by Kabir Joshi-Vijayan, Steve da Silva, and Malcolm Guy
Toronto, Ontario, May 21, 2011 — Seventy delegates and observers representing nearly two dozen organizations from across Canada came together to launch the Canadian chapter of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS). Taking place at the Centre for Spanish Speaking People in Toronto, delegates from Montreal, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Ottawa and Toronto held a daylong conference to discuss future campaigns of the ILPS, finalize a constitution, and elect delegates to a Coordinating Committee.
It was a major step forward for anti-imperialist unity in Canada in the midst of growing popular struggles around the globe from North Africa to the Middle East and from India to the Philippines and beyond and in the face of an aggressive and war-mongering new majority Conservative government at home, the opening declaration stated.
The organizations present represented groups from the Latin American, South Asian and South-East Asian communities, along with media collectives and community arts and workers’ organizations. The groups included: Anakbayan, Barrio Nuevo, BASICS Community News Service, BAYAN Canada, Casa Salvador Allende, the Centre d’Appui aux Philippines – Centre for Philippine Concerns, Canada-Philippine Solidarity for Human Rights, Damayan Manitoba, Filipino Migrant Workers Movement, Filipino Workers Solidarity Group, Immigrant Workers Centre, Gabriela-Ontario, Canada South Asia Solidarity Alliance, Migrante-Canada, Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, Philippine Advocacy Through Arts and Culture, PINAY – Filipino Women’s Organization in Quebec, Proletarian Revolutionary Action Committee, PSG, Toronto Haiti Action Committee, Tamil Resource Centre, Femmes de Diverses Origines – Women of Diverse Origins, and the Women United Against Imperialism.
Ten years on, and on the eve of the ILPS’s 4th International Assembly in July 2011 in Manila, Philippines, the ILPS continues to grow across the world, with distinct chapters in Indonesia, the Philippines, Hong Kong & Macau, Australia, and now Canada.
The delegates decided that their first coordinated campaign to build the anti-imperialist movement in Canada will be a struggle for the decriminalization of people’s struggles for self-determination and liberation that are targeted and criminalized by the Canadian state in its bogus “War on Terror”. Delegates raised concerns that Canada’s “War of Terror” was targeting organizations and whole populations that are involved in genuine struggles for liberation against illegitimate regimes, the policies of neoliberal globalization, and state terror in Colombia, El Salvador, Kurdistan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Palestine, Peru, Philippines, Somalia, Tamil Eelam and elsewhere.
There was also a consensus among participants around the need to extend and build anti-imperialist unity with indigenous peoples and nations in Canada who are also confronting Canadian imperialism through their own anti-colonial struggles. However, the delegates were under no illusions about how such tasks were going to be achieved. The text of the main campaign insisted that mere liberal democratic struggles against the criminalization would not suffice to confront Canadian imperialism; rather, confronting the systemic roots of this attack on basic democratic rights as well as building the mass struggle was necessary.
The Chairperson of the ILPS, Jose Maria Sison – long-time revolutionary leader of the revolutionary movement in the Philippines who is currently living in exile in the Netherlands – addressed the meeting via Skype. Prof Sison accurately summed up the issues and concerns facing poor, working-class, racialized and native people in Canada. Sison put forward the need for confronting these contradictions at home, as well as extending solidarity to both indigenous communities and those resisting Canadian imperialism overseas, particularly in Afghanistan and Haiti.
Official delegates, after a lively discussion, finalized a Constitution for ILPS-Canada and elected a country-wide Coordinating Committee. The seven members elected are:
- Diwa Marcelino of Damayan Manitoba (Winnipeg)
- Erie Maestro of Canada-Philippine Solidarity for Human Rights (Vancouver)
- Leanne Wilkins of Women United Against Imperialism (Toronto)
- Steve da Silva of BASICS Community News Service (Toronto)
- Magdalena Diaz of Casa Salvador Allende (Toronto)
- Kelti Cameron of Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (Ottawa)
- Malcolm Guy of the Immigrant Workers Centre (Montreal)
In addition to main decriminalization of liberation campaign, delegates came to a consensus on the need to focus on three issues in particular: (1) Establishing concrete links with indigenous struggles for self-determination against Canadian imperialism; (2) Confronting the Canadian mining sector and the ecological catastrophes, colonial plunder, and human rights abuses associated with it throughout Canada and across the world; and (3) to put up resistance to the new reactionary immigration reforms that the Conservative majority will push through (including Bill C-49) which will target and criminalize refugees.
The day’s conference was followed by a solidarity fundraiser, with plenty of dancing to Latin American, Arabic, and South Asian beats, hosted by BASICS Community News Service to help raise funds to send delegates to the 4th International Assembly of the ILPS in the Philippines in July 2011.
Any people’s organization that supports one of the (now) 17 Concerns of the International League of People’s Struggles (available here) and agrees to abide by the Constitution and Charter of the ILPS and ILPS-Canada may join.