Chronicling community action, revolutionary and revealing thought

Monday, June 28, 2004

Election matters

Take a look at the latest posts to help you decide where to place your vote...

*if* you're voting that is...

Vote or not voting, my official statement is this:- Voting is the lowest form of democracy. There's more to be done than coming out for a hour or two of your time every four years and marking an x. Much, much more.


MILLER'S BASH GETS BASHED: Social Cleansing Mayor Picketed by OCAP

Seen this?

The link


Ya gotta wonder about a party that pisses off people as conservative as the NIMBYing homeowners in the Parkdale Residents Association.

Apparently, the conservative rep for the area felt coming would be a waste of their time

Here's the letter they're sending off to the public and media:-

 "This letter is written to inform you of our community's extreme dissatisfaction with the Conservative Party of Canada. Juri Klufas, the Conservative candidate for the riding of Parkdale-High Park, deliberately avoided the only all candidates meeting in our community.
 Though this meeting was attended by all other major candidates, Robert Wells, the campaign manager for Mr. Klufas, told The Parkdale Residents Association that the Conservative candidate would not attend the meeting because he had little chance of swaying many voters in the area; in short, he did not feel that addressing our community would be a worthwhile use of Mr. Klufas' time. As a representative of the Conservative Party of Canada, Mr. Klufas' avoidance of our all candidates meeting speaks volumes about the Conservative’s complete lack of interest in the community of Parkdale.
 Parkdale is an area of Toronto that has been largely ignored and avoided by decision makers. Given the diversity of race, class, religion, and ideology found in Parkdale, it is a community that acts as a microcosm of Canada. By avoiding the challenges Parkdale presents to goverment, the Conservative Party avoids the challenges of Canada as a whole.
 Though the Conservative slogan states that we should "Demand Better," the actions of their party's representatives certainly do not convince us to "Vote Conservative."

The Parkdale Residents Association"

FYI on election candidates

More from Don Weitz:-

I also sent this to - good show hosted by Adrian Harwood

The only candidate in the current federal election who has seriously addressed the issue of homelessness and affordable housing is NDP candidate/co-op housing advocate Michael Shapcott. About a week ago at an all candidates meeting in St. Lawrence Hall in Toronto,  he recently summarized an important NY study by Dr. Shin (?) published in a national public health journal. It's major conclusion is that SUSIDIZED HOUSING is the major solution to reduce or eliminate hoelessness. This study also refutes the common popular assumption that "mental illness" is a cause of homelessness. wish I had more details -
- don

Parkdale Tenants Assn. workshop Followup

From Bart Poesiat:-

First of all, congratulations on the success of the Tenants' Rights workshop and Rally Tuesday, June 8th, at the Parkdale Library. We had the room filled up and by all accounts the effort was much
appreciated by the tenants.

What's more, we managed to send a strong message to Gerard Kennedy, when he arrived at the meeting, about what is necessary in a new tenant law.

Also, we picked up some contacts, some new members and hopefully some new volunteers and spread the word about the Golden Cockroach (who was of course present at the meeting).

The link

Friday, June 25, 2004

PAC Minutes: Wed.Jun.23, 2004 meeting: Masaryk-Cowan rec centre


it looks like we have a new issue
on our hands which is a direct result
of the police budget increase and
decisions made by City Council
under Mayor David Miller.

ISSUE: Masaryk-Cowan Recreation
has closed weekends due to lack of
city funding. This comes when City
Council granted the police the largest
spending increase in the history
of Toronto. The 2004 police budget
was increased to $690 million from
$650 million in 2003.

PAC is beginning actions to mobilize
Parkdale around this issue.

Here are the ideas we discussed last
Wednesday, June 23, 2004.

Sue Duncan, Mike Leitold, Frank Nieto,
Leo David, Grace Diaz, Robin Nieto

1) We will organize a neighbourhood meeting
around this issue
Tuesday, July 6, 2004 at 7:00PM in park
behind rec centre on Cowan Ave, near library.

