Monday, August 31, 2009

This just in from the website of the Ontario platformist organization Common Cause.
Report: 2009 Common Cause Conference:

On August 1 and 2, 2009, in the city of Toronto, Common Cause, an Ontario anarchist organization, held its third annual Ontario-wide conference. In attendance were members from our Ottawa, Toronto and Hamilton branches and several new members from London.

The first day began with reports from Ontario officers and local branches giving us a good overview of our second year as an organization. The 2008/2009 year saw us focus on both internal and public education. Internally, highlights included holding our first internal Day School in Hamilton in late June, a big step in developing a common vision and strategy across the organization. We also continued to be active in the international anarchist movement, sending a delegate to and to the organizing committee for the North American Class Struggle Anarchist Conference.

Externally, branches successfully organized the second Hamilton Anarchist Book Fair, (June, 2009), the first Organizing4Justice conference (Ottawa, October 2008) and participated in the first Toronto Anarchist Gathering (April, 2009). The Hamilton branch continued to host well-attended monthly anarchist discussion groups while the Toronto branch laid the groundwork to begin organizing public discussion groups in that city. We also developed a presentation, titled “The Role of the Anarchist Organization” which was presented in three cities. (Anyone interested in hosting the talk in their city should contact the Ontario secretary. Contact information is listed below).

Common Cause members also continued to be active in a wide range of struggles including queer and women's groups, indigenous solidarity, unions, anti-war, prisoner support work, anti-security certificates organizing and anti-racism work. Members were part of two important victories this year: the release of the last person held on national security certificates and the organizing of the first ever post-doctoral fellows union in Canada.

Following reports we discussed and voted on a number of resolutions. Key resolutions that were passed included: empowering Delegate Council to pass strategy papers in between annual conferences, upping the share of members' dues sent to the Ontario treasurer from 50% to 60% percent in order to fix the imbalance between local accounts and the provincial treasury, and creating a literature working group. Importantly we passed a new publishing plan and format for our newspaper, Linchpin. It will now be published bi-annually, but with more content and in greater numbers. It was hoped that this will set the newspaper on a more sustainable and effective path after publishing was put on hold over the summer as funds ran out.

The day ended with Ontario officer elections. With the exception of the Out of Province Secretary, all positions were rotated repeating a similar pattern as last year. We were encouraged to see newer members take on some of the positions.

After an evening of socializing, the second day of the Conference was taken up with a set of strategy sessions. The 5 topics were: building Common Cause, collective campaigns, the labour movement and community organizing, political education/developing our ideas and media, journalism, outreach. The sessions included both break outs into small groups as well as a closing plenary.

By the end of the conference we felt that a lot has been accomplished this year both internally and externally for what still remains a small political organization. However it was recognized that we still have a long way to go before we can play the kind of role that we envision for an anarchist organization in Ontario. Specifically, members expressed the desire to see us organize campaigns at the Ontario level, doing a better job of popularizing anarchist ideas via our newspaper and website, and making more progress on developing strategy for specific areas of organizing. It was the common feeling of the members that taking these steps will depend on our ability to attract new members as well as increase the skills and knowledge of current ones.
A lot of work awaits us in what is likely to be a key year for Common Cause. With a well-organized and productive conference we begin the year with a good start.

If you are interested in learning more or getting involved with Common Cause please contact us at: commoncauseontario[at]gmail[dot]com, or use the contact form on our website at or write to us at P.O. Box 347, Station E, 772 Dovercourt Rd., Toronto, ON, Canada, M6H 4E3

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