Socialist Activist, Ecologist: The Wayne Roberts We Knew

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Socialist Activist, Ecologist: The Wayne Roberts We Knew

Harry Kopyto, Gord Doctorow and John Darling

The tributes that have been made to Wayne Roberts (born 30 September 1944) for his work as a food-policy leader and activist are well known and continue to be made after his untimely death on January 20th, 2021. There is no question that “this kid from Scarberia,” as he described himself, played a highly respected role as an environmentalist, writer, speaker, professor, food-policy leader, and teacher of “food actionism skills.” His unique talents as a mentor, popularizer, writer, and inspirer of anti-corporate food visions were widely acknowledged.

We worked with Wayne in the 1960s, 70s,... and the 80s. We were fellow comrades of his in the League for Socialist Action (LSA), the Young Socialists (YS), and starting in the early 1970s, the Socialist League, which was also often referred to as the Forward Group, after its paper. Wayne was its editor during most of its existence, starting with its second issue in 1974 and continuing well into the mid-1980s. These movements were identified by the public at large as associated with the views of Leon Trotsky.

Wayne’s interest in the Trotskyist movement followed his attendance on a Woodrow Wilson scholarship to obtain his Masters in Berkeley, California. Berkeley was the epicenter of the youth-and-student radicalization on the US west coast that swept through the world, starting in the mid-1960s. Wayne had met our US comrades there in the Young Socialist Alliance before coming back to Toronto, where he quickly found himself comfortable with the LSA and YS despite being raised by parents who had deep roots in the Stalinized Communist Party – a background shared by several other comrades.

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