2) A letter-writing campaign has already begun
focussing on politicians, particularly Councillor
Sylvia Watson, and Mayor David Miller as well as
the media (Grace has agreed to write draft letter)

3) We will talk to Councillor Sylvia Watson
about the issue

4) We will contact people who already use the
rec centre by putting up notices inside the rec

5) Part of our campaign to save the rec centre
will be hanging a large banner over the Roncesvalles
bridge advertising the issue (Sue&Tricia)

6) Will collect signatures from neighbourhood on
petition to present to City Hall (Sue to create
draft of petition)

7) Will create flyers and posters for
distribution around neighbourhood starting
Monday, June 28
(robin, Mike, volunteers from Parkdale
Intercultural Centre)

8) Invite local newspaper reporter from
Parkdale/Liberty to attend neighbourhood
meeting on Tues. July 6, 2004

9) Will invite musicians to meeting and
have banner making time
(Mike for musicians - Sue and Trician
for banner)

10) Possible to have free food that day?

11) Contact Indra from rec centre to
talk about issue (Leo&Grace)

Monday, June 21, 2004

Golden Cockroach Awards Building Rating

Building rating slated for Tuesday, June 22nd, 6:30 pm and meeting. Meet right across from 55 Triller Ave. -- The 20 story building on Triller just North of Queen St. Triller Ave is just one block East of Roncesvalles, running North-South.

(Neelam Sharma knows the exact number of the building to be rated, so everyone meets right across the street from 55 Triller.)

See you there.

The link

Don Weitz on the homeless issue

Not one federal party "leader" has discussed the issue of affordable housing and the national shame and disaster of homelessness so far. Ask Paul Martin, Jack Layton Stephen Harper- WHY NOT? Paul Martin in a pre-election mode, sometimes claimed he and his Liberal Party were committed to affordable housing and plan to spend "$680 million" for affordable housing across Canada over the next 5 years. Really?1 That promise is about as credible as the Liberal and Tory promise to "eliminate child poverty by year 2000". Jack Layton should also be criticized. In 2000, Layton published his book titled "Homelessness-The Making and Unmaking of a Crisis - he seemed to really care about doing something to alleviate this national disaster and shame. BUT during his election campaign Layton has said virtually nothing about building affordable housing - except to mention once or twice in 10-second soundbites an NDP promise to build "20,000 units" each year for the next 5 years. But there has been no detailed discussion by these "leaders", no analysis of homelessness, affordable housing, or poverty by the media. I also never heard Layton, Martin and Harper mention homelessness or affordable housing as a major issue during the recent tv debates or in their tv ads. In this election, homelessnes and affordable housing are non-issues, no discussion of a national housing policy. All this in the second richest country in the world!

Layton, Martin and Harper have betrayed us and what little is left of our "social safety net". More disturbing, these "leaders" have betrayed and lied to the many thousands of homeless and poor people struggling to survive on our mean streets and in overcrosded, disease-ridden (TB), bug-infested, violence-prone shelters. These "leaders" have also betrayed 72,000 thousand families in Toronto waiting for years for an affordable and decent place to live, and they've betrayed at least another hundred thousand people across Canada waiting to be housed while denied the international human right to safe and affordable housing.

A goddamn disgrace and shame! Equally shameful is the stunning lack of public outrage or mass protest! It's time to cønfront these "leaders" and your local candidates at all-candidates meetings. If not now, when?

Don Weitz
social justice activist

Sunday, June 20, 2004

NDP candidates party

Went to an NDP candidates party.

Old Ed Broadbent was there with Jack Layton
and each and every NDP candidate for this
federal election, including Peggy Nash,
the NDP's candidate for this riding.

I have serious reservations when it
comes to the NDP, particularly the Ontario
NDP, since we know what they were like
when they were in power in this province
under Bob Rae.

But my reservations becomes resistance after
NDP folks like Toronto City Mayor David Miller
are elected to office and then ignore folks
from Parkdale and give the police a $40 million
budget increase while our neighbourhood is
starved for funds.

The police budget for 2004 is close to $700
million even while Toronto's crime rate is one
of the lowest of any city its size in the world
and our crime rate is decreasing.

Miller's move to increase police funding
while not funding community programs
will come back to haunt him because now our
community recreation centre may be closing
weekends due to a lack of funding.

Our rec centre already has a scarcity of
programs for the kids and for youth and now
they will be closing weekends all because they
have no city funds to operate.

The social democratic mayor of this city ignores our
community's state of delapidation, and in turn
supports the police force which has been charged
with several counts of corruption by the country's
national police force, the RCMP.

