2 Steps Forward, 1 Step back : A Successful Start for BDS at uOttawa

2 Steps Forward, 1 Step back : A Successful Start for BDS at uOttawa

On Tuesday March 13th, the SFUO held its 6th General Assembly. It was marked by a record attendance of over 500 people and a mobilization in support of Palestine that was without precedent. However, there is a lot to discuss as far as the events of the evening goes.

Firstly, the majority of votes that our Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) motion against the Israeli state received was overturned by a ruling that the motion needed 2/3 support, which was not communicated to attendees beforehand.

The evening proceeded with a number of hurdles, the first being a series of logistical issues. The room wasn’t large enough to accommodate all the students that came out to participate in the GA et nearly half of them were required to sit in the UCU Agora where they could not get speaking rights. No translation was offered and so the proceedings were only done in English to the detriment of francophone students who make up a quarter of campus. In the end, the General Assembly started 1:30 behind schedule due to last minute requirements on top of which the room had only been reserved for 3 hours, which is clearly to little for an assembly of over 500 members.

We should also criticize the measures taken by the SFUO that consisted of removing voting cards from students who didn’t follow the “no clapping” rule that was spontaneously adopted without precedent. There are good reasons to expel students acting in a racist, sexist or other unacceptable way, however the bureaucratic and non- transparent way this was implemented only further built up tension and derailed the meeting.

Secondly, the progression of the meeting was itself fairly bureaucratic and hindered actual debate on motions. The first proposal was on the adoption of online voting during SFUO elections, a proposal made by the right-wing student politician clique in the hopes that technology could act as a magical antidote for electoral fraud and voter absenteeism. The motion even argued for putting the elections in the hands of a private company. The RSM is opposed to online voting since it is no more democratic and does not really promote a larger participation from students. Democracy is not simply the act of voting. It must be a process in which politics are vigorously debated before being voted on. Unfortunately, procedural manoeuvres cut short debate on this proposal and it was approved without being challenged. As for our motion on BDS which followed, we were only given a brief period of discussion. Three interventions were made for each of the sides before the vote was called. Each side seemed convinced that they would win the vote, and assumed no further debate was necessary. As mentioned, we believe that democracy goes beyond simply voting, and that the way the GA developed prevented the effective combat of reactionary and liberal ideas that were brought up against BDS. The assembly had only just begun the debate on the Israeli occupation of Palestine when it was closed, ending any chance at addressing and exposing Zionist and anti-Palestinian arguments.

Despite this, we should be proud of our accomplishments that evening. We experienced a student mobilization that surpassed our expectations and that the University of Ottawa had not seen in a long time. We see that students are far from apathetic and want to participate in political life if they are given the chance. If we compare the result of the GA to the bureaucratic methods by which pro-Palestinian policies were attempted to be implemented at the Board of Administration last semester, we can confirm that mass mobilization and politicization are powerful strategies. Working with local Palestinian solidarity groups like Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights and Independent Jewish Voices, over 250 students came out in support of Palestinian liberation. The majority of votes we obtained on the motion is a victory in itself. Despite their considerable political and material advantages, we overcame the doubts of the bureaucrats and the attempts that the right-wing made to block the motion.

This experience has shown that it is possible to struggle even in situations where reactionary positions are the norm. In conclusion, we would like to reiterate or opposition to colonialist and imperialist forces and that it is therefor our duty to end the support that the capitalist, colonialist and imperialist state of Canada extends to Israel. This effort will allow the removal of barriers to the national liberation struggle of the Palestinian people.


From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free!

We Say Yes to BDS at UOttawa!

We Say Yes to BDS at UOttawa!

The Israeli colonization project is causing untold suffering to the Palestinian people. Families are losing their land and livelihoods as the military and illegal settlers swoop in; adults and children alike beaten, jailed or even killed simply for trying to resist dispossession; and Palestinian society becomes fragmented as their territory gets divided into enclaves separated by checkpoints and illegal colonies, while millions of Palestinians continue to live abroad in refugee camps, unable to return to their homeland.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign was started by Palestinian civil society groups as a means to put pressure on both state and private actors who play a hand in the colonization process. Inspired by the successful boycott campaign that helped put an end to South African apartheid in the 1980s, it seeks to expose those companies and other institutions that enable Israel’s military and make them turn their back on this vicious operation.

