On July 23, more than 20,000 demonstrators marched in Vancouver in a rally organized by the Lower Mainland Budget Coalition to oppose the government’s package. A week earlier, BC Federation of Labour President Art Kube predicted 3,000 would show up. The people of B.C. were ready to fight.
July 27, 1983 saw the largest protest ever held at the legislature in Victoria. Twenty-five thousand citizens expressed their widespread anger at the Social Credit government’s “restraint” budget as an excuse for stripping away labour and social rights.
Province-wide pickets appeared at government offices. Work-to-rule was used. Canadian clergymen called Bennett dishonest and unfair. The federal government, Vancouver City Council, and the BC Health Association all added their voices to the growing opposition.
Smaller actions also took hold across the province. 20 people in Usk in northwestern BC protested by blocking access to the ferry, the only link across the Skeena River. The Vancouver Sun reported that picketers held back until after the ferry operator got to work so his job would not be in jeopardy.
“We hope other communities will find their own way to fight back,” said an Usk protester.
Rallies and Organizing Around the Province, Rod Mickleburgh (Labour Reporter), Ken Novakowski, Mervyn Van Steinburg (Unemployment Action Centre coordinator) Art Kube (President, BC Federation of Labour), Jim Sinclair, Larry Kuehn (President, BC Teachers’ Federation), and Patsy George (fired BC government social worker & staff for Solidarity Coalition)
“Basic rights are being taken away from all British Columbians and the amendments don’t change that,” Art Kube told a rally of 2,000 in Nelson. Similar rallies were held in communities like Prince George, Kamloops, Kelowna, Williams Lake, Quesnel, Fort St. John and Dawson Creek.