This week we will find out what the rec centre
will do. If they are compelled to shut down
weekends because of a lack of funds that means
we should hold a protest festival holding Mayor
David Miller accountable for the strangling of
our rec centre.

What irks me the most about the NDP is their
lefter and smarter-than-thou attitude. Some NDP
members protect Miller by claiming he is playing
a complicated game at City Hall where he will be
reigning in the power of the police while
supporting communities.

Well, that's nonsense and comes from a religious
belief in a party because there's nothing else
poor people can count on. Giving the police
$40 million and then ignoring neighbourhoods
that very much need help is sacrificing
the people of our neighbourhood for the
'intelligent'game of a crafty lawyer who
thinks he can play political chess at City Hall
without the backing of the people of that made him

This week we find out what happens with our
rec centre. If it shuts down weekends and does
not have summer programs for the kids, we should
make Miller pay a political price for sacrificing
this neighbourhood. And a mass festival
in Parkdale protesting cuts to our communities
due to Miller's decisions would be a good start.

I am not a party activist. I would hope
I could be a neighbourhood or even community
activist. And as such, I believe we should hold
all of our representatives accountable to our needs.
That's the reason we put them up there in the first

It doesn't matter if those politicians are
tories or the NDP. If they're not serving our
needs, then they are not doing a good job and
we have a duty to protest them right out of power.

The Liberal incumbent for our riding
Sarmite Bulte will hopefully be ousted by
Peggy Nash. Then it will be David Miller's
turn during the following city election if he
keeps up his municipal policies of
starving neighbourhoods of funds, failing
to prevent the eviction of homeless people out
of their street shelters in the name of the law,
not providing them with adequate
housing and then giving the already over-funded,
abusive and corrupt city police force, the
largest spending increase in the history of

And Miller is an NDPer? At least we can rest
assured the NDP will not be in power in this
country, not after the 2004 federal election
anyhow. But at the very least, these NDPers
can be good critics in the house of commons.
A vote to put NDP candidates in the critic's
seat is a vote put to good use.

See how supportive I am of the NDP?

Christopher-Reid killing commentary snubbed

Talked with Don Weitz who sent this commentary to the Toronto Star and guess what...

(No, really guess what...?!)

They didn't publish it.

Now, for those who don't know Don Weitz, here's just a tip-of-the-iceberg info on him:- In addition to being an active member of the community, he does the Anti-Psychiatry Radio program every Friday on CKLN 88.1 FM as part of OCAP Radio. He has also published a book with Bonnie Burstow titled "Shrink Resistant:the struggle against psychiatry in Canada", so he has some idea of what he's talking about. He's sort of what you'd term a "community elder"; a mine of information.

Since they didn't see it fit to publish what he wrote, he read it out on the radio.

And I am putting it here on this here humble weblog.

Here's what he wrote:

"The Toronto police killing of 26-year-old O'brien Christopher-Reid on June 13 is not just tragic but outrageous ("Man is shot dead, officer hit in park," June 14). Christopher-Reid's death marks about the 15 or 16th person with a psychiatric history whom Toronto police have killed in as many years. According to police accounts, Christopher-Reid was "bare-chested" and "wielding a knife" somewhere in Edwards Gardens when confronted by three heavily armed policemen - namely Rick Milson, John Leggio and Sergeant Darren Berzowski. Instead of shooting Christoher-Reid, these policemen could have disarmed him, or at least tried to talked him down. Since Christopher-Reid was a young black man, the police probably didn't try treating him as another human being in crisis. Another example of police racism?

Police are not trained to deal with people's emotional crises, they're trained to reach for the gun or another weapon, and follow orders. Maybe they get a few days of lectures or role-playing in a course on "the mentally ill" at the C.O. Bick Police Academy. However, such a course is apparently useless, a waste of time and taxpayers' money. In their zeal to "serve and protect", the police are still targeting-demonizing-killing African-Canadians, Aboriginal people, people of colour, homeless people, and psychiatric survivors on the street and in our parks.

Police Chief Fantino and Ontario's Community and Social Affairs Minister Monte Kwinter now want to further arm the police with "sub-lethal"(?) 50,000-volt taser/stun guns to ue on more people like Christopher-Reid. ("Park death prompts Taser call," June 15). Glock guns , pepper-spray, tear gas, expandable batons, and plastic handcuffs aren't enough.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is investigating the death of Christopher-Reid including several "subject" police officers and witnesses. Wanna bet the SIU won't charge any police? "Serve and protect", right?

