Chronicling community action, revolutionary and revealing thought

Friday, September 22, 2006

Status of the Artist

I went to an interesting meeting about the Status of the Artist at the Ontario College of Art and Design organized by MPP for Trinity-Spadina, Rosario Marchese.

Our very own Cheri Di Novo attended, saying that she might just organize a similar meeting here in Parkdale-Highpark due to the number of artists who live in our riding.

Status of the Artist refers to Provincial legislation meant to protect artists as workers in this province. In terms of the rights of artists to collective bargaining on equal footing with any unionized worker in Ontario. And in terms of unemployment insurance and a guaranteed minimum wage.

These ideas were discussed at the meeting but do not exist in Ontario legislation. Also discussed by a handful of arts union reps and individual artists is why it is taking so long for Status of the Artist legilsation to be drafted.

And lastly which was not discussed is the definition of an artist. Who will be included as an artist in this legislation. Do writers count? How about journalists?

Marchese talked about how constituents can organize around this issue to pressure the government to act.

In the upcoming weeks I will be following the development, or not, of Status of the Artist legilsation. Particularly when it comes to Parkdale after Di Novo is sworn into Queens Park and settles into her new job.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Municipal election mayhem for NDP in Parkdale

This City Hall election looks like trouble for NDP candidates in Parkdale.

Gord Perks and Mayor David Miller have both decided that it would be best if Perks represents Parkdale at City Hall. And here I thought the Liberals had the monopoly on arrogance.

Does Gord Perks even live or work in Parkdale? There are already at least 3 good NDP candidates running for City Hall that have lived in the area for a long time.

As much as I admire journalists, I wouldn't vote for one that doesn't live in my neighbourhood to make decisions for me.

But Miller truly surprises me. Why would he endorse a candidate that doesn't live in the neighbourhood? Times have changed in Parkdale and parachuters are no longer accepted. Hasn't he seen what happened to Sarmite Bulte (Forest Hill), and Sylvia Watson (Rosedale)?-She moved into Parkdale only after she was elected.

Sure Perks probably lives somewhere in the west end to his credit, but does he know our neighbourhood as well as Walt Jarsky, Rowena Santos or David White?

All three progressive Parkdale residents are running for councillor. They have been active in the neighbourhood and they know about our issues because they live here.

While I think it would have been better that these candidates get together and support one to go to City Hall, I think the real man out is Gord Perks. And unfortunately for the Mayor, he picked the wrong candidate and put himself out as well.

Walt Jarsky's lived here for twenty years in a big old rambling house with a large metal globe on his front yard.

The guy's lived here a long time and by now knows a lot about the neighbourhood.

Rowena Santos is a bright, young resident of the area who wants to bring Parkdale to City Hall. She is a strong woman of colour and the most personable candidate in the running. "Bringing you to City Hall" is her motto.

David White was a former councillor for High Park whose main push in Parkdale has been to stop the waterfront parking lot project.

White's platform is pretty straightforward:
A clean Green Waterfront
Reform the city tax system
Affordable housing
Stop the Front Street Extension
Fix roads and laneways in Parkdale
Improve the TTC lines along King and Queen
Power to the Community Councils

Together these candidates can represent Parkdale at City Hall. But with Miller's endorsement for an outsider, they have already been discounted by the mayor before the race even started. While this may seem disastrous for these candidates, it is in fact worse for Perks and the Mayor. They look like they have no respect for homegrown Parkdale residents who dare to believe they can represent their own area at City Hall.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Today's Liberals (2006)

So the Liberal story isn't over. Losing the Parkdale-Highpark by-election despite their dirty campaign, both Sylvia Watson and Premier Dalton McGuinty said they'd do it again.

In a Sep. 15, Toronto Star article by ROB FERGUSON AND ROBERT BENZIE, Watson was quoted as saying she "wouldn't change a thing" about her campaign. In the same article McGuinty said he was "proud" of Watson and wouldn't have handled the campaign differently.

