If you’re like us, you were pretty happy to see the arse end of 2020. The pandemic meant that the better part of 10 months was spent in some form of lockdown-distancing isolation and the accompanying economic crisis threw millions of people in this country into deep and ongoing financial uncertainty.
Governments across the country – at federal and provincial levels – have used the pandemic and crisis as a pretext for squeezing workers of their rights, while rewarding huge corporations. This has taken many forms: rubber-stamping COVID-related workplace health inspections, overriding collective agreements, limitations on protests against resource extraction projects, use of police against Indigenous land defenders, changing labour legislation to strip unions of their hard-earned rights, mass evictions of people who cannot afford their rent because of COVID-related unemployment or any of the massive privatization campaigns that threaten to shift enormous amounts of public wealth to corporate coffers.
On top of all this, we were subjected to a seemingly never-ending US election campaign that brought all the worst elements of reactionary right-wing capitalism into our homes on an hourly basis. And, while we relish the end of Trump’s presidency, the outcome hardly inspires hope or confidence for progress or peace in the near future.
Against such a bleak and frustrating backdrop, anybody could be forgiven for wanting to completely write off 2020 – doing so is almost a necessary act of self-preservation and wellness.
But last year had some very important gains, which will be essential for shaping the struggles of 2021. Here are some that we feel are among the most notable:
The blockade of railways in February, in support of Wet’suwet’en resistance against the Coastal GasLink pipeline construction on unceded land. This militant protest movement continues to echo throughout the country and is reflected in ongoing land defense actions such as 1492 Land Back Lane.
The uprising of Black people against police brutality and racism, which reverberated throughout the US and Canada – indeed, around the world – and pushed issues of systemic racism and white supremacy to the heart of political discourse and organization.
The people of Bolivia threw out a right-wing coup government and elected a progressive president and legislature. At the same time, the peoples of Venezuela and Cuba continued to resist tightening blockades and increased acts of aggression from imperialism.
Workers and trade unions in Alberta showed that it’s possible to maintain and build an organized fightback against neoliberal governments, including a province-wide wildcat by hospital workers. It’s provided a tremendous breath of fresh air to a generally stuffy labour movement (looking at you, Hassan Yussuff…)
Across Canada, the rising mass demands of working people for pharmacare and nationalized long-term care are now so strong that even the mainstream media has to report on and discuss it. Communists and other progressives have spent years agitating for these positions – now they have some lift, and this brings the possibility of a truly powerful campaign to win expanded public healthcare.
These examples are only a few of many from 2020. With militancy, unity and solidarity, we can turn these steps into big strides in the year ahead.
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