Don Weitz
Member, Justice for Otto Vass Committee

Since I am familiar with people who have psychiatry issues, as well as literally living down the road from where Otto Vass was beaten to death in 5 minutes to the point of being unrecognizeable, I'll also humbly suggest you NAG THE PEOPLE AT THE TORONTO STAR for their bit of censorship.

The link

Feature Articles Up

Moved Robin's account of the local all-candidates meeting to the Features page.

Check here soon for a primer on Parkdale's history! Also to be on the Features page.

The link

Saturday, June 19, 2004

The power of the neighbourhood

The neighbourhood is the fundamental basis
of political and economic power.

Those with power and money recognize this as
we can well see during this federal election.

Untouchable and unseen political representatives
sheepishly make their way into our neighbourhoods
knocking on our doors in order to take
our vote. They know very well that each of us
'nobodies' count because each of us puts them in
power with each of our votes.

And companies bombard us with their advertisements
because each of us will consume their products
making them the wealthiest companies and
corporations in the world.

The powerful and the wealthy know our power.
So how come we don't seem to get it?

To organize in Parkdale is not an easy task.
People come and go. We don't create our own
long-term door-to-door campaigns to get to
know each other and to work towards pooling
our political and economic resources to create a
strong neighbourhood. While we don't have these
campaigns, politicians and companies do.

We are apathetic because of a system that
seperates us from each other. Our values are
individualistic and yet we are dependent on
the powers that be for our financial and social

Social change is a slow process and the best
place to start is in neighbourhoods.

That's why we here in Parkdale are sticking to
the Parkdale Action Coalition because we recognize
the power of our neighbourhood.

Friday, June 18, 2004



Folks. It’s time we had our own media.
We here at the corner of Lansdowne and Queen
have prepared a TV studio for the neighbourhood.
The set is ready and the cameras are ready to
roll. All that’s needed now is the people of


PARKDALE TV is calling for individuals and
organizations interested in being part of
local community television programming for
our neighbourhood.

The goal of Parkdale TV is to highlight the
points-of-view of the people of this
neighbourhood and to properly represent the
full diversity of Parkdale to build stronger
ties between us and a more informed and socially
conscious community.

If you are poor, unemployed, an immigrant,
a student, a worker or agencies serving these
groups, then you qualify to produce your own
television program to be aired in Parkdale
pending CRTC licensing.

English is not required.

Send your program proposals

Thursday, June 17, 2004

PAC people put federal candidates on the spot

Check out Robin Nieto's report on the local candidates meeting in the features section, titled"FEDERAL CANDIDATES PUT ON THE SPOT IN PARKDALE ALL-CANDIDATES MEETING"

The link

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Nyuk, Nyuk

Ok. So it's almost a week since the last NOW magazine was out.

But it's still funny, nonetheless.

Thanks to NOW for the article on Liberals who could do us a favour by giving up their seats to worthy NDP candidates.
 My MP in Parkdale, Sarmite Bulte, rarely shows her face in my part of the riding and is generally loath to respond to questions.
 After a few months trying to get her to tell me how she felt about [the] expansion of the Island Airport, I didn't get a response.
 This is no real surprise, I guess.
 Other than businessmen, the only people I can imagine using the Island Airport are downtown liberals too lazy to make the trip up to Pearson like the rest of us.

Peter Morgan

Raise the Rates & homeless followup

Unfortunately I wasn't able to get to the Raise the Rates rally, but I just talked to the guys at OCAP and here's the lowdown on what happened:-
A contingent of about 50 people showed up at the Jarvis welfare office. They spoke to the manager and asked her to deliver the message to the Provincial authorities she answers to that they're concerned about the rates. They arrived at Queen's Park to find all the doors locked.

(...all hands up to who was surprised?? Nobody? Ok, let's move on...)

Someone found a way in.

Homeless still under Gardiner = Check;

Here's the thing:-
 From what OCAP's getting feedback on, as bad as the wholesale clearing of the poor and disenfranchised was since 1998 and that Safe Streets Act, it's worse now. WORSE. They're working the East and West ends.
 OCAP refers to it as "Social Cleansing". fitting term.
 John Clarke was telling me about a 74 year-old woman in the Chinatown area who was vending vegetables who was thrown to the ground, her goods possibly confiscated, that's the extent it's reached.

