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United Against Austerity forum takes place in Vancouver

Event photo

A ‘United Against Austerity’ public forum took place in Vancouver last night. It included a territorial welcome by Audrey Siegl from the Musqueam nation, speakers Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Reilly Yeo, Arielle dela Cruz Yip, Cora Cadiz, Paul Finch, Adrienne Montani and comedy by Sean Devlin.

The Facebook event page for the event defined austerity as: “Governments and the mainstream media say there is not enough money, and belts must be tightened. Cuts to social spending and wages ensue, while fossil fuel companies and other corporations receive subsidies. Unions are attacked. Indigenous nations are denied inherent land rights and resources from their lands are extracted. Environmental regulations are reduced. Migrant workers are forced into even more precarious working conditions. Vital public services including education, childcare, housing, women’s centers and healthcare are cut, but the prisons and military are expanding. And all of this is justified by a prevailing atmosphere of scarcity and fear.”

The purpose of last night was to “look beyond the next election and seek to transform the political and economic landscape across communities and sectors. By building grassroots power and solidarity, we want to make it impossible for any government to implement austerity policies. Unite Against Austerity aims to build an understanding of austerity policies, and begin to generate a unity (that is attentive to specificity) across Indigenous, labour, feminist, migrant, environmentalist, student, anti-poverty and diverse community movements.”

The event was sponsored by numerous groups including the Council of Canadians. Our Vancouver-based organizers Harjap Grewal and AJ Klein were both at the event.

Klein comments, “Governments engage in reckless spending and then use idioms around having to ‘tighten our belts’ when it’s really just taking public money away from the public. Indigenous people were essentially told they were ‘mismanaging the land’ when colonizers came, yet conditions have become increasingly worse.”

Further reading
Susan George explains austerity as socialized losses, privatized profits (video)
Our Right to Water: Case studies on austerity and privatization in Europe (Blue Planet Project report)
Costs of Austerity (World Future Council report)

Photo by AJ Klein.