By Ellen Morgan
At the Oxfam Gender Justice Summit in Toronto last weekend, participants from across the country voiced their concerns about the Harper government’s ongoing attempts to squeeze women’s groups out of existence. Since the Conservatives came to power, organizations that promote sexual and reproductive health (including abortion) have experienced debilitating funding cuts while others such as Kairos (which was launching a program to provide assistance to rape victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo) are being forced to shut down completely.
In many ways, the interplay between police and participants at yesterday’s rally in Allan Gardens was a microcosm of the struggle for political space taking place throughout Canadian society. While both parliament and the police attempt to contain and silence dissent, civil society continues to push back and insists on being heard.
The hundred odd people who gathered in the mid afternoon sun to march ‘In Defense of the Rights of All’ clearly did so for individual reasons – to end homelessness, to promote the rights of migrant farm workers or to demand climate justice. But as they left the park to walk through the streets of Toronto with the flags of Palestine and the Mohawk First Nation flying side by side, their message was united and clear – we will not be silenced until there is an end to injustice everywhere.