You got time tomorrow, the 17th, to head to Osgoode Station around 4:00pm, do it.

Mark your calendars, folks:- August's the time they plan to inject a little poor people's realism into the nice big fat Liberal fundraising barbeque in Rosedale.

Thursday, June 10, 2004


For the past month community meetings have been held in several different
neighborhoods in Toronto around raising welfare and ODSP rates in Ontario.
In the east people decided to do a march from the welfare to the odsp
offices in their neighborhoods. People from parkdale are welcomed to come
out and join this community.
MEAL +MARCH Friday June 11 10am Jarvis and Wellesley.
for more information about this action or the RAISE THE RATES CAMPAIGN
call 416-925-6939

Homeless man dead stone's throw from Gatekeeper squat

The morning of June 1, 2004, a homeless man died within yards of an empty building at 558 Gerrard - the house that Dennis Mills, MP, pretended to lay his job on the line over by promising to see it opened as housing last winter. Obviously Mills failed.
From OCAP's page:-
What stock should be put on such a vague promise coming as it does from a man who can't open one building for the homeless is a rather serious question. Moreover, given the experiences of poor neighbourhoods over the last number of years, the mantra of 'mixed neighbourhoods' is one we have learned to greet with extreme suspicion. Condos and upscale housing is where the developers make their money and they have precious little interest in housing the poor. On the contrary, the agenda is to socially cleanse poor areas and demolish low income housing projects so that the central area of the City can be redeveloped for the upwardly mobile. Token and declining percentages of 'affordable housing' within this process will not prevent the relentless drive to push the poor out and the defence of existing communities must be taken up.

The link

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

PAC meeting, Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Well, numbers at meetings have really dwindled.
Today we had 3 people show up at the meeting
which was held outside the Health Centre across
the street from Parkdale Legal Centre.

We decided to meet again next week on Wednesday
at 730PM, (at Parkdale Legal) to distribute posters
for the Parkdale festival to be held tentatively
on July 10, 2004.

We’re waiting for word from the ED of Masaryk-Cowan
for that date. Hopefully we will get the word on that
date way before next week’s meeting.

Also, next week another issue of the Parkdale Bulletin
will be coming out so if you want to be published please
submit your article by Monday, June 14.

This weekend it’s MOSAIC’s park party on Saturday
-11am to 11pm and on Sunday it’s the Colombian BBQ.


Youth Rally against Police Brutality-Thursday, June 10, 6 pm @ Queen's Park

Protest the Racist Murder of Jeffrey
Reodica (May 6, 1987 - May 24, 2004)

Speakers: Coalition Against War and Racism; Young Left; Black Action
Defense Committee (Dudley Laws); Pueblo Unido; Philippine Network for
Justice and Peace.

Jeffrey Reodica is a 17 year old Filipino youth who was unarmed and shot in

the back three times by Metro Police on May 21st. He has been portrayed in
the media as a knife wielding gang member. This negative image is clearly
a tool to distract us from the truth, that this was a Racist Murder
by members of the Metro Police. If one young person is not safe, none of
us are safe. We need to stand up and defend our youth form becoming victims

in a city that is criminalizing them and targeting youth of color. --Chi

Join us Thursday, June 10, 6 pm @ Queen's Park (College & University)

For an eyewitness account of the murder of Jeffrey:

The link

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

PAC meeting - Wednesday, June 9, 2004

PAC people meet tomorrow at
Parkdale Legal Centre at 730PM.

We will be planning PAC's
neighbourhood festival in July.

