The Grey Bruce Labour Council annual day long celebration of activism and the activist awards dinner took place on October 28th, 2019.
This annual event is a celebration of the best in the community of social activism and honours one such Health and Safety Activist and Labour Council Activist of the Year. The day’s guest of honour and keynote dinner speaker, Scott Travers, President, Society of United Professionals, delivered a speech that underscored how important union activism is in this day of precarious employment and exploitation of workers by employers and governments.
“The union movement is perhaps the most effective barrier to exploitation and dedicated activists across Canada are fighting back”, says Labour Council President, Kevin Smith.
A grand celebration like this does not take place without assistance and support. Dave Trumble, Labour Council Vice President, pointed to the labour council delegates that help year over year to make this event a success, the Tara Legion as dinner hosts, United Brotherhood of Carpenters 2222 as labour breakfast hosts and Bruce Power for hosting the tour of the Kincardine MCR building. During the dinner, Trumble reminded people “that the success of the Grey Bruce Labour Council is connected to community, community partners, friends of labour, but it is the ongoing support of the union affiliates that is the cornerstone of all our successes”.
Labour is always at the forefront of acknowledging those we have lost over time. October 28th was no different, but this year was indeed poignant. Thankfully, there was no need to acknowledge the passing of one such member, but as Kevin Smith noted, “… we had to stop to make note of our Sister, Anna Morrison from OECTA. Anna played a big part in organizing the events of the day and is a pillar of the Labour Council, but on this day, she was in hospital beginning a long period of recuperation after struck by a vehicle in Kincardine”. The council and all those in attendance hope for Anna’s fast and full recovery.
After five months, October 28th was also the first day back to work for the Ontario Legislature. Labour and activists across Ontario recognize the Doug Ford Conservatives as “the poster children for regressive polices”. In solidarity with our Sisters and Brothers on the front lawn of Queen’s Park, a rally was organized in front of MPP Lisa Thompson’s office. The Labour Council and affiliates have rallied in front of Thompson’s office and MPP, Bill Walker’s office a number of times over the last five months. This will continue as long as necessary. Trumble has spoken at most of the rallies and the sentiment was no different on October 28th. “Doug Ford and his not-for–the people caucus may enact policies that attempt to undo a century of social progress, but while they do so they will face the Labour Council and workers standing in opposition all the way”.
The closing of the day witnessed the awarding of our activists. For a lifetime of effort that has kept workers safe and improved the lives of workers and the community, Sheldon Speedie of the PWU Retired Workers’ Chapter received the Health and Safety Activist of the Year award and Don Grieg of IAWAW 386 received the Labour Activist of the Year award. Smith noted “that having people like Speedie and Grieg in our community strengthens all of us and pushes us all to do better”.