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Unions to participate in Metro Petition Caravan

Joe Flexer — February 1984

Preparations for the imminent launching of the Peace Petition Caravan Campaign in Metro Toronto took a qualitative step forward as a result of a January 3 meeting of representatives from organised labour and the peace movement.

The organisations represented included the Canadian Labour Congress, Ontario Federation of Labour, Labour Council of Metropolitan Toronto, Toronto Disarmament Network, United Auto Workers, NDP Anti-War Committee, International Women’s Day Committee, Cruise Missile Conversion Project, Against Cruise Testing and the Voice of Women. The meeting focussed on the organisation of a broadly-based campaign structure suited to conducting the Peace Petition Caravan Campaign on a mass basis in Toronto.

The PPCC is envisaged as a year-long program of activities designed to increase public awareness of disarmament issues and to help structure the peace movement for politically effective intervention into the next federal election.

The tone and framework of the meeting was set by the initial report from Brother Buzz Hargrove, administrative assistant to Canadian UAW director Robert White. He reported that the UAW had decided to join the TDN as a reflection of its commitment to I) the labour movement actively joining the peace movement; 2) successfully waging the PPCC on a genuinely mass basis; and 3) the active participation of the membership of the labour movement in the long term task of building a mass movement for peace and disarmament in Canada.

Specifically in regard to the PPCC, Hargrove explained that the UAW favoured for this purpose the founding in Toronto of a broad mass-based coalition structure. This coalition will be based essentially on the broadening of the TDN to include the labour movement and other forces, but will be structurally independent from the TDN.

Representatives of the TDN then presented a proposal for the construction of such a coalition. This will be a mass-oriented coalition open to every organisation committed to. the PPCC. The constituencies immediately able to join the coalition will include all TDN member organisations; the TDN itself; any and all labour organisations, such as the national and regional offices of UAW, Steelworkers, CUPE, etc., the Toronto and District Labour Council and all its affiliated locals; any and all church organisations (both the federations and individual churches); and many more.

Should it become necessary, the voting basis in this coalition would be one vote for each organisation or duly-constituted standing committee. A representative Steering Committee would be elected, which would meet at regular. times and places. Its meetings would be open (with speaking reports) to anybody working in the coalition. This is a fairly traditional peace movement structure.

Other speakers, from the labour movement and elsewhere, spoke in basic agreement with these reports. There were, of course, various nuances of position expressed hut it seems fair to say that the opinions expressed were in all important respects unanimous.

The meeting then struck a convening committee to undertake the practical tasks of organising the first and founding meeting of the new Toronto PPCC Coalition. (This meeting was subsequently organised and held on January 24. It was a great success.)

Since the January 3 meeting, the UAW has joined the TDN, and has assigned Brothers Pat Clancy, Jim O’Neil and George Ehring to participate in its work.

The Peace and Disarmament Committee of the Toronto and District Labour Council has recommended that the Council join the TDN. This will be acted upon at the upcoming February meeting of the Council and its Executive Board.

Peace activists will surely welcome the outcome and results of the January 3 meeting. These are yet more reasons for the expectation that the peace movement in this city and this country will go from strength to strength.