Have you ever been to jail in the name of justice? Six of our friends and allies recently have. Austin Hiltz, Art Bouman, Justin Whitten, Brad Fougere, Darius Mirshahi and Tony Tracy were arrested on Sunday, December 2 and held overnight, all because they protested peacefully outside the Halifax Mail Processing Plant. They have since been charged with mischief and obstruction and will return to court January 4 to enter their pleas.
When postal workers had their right to strike ripped away from them once again by back to work legislation, people from across the country, like our six allies in Halifax, took over the picket duty and stood on the line to demand free collective bargaining and the right to negotiate for all workers.
When workers are denied the right to negotiate their working conditions, are forced to work overtime, do work without compensation and are injured at a catastrophic rate, it is clear that Canada Post management and the Government of Canada have a lot to answer for.
Citizens have the right to protest peacefully in this country, and the actions of the Halifax Regional Police were heavy-handed, uncalled for and extreme. When workers try to protect their rights, government and police often step in to remove their right to negotiate.
The arrests in Halifax had one purpose: To frighten the people defending democratic rights. Several unions have stepped up offering CUPW millions of dollars in support loans. We continue to receive messages of support from around the world.
One of the Halifax Six, Tony Tracy, explained why he protested the back to work legislation: “The right to full and fair collective bargaining and the fundamental Charter-protected right to strike are always worth defending…Bosses and governments have never given us rights that we haven’t fought for, and those ‘rights’ are meaningless if not defended.”
We need to do what we can to support the Halifax Six. Going to jail is expensive. Give them support. Make a solidarity donation for their sacrifice to ensure they have no financial burden as they fight for justice for us and society in general. They are defenders of democracy. They have shown us solidarity, dignity and respect. Now let’s do the same. You can support them through a GoFundMe campaign:
Protecting democracy and rights takes work. It requires dedicated selfless people to stand up and protect these rights before we slide further into tyranny. We salute these allies for their sacrifice and speaking truth to power. We are not alone.