Tom Parkin for Parkdale-High Park

People are counting on us to win — and fight for them

My social justice activism was natural. But the NDP taught me something important.

It’s matters to win – and you need to know how.

A passion for social justice need a plan for winning.

In the mid-1980s I was at the University of Toronto and president of the UofT NDP club. The biggest campus political issue was pushing the university to divest from the racist South African apartheid regime

We joined other campus clubs to form the Anti-Apartheid Network. I was one of the co-ordinators.

The AAN held rallies. And postered the campus. We occupied the President’s office. We had guest speakers from the ANC. But the university administration was pretty resolute about not giving in.

In September 1987, there was a provincial election. And I was a voter contact organizer in a local campaign. I learned this amazingly obvious idea – asking people who will vote how they plan to use it.

When the election campaign was done, I went to our AAN meeting and talked with my friends about this amazing method – canvassing! We set a plan.

There we were, 20-somethings phoning-up bank vice-presidents and other members of the UofT Board of Governors, in the evening, in their homes. We asked them, personally, if they thought our university should invest in apartheid.

And when anonymity disappeared, so did the resoluteness of the university. Within weeks they capitulated.

And I learned, if you want to win, you need a passion. And you need to have a plan.

I’m a nominee to be your NDP candidate for Parkdale-High Park because all my life I’ve been fighting injustice and fighting for people. Join me, and let’s fight for childcare, a drug plan for all, better transit, affordable housing — let’s fight for the Canada we want.

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