Constitution of Common Cause


We identify ourselves as anarchists and with the platformist, anarchist-communist or especifista tradition of anarchism. We broadly identify with the theoretical base of this tradition and the organizational practice it argues for, but not necessarily everything else it has done or said, so it is a starting point for our politics and not an end point.

The core ideas of this tradition that we identify with are the need for anarchist political organizations that seek to develop:

Theoretical Unity
Tactical Unity
Collective Action and Responsibility

We strive to articulate our position on areas of importance to our organization through detailed position papers. These form the collectively agreed position of Common Cause. Disagreement and debate around these papers is continuous and they are open to change so obviously we do not expect members to agree with every detail. All members are however expected to broadly agree with the below which outlines the core of our anarchism;

Anarchism will be created by the class struggle between the vast majority of society and the tiny minority that currently rule. A successful social revolution will require that anarchist ideas become the leading ideas within the working class. This will not happen spontaneously, it is up to anarchist militants to participate in the existing social struggles as an organized force.

A major focus of our activity is work at those crucial points where working class people are organizing together for control over their lives, the decisions affecting them and against oppression. These areas stretch from workplaces activity in the unions, to neighborhood activism, an ecology movement that remembers class and in community resistance to forms of oppressions targeting particular identities.

We also see it as vital to work in struggles that happen outside the unions and the workplace. These include struggles against particular oppressions, colonialism, imperialism and indeed the struggles of the working class for a decent place and environment in which to live. Our general approach to these, like our approach to the unions, is to involve ourselves with mass movements and work within these movements, in order to promote anarchist methods of organization involving direct democracy and direct action.

We actively oppose all manifestations of oppression such as racism, sexism, [religious] sectarianism and homophobia and we struggle against them. We see the success of a revolution and the successful elimination of these oppressions being determined by the building of such struggles in the pre-revolutionary period. The methods of struggle that we promote are a preparation for the running of society along anarchist and communist lines after the revolution.

We oppose imperialism and colonialism but put forward anarchism as an alternative goal to nationalism.

We recognize a need for anarchist organizations who agree with these principles to federate on an regional, national and international basis. However, we believe the degree of federation possible and the amount of effort put into it must be determined by success at building organizations capable of making such work a reality, rather than a matter of slogans.

To achieve balance between humanity and the natural world, we must create a society which is based on the satisfaction of true needs such as food, shelter, water, and community. Modern environmental destruction is a result of capitalism’s strive to commodify the natural world, for the wealth of a small minority. We recognize that social transformation is the first step towards ecological balance, not lifestyle changes or technological innovations. We recognize that the destruction of capitalism is the only avenue towards rescuing the planet’s biosphere, and by extension, ourselves.

[b]1. Name:[/b]
(a) The name of the organization is Common Cause.

[b]2. Membership:[/b]
(a) Membership of the organization is open to all who agree to work and argue for its policies in their public political activity, abide by its constitution and pay dues.

(b) When people get in touch with us we refer them to our existing policy and ask them what is it about Common Cause that interests them. This allows us at least some degree knowledge of their politics, motivation, interest and willingness to engage.

(c) Should the potentially new member respond to this, we should extend an open invitation to attend the next educational/policy discussion in their area or a meeting at a time of their convenience.

(d) At the end of the educational session, candidates will be offered an explanation of the process through which the Branch works. After attending the educational/policy discussion contacts will be invited to the next Branch general meeting.

(e) Should they accept this invite and attend two Branch meetings, any member of a Branch can nominate them for membership to a vote of the Branch. Once that vote is passed and they start the process of paying dues they shall be considered members.

(f) People who live in an area of Ontario where it is not feasible to attend Branch meetings can be proposed for membership by the Ontario Secretary. Membership will be granted by the DC and after payment of dues. Members will be part of the organization as individuals and will be able to fully participate in any working group of their choice as well as any activities/events. Dues will be paid fully to the Ontario account and DC motions will be voted directly to the Ontario secretary.

(g) We recognize as a member of our own organization any member of an organization who migrates to Ontario.

[b]3. Branches:[/b]
(a) The basic unit of the organization is the Branch, which consists of at least three persons in a given area or workplace. Where no Branch exists in an area, members will be attached to the nearest Branch and considered full members of it.

(b) Branches shall only be recognized if the Delegate Council (DC) finds it feasible for their members to meet together. More than one Branch in the same city, workplace, or area shall occur only when the DC or Ontario Conference finds language, transportation, or other practical reasons warrant it.

[b]4. Organizational principles:[/b]
(a) All decisions are taken by majority vote.

(b) No position within the organization may be held by the same member for more than three years in succession.

(c) Minutes are kept of all meetings and are circulated to all members

(d) No less than three members shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business for any Branch or working group. For Delegate and Ontario conferences quorum shall be no less than 1 delegate from at least 50% of Branches.

(e) Bylaws
i). Branches shall have the power to pass Branch bylaws as they may deem necessary, providing they do not conflict with the Constitution.
ii). A copy of all Branch bylaws shall be given to all Branch members and sent to the Ontario Secretary to be kept on file.