Hope to see you there.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

More on Electronic voting, and arbitrary detention

Apparently, there's a wee bit of the conflict of interest thing going on in regards to the electronic voting happening in the U.S. When layers of ownership are stripped back, you find that they are linked to global firms, defence contractors, even an offshore tax shelter with Saudi investment.
 Let's see. It goes something like this: a public official is offered a position with a voting machine vendor, then immediately awarded a huge salary, kind of an indirect payoff, then some of those officials go running for office. A secretary of state is in charge of a voing registry list. Secretary of State Bill Jones left office, took a position with Sequoia(sp?) Voting systems then started running for office at the same time. He has a paid association with a voting vendor. Same goes former Florida Secretary of State Sandra Mortham, who began to tout touch screen voting after taking part in a major purging of black voters in Florida. In South Carolina a $32 million ES&S (Electronic Systems & Software) contract was suspended when it was discovered a Committee Director who awarded it worked with an ES&S partner company.
  American votes are being counted by private companies with no disclosure, or foreign companies. Diebold, ES&S, and Sequoia are all Republican-controlled voting machine companies. Diebold processes all the Ohio votes; Ohio is as decisive as Florida was 4 years ago.
  Represantative Rush Holt, a democrat in New Jersey, has authored a Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act in an attempt to reform and heighten the security of voting systems. In the act, or HR2239, all voting machines would produce a voter verified paper record suitable for a manual audit. It would also require the source code of software in the voting machines be made available for inspection by any citizen. It also bans wireless communications in any voting system. It has 141 co-sponsors, more then 1/4 of the House; but less than 10 are Republican.
 (Why the hell am I not surprised...?)
  The bill languishes at the Committee on House Administration where it was referred a YEAR ago. (?!?!)
  Yeah, I mean something like that's not terribly important, ya know...
  Cindy Cohen, legal director of EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) says a trend in the courts is yet to be established since many of the lawsuits over botched votes are thrown out over procedural issues. She cites 18 incidents over the last 2 years where people were disenfranchised, votes were lost, when you voted for one person machine said you voted for another... "These are serious voting problems. And there are a lot of them."

  Oh, yeah. The UN released a report saying the U.S. may be guilty of war crimes in IRAQ.
  (wha... MAY?!?!)
  The UN was under intense pressure from the US and Britain- there's Abu Ghraib-style photos from brit soldiers, too- to soften the wording.
  (Can you say the US uses the UN like a hand uses a hand puppet? I will... )
  Some say the report doesn't go far enough.
(ya think??)

Thought I was forgetting Canda? Oh no...

  Serurity Certificates: heard of them? Well, you should. Amnesty International has some harsh criticism for Canada regarding them.
  They've been used incresingly since 9/11 for the indefinite detention and ultimate deportatin of foreign nationals who the Canadian government consider a threat to national security. They're held without evidence, it's not even made available to the person's legal representative or the wider public. Five men, all Arabs and/or Muslim are currently being held. Three have been held for over 2 years. Evidence can be presented without the detainees or their legal representatives being present in court. This violates basic international human rights that Canada's a signatory to. Not to mention what they're doing also assists in tme implicit criminalization of Arab and Muslim communities.

The link

Friday, June 04, 2004

BBQ in Parkdale - Sunday, June 13, 2004

The Canadian Colombian Association's planning a Colombian Solidarity Bar-B-Que, on Sunday June 13th from 1:00-7:00pm to raise funds for CASA to send a delegate on an international Solidarity caravan with the Colombian union movement , to take place from June 21st-25th, 2004. It will be a nice community vibe & it's for a  good cause. Come out & invite friends.It will be at 24 O'Hara Ave, right around the corner of O'Hara and Queen. A donation of  $10.00, includes a BBQ plate, with various vegetarian options.  Beer, wine and soft drinks will be available separately.

There will be live Music and a DJ.

Please confirm your attendance promptly with Paulina by Friday June 11th @416-532-9831.

Thursday, June 03, 2004


If you're in Toronto- in Parkdale, even- you'd think my post title was a drastic understatement.

So what's this I hear about the Wynns opening a new BUILDING..!?!?!

...CAN WE TALK...??

Parkdale Tenants Association News

Know your rights! The Parkdale Tenants Association will be holding an information session and tenants' rights workshop on Tuesday June 8 at 7 p.m., in the Parkdale Library (basement), 1303 Queen St. West (Queen & Cowan).

Learn about:-

  • Your rights as a tenant
  • How to fight bad living conditions and rent increases
  • The Ontario govenrment for a new tenant law
  • Have YOUR say what you want in the new law

Gerard Kennedy, M.P.P. for Parkdale-High Park, has been invited to hear tenants' views

Next meeting:-
Date: June 22 Time: 7:00 pm Location: PCLS, 1266 Queen St. W.

The link

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Tired of anonymous posting?

*clears throat, putting on announcer's voice*
Or I'll spank you.
(Or not, if that's your kind of thing...)

