Van Jones brings energy and ideas to jobs summit


Unlocking the incredible skills of Canadians is key to energizing the economy and creating meaningful full-time jobs in Canada, said keynote speaker Van Jones, former advisor to Barack Obama.

Participants in this weekend’s Good Jobs Summit were treated to a powerful speech from one of the leaders in the American green jobs movement. Speaking about aggressively tackling inequality, including racial inequality in law enforcement, Jones said “As long as those kids are guilty until proven innocent, our communities will remain divided.”

Jones emphasized movement-building and uniting allies, reminding participants that the elite and the “economic cheaters” are united. He cited the historic unification of CEP and CAW as an important step towards building a power base for working people. Jones also commended Unifor for bringing together precarious workers by creating the community chapters model.

“What we’re against has come to define us,” Jones said of the challenges facing progressive forces. “We must do a better job of articulating what we’re for, that’s how we lead.”

Earlier in the day, Summit participants heard from a panel on the student, business, and organized labour perspectives on good job creation. Jessica McCormick from the Canadian Federation of Students stressed the importance of reducing tuition fees, while GE Canada CEO Elyse Allan noted the value of paid internships in giving young workers a good start in the workforce. New Canadian Labour Congress President Hassan Yussuff closed the panel with a call to action against precarious jobs and challenged employers to do better.