Chronicling community action, revolutionary and revealing thought

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Provincial by-election in Parkdale: Watson Vs. Di Novo

We have a by-election in our area due to the departure of that old smoothie, Gerrard Kennedy, who's off hunting for the Liberal leadership spot.

His provincial seat is open and the main condenders are former councillor, Sylvia Watson and that rebellious reverend Sherri Di Novo.

It's going to be a close race but I believe that Di Novo may have the edge on this one. That's because up to now, I haven't met one person in the neighbourhood yet who has anything positive to say about Watson. All bring up the same thing; she doesn't listen to anyone. She's done Ditto for community consultations. This doesn't go over very well in Parkdale.

What folks are saying is that Watson acts alone when making decisions for the neighbourhood. The Waterfront folks didn't like this. And the Dowling housing project people didn't like this.

Now I know that Watson is a lawyer, a solicitor general at City Hall at one time. I read she was in charge of a team of lawyers. So I'm not slagging her record as a lawyer, but as a community politician, she seems to have created an opposition out of folks who really weren't interested in focussing their attention on her.

In her defense, Watson is saying that she cleaned up Parkdale of the problematic bars that plagued Queen street for years. And that she expropriated a property on Queen and Dowling to have converted into a social housing project. Also that she got the Palais Royale opened up by the lake and was instrumental is getting development to the watefront.

The problem is that those things may not have been handled the way the community wanted. They were handled the way Sylvia Watson wanted.

So Watson will now have to answer to the people of Parkdale as to why she seems to have ignored them during her term as councillor and why she seems to have refused to consult with them. I just read that she didn't attend an all-candidates walk to the waterfront. So why should Parkdalians promote her to MPP if she doesn't seem very keen on listenting to them?

Di Novo has a good chance of winning despite her lack of experience as a politician because of Watson's perceived animosity towards the community. Listening to an interview with Di Novo on the CBC, she says her ministry is comprised mostly of the poor. Di Novo's philosophy seems to be based on inclusion and this may go over well in Parkdale where folks have been traditionally excluded.

If Di Novo uses the same electoral resources that put Peggy Nash in Ottawa, she stands a good chance of representing Parkdale at Queens Park.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Even the Parkdale Liberty's joining in with giving Sylvia Watson flak.

"Sylvia Watson may be entering the only election of her life where her opponents are cheering for her."
"...Now Watson – who has recently been taking a lashing from residents’ groups over her handling of waterfront issues –"

And I can't defend her or even rebutt. If anything I can add fuel to the fire.

Last year Chris Wykes, who was on the Board of Directors for a halfway house, where people of Sri Lankan descent are being helped to re-integrate into society after being through the mental health system, invited me to a community meeting regarding the issue of them being in Parkdale, with Sylvia Watson moderating.

Anyone aware of or involved with gentrification issues only has to hear the word "Homeowner" from here on, but for those who are confused, I'll say this much:- 1) They don't like their property values going down and 2)NIMBYing. If #2 confuses you, I invite you to read on and all will become clear.

Owen Leach showed up as well, and I got a kick out of watching the homeowners snap their necks doing double-takes when the black man with grey hair started talking on the same side of the room where they'd set up shop, rousing in his denouncement of their NIMBYing and how they (the other homeowners) don't speak for him, and that he supports the halfway house. Before that, they were ignoring him. I noticed it. Owen knew it. He himself mentioned it afterwards.

There's that other aspect of the property owners; the undercurrent of racism. And I'll leave it at that. At the same time, I'm not saying they're all white; there was one Asian woman among them at the meeting that I can recall. You're also confronted face-on with classism, and just how much of a behemoth the disenfranchised have to combat, in regards to what they face from the rest of society. They all live in Parkdale.

When Owen starts speaking, you always start feeling like you should be bringing him a pulpit, or wondering who took away the beam of sunlight that's supposed to spotlight on him from the clouds. And I am not exaggerating. The last time I saw him speak, he stole the show from some panelists at the Marxism conference in Ryerson University. He brought the house down; the entire auditorium went mad, on their feet, cheering, chanting his name if they knew him. At one point the entire place started chanting "Sol-sol-sol! Solidarite!". The one thing the auditorium definitely wasn't, was quiet or still. And the man had arrived LATE.

Back to the community meeting.

Sylvia Watson displayed no bias during the meeting, but the same can't be said for the homeowners. There was one who was going on about when you look into their (psychiatric patients') eyes, you don't know what's going on in there, and they walk around with their pants around their ankles, yes she saw one doing that... I spoke up and said she had no idea what she was talking about. She got mad and would have continued shouting at me if it were not for the fact that I had prime examples of people who were active, contributing members to the community, who had mental health issues. She literally went "Hrmph!" and waved a hand dissmissively at me, but she couldn't really say anything; by then staff members who were present had started to clap. One middle-aged white female was actually wiggling her head slightly at one point during the meeting. Another Board member, of Sri Lankan descent, had noticed her do that as well, so it wasn't my imagination. This middle-aged woman was quite adamant about people entertaining tricks, and having to avert kids from a random discardecd condom or some needle. Them's be hookers you're talking 'bout, miss. These here are psychiatric survivors. Try and at least stay on topic, will you?

