About 20 CUSJ members gathered at McMaster University in Hamilton (or in local speak, at “Mac” in “the Hammer”) to reflect on the year gone by and plan for the future.
There were about 22 attendees, including two online participants.
Leslie Kemp began by inviting chapters to share what they valued about the CUSJ; participants mentioned independence from the self-censorship that is part-and-parcel of Canada Revenue Agency certification, and the ability to take effective action for social justice.
During the business meeting, we revisited the many social justice causes that CUSJ has championed in the course of the year, which you can read about in our Annual Report. Highlights were Canadian professor Hassan Diab’s release from prison, after almost four years of detention without charges–a remarkable case that will surely result in changes to Canada’s flawed extradition laws. We continue to champion the cause of Mo Harkat, who suffers surveillance and possible deportation because of Canada’s continued use of security certificates.
In 2017, CUSJ said goodbye to Board member and longtime JUSTnews editor Philip Symons, whose large shoes will be donned by Leslie Kemp. At the AGM, Frances Deverell announced that Vice-President Bill Wolverton will be passing the V-P hat to Andy Blair. We have no new Board members this year, as those who joined in 2017–Lynn Armstrong, Leslie Kemp, Gustavo Frederico, and Sally Palmer Woods–continue their mandates. CUSJ will be on the lookout for additional Board members to represent the Prairies, Québec, and the Maritimes.
Mason unravels the tangled web underpinning defence spending
Peggy Mason gave a rousing speech on the systemic underpinnings of increased military spending in Canada and in the US. Her speech suggests a few non-intuitive courses of action to attack the root of defence spending.
We had only one motion for this year, to work towards amnesty for the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who were convicted of cannabis possession prior to the change in Canadian laws that decriminalized cannabis possession. This motion was passed unanimously. We plan to work with the Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty in the year ahead, and CUSJ encourages its members to sign the petition.
We had booked the room at McMaster for a limited time, and we were unable to address the concerns of one unexpected attendee. In fact, due to a slow start, we barely had time to get through the agenda. In future, we will book a room for a bit longer for any contingency.
Thank you to everyone who attended, and to all those in the wider Canadian UU community who are writing letters, marching, attending meetings, and finding allies in the struggle for peace and social justice. Onwards and upwards! I leave you with a brief (less than a minute) message of inspiration and comfort from Joanna Macy.