In what some are calling an unprecedented alliance, labour unions joined forces with environmental activists and Indigenous communities across Canada on May 21, 2015, to announce plans for the July 5 “March for Jobs, Justice and the Climate.”
The table was set by internationally acclaimed author and activist, Naomi Klein, whose award-winning book “This Changes Everything” issued a call to action for a new kind of climate movement – one that puts justice at the centre.
“The really inconvenient truth is that global warming is not about carbon—it’s about capitalism,” said Klein. “The convenient truth is that we can seize this existential crisis to transform our failed economic system and build something radically better.”
The appetite for collective action was apparent in the broad and diverse coalition that emerged out of discussions on how to build a movement around a new set of values. The OFL joined key affiliates, environmental groups, civil society organizations and Indigenous activists to plan for a mass rally and march on July 5.
The march will call for a justice-based transition to a clean-energy economy in Canada, and is expected to attract thousands of people in Toronto on the eve of the Climate Summit of the Americas and Pan American Economic Summit. A justice-based transition ensures that those most impacted by the climate crisis – Indigenous, racialized, poor and working people –are the first to benefit from this new economy.
At a media kick-off event in the heart of Toronto’s financial district, Naomi Klein forecasted that “the mobilization will demonstrate massive and growing public support for a new economy that creates thousands of climate-friendly jobs, tackles inequality, honours Indigenous rights and stops runaway climate change.”
She was joined by Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, a union that represents 300,000 private sector workers, including thousands of energy workers in Alberta.
“We need a commitment to climate and it doesn’t have to come at the expense of jobs. We know we can have both,” Dias told reporters. “We call on the Canadian government to go to the Paris climate negotiations with credible climate goals to prevent more than a two degree celsius warming of the world. I call on corporate Canada to make employment-centered investments in sustainable energy and innovation to meet Canada’s climate goals.”
“This is the fight of our era,” said OFL President Sid Ryan. “Labour unions are joining forces with Aboriginal, environmental and civil society activists to protect our communities, our livelihoods and our collective future. No one can escape the devastating effects of climate destruction, but those effects will certainly have an unequal impact on the most vulnerable people, jobs and habitats around the world. It is time to decide what kind of world we want and define it in the interest of people and the planet, not corporate profit.”
Get active and join the movement at www.JobsJusticeClimate.ca