Gardiner Expressway Homeless Update

Looks like the cops have backed off.
For now.

The link

Tenant Protection Act Reform meeting-an excercise in futility?

So here's how my first Town Hall meeting went.
I entered, and looked around and Neelam Sharma waved me over to a seat next to her. The first thing that struck me was that I didn't see anyone from Parkdale's or Regent Park's demographic. They looked, to me, like they could all be living in the Annex. They could be tenants that are not doing too badly, or landlords, their supporters and their ilk doing the casual thing (I was almost right on one account, more on that later). I mutterd something about the place being "filled with landlords", and remembered my fellow members, in our new group Parkdale Action Coalition, relating the futility in voicing deputations when our mayor hadn't given the police their extra $50 million yet; they were relegated to the end of the line, the line up filled with pro-police supporters.

  Then Bart Poesiat showed up.

  I brightened immediately. I've seen him work himself like the thorn he was in ex-councillor Chris Korwin-Kuczynski's side in the past. His is a good voice to have at your side.

"So I asked Bart, "You see the Wynns?"

"Oh, no," he said. "You won't see them here. They'll never come to a thing like this."
"Oh really?"
"They'll get killed. It's mostly tenants here."
"Oh yeah."
Well, THAT's good to know! Still, I wished I saw more people from Parkdale. Where was Anna Thakar? I wondered. (soggy and if she went out again in the rain, she knew she'd get sick, I found out later.)
  Michael Rowland was the independent moderator; he gave the floor over to Brad Duguid. His delivery was, to my ears, too smooth. Too ... eh well you get what I mean. I thought, "oil slick." But then again I have a very sensitive bullshit detector. Or I could just be too sensitive.
Right. Back to what he was saying.
  He went on to say that "We've heard from tenants- concerns about the housing tribunal, rising rents, maintenance of buildings... We've heard from landlords, too."
(cue the bullshit detector...)
His tone took on that which you make when there's an argument and you're trying to tell one party the other party has a valid point.
"Landlords like the process the way it is now."
Derisive laughter from the majority of those seated. We're supposed to take that statement as is, and not analyse it, as if we're being unreasonable? Well yeah, they would like it the way it is now. They're sitting pretty(ier) than they did before Harris created the TPA.
  Sonia (Rolf?) took the floor and did a neat powerpoint presentation of the questionnaire. The official reason for the consultation included reforming the TPA of 1997, seeing that Ontarians receive decent housing, (I say official because we'll have to see if they actually listen and implement changes, or scrap parts of it altogether... more on that later). One of the points she covered was dispute resolution. She went on to state that the Ontario rental Housing Tribunal resolves disputes between landlords and tenants, and that if the tenant does not respond in five days to the eviction application, the Tribunal can issue a "default order" (without hearing).
"Tenants think the period is too short, landlords think it's too long."
Derisive laughter from those seated again.
  When it was time for those who wanted to speak to line up, Michael Rowland said there were long line-ups in London, Kitchener, Waterloo, Sudbury, and Scarborough, and everyone got a chance to have their say.
Fair enough...
Cathy from ACTO was the first to speak. She said we need a fair eviction process that uses it as a last resort. She went on to say there were over 100,000 evicted; and we need a new ORHT that is fair, open and unbiased. "Social housing houses 158,000 people; 42% pay 30% of their income on rent", she added, and noted that rents have increased in 1 and 2 bedroom apartments.
  A tenant's association representative, who identified himself as Rick, noted the remarkable results of the TPA: the remarkable amounts of evictions, the exodus from the city due to the high rents that's leading to a high school enrollment crisis (?!), and the over production of high-priced buildings no one can afford. He said "we applaud the 2% increase suspension for 2005", and that they should make the suspension permanent, not just for 2005. Applause from thoe seated.
  Another said that this was not the most accessible manner of reaching the most vulnerable members of the society, the thick executive summary, for one, and the venue was a barrier for them. This got applause. People would need help deciphering these materials, true.
  One person representing 900 apartment units pointed out that there was nothing protecting tenants from a bad landlord converting a building into condos.
  One landlord tried griping about "professional tenants" who drift from building to building...
Then one lady over to the far left in the rows behind me started sneering.
