Chapter 12 – “March for Your Rights” at the Hotel Vancouver
During the Solidarity movement of 1983, organizers did not have the luxury of social media, computers or cell phones. Coordination was via an array of printed materials and telephone communication. After so many demonstrations across the province, there was some worry from labour leaders that supporters – many average citizens who had never attended a political rally before this year – could be suffering from “protest fatigue”.
Despite these fears of the movement slowing down, the Coalition managed to convince reluctant Operation Solidarity leaders to jointly sponsor a public protest in the streets of Vancouver on October 15.
They need not have worried. A massive feat of organization brought over 60,000 citizens downtown to encircle the Hotel Vancouver where the Social Credit Party was holding its convention – the largest political protest in Vancouver and British Columbia’s history at that time.
October 15 Rally – “Common Cause”
Catcalls were exchanged between marchers and delegates. A bucket of water was thrown from an upper floor on the crowd below. Protest signs and chants were calling for a general strike.
March for Your Rights, Cliff Andstein (Chief Negotiator, BC Government Employees Union), Art Kube (President, BC Federation of Labour), Jim Sinclair, Ken Novakowski (Bargaining Staff, BC Teachers’ Federation), Larry Kuehn (President, BC Teachers’ Federation), Hanne Jensen (Fired Director, BC Human Rights Branch), and Marcy Toms (teacher, community activist)
After two hours the crowd marched to Queen Elizabeth Plaza. Jack Munro of the IWA [International Woodworkers of America], representing Operation Solidarity, and Renate Shearer, representing the Solidarity Coalition, read out “A Declaration of the Rights of the People of British Columbia”. Solidarity appeared as strong as ever.
Three days after the Oct. 15 march, BCGEU contract talks broke down.