May Day Protests Against Economic Anxiety

CLAC Organizes for Its Tenth Year in a Row

  • The May Day Protest last year. Photo by Willie Wilson

It’s that time of year again. Anti-capitalists, students, and communists are getting ready for May Day, and the anti-capitalist protest is expected to kick off today at 6 p.m. at Square Phillips by McGill metro.

Much like the annual anti-police brutality protest, the protest is notorious for its tendency to end in violence. Smashed police cars and store windows, tear gas, and kettling are not foreign to it.

This year marks the tenth consecutive year that the Convergence des Luttes Anti-Capitalistes have held the night protest. They are a group of anarchists and communists separate from workers unions like the Confédération des syndicats nationaux, who also hold an annual protest on or around May 1.

The CLAC has an anti-racist, anti-colonial and anti-patriarchal stance, and focuses on direct action and distribution of propaganda through their pamphlets and publication Coup D’Éclat!

“There are massive social inequalities, poverty is a huge problem and there are those who profit off this and are responsible for it.” said Mathieu Beaulieu, a protest organizer for the CLAC. “That’s why we do it in what we call the Golden Square Mile in downtown Montreal, the financial and commercial center with the large companies, banks and private clubs. We go there to show that there are those who profit off misery of others, and who profit by closing borders and by destroying the environment.”

A number of other contingents are also expected to show, with one from the Parti Communiste Revolutionaire, one from CEGEP St.Laurent organized through their student association, and another with the Industrial Workers of the World.

A second meeting spot has been organized at Frontenac metro in Hochelaga for 5 p.m., and all groups are to meet up at Philips Square.

The CSN and other workers’ unions will also be celebrating May Day by Côte-des-Neiges Metro at 6:30 p.m. This year, their main demand is a $15 minimum wage across Quebec.

“All workers unions in Quebec now are asking that the minimum wage be at $15 dollars minimum, it’s the minimum amount needed for a decent wage,” said member of the CSN, Emmanuelle Proulx.

May Day is also known as the International Workers’ Day, and demonstrations happen all around the world. It marks a day of remembrance for the Chicago Haymarket Massacre on May 4 in 1886. Workers were calling for an eight-hour work day and the protest left four workers and seven police officers dead. To this day, it is marked as a time to remember the plight of workers’ unions.

According to Beaulieu, the CLAC’s protest is part of their campaign against precariousness and poverty, as well as a fight against the rise of the far right and populism.

The CLAC is also taking a stance against the festivities currently being organized by Montreal for its 375th anniversary.

Last year, the city set aside $329 million to fund the festivities. It fell under criticism last fall following a decision to invest $39.5 million into lighting up the Jacques-Cartier Bridge.

He said it’s also important to remember that the 375th anniversary marks a moment in Montreal’s history when land was stolen from Indigenous people.

“For us it’s clear that money could be going elsewhere,” Beaulieu said.

Last update at 10:30 a.m.

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