  God bless her. The voice of reason, to cut through the bull being offered up by truckful. No one attempted to silence her, either out of fear of her being picked out and displayed as an example of how unreasonable we, as tenants, are, or from a simple fussy need for order. Indeed, at her every retort, the majority indulged in gleeful snickering. Ah, to see the Wynns shoved into the midst of this!
  The third landlord (not the third to speak though; note the griping landlord) to say the same thing almost verbatim caught my attention; it was like a mantra. "The buildings are in better shape than ever..." "The market is working, why are you changing it?" At this announcement, everyone uttered a chorus of "Oh...." you could just hear them: what the hell was he saying? This dude got booed!
  I didn't see Eleanor Mahoney arrive. But she was at the microphone anyway. Another one, besides Bart, from Parkdale Legal Services. Rousing and spirited in delivery, she noted that the landlords had said that tenants could not afford their rental accomodations and it was an income problem. "They're right. It's THEIR income, and rents are too high!" Cheers and applause. Too boot, if a government demonstrated they have no cash, "what is going to make them take the cap off of rent controls and then give out endless income supplements? It doesn't make economic sense!" More cheers.
  Go Eleanor! She even managed to tell them about the Golden Cockroach awards for worst landlord! Upon hearing the award title, people hooted.
  I hustled over to Bart in the rows behind and asked why he wasn't speaking. He said he was busy handing out flyers, and there were enough of his compatriots there, besides the lines were too long. Meh.
  I found my seat in time to hear a classic.
  A representative for low-income Asian and S.E. Asian tenants said, "We applaud the fact that" the government has translated the literature they provided at the meeting into different languages, "including Chinese. However, the translastion is so poor that we have to translate it to them again."
A roar of laughter and applause. Me, I almost fell off my chair.
  "We will leave you with a proper translation. Thank you."
  Others came up to talk about timely maintenance and repair- that the government needs to improve work order compliance.
  One other said that just because the landlord decided to not do something for 25 years does not mean that the tenants should have to bear the capital expense. Huge applause.
  Another said there was a 25% increase in rents since 1995, that there are problems with the TPA default process, and that statistics Canada says 1 in 6 Canadians have problems reading and writing. They don't understand the order.
  One gentleman talked about how his landlord sold details of his tenancy to a landlords only website and that there are others, and "Where did the money for that go? HMM?"
  An employee at the Daily Bread Food Bank had this to say: that the people who come to them pay 64% of their income on rent, that 23% of them pay 74% of their income on rent, that $900 is the the usual rent with a median of $1300, and 55% of them do not have anyone to fall back on if they're in financial trouble.
  Someone from Jane & Finch Community Legal Services said that the poor, the working poor and new Canadians make up their clients, and said the Housing Tribunal was a major cause of homelessness, to a round of applause. No housing means you can't apply for jobs, no address, "What are you going to put as your address? Metro Toronto? Hmm?"
  At this point, an accountant in causal dress spoke up on behalf of... yup, you guessed it, landlords. There were numerous people talking on behalf of landlords, landlord groups, property management services and investors. I don't know how they could stand up there and say that everything's roses when they're disaster stories all around them. One woman in her flowery West Indian accent invited the representatives of the government present to accompany her to her apartment complex to see the state her fellow tenants were living in when the landlord was charging exorbitant fees for things like key money and hiking the rent.
  Another Parkdale Legal clinic representative spoke, and it summed up a sentiment predominant here. She related how when she had a problem in her place, her landlord fixed it, and how she felt strangely blessed and grateful, and she shouldn't be. "Tenants should not feel gratefulness for an equal service for their rent."
I agree.
And that's all she wrote.

PAC meets tomorrow night at 730PM at Parkdale Legal

Hi PAC people,

we meet tomorrow, Wednesday, June 2 at 730 PM at Parkdale
Legal Services.

Also, MOSAIC meets tomorrow at 600PM and needs to
see all interested volunteers for their June 12
Parkdale festival. According to MOSAIC's Anne-Marie,
if PAC volunteers do not attend tomorrow's meeting, then
MOSAIC will not provide us with a table the day of the

MOSAIC meets at the Parkdale Library in the basement...600PM.
Contact Anne-Marie at 416-533-1788.

The Parkdale Intercultural Association would like to
meet with us. They have some interesting programs
that could benefit some of our folks.

Contact Grace Diaz at 416-536-4420.