cover image: The Future is Public: building a pro-public movement for all - Montreal, June 15-16
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Friday June 15

Territorial welcome
Opening remarks from Ellen Gabriel
Welcome from organizers
Mapping of public services in Canada

Keynote speakers:
Miriam Planas
Cindy Blackstock
Saturday June 16

Coffee / tea / muffins / registration
8:45-9am Opening plenary
9:30am-10:45am Simultaneous workshops:
  • Public Electricity | Speaker: Sean Sweeney (Trade Unions for Energy Democracy); Facilitator: Bertrand Schepper (IRIS)
  • Public Health | Speaker: Anne-Emmanuelle Birn (U of Toronto); Facilitator: Samir Shaheen-Hussain
  • Public Child Care Speaker: Morna Ballentyne (Child Care Now); Facilitator: Carolyn Ferns (CUPE)
  • Labour/Community Coalitions Reclaiming Public Services | Speaker: Sandra Vermuyten (PSI); Facilitator: Patrick Rondeau (FTQ)
10:45-11am Coffee / tea break
11:15am-12:30pm Simultaneous workshops:
  • Public Water | Speaker: Maude Barlow (Council of Canadians), Facilitator: Alice-Anne Simard (Eau Secours!)
  • Public Banks | Speaker: Gwendolyn Hallsmith (Global Community Initiatives), Facilitator: Richard Gaboton (CUPW)
  • Public Education | Speaker: Joel French (Public Interest Alberta). Facilitator: Nav Kaur (Homeward Trust)
  • Public Telecoms | Speaker: Daniel Chavez (Transnational Institute), Facilitator: Susan Spronk (U of Ottawa)
12:30-1:30pm Lunch (served on site)
1:30-4:00pm Action planning / open space discussions
4:00-4:30pm "Gallery walk": sharing results of sessions
4:30-5:30pm Closing panel
  • Larry Rousseau (Executive Vice-President, Canadian Labour Congress)
  • Avi Lewis (The Leap)
5:30-7pm Dinner break (not provided)
7-11pm The Future is Public Reception and Cocktail Party
Feat. DJ Killjoy, DJ Rhythym and Hues and special guests
Light fare provided!
Sponsored by Canadian Union of Postal Workers
51 Sherbrooke St (corner of Clark St -- 20 min walk or 10 min by metro)
Sunday June 17

Building a pro-public network
Le Nouvel Hotel (1740 René-Lévesque Blvd W.)

Speaker Profiles:

Míriam Planas
L'Aigua és Vida (Barcelona)

Miriam Planas is a prominent figure and activist in the Barcelona water movement L'Aigua és Vida, as well as a member of the European Water Movement. L'Aigua és Vida’s work includes campaigns to remunicipalize water and put control in public hands in the Barcelona region. Planas has emphasized water as a human right and common good, with a focus on the need for municipal sovereignty over water resources. She has been a central actor in the push for a referendum on water remunicipalization in the city.

Cindy Blackstock
Executive Director, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada

A member of the Gitksan First Nation, Cindy has 25 years of social work experience in child protection and Indigenous children’s rights. Her promotion of culturally based equity for First Nations children and families and engaging children in reconciliation has been recognized by the Nobel Women’s Initiative, the Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, Frontline Defenders and many others. An author of over 50 publications and a widely sought after public speaker, Cindy recently completed a Master of Jurisprudence degree and currently serves as a Commissioner for the Pan American Health Organization Commission on Health Equity and Inequity. Dr. Blackstock is also a Professor in the School of Social Work at McGill University.

Avi Lewis
Co-Founder and Strategic Director, The Leap

Avi Lewis is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, news reporter and TV host. Using his media platform, he has also emerged as a political and social commentator and a public speaker. Since 2015, Lewis has been a founder and vocal supporter of The Leap Manifesto, a document that declares Canada to be in crisis and demands reform in various areas, including climate change, poverty and racial and gender inequalities. Lewis then went on to co-found the Leap Organization in 2017 and serve as its Strategic Director. The organization builds on the Manifesto, seeking solutions and collective action for the issues it lays out.

Larry Rousseau
Executive Vice-President, Canadian Labour Congress

Larry Rousseau is a long-time federal public service worker. His first experience in the labour movement was when he started as a filing and stockroom clerk in the mail room of the Canadian Labour Congress at the age of 18. Shortly thereafter, he was elected shop steward for the Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 225 (now COPE). Larry has a long history of trade union and political activism particularly on labour relations, health and safety, human rights and equity. His involvement in the LGBTQ2SI, anti-racist and peace movements has been an integral part of his engagement and commitment to social justice.

