Labour organizations, environmental groups join with Idle No More

Albertan labour organizations and environmental groups declared their support for the Idle No More movement during a rally in Edmonton Monday.

In front of over 100 Idle No More demonstrators in Churchill Square, representatives from the Canadian Labour Congress, The Alberta Federation of Labour, Greenpeace Canada, The Alberta College of Social Workers, The Edmonton District Labour Council, and more, signed a declaration of solidarity with the movement.

The combined movement is being called Common Causes and aims to "defend democracy" by challenging Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative government's environmental legislation in omnibus Bill C-45.

"What you saw today is a number of key labour groups who are deeply concerned about their own members and their own ability to speak out on issues that matter to the average working person," said Common Causes spokesman Bill Moore-Kilgannon.

"But you also saw social workers, environmental groups, and recent immigrants coming here to say that all these things affect us as citizens and that's the debate we need to have in this country."

The Idle No More movement says Bill C-45 will further open access to resource exploitation on treaty lands, weaken local control over water, land and air, and erode aboriginal rights to protect their own culture and language.

Nancy Furlong, secretary treasurer of the Alberta Federation of Labour that acts on behalf of over 150,000 Albertans, said Bill C-45 is an attack on Canada's indigenous peoples as well as an attack on unions.

"(Harper) is destroying unions with bills specifically designed to silence the voices of the working people," said Furlong. "He does not share our values and he does not stand for fairness and we won't be idle any longer."

Greenpeace Canada said they were supporting the Idle No More movement to combat "Harper's atrocious omnibus bills."

"They are not only an attack on indigenous rights but on environmental laws and they are also an attack on the democratic rights of all Canadians," said Melina Laboucan-Massino with Greenpeace.

While agreeing there needs to be more public education about the movement, Moore-Kilgannon denied that the partnership between Common Causes and Idle No More will broaden the issues while simultaneously confusing the average Canadian.

"I don't see it diluting the issues at all, I see it strengthening them," he said. "The things that Idle No More is talking about: water, democracy, human rights, our relationship to each other... These are things that matter to everybody."

Moore-Kilgannon said Common Causes organizations will be involved with Idle No More in "various ways" but refused to say if they will join First Nations in blockading Alberta highways.

The rally was planned as a part of a national day of action in 25 Canadian cities to coincide with the resumption of parliament.

Edmonton Sun, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013
Byline: Matthew Dykstra

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