Let's not forget Parkdale-Highpark, we have more municpal and provincial elections coming up. While Watson assured the public that she would not run during the municipal elections, McGuinty has signalled that he is prepared to continue campaigns aimed the personal lives of his opponents.

How far these Liberals of the 20th Century have sunk. The good thing is that they are making their arrogance and elitist attitudes known to the public.

Most older folk who vote Liberal do so out of habit. They are Liberals by culture started during the Trudeau era. I would say a good portion of older Canadians still believe that today's Liberals are the continuation of Trudeau's legacy.

The public is just starting to know the true Liberals of today. What comes to mind is the Campbell regime in BC, billions
of dollars stolen from the E.I fund, the sponsorship scandal, the infighting between the Martin camp and the Chretien camp and closer to home, the dirty Sylvia Watson campaign here in Parkdale led by McGuinty's lot.

The Liberals today are without leadership, looking to Bob Rae who ruined the NDP before coming out of the closet to show his Liberal stripes.

Or they look to Michael Ignatieff who hasn't even lived in Canada for the last 30 years and parachuted into an Etobicoke riding despite the vocal protests of Liberal constituents.

I don't think today's Liberals are considering Gerard Kennedy for leader simply because he doesn't know enough of the "right people".

And let's not forget that the federal Liberals sent Canadian troops to Iraq while they were the government, and used our troops as logistical support for the U.S invasion of Iraq.

This is not the Trudeau or Pearson Liberals that defied U.S. arm twisting to put Canada on the map as a leader in international peacemaking.

Closer to home, they are not even the type of Liberals like past councillor K.K, or ex MPP, Tony Ruprecht, that while doing nothing for the neighbourhood, kept lines of communication open with their constituents.

Not so with today's Liberals. Sylvia Watson was the type that was open about her contempt for any constituent that questioned what was going on in the neighbourhood. An elitist through and through, she ran for MPP thinking that favouring the "right people" would see her through the election.

Most constituents vote Liberal because the Liberals are supposed to give everyone a fair chance at being part of this society, regardless of their income, race or religion.

Today's Liberals won't give you a chance, period.

So why vote Liberal?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Sylvia Watson gets the boot in Parkdale-Highpark

Justice has been served. Sylvia Watson and the Ontario Liberals have been kicked out of Parkdale.

Cheri DiNovo won the September 14 Parkdale-Highpark by-election by more than 2,000 votes last night, showing the Ontario Liberals that you can't win an election in Parkdale-Highpark with sleaze tactics.

The desperate measures taken by the Liberals included a smear campaign that used DiNovo's troubled past to try to soil
her reputation. DiNovo has always been open about her time as a street kid.

The Liberals threw money and power at Watson's campaign, parachuting in 11 Ontario Liberal cabinet ministers and the premier himself.

Even Bob Rae was leaving recorded telephone messages to try to prevent our riding from going NDP.

All this backfired because of the integrity of the people of Parkdale-Highpark.

DiNovo is the second major NDP victory in our riding. The first was Peggy Nash's federal win.

The unofficial results of Elections Ontario put the NDP with Cheri DiNovo at 41 per cent of the vote or 11,675 votes. Sylvia Watson trailed behind with 33 per cent of the vote or 9,387 votes.

With all 220 polls reporting, 28,457 people voted during this by-election. A much smaller turnout than the federal election when 51,000 folks voted.

The results for the NDP and the Liberals during this by-election are close to the federal election when Peggy Nash got 40 per cent of the vote, and Sarmite Bulte, 36 per cent.

The last bastion held by the liberals here is the position of councillor. Already there are several candidates for the position who are NDPers.

Here I think those candidates would do good if they came up with an agreement to back one strong candidate instead
of splitting the vote 10 different ways.

Parkdale needs a councillor who lives in Parkdale and someone who can either push or support Mayor David Miller to get more resources for neighbourhoods like ours that need them.

And Miller would do best not to endorse any one candidate especially if that candidate does not live in Parkdale. Parachuters tend to get their just desserts here in Parkdale.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Walking the campaign trail in Parkdale

To learn more about my corner of Parkdale, I accompanied a friend of mine who's helping out the Cheri Di Novo campaign.