Israel currently benefits from an unfair power balance over Palestine, due to its multi-billion dollar support coming from the US government, its alliance with NATO and partnership with multiple transnational corporations. As a result, fair dialogue is impossible and Israel continues to invade and occupy Palestine in spite of all international condemnations.

The Revolutionary Student Movement (RSM) opposes all imperialist and colonial forces, and it is our responsibility to show solidarity with national liberation movements across the world. Full liberation can only be achieved when the Palestinian people are able to wage resistance strong enough to put an end to the Zionist settler-colonial project. In the spirit of internationalism, we aim to end the support that the capitalist, settler-colonial, imperialist Canadian state gives to Israel. We do this in an effort to remove as many barriers as we can for the just struggle for national liberation that the Palestinian people wage.

The call for BDS is supported by hundreds of schools, unions, artists and other groups across the world, resulting in a growing withdrawal of financial, academic and cultural support for Israel. The Israeli state is pouring billions to oppose BDS worldwide, even calling for the criminalization of BDS proponents, and thus proving it is an effective measure. The Canadian government and parliament formally support the Zionist oppression of the Palestinian people, adopting an outrageous resolution in 2016 to condemn any and all attempts by Canadian groups or individuals to promote the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which it describes as promoting the “demonization and delegitimization” of Israel.

This is why the RSM UOttawa is bringing forward a motion to the upcoming General Assembly to make the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) endorse the BDS campaign. We have joined forces with the Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) and Independent Jewish Voices (Ottawa/Carleton University) to mobilize as much support as we can for BDS to be adopted at UOttawa.

The General Assembly will take place Tuesday, March 13 at 6:30PM in the Alumni Auditorium, UCU building.

Let’s bring BDS to UOttawa and show our solidarity with the struggle for national liberation of the Palestinian people!

From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!


Say Yes to BDS! | Dites Oui au BDS! Facebook event

Our email: uottawa@mer-rsm.ca

In Struggle for a Proletarian Feminist Line!

In Struggle for a Proletarian Feminist Line!

Gender Oppressed Worker’s Day

Today, March 8th, the Revolutionary Student Movement celebrates Gender Oppressed Workers Day. Our celebration is part of a long tradition of celebrating International Working Women’s Day, a day that since 1911 has served to remember the history and current reality of patriarchal and capitalist violence. But it is not just to celebrate but to organize, resist, and win. Until the full liberation of proletarian women through the end of patriarchy and the end of capitalism we must continue to dare to struggle, and dare to win!

In celebrating under the name Gender Oppressed Workers Day, we recognize the need to continue developing an analysis to smash patriarchy. More specifically the ways in which patriarchal ideology exists to oppress the working class under capitalism and through cis-normative and binary ideas of gender. Our task as the Revolutionary Student Movement remains to uphold the struggles of historical revolutionary victories against patriarchy while fighting to end capitalism, colonialism, and imperialism.

“Gender Oppressed Workers Day” was adopted at the 6th MER-RSM Pan-Canadian Congress in an effort to challenge cis-normative narratives and put forward an analysis on the root of patriarchy. At the Congress and since then there has been line struggle within the organization. Moreover, we have received criticism from Comrades both in Canada and internationally over the decision. As the leading body of the MER-RSM, the Coordinating Committee is happy to receive these criticisms. Instead of retreating to dogmatism, we recognize the need to take them seriously and sharpen our work in the coming years, as we continue to celebrate and resist every March 8th, be it under Gender Oppressed Worker’s Day or International Working Women’s Day.

In order to give this struggle a means to resolve itself, the Coordinating Committee has voted to re-initiate the debate in the MER-RSM on the purpose of the name change and the name change itself. We hold that the organization was in error to change the name performatively without having struggled to develop an elaborated political line on patriarchy and celebrating resistance to patriarchy. While we are mandated to uphold the decisions of the Congress, the Coordinating Committee will be initiating an internal struggle on this question before the next MER-RSM Pan-Canadian Congress in 2019 to rectify this issue. We will be distributing more detailed criticisms of the resolution to all sections in the coming weeks and will ask all sections to adopt positions on this question, in order to push this struggle forward.

