The score at the end of Saturday’s massive gathering in Victoria, perhaps the greatest protest rally in the province’s history: Campbell Liberals 0, the people of British Columbia 25,000 plus.
They were thousands. Then they were with tens of thousands of workers, students, old people, children, aboriginal people, people of all walks of life, facing off with the most anti-people and anti-community government in memory.
It was clear that together, CUPE members formed the largest contingent of unionists at the rally – the massive throng was a sea of HEU blue and CUPE raspberry.
Members marched alongside National President Judy Darcy and National Secretary-Treasurer Claude Gnreux who traveled from Ottawa to join the protest and to bear witness to the fact that Campbell is worse than Ontario’s Mike Harris and Alberta’s Ralph Klein.
CUPE members from all sectors blew whistles and chanted the familiar ‘Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Gordon Campbell’s got to go.” They slapped Strong Communities stickers on each other and shouted “Recall NOW”.
Some wore a Gordocchio nose adapted from the image created by the Hospital Employees’ Union. Others carried the Gordzilla poster printed by CUPE BC. Some plastered CUPE BC’s Gordo comic book on their placards.
“I am here as one of many from communities all across this province,” CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill told the giant crowd, “and we will not sit idly by and allow 77 thugs to dismantle what our parents and their parents fought so hard to build.”
“We are here to remind those privileged enough to serve the people that our families and friends, our neighbourhoods and communities are not just another commodity waiting to be traded off to the lowest bidder,” O’Neill said.
BC CUPE health services division president Fred Muzin criticized the Campbell government’s bid to redefine BC into an ‘us’ and ‘them’ society with the wealthy and privileged at the helm.
To wild cheers at the end of a ninety-minute program, Muzin said “We the people are here today to demand government of the people, for all of the people, by the people.”