Last year Porter Airlines’s refuelling staff joined a union. It was a curious choice of a union, the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPE) is mostly a union for people who work for unions. They represent staff from CUPE, CUPW, Canadian Association of University Teachers, United Steel Workers, a number of district labour councils, and employees of the federal and Quebec NDP. (And, curiously, COPE Local 81 represents workers at Bombardier’s train manufacturing operations in Thunder Bay- Porter recently signed a contract with Bombardier Aerospace for new jets.)
There are only 22 Porter workers involved in the strike, but they’ve had an extraordinary amount of support. Not only have people from other unions joined in on the protests, but so too have members of Toronto’s anarchist community. There were some familiar names in attendance including the now world famous Vanja Krajina, Alex“Flagpole” Balch, Mark Brill of OCAP, and anarchist schoolteacher Ashleigh Ingle. There were also some high-profile union leaders and politicians including Sid Ryan of the Ontario Federation of Labour, Tony Depaulo of the Steelworkers, and anarchist aficionado MPP Cheri DiNovo.
The question is, outside of supporting the strikers, why have so many radicals gravitated towards supporting this strike? This was a mystery to me until this week, but after some research it has become apparent- it’s about Israel, stupid! (I’m directing the ‘stupid’ at myself, wish I’d researched this earlier.)
Canada’s anti-Israel radicals have a hate-on for Israel that borders on racism. Rather than working towards peaceful solutions, most default towards incendiary language that can only cause further division- the phrase ‘Israeli Apartheid’ is a great example. This sort of hate will only result in adding heat to the fire.