The following represent a random sampling of voices from those activists and organizers who participated in our research project. To see more, refresh this page. Use the tag cloud to the right to navigate by theme.
Care and organizing
I think it's important to nurture people in the political movements that are important to me. So the form is as important as the content. So how we organize, and how we talk to each other, and how we behave is extremely important….a person I truly respec[t] once said to me that [the]...only...criteria for [being] progressive [is] they had to be interested in ideas and care about people and if they didn't have one or the other they were not progressive. So there are a lot of people in our progressive movements who either don't care about people or don't care about ideas...that's what I mean… [by] the converging of the social and the moral.
Electoral politics and lived realities
I believe in a diversity of tactics. I believe that electoral politics is necessary. I hate it….So even when I thought it was the right thing to do I hated it. I do not like electoral politics but I consider electoral politics to be important particularly given the fact that as the left we're so fucking weak. So to me it's an arrogant position to dismiss electoral politics because what it does is to dismiss the day-to-day lives of working people and poor people.
[What] if we redeveloped our own local economies in North America and supported ourselves on the basis of what we could grow and what we could produce in our own countries so that we wouldn't have to be continuously stealing resources from other countries and employing people in other countries? Employ ourselves before you employ someone in China or Bangladesh. And basically just more small scale local farms. I think that is so, so, so important, just kind of a cornerstone of any society.
The discussion that's had around diversity of tactics is shallow. I think that we…[talk so much] about tactics that we don't ever talk about strategy and I don't necessarily think that diversity of tactics, writ large, is a strategy in itself….If I say that we accept a diversity of tactics, there [are still] obviously some tactics that [some] people support more than others and I think that we need to do better to define what we mean when we say…‘diversity of tactics’ because we never mean all tactics….[T]here's always people who think that engaging with government is selling out and there's always people who think that breaking windows is violence.
...voter turnout in provincial and national elections keeps on going down...I don't think it's a question of apathy...people have no real say in how things operate. That's one particular issue. Second, I think it's a question of empowering Canadians as a whole. I think first we have to begin with this electoral process which...serves the big parties and doesn't serve the ordinary Canadians. So how do Canadians participate in the political process? How do they make decisions? How do they control the decision makers? These are very important issues that have to be taken up but also the empowerment of each Canadian.
Imagining the future together
I'm sitting on this side of the river saying ‘I'm happy to cross over with you,’ I don't know what the bridge looks like, but I think we have to sustain this bank of the river so that it doesn't collapse on our way to that one. Because I do not have sufficient radical imagination to know how we're going to get from here to what I imagine for the future, I don't have that. I don't think that gives me an excuse not to keep on keeping on because I think the struggle against slavery in the United States took four hundred years. I've been working for about forty and not consistently….I'm saddened that I don't have the imagination to understand [how] we're going to get from a and b but I think we need to discuss how we're going to get from a to b together because there are smarter people than me.
I think the world is pregnant with dangers, to use an unfortunate metaphor, it's pregnant, it's full. War,...[w]e haven't even spoken about...the environmental crisis. People operate in sort of a linear epistemology and what we see with the environmental crisis, it's exponential. So in our lifetimes, ten, fifteen years down the road, it's not short, we could see even greater calamities because who knows how these complex systems interact? So there's all of these issues and so to solve all of these people need to realize that none of these can be solved by believing that...we can go back to the past and that these people [in power] can be pressured into going back into the past because history doesn't work that way.
A revolving door of resistance
I feel like it's a revolving door of resistance where people are...doing stuff and they leave or people become disgruntled with it and then [even though] more people...are becoming politicized, they're not necessarily taking it a step further and really trying to push that agenda of active resistance and direct resistance against the state. [My] frustration with that is the lack of people who really want to get involved but I also have to remind myself that the place where I am at right now has taken fifteen years [for me to get to].
Equity across time and space
Equity is a really challenging thing, when you're dealing with equity...on a geographic scale. I'm drinking a coffee, obviously someone had to like pick the beans, and it is a fair trade coffee so I have that sense that I've purchased a product and I'm able to see the connection, at least tangentially understand, that there's ways and means to creating more equitable distributions, but again that's...just relying on some of the functions and features of capitalism to solve problems that are fundamentally being precipitated by [it]. And then equity across generations is an even more difficult thing, especially when you're talking about climate change because...the decisions we're making now are going to have an effect on our grandkids.
Engaging the system
I do believe that...there's not much difference between political parties that are offered to us. For example, the Conservative Party that is in power right now is so far right that it is shifting the cultural paradigm in Canada, right now, to the right, I think more than any other party has done so far and I think that's really dangerous and that affects many people concretely. All the social programs that are cut, all the policy changes that are happening at different levels, for example immigration, that has concrete immediate effect[s] on many people who are marginalized and have very little influence in our society and have a serious lack of security. So engaging with the political system that we have now in terms of achieving imperfect...short, term goals that have a concrete, immediate impact on people I think is important.