AUGUST 7, 2000 – Saturday August 5, more than 300 people gathered in downtown Toronto at a memorial for well-known Toronto activist, Joe Flexer.
Flexer, a long-time member of the Canadian Auto Workers, and a socialist for most of his adult life, died August 2 from heart failure.
The gathering pulled together people from the 1960’s and 1970’s left, as well as unionists and activists from the current period. Speakers included Hassan Yussuf from the CAW, well known writer and activist Judy Rebick, Joe’s partner Mary McCarthy and his son Dani Flexer.
Two workers from CAW Local 112 spoke about Joe from the open mike at the end of the event. Local 112 has just come through a bitter strike at Tormont Industries in Scarborough. Flexer had worked for years at the plant under Carruthers, its previous owner. Even though retired, he was quick to join the strike committee and became a fixture on the picket line.
Flexer was not one to avoid debate, and there have been many occasions over the years when some of us have disagreed with this or that stand he took. But differences aside, he saw the key to workers’ problems as the fight against the boss and the fight against capitalism.
The large turnout at short notice for his memorial shows that he was not alone in that commitment to get rid of the bosses’ system.
© 2000 Paul Kellogg. This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 license.