Wednesday night’s Global Justice Forum, themed “Democracy and the Struggle for Justice,” was a lively Q&A session featuring comparative perspectives from Burma, Haiti and Wisconsin.
Burmese youth activist Mi Aie Son, Haitian labour leader Dukens Raphael, and American Federation of Teachers vice-president Candice Owley discussed the challenges of fostering democratic movements in the face of socio-economic inequality, defending public services and promoting international solidarity.
“You mustn’t fall asleep at the switch. Don’t let happen here what happened to us,” said Owley, referring to low voter turnout in Wisconsin that led to an “ultra-conservative” Republican sweep and then a total assault on the labour movement.
Aie Son offered a chilling contrast in civic environments with her account of life in Burma, where unions are illegal, an “Occupy”-style movement would lead to a ten-year jail term, and public services are available only to the rich and powerful. Raphael, on the topic of international solidarity, thanked CUPE for keeping its promises on earthquake relief and development in Haiti.