A convoy of trucks is rolling from western Canada into Ottawa as this issue of People’s Voice goes to press, but “United We Roll” is very different from the original. The 1935 On to Ottawa Trek was also inspired by working class anger against depressed living conditions and bourgeois politicians, but that’s where the similarities end. The Relief Camp Workers Union which organized the 1935 Trek were fighting for the interests of the entire working class, for “work and wages”, and an end to government-operated slave labour camps. Their sacrifices were inspired by the ideals of a socialist future, in contrast to the divisive and reactionary politics advocated by the current convoy organizers and supporters.
Under the pretext of “pro-pipeline” demands, “United We Roll” is giving a platform to the so-called Yellow Vests Canada movement, which spreads hate, conspiracy theories and death threats targeting Muslims, immigrants, politicians and other Canadians. Far from uniting working people to struggle for policies that unite us against corporate domination, United We Roll encourages support for the big energy monopolies. Instead of advocating policies to protect our planet for future generations, this initiative is based on the economics of increased fossil fuel extraction.
A much better approach would bring together energy industry workers, Indigenous peoples, environmentalists and other working people, to demand a massive economic shift towards reduced greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy sources, mass urban transit systems, housing for all, and other policies designed to put the needs of people and the environment ahead of private corporate profits.
The problem we face today is not immigration, or Justin Trudeau, or environmentalists. The problem is a capitalist economy based on maximizing private profits, even if that means destruction of the only planet available for human life. Time is running out – this critical struggle will be a key issue in this fall’s federal election.