I spent the last three days at the Progress Summit hosted by the Broadbent Institute.  It was my first vacation away from my children in nearly two years.   Unfortunately, I woke up at 5.30am both days.  My kids have destroyed my ability to sleep in.  But I still had a great time.   

This is what I learned.    

Sandy Hudson and Black Lives Matter TO do not meet with elected officials in private meetings because they don’t claim to represent black people.  What they do, which sounds pretty damn good, is they demand elected officials hold public meetings to hear from the black community.  Yes, they use their power to create space for community members to voice their opinion.  We should do that.   Let’s get these politicians to come to some of our emergency meetings. 

Don’t say um.  One speaker said um so often I couldn’t focus on anything else but counting the ums.  I was up to about 30 and then my neighbour distracted me. 

If you don’t wear translation headphones at a bilingual conference there will be people who will assume that you can understand French.   Flattering, but nope. 

Danielle Martin, the founder of Doctors for Medicare, has great ideas to fix our health care system, like providing pharmacare. I like how she structured her speech and I’m going to experiment with that speaking structure and use it for a speech on transit issue. Danielle found internet fame with her reasoned rebuttals to all of the biased question Republicans asked her in Congress with the passage of Obamacare.


Nahanni Fontaine’s deeply traumatic personal story was deeply upsetting and also inspiring because she fights so hard to end the murder of indigenous women. She helped me see in a new way how colonialism, racism, and sexism in Canada has led to Indigenous women being murdered because people see indigenous women as less than.   

I like this quote.  “Never retract. Never explain. Get it done and let them howl.” B Jowett, 1895. Keeping that for future use.

Ginny Goldman from the Texas Organizing Project (TOP) does some really powerful grassroots organizing and we could do more of what they do, which is inclusive and empowering member-driven organizing.  We need to do a better job at including our non-meeting attending members in our decisions.  I think it would be a good idea for us to send out each of our committees’ strategic plans to our members and to present it at our next AGM to get feedback from our members.   

 TOP is also doing some really interesting organizing on elections.  For example, they decided as an organization they wanted to get involved in the mayoral race, and the choice was between a progressive latino candidate and a progressive African-American candidate.  They surveyed their members and then developed a platform they would rank the candidates on. This platform didn’t just include policy promises but also actions they candidate had to take like “did they show up to our rally” or “did they spend a day as a janitor?”  Brilliant! We should do that.  Maybe “did you spend the day with one of our members on her daily three hour commute?”    Read this Harper article on their organizing strategies.

Ditto ACORN Canada.  I had dinner with ACORN Canada founder Judy Duncan and she explained to me how ACORN Canada starts a new chapter.  They send in an organizer full time for two months to knock on doors to get residents to come out to a community meeting.  They organize a big action and a total of four community meetings to help residents decide on a priority issue and choose a secretary and two co-chairs.  Then they dedicate up to a half-time organizer to support the group.   We do not have these resources yet. I don’t know if we need to label groups as a TTCriders chapter either.  But we need to do more movement building than we’re currently doing and that involves doing more to support local groups.  

You’ve got to place a . before the @ like so .@ if you want a lot of people to read your tweet.   Twitter has this new live video thing. You can put up live videos that are 140 seconds long.  That could be a short depute folks.  A short rally speech, etc.  

When you get angry it’s harder to tell jokes. 

Fair trade is such an important issue but us campaigners have got to help out the economists and think tank experts and populize it with bold campaigns and meaningful solutions.  The right wing have used anti-trade sentiment to give us racist hate, Brexit and Trump. What are we going to offer?  

It was nice meeting you all in Ottawa. Going home on the train now. Can’t wait to be back in Toronto. 


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