On August 31st, the Revolutionary Peoples’ Movement (RPM) held their first public meeting. The meeting addressed the issues facing workers in Metro Vancouver before culminating in a discussion of the upcoming election.
People living in the Burnaby and tri-cities areas came to share their experience of living in sites of intense class struggle manifested in the housing crisis. Issues raised included a discussion of empty houses, which while owned by wealthy capitalists, sit unused for the majority of the year. At the same time, Vancouver currently contains the third highest homelessness rate in all of Canada.
Attendees also discussed landlord tactics such as the demolition of working-class buildings in favour of high-rises and the use of renovations to justify rent-hikes. One tactic which raised the most concern was the increased outsourcing of property management away from the Vancouver area to places in Calgary or even overseas. This allows the landlord to distance themselves further from the tenant by introducing a middleman such that the tenant has no need to disturb the landlord.
Praise was given to certain American anti-gentrification groups for their direct action, particularly their tactic of organising tenants to visit the landlord or property manager’s home to present demands.
Toward the second half of the meeting attendees began to discuss the elections with a consensus reached on the need to boycott them. It was agreed that for a boycott to have any meaning it would have to be active and go beyond the tendency for individuals to simply abstain. Instead it must be built into a larger movement. For this reason, attendees decided on the need to do mass work among the community and discover what the working people of Vancouver truly need and synthesise these needs into a list of demands: A Peoples’ Agenda. With that in mind the following draft points were adopted as a living document with the hope of focusing them further as the elections approach:
- We demand guaranteed adequate and decent housing for all working-class and Indigenous people.
- We demand the right to work and full employment in jobs with a living wage.
- We demand an end to this system that continues to destroy our environment.
- We demand an end to all police brutality.
- We demand the power of Indigenous people to determine the future of their nations.
- We demand an end to the systematic unfair treatment of working-class and Indigenous women in our society.
- We demand an end to widespread homophobic and transphobic violence.
- We demand guaranteed higher education free of tuition and debt for all working-class and Indigenous people.
Attendees were unanimous in their agreement that many careerists in the NDP and some in the Liberal party would agree to many if not all of these points in theory, but would never follow through with them when elected. One attendee specifically pointed out the hypocrisy of BC’s minority NDP-Green government allowing the continued expansion of pipelines across the province. For this reason, those in attendance have decided they will hold a display of working-class unity on election day in the form of a rally to show their opposition to the Canadian parliamentary system.
If you want to get in touch with the RPM, you can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit them on Facebook at RPMVan. They will also be hosting a second public meeting September 28th 4:00-5:45 P.M. at the Tommy Douglas Library.