Greetings fellow ACTRA Members,

As the newly-appointed chair of the ACTRA Manitoba Political Action Committee, my first act of office (so to speak) will be to share with you the embarrassing fact that I have never in my life attended a Labour Day rally, march or celebration.

Not once.


I’ve always been a staunch believer in the benefits of belonging to a union, and in the power of banding together in solidarity to speak up for what is right and just. I’ve just never participated in an organized expression of those beliefs.

That changes on Monday, September 4th. On that day, I will be joining other ACTRA members, along with hundreds of other union members, organizers and labour leaders to celebrate the successes workers have collectively achieved over the years, and stand together to seek improvements to shortcomings in current worker rights and conditions.

Take a quick look around and it’s clear to see that we’re going through a period of substantial labour strife in a wide range of sectors and industries. Many people, from dock workers in B.C. to Liquor & Lotteries workers in Manitoba, to actors and writers in the U.S. have found themselves squeezed into a position where they felt they had no other choice but to withhold their services and go on strike – a last resort for any worker.

We Canadian actors have not been untouched by this strife either.

For 16 months now, some advertising agencies, as part of the ICA (Institute of Canadian Agencies) have locked-out ACTRA performers who make commercials. This is a complex situation about which you will hear more from me soon, and while we actors here in Manitoba have not felt much of a direct impact from this lockout, it has been devastating for fellow ACTRA performers in other provinces.

So I’ll be there on Monday to show my support and solidarity with nurses, doctors, firefighters, teachers, Liquor & Lotteries workers, Hydro workers… and actors.

It’ll be my first time. It could be yours too. Come walk with us.

Paul Essiembre
Political Action Committee Chair
ACTRA Manitoba Branch Council