Dr. Wayne Roberts, 1944-2020
By Skip Hambling
IF YOU DIDN'T KNOW WAYNE ROBERTS YOU MISSED OUT ON SOMETHING GOOD.
Wayne died on January 20. He was my good friend and comrade for about 40 years. We had a lot of fun together. Not fun in the partying-all-night kind of way; but partying in the fighting the good fight, preparing-for-the-day-of-the-glorious-revolution, kick-the-ass-of-the-ruling-class kind of way. Always preparing for the day of the glorious revolution and never, ever doubting it would come. It was that unwavering, never wobbling conviction that kept it being fun.
Never jittery. Never scared. Eager to wallow in life, to “suck the marrow out of it”, like Henry Thoreau said. And to demand that possibility for every other human on earth.
We had faith in each other. And faith in everyday people. And so we were invincible. Losing this battle or that fight didn’t matter. In the long run we were going to win—and so we pressed on.
When I met Wayne he was all politics, all the time and so was I. He was pioneering the teaching of the social history of labour unions and working with the Trotskyite newspaper Forward in Toronto. I was editing the NDP paper in Saskatchewan. We both had trouble toeing a party line. It made us fast friends.
We worked closely together for a time on projects for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and the Oil Chemical and Energy Workers Union and then went on to other separate things.
Wayne became a prominent columnist on social issues and on current affairs in Toronto and then a respected and honoured leader in the world fight for food security. We made no real effort to stay in touch—but never lost touch either. We were comrades after all.
It didn’t surprise me at all to learn that in his very last days Wayne would laugh a lot in the practice and pursuit of what he called “radical happiness.” And why not?
That’s what he wanted for everyone all the time—as unionist, columnist, food security activist—it was human happiness as a right that he was really after.
He was ever and always a happy warrior. The kind—the only kind—that ever wins revolutions.
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