[b]5. Pre-conference Bulletin (PCB)[/b]
(a) The PCB will be produced prior to every Ontario conference by the Ontario Secretary. The PCB contains reports from Branchs, Commissions, Ontario Officers, etc. as well as proposals and discussion articles submitted by members.

[b]6. Ontario Conference:[/b]
(a) Members meet in Ontario Conference at least once every year to review their activities, decide policy, decide on an annual action plan, elect the Ontario Officers and delegate other responsibilities.

(b) Conference shall be run in accordance with the Standing Orders of Common Cause.

(c) All members in good standing are entitled vote at Ontario Conferences.

(d) The Ontario Conference is the supreme decision making body.

(e) Prior to Ontario Conference all members will receive the pre-conference bulletin.

(f) Where members are unable to attend, they may cast a proxy vote cast through the Ontario Secretary on any motion or amendment on the agenda.

[b]7. The Delegates Council[/b]
(a) The Delegates Council is responsible for agreeing policy between conferences. The Delegates Council is made up of an elected and mandated delegate from each Branch.

(b) Ontario Secretary is responsible for the co-ordination of the Delegate Council. The Ontario Secretary shall chair the delegates council meetings but shall have no vote.

(c) An agenda will always be circulated at least 10 days prior to meetings. Motions can be placed on the agenda by submitting them in writing to the Ontario Secretary up to 11 days before the meeting.

(d) The Delegate Council meets at least once every two months.

(e) An emergency DC meeting can be called inside 10 days. Such a meeting is only quorate if 50% of possible delegates are present and all Branches were notified of the meeting. Emergency meetings may be called
i) through a motion passed by two or more Branches.
ii) through petition by one third of the membership,
iii) at the request of one third of the delegate council delegates,
iv) at the request of any two Ontario officers.

(f) For a meeting of the Delegate Council to be quorate, at least 50% of delegates must be present (attendance at such meetings can be via telephone conferencing where necessary). No quorum of votes is required. Branches are expected to have voted on all motions submitted on time to Delegate Council. Votes are counted on a one-member one-vote basis.

(g) The local DC delegate should be granted 48 hours to collect votes from their local branch, via email and/or telephone for all timely endorsements of public statements and for amendments.

[b]8. Working Groups & Caucuses [/b]

(a) These Working Groups & Caucuses may be established in one of 3 ways:
i) by a motion passed by Ontario Conference
ii) by a motion passed by Delegates Council
iii) by a group of at least 3 interested members

(b) Working Groups & Caucuses may develop draft policies to present to Ontario Conference and/or Delegate Council but may not alter or delete any existing policy without the agreement of Ontario Conference.

(c) In order for a campaign or an issue to be considered a local or provincial Common Cause priority a working group or caucus must be established to co-ordinate the organization's work on this issue. A minimum of two Branches must be represented for it to be considered a provincial priority or a local priority if there is more than one branch in an area.

(d) The chair of a working group is elected by the membership of Common Cause at our annual conference. If the Working Group is created between conferences, its chair will be elected through a D.C. motion. The chair is recallable from their position by a motion to the Delegate Council: this motion must be first passed by a local branch and then voted on by all members of the organization. Replacement working group chairs (if someone steps down or is recalled) will be elected at the next Delegate Council. The role of the chair will be to ensure that the working group meets at least once every two months, and that the working group submits a report to each conference. As well, Common Cause has the ability to further mandate the working group with additional responsibilities, through motions at the annual conference or at a Delegate Council.

(e) Any interested member may join a Working Group.

(f) A Caucus is a working body which is equity-seeking or based around identity. Caucuses have the right to limit their membership based on identity or other qualification which they set out. Caususes are responsible for electing their own chair from the membership of that caucus. Caucus chairs are still responsible for submitting a report to each conference, but Common Cause cannot mandate these bodies.

[b]9. Internal Bulletin:[/b]
(a) The IB will be produced at least once every quarter by the Ontario Secretary.

(b) It is sent to all members via email as a pdf document or if requested by postal mail.

(c) The IB contains reports from Branches, Working Groups, Ontario Officers, minutes from Delegate Council meetings as well as proposals and discussion articles submitted by members.

[b]10. Ontario officers:[/b]
(a) Conference elects a Ontario Secretary, Treasurer and one or more Outside Ontario Secretaries. It may create and fill other Ontario positions as it sees fit.

(b) Only Ontario officers are subject to recall by Ontario conference or a 2/3 vote of Delegate Council.

(c) Ontario Officers must be members in good standing immediately before nomination. A person elected to office must remain in continuous good standing until assuming that office or forfeit the right to hold the office. Officers that fail to maintain good standing automatically vacate office. Alternates shall be the remaining nominees in the order of votes received. In cases where there is no alternate candidate available an member shall be appointed at a delegate council meeting until an election can be held by referendum.

(d) All elections shall be held by secret ballot, and results recorded and published in the post-conference or internal bulletin.

