Activists discuss TPP, organizing and workers’ rights at 2016 Progress Summit


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Ottawa – April 4, 2016 – UFCW Canada activists joined hundreds of labour and social justice allies from across Canada and the United States for the third annual Progress Summit, held in Ottawa from March 31 to April 2.

Organized by the Broadbent Institute, the Progress Summit is Canada's largest progressive policy and activism conference. It provides an opportunity for working people and their unions to share ideas, discuss key issues facing the country, and plan next steps for achieving positive and lasting change in Canada.

Over the course of two days, participants heard from a wide range of progressive leaders and policy experts and took in various panels and events aimed at building capacity to win struggles that are important to working and marginalized people.

Some of the keynote speakers and presenters included Ed Broadbent, Founder and Chair of the Broadbent Institute; Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada; Desmond Cole, journalist with the Toronto Star; Andrea Horwath, Leader of the Ontario NDP; Brock Carlton, CEO of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities; and Sara El-Amine, Executive Director at Organizing for Action in the United States.

As well, on Day One of the Summit, UFCW Canada’s National Coordinator for Strategic Campaigns, Debora De Angelis, had the pleasure of introducing speakers for a morning panel discussing xenophobia and the future of Canadian pluralism.

Utilizing a number of panels, debates, and question-and-answer sessions on shaping the future of Canada's progressive movement, participants explored bold new initiatives to make Canada a fair and just society for everyone, including racialized workers, women, indigenous nations, youth, members of the LGBTQ community, and all equity-seeking groups in Canada.  

This year's Progress Summit was particularly important since it afforded activists with an opportunity to evaluate the successes and failures of last year’s federal election, in which Canadian voters removed Stephen Harper and his Conservative government from office. Participants also discussed the future of public health care, organizing in the digital age, the need for proportional representation, and threats posed by the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

"UFCW Canada is proud to stand in solidarity with progressive organizations like the Broadbent Institute, which are committed to defeating the anti-worker agenda and building a better, fairer, and more inclusive Canada," says UFCW Canada National President Paul Meinema. "A key part of realizing those goals involves organizing with allies to share useful ideas and strategies, and that's why the Progress Summit is so crucial," Brother Meinema adds.