Victoria’s Defiance Day a roaring success

HEU has strong presence as thousands hit streets to protest Campbell’s reckless agenda

They shut down a university, closed the headquarters of the Ministry of Health, took a stand on picket lines at numerous social services agencies, and then rallied in the thousands in Victoria October 7 to tell the Campbell Liberals to back off their reckless agenda for British Columbia.

The day — billed by the community coalition that organized events as a Day of Defiance — was an outstanding success that sent a clear message to Premier Campbell. It brought together an incredibly diverse cross section of people along with community groups and progressive unions.

The action kicked off with early morning picket lines at some 15 entrances to the University of Victoria. Next up was the Ministry of Health, where pickets effectively closed the government’s health care nerve centre. And shortly after, HEU community social services members stood strong on picket lines at three adult day care programs run by Kardel and Crossroads employers.

Then close to 4,000 people joined a boisterous rally that snaked its way through downtown Victoria, stopping at various symbolic points including the offices of the Chamber of Commerce and a Liberal MLA to sing, chant and hear from community speakers. It ended at the Parliament Buildings, where loud cries of general strike echoed through the Legislature.

HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt paid tribute to the incredible commitment of HEU activists and staff in Victoria who played a key role in the day’s events and in the broad-based community group — the Victoria Communities Solidarity Coalition — that pulled it off. And he saluted other unions like the BCGEU and CUPE B.C., which also offered strong backing for the defiance day.

“Coalition building is critical to our fight to protect services, jobs and communities,” said Allnutt. “And the phenomenal results in Victoria give us a renewed sense of optimism that we can escalate our fight back.

“It’s going to be a long road to make the Campbell government back off its reckless agenda,” he said. “But our numbers are growing, and we aren’t going to go away until we see some changes in government policies that have targeted the poor, the elderly, students and the sick.

“And we know that other communities are set to follow to escalate opposition to the Campbell government — like in Penticton later in October when the Liberals hold their convention.”