It was pointed out that they not only have a right to be there, they *belong* there, and they themselves are members of the community; there ARE Sri Lankans living in Parkdale, you know. If the concern truly was eradicating problems like those in the community, you had to address the underlying CAUSE for people being disenfranchised; if you didn't care and simply wanted no nuisances or eyesores, then you just sweep them up off the streets like the cops did in downtown Toronto. But you know the answer to that already; Not In My Back Yard. They want a cosmetic cover-up of the symptom. They don't want to see them.

Never mind the halfway house's residents were not raving lunatics; Bart himself had talked at some PTA meetings about the time he went to take a look at the place, and what he saw of those living there. When you looked in their eyes, they were so drugged up, they were "like zombies".

( cue mental image of someone stumbling around stiff legged, arms outstretched before them, saying "Weeeee willll walllk arrrooound with oooouuur pantssss around our annn-klessss..." )

So now you should have an idea of what we have to put up with, at meetings at least.

Then there was the issue of the zoning snafus the halfway house was entangled in. By this point in time it's general knowledge, but suffice it to say that at one point they had gone to Sylvia Watson. Not only was she in a position to advise and point them in the right direction, in some instances she was the head of committees (or involved with) who oversaw things they'd have to negotiate. The general consensus was that they were deliberately misled.

So whatever else people in Parkdale are saying about her, whether she did this thing or that, at the very least I know about this one thing.

The link

All Candidates waterfront walk Monday, August 28th

This from Bart:-

All Candidates waterfront walk
Monday, August 28th
Start: Parkdale United Church at 171 Dunn Avenue at King street

1:30 walk south to Marilyn Bell Park
1:45 walk along waterfront boardwalk
2:00 ten minutes for discussion of impressions
2:10 Finished

Purpose of walk
The waterfront parks are the only parks within walking distance of Parkdale residents. The only other parks in the area are tiny parkettes that were fashioned out of left over land. Thousands of people live in close proximity to the waterfront but face many barriers in accessing it. Our walk will allow us to use both routes that take residents from Parkdale to the waterfront.
1: The trip will allow residents to communicate challenges to politicians and media
2: The trip will ensure that our next provincial representative will be familiar with current access problems for residents.
3: To get everyone; residents, media and politicians thinking about future improvements

There will soon be five Provincial candidates in the race. Candidates David Hutcheon (PC) and Cheri Dinovo (NDP) have already offered to accompany us on the walk. The Freedom party candidate cannot attend and the Green party has not yet nominated a candidate. At the present time Sylvia Watson’s campaign manager says that Sylvia Watson will be too busy walking around the riding to attend our walk.

Walk starting point (1:30pm at 171 Dunn at King)

Thanks, Roger Brook

Parkdale-High Park Residents Waterfront Group

The link

Saturday, August 05, 2006

There's Something in the Water

I've seen some people's written reactions to "Lady In The Water", and just flicked channels to see Reel to Reel's movie critics totally missing the point (either deliberately or unintentionally, being "White Males" and having the attendant cultural blinders... I'm referring to the academic standpoint)

I remember talking to another black chick of West Indian extraction on the subway, coming home from watching said film, commenting on Pirates of the Caribbean and its depiction of Caribs as cannibals (even though, according to their own oral history, they were never that). I mentioned that I'd read in a major magazine that a point of contention for Disney, when severing ties with M.Night Shyamalan, was that he put himself in the role of the writer. I know I was actively ignoring the persons around us eavesdropping, including the white guy sitting next to her; can't speak for her however. This isn't the time for me to be dealing with people who had that White Guilt expression (or its close cousin, White Realisation) on their faces.

(There's this whole academic thing about White Guilt, if you're wondering what I'm going on about.)

But we did agree on this: He plays a person who writes an important document that, according to his own character's words, says thing about politicians, things "people don't want to hear" and aren't ready to hear. His character is a person of colour, and ends up getting killed. Now, why, oh why, would a big-budget company like Disney have a problem of M.Night Shyamalan depicing that...?

Maybe it takes a person outside the dominant culture to see it, or not allow others to ignore/downplay it.

(snarky) "Oh yeah, there's ego there, allright...."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Holy Shit?

I was THINKING it.

And like the procrastinating sunofa... that I am, I didn't post the snarky entry:-

"Considering the racist scandal Disney got itself into with the West Indian community for Pirates Of the Caribbean..

are you positively WINCING in anticipation for Mel Gibson's latest?"


The dam broke.

Here's the kicker..


I'll be posting a couple things now...

In the meantime check out...

The link