Whatever the result of the line struggle is, our core political commitment to proletarian feminism will not change. The name Gender Oppressed Worker’s Day acknowledges that it is not only the working-class cis-women who are oppressed by patriarchy, but that patriarchal ideology reinforces a binary and biological essentialist ideas of gender, neither of which reflect material reality. In rejecting these patriarchal ideas, the MER-RSM upholds proletarian feminism. We remain opposed to liberal and/or bourgeois feminism that erases class analysis and views gender identity through homogeneous categories and says the plight of the working mother and the trans-woman line worker can be solved in the same way as the “feminist” CEO who gladly exploits workers in Canada and abroad. The solution for proletarians will always be revolution. Without the end of capitalism the exploited masses of workers who are disproportionately women (trans and cis), trans-men, and gender non-conforming will continue to suffer.

Historical significance

March 8th is a day of celebration of the historical and ongoing revolutionary efforts in fighting patriarchal oppression under capitalism and is commonly celebrated by socialist movements. Its acknowledgment around the globe began with historically communist countries. The historical significance of March 8 can be traced back to 1911 when International Working Women’s Day was adopted by a congress of revolutionary women from across the world. In turn it was chosen to commemorate the 1908 strike of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union and the mass action of garment workers for a 10-hour work day and other better wage conditions on March 8, 1857. Perhaps the most famous and significant mobilization took place in 1917 Petrograd, Russia, when women textile workers have started a strike as a mass protest against the war, to the Czarist rationing system on flour and bread and the monarchy. The strike paralyzed the city and sparked the February Revolution which abolished to monarchy only 7 days after the strike. This strike sharpened the class struggle in the former Russian Empire and eventually paved the way for the first successful socialist revolution to take place – the Great October Revolution.

Local actions for Proletarian Feminism

Following the footsteps of our comrades from a history of mass-orientated action, we remember the revolutionary theoretical developments of feminism initiated by Anuradha Ghandy, a Maoist from India, who first put forward a theoretical base to proletarian feminism and Comrade Pavarti from Nepal who organized the women of the country to combat feudalism, capitalism and patriarchy within their own party. Locally in Canada, RSM sections have been actively organizing and pushing forward lines on proletarian feminism.

In Winnipeg, the RSM sections have occupied tables used by anti-abortion groups to stop them from spreading their hateful and fascist propaganda, disrupted on-campus anti-abortion presentations, and more recently held a workshop on “Proletarian Feminism: Combatting Anti-Choice Groups in Winnipeg”.

In Hamilton, RSM comrades organized a large disruption at Jordan Peterson’s talk (a known fascist and transphobe) and comrades in other cities have joined to protest and shut down his events.

In Peterborough the development of the Revolutionary Sexuality and Gender Education Initiative, and a March 8th rally and social last year were part of the work done to forward proletarian feminist politics, in addition to shutting down anti-abortion protestors.

In Ottawa and Toronto our comrades have organized actions to shut down the so-called anti-feminist “men’s rights activist” organizing throughout the last several years, effectively pushing them out of some campuses.

And in Charlottetown, the RSM has been a leading force in successfully organizing the mass movement to allow abortion access in PEI in 2016-17. All of our comrades study proletarian feminist works as part of our organizing and actively support local actions aimed at combating patriarchy.

We congratulate the efforts of RSM sections in upholding proletarian feminism and organizing against class-based patriarchy and fascism on campuses. We hope that the fight and growth of the revolutionary movement continues until the working class is liberated from their chains!

In Struggle for a Proletarian Feminist Line!
In Struggle against capitalism and patriarchy!

Coordinating Committee of the MER-RSM


Readings and sources

Philosophical Trends in the Feminist Movement – Anuradha Ghandy

International Working Women’s Day: a day of class struggle

Video of RSM Hamilton disrupting fascist and transphobe Jordan Peterson talk

Militancy Not Masculinity – Proletarian Youth Organization