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article imageHundreds protest in Toronto ahead of Canadian federal election Special

By Andrew Moran     May 1, 2011 in Politics
Toronto - Under rainy skies, hundreds of activists, voters and concerned citizens gathered in downtown Toronto's Parkdale community to protest and march as part of International Workers’ Day. Parkdale New Democratic Party candidate Peggy Nash attended briefly.
All over the world Sunday, millions of people celebrated International Workers’ Day, or otherwise known as May Day. On May 1 of every year, working people, labour unions and members of various left-wing organizations celebrate their causes.
In Toronto, No One Is Illegal held its 6th annual May Day of Action – March for Status for All. The annual demonstration and march is meant to defend immigrants, workers and the environment and the promotion of the end of the war in Afghanistan.
This year, on the eve of Canada’s federal election, hundreds of people protested Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives’ immigration policy record and its “very ethnic” voting strategy. Furthermore, the activists called for “status for undocumented and migrant workers” and the implementation of numerous public services for immigrants and their families.
“Harper has robbed women in our community of the services we need to survive. In a time of recession, when we're jobless or working for peanuts, we count on public services to get us by. Now even these are being taken away,” said executive director of the Scarborough based South Asian Women's Rights Organization, Sultana Jehangir. “While the government is spending money on fighter planes and jails, immigrant women are forced to stay at home, because we still have no childcare programs.”
During a press conference Friday, Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney presented the Conservative Party’s record on immigration from 2006 to 2010. Although the statistics on immigration shed a positive light on the Tories’ policies on immigration, No One Is Illegal have highlighted some negative decisions made by the Prime Minister’s party.
According to the organization, the Minister of Immigration has decreased the number of permanent residence grants for refugees by 25 percent, the Conservatives plan to cut immigration by five percent this year and the Prime Minister has slashed $53 million from settlement services.
“The Tories want the 'very ethnic vote', but they're showing contempt for Immigrants,” said Mohan Mishra, an organizer of Sunday’s demonstration. “As they dismantle the Immigration system, they consistently lie to people about it - today we take to the streets to show that we will not be fooled."
One protestor told Digital Journal that he believes the New Democratic Party will improve immigration and assist Canadian workers by providing adequate and affordable public services. He added that he is voting for Peggy Nash.
“I have read all of the parties’ platforms, including some of the minor parties, but all in all I truly believe that the NDP is the one that will properly lead the country over the course of the next few years,” said Andrew Reynolds, a University of Toronto student who lives in Parkdale. “The Liberals have failed everyone time and time again, and Harper certainly won’t do anything of significance. [Jack] Layton seems the most competent out of everyone.”
Reynolds concluded that annual May Day demonstrations are great, progressive events that should be paid attention by all public officials at all levels of government. “I’m glad [Peggy] Nash came, even if it was for a few minutes.”
The demonstration was co-supported by numerous organizations, including the Toronto District of the International Socialists, Afghans for Peace, Toronto Forum on Cuba, Students for Medicare, Good Jobs for All Coalition, Educators for Peace and Justice and many, many others.
More about Canada Election 2011, International workers day, No one is illegal, Protests, Parkdale
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