the nature of the new campaign and the existing social movements that have informed it, Council of Canadian's national chairperson Maude Barlow writes:

Common Causes is made up of groups and organizations that represent workers, the poor, students, First Nations, women, environmentalists, farmers, educators, human rights and social justice advocates, immigrants and refugees, writers and artists, scientists, aid and development workers, front-line health care workers, and many others. We are deeply troubled by the Harper government’s agenda that is changing society in such critical areas as the economy, the environment, labour rights, health care, food safety, education, social programs, science, culture, foreign policy, civil liberties, peace and poverty. Our mission is to unite people and communities to work in solidarity for change, and our goal is the just, equitable world and country that we know is possible. [...]

The time has come for Canada-wide coordinated action against the Harper government's agenda, which is fundamentally changing our society and our country. Common Causes will work to support the many mobilizations and campaigns that already exist, but also to create a strategic, coordinated plan to ensure that the Harper agenda is stopped at the next election and replaced with a progressive alternative. Common Causes will work cross-sectorally, locally, provincially and nationally to create an extended network for solidarity, resistance, action and change. Through this coordination, we will shape priorities for common action and maximum impact.

Barlow concludes:

We believe the Harper government is undemocratically and profoundly changing the role and structure of government in this country in a way that threatens our core values. Far too much power is now in the hands of the private sector, unaccountable to democratic oversight.

Democracy is being savaged. The future of our country and our society is at stake. We will unite our Common Causes to defeat this agenda and work for a just and sustainable future.

As part of the new effort, the Council of Canadians released a report, Common Causes: Progressive forces acting together to build a better society, the summary of which can be read here (pdf)or the complete report downloaded here (pdf).

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