In his opening address to the Ontario Federation of Labour’s Power of Many 15th Biennial Convention, President Chris Buckley reminded delegates how important the work of the labour movement is in the province.
Buckley, who announced in July that he would not run for re-election, celebrated the steadfast activism that has met every cut and cancellation by Doug Ford’s Conservative government.
“Labour is going to make our vision reality in this province,” said Buckley to the delegates of the 15th Biennial Convention. “If we don’t do what we do best: lobbying, squeezing the bosses. Who will?”
The labour movement is driving down Ford’s popularity, Buckley told the assembled delegates, special guests, and dignitaries.
The labour movement will not let Ontarians forget who has taken away the $15 minimum wage, who cut funding for autism programs, and who is increasing class sizes, he added.
“Anytime the government in this province makes a move, labour is there,” said Buckley.
Buckley said he is proud of the work the Federation has done to strengthen connections with community activists, making the labour movement stronger than ever. He added that he is glad to be leaving the Federation in a sound financial position.
“It’s been an absolute honour to be your President. Solidarity, sisters and brothers, solidarity,” concluded Buckley.
John Cartwright, President of the Toronto York Region Labour Council, praised Buckley’s work as a leader at the Federation as he welcomed delegates to Toronto.
“You have had more wins under your leadership than most of us could even imagine, and you have my undying respect,” said Cartwright to Buckley.
Cartwright also celebrated the victories activists have won, including stopping the provincial takeover of Toronto subway system.
Natsanet Tesafye and Yosief Ogbasellaise representatives of UNITE HERE! Local 75, the union representing hotel workers at the hotel where the convention is being held, welcomed delegates, and spoke about their recent actions for workers’ rights.
During the morning, the OFL played a video retrospective of Buckley’s work at the Federation. You can watch that video here.
The day began with a presentation from the White Pine Dancers and a land acknowledgement by Krista Maracle and Daniel Stevens.
The OFL Power of Many 15th Biennial Convention is bringing forward a vision and action plan for mass mobilization, and delegates were encouraged to read and discuss the document.