(e) The responsibilities of the Ontario Officers are:

[b]Newspaper Editor[/b]
i) Responsible for editing and publishing the Linchpin newspaper.
ii) To co-ordinate a monthly meeting of newspaper delegates from each Branch.
iii) To place a report in each IB.

[b]Ontario Secretary[/b]
i) To keep a record of all Ontario correspondence.
ii) To keep and maintain a membership list for the organization and issue membership cards to individuals and Branch secretaries.
iii) To write a report on Ontario Conference for publication.
iv) To correspond and propose membership to contacts that live outside existing areas of activity as outlined in the membership section.
v) To coordinate and chair the Delegate Council and to ensure that mandates are recorded and carried out.
vi) To coordinate Ontario Conference and to ensure that mandates are recorded and carried out.
vii) To produce the Pre-Ontario Conference, Post-Conference and Internal Bulletin
viii) To place a report in each IB.

[b]Ontario Treasurer[/b]
i) To keep a record of all funds and financial transactions at provincial level.
ii) To keep a record of all members' dues payments and inform the Ontario Secretary if a member falls into bad standing.
iii) To place in each IB a financial statement.

[b]Out of Ontario Secretary(s)[/b]
i) To establish and maintain contact with similar organizations abroad, and to send them our publications and news of our activities.
ii) To organize the translation of articles from foreign papers, and to be responsible for the writing of articles when requested by contacts abroad.
iii) To act as a delegate to
iv) To place a report in each IB.

[b]11. Branch Officers[/b]
(a) Each Branch shall elect a Branch Secretary & Treasurer and is free to create other officer positions as it sees fit.

(b) The Branch Secretary shall:
i)Be responsible for organizing branch meetings, printing agendas and any other material.
ii)Issue membership cards and copies of the constitution and any Branch bylaws to new members.
iii) Keep a record of correspondence with the Branch.
iv) Endeavor to keep all members in good standing and aware of all activities and policy.
v) Place a report in the IB

(c) The Branch Treasurer shall:
i) Keep a record of all funds and financial transactions at Branch level.
ii) Keep a record of all members' dues payments and inform the Branch Secretary and Ontario Treasurer if a member falls into bad standing.
(iii) Provide a financial statement at a Branch meeting each month.

[b]12. Finance:[/b]
(a) Membership dues are from 1% to 3% of income according to the number of people financially dependent on the member concerned. An actual figure will be worked out in consultation with the Branch treasurer. Members without dependents who are financially unable to pay 3% of income may arrange with the Branch treasurer to pay a lower percentage, as low but no lower than 1% of income and is willing to negotiate with members in genuine financial need.

(b) 40 per cent of this money is retained by the Branch, and 60 per cent is sent to the Ontario Treasurer for the use of the organization at an Ontario level.

(c) Income includes;
-Net Pay from work after all taxes and deductions.
-Employment Insurance
-Any other money that is not a loan

(d) Income excludes;
-Ontario Works
-Ontario Disability Support Program
-Canada Pension Plan
-Old Age Security Related Income
-Income earned by prisoners
-Strike pay
-Student loans (or any other type of loans)
-Passport funding/direct funding (disability)

(e) Post-Secondary students who are supported financially are expected to pay the appropriate dues rate on this income. To exempt these individuals but expect payment from those students who work is to grant unfair privilege. Common Cause opposes the high tuition fees in Canada.

(f) Monthly dues are payable the first of each month. Members whose dues are 60 days in arrears (60 days from the first of the month when dues were payable), shall be in bad standing and shall not be entitled to any rights or benefits in Common Cause until such dues have been paid. After 6 months in bad standing members cannot take part in business meetings.

[b]13. Organization policy[/b]
(a) The policy of the organization is first and foremost the Preamble and the position papers as drawn up and amended by Ontario conference. All proposed position papers must be compatible with the Preamble which forms the core of our anarchism. All other policy decisions must be compatible with these position papers and are changed or reversed by any subsequent motions passed by Ontario conference and/or Delegate Council

(b) Position papers are divided into a general section and a short term section. The general section contains the theoretical position of the organization on the question. The short term perspectives section outlines the organizations policy on immediate questions and the tactics we intend to implement.

(c) Motions to Delegate Council can set, amend or delete collective policy i.e. a position paper.

(d) Any amendment to the constitution must be made at the Ontario Conference and circulated beforehand in the Pre-Conference Bulletin.

(e) All Branches are required to implement policy where conditions allow. If members are delegates from the organization at external events they are expected to argue for policy.

(f) In Unions and campaign groups while members are expected not to argue against Organization policy they can vote freely. And where they carry a mandate from a section of that group or union to put forward an argument against policy they may do so.

(g) Where members disagree with existing policy they are free to argue within the organization for a new policy. They are also free to express disagreement as part of public debates and informal discussions where they indicate they are speaking in an individual capacity.

(h) Branches and individual members are free to engage in any political activity which does not contradict existing policy.

[i]As agreed August 2011[/i]