Katsi’tsakwas Ellen Gabriel
Artist and Activist

Ms. Gabriel began her public activism during the 1990 Siege of Kanehsatà:ke ( “Oka” Crisis), when she was chosen as spokesperson by the community and the People of Longhouse. Since 1990, Ellen has worked as an advocate for Indigenous rights, human rights and environmental justice, serving as president of the Quebec Native Women’s Association from 2004 to 2010, and participating in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. She remains a vigilant advocate for gender equity, justice for murdered and missing Indigenous women, the revitalization of Indigenous languages, culture, and traditions, Indigenous peoples’ rights to self-determination and climate change.

Sean Sweeny
Coordinator, Trade Unions for Energy Democracy

Sean Sweeny is a leading figure in the international trade union movement. His work includes being coordinator for Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED), a network that spans 16 countries and includes 42 unions. He has also published the TUED’s Working Papers Series. As an academic, he is also the Director of the International Program for Labor, Climate and Environment at the City University of New York’s (CUNY) Murphy Institute. His research includes work on the relations and linkages between labor activism/unions and climate challenges as well as on energy democracy.

Daniel Chavez
Coordinator, New Politics Programme, Transnational Institute

Daniel Chavez is a fellow at the Transnational Institute (TNI), an organization that brings together scholars and activists and produces research and advocacy for a democratic and sustainable future. He has previously served as Coordinator of the Institute’s Energy Project and is currently co-coordinator of the New TNI Politics Programme. Focused on left politics and participatory urban management and public services, Chavez has extensive expertise in those areas, including a PhD in the Politics of Development and 10 years of working with the United Federation of Mutual-Aid Housing Co-operatives (FUCVAM) in Uruguay. He has several publications on these issues and is part of the Municipal Services Project (MSP) research network.

Gwendolyn Hallsmith
Executive Director, Global Community Initiatives

Gwendolyn Hallsmith is Founder and Executive Director of Global Community Initiatives, a non-profit organization working with communities to implement the Earth Charter. In addition to holding a PhD in International Environmental Policy, Hallsmith has served as City Manager, Regional Planning Director, Senior Planner for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy Resources, Deputy Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and the Director of Planning and Community Development for the City of Montpelier. She has also worked with UN Environmental Program, the UNDP and Earth Charter International. Currently, Hallsmith is the Vermont Earth Institute’s President as well as working with Vermonters for a New Economy on public banking.

Maude Barlow
Honorary Chair, Council of Canadians

Maude Barlow is a Canadian author and activist, with a prominent history in environmental activism and free-trade opposition. Current Honorary Chair of the Council of Canadians, an organization for social justice and action, Barlow is also on the Boards of Food and Water Watch, International Forum on Globalization, and the World Future Council, as well as cofounder of the Blue Planet Project. She was Senior Advisor on Water to the UN General Assembly President in 2008/2009, and campaigned for water to be recognized as a human right. Barlow is widely published and holds fourteen honorary doctorate degrees and several awards, including the Citation of Lifetime Achievement at the 2008 Canadian Environment Awards and the 2009 Earth Day Canada Outstanding Environmental Achievement Award.

Anne-Emanuelle Birn
Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

Anne-Emanuelle Birn is a leading voice on global health issues and policy. Professor of Critical Development Studies and Global Health at the University of Toronto, Birn’s research includes international health and its politics, social justice and the history of public health. She served as Canada Research Chair in International Health from 2003 and 2013 and was named one of the Top 100 Women Leaders in Global Health in 2014. In 2010, Birn was at the Department of Ethics, Equity, Trade and Human Rights at the World Health Organization (WHO). Her publications include books and articles on global health, Latin American health issues, health politics and reform, and health as a human right.

Sandra Vermuyten
Head of Campaigns, Public Services International

Sandra Vermuyten is Head of Campaigns at Public Services International (PSI), a global federation of over 700 unions from 163 countries representing more than 25 million workers to promote the provision of quality public services worldwide. Previously, Vermuyten worked at the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Moscow on issues of social dialogue and labour migration and then was PSI’s Equality and Rights Officer, initiating the organization’s global policy on equality issues and campaigns against discrimination. She has spoken at various UN sessions and forums on issues of migration, poverty reduction and wage policies.

Morna Ballantyne
Child Care Now, Executive Director

Morna Ballantyne has over thirty years of experience in progressive politics, advocacy organizations and public policy. Her work has involved leadership in numerous national organizations, government relations and organizational strategy. As Executive Director of Child Care Now, she is currently leading the child care advocacy group to pressure for affordable and inclusive quality services for everyone. 

Joel French
Public Interest Alberta, Executive Director

Joel French is the Executive Director for Public Interest Alberta (PIA), an advocacy organization that aims to raise awareness and build a network for public interest and education. Before PIA, French worked with Friends of Medicare, Alberta’s NDP, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees and was involved in Edmonton’s municipal elections.

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