We covered one corner in the King and Jameson area.

In one building with great big Liberal signs outside, a short skinny man, unshaven and scruffy growled at us that he's a Liberal and not interested in Cheri Di Novo.

Just before he shut the door on us, I asked him if he had ever talked to Sylvia Watson. He paused for a second and then stormed off with the tired line, "I'm not interested."

In that same old building, an eastern European man said he's thinking about voting for Di Novo. He explained that the other parties had deceived him into believing that they actually cared about regular folk like him.

And as we continued along this rooming house street in Parkdale, we found that most people weren't at home, but if they were, they were supportive of Di Novo.

But its the few incidents where the poorest folks fanatically supported the elitist Liberals that threw me into familiar confusion. The poor vs. poor phenomena.

A superintendant in one low-income building with Liberal signs was hostile toward us. "We're Liberals" she growled. To that I asked, "everone in the buidling?" When we finally went in, ignoring the super, we found folks who were supportive of Di Novo and a large number of folks who were not on the voters list.

In this building with the large Liberal signs, and the hostile super, one third of the folks in the building were not registered to vote.

This means that in order to vote in 20th century Toronto, these folks have to deal with a landlord that covers their living space with his own political views, a hostile superintendant who defends the interests of the landlord, and an elections authority that has excluded them from the democratic process.

From what I saw on Maynard street, what we have in Toronto is a landlord and homeowner democracy. Tenants are on
the whole left out of the process.

And transience is perhaps the largest barrier to organized change for these tenants. If they keep moving, they cannot stand up for change in their area. Settling down means settling down to struggle for low-income tenants. It can be no other way since landlords and their lackeys are constantly trying to take as much as they can.

Then there were the eastern european ladies of course who insisted that the NDP is communist and that all candidates and parties are the same and that the whole system is corrupt.

They are absolutely convinced by arguments that have little to do with Canada and more to do with traumas from their homelands.

The eastern european ladies, who said they're not voting were a lesson to those Canadians who believe the same thing. That the whole system is corrupt and there's no point in dealing with government or democracy for that matter.

It's okay to believe the truth which is that the system is corrupt and exploitative. Even that the national parties are going in the wrong direction. But it is irresponsible, convenient, and ultimately coopting to not be part of an active alternative to change injustices identified by these same critics.

Walking along the campaign trail isn't a cake walk but you do come out a little more knowledgeable about what's happening to folks in the area.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Next Parkdale Tenants' Association Meeeting

Next meeting for Parkdale Tenants' Association is Monday September 11th.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Sylvia Watson signs of the time

If signs are a sign of what's happening in the Parkdale-Highpark by-election, then Sylvia Watson may be in for some trouble.

Her signs just west of King and Jameson, planted in some of the poorest houses in the area, have been sliced and diced.

Only one of Cheri DiNovo's signs along King Street west of Jameson was vandalized. Her eyes were encircled with hammers and sickles with the words "commie, commie" printed in black magic marker.

I have a hunch as to who done it. Usually I wouldn't tell but this character is one that needs some light to shine on what he does each and every day.

An old man who lives at the corner of Maynard and King dedicates his lonely life to tearing down the posters of activists.

I once questioned him just after he took a box cutter to a poster stapled to a light post at the corner of Lansdowne and Queen. He quickly walked away calling me and my friend, "fucking communists."

This time it seems the old man have taken a disliking to Watson too. Two large Sylvia Watson signs on the corner property where the old man lives were both cut clean in half.

But it wasn't just those Watson signs that were destroyed. In at least three different locations in the Maynard and King area, Sylvia Watson signs were cut clean in half.

I'm not sure the old man did all this work on his own. If he didn't, then that means there are more people out there who are fight'n mad at Watson.

I didn't see the destruction of signs happen during the federal election in the same corner. Peggy Nash and Sarmite Bulte signs were left intact.

This time it seems, Watson has cooked up some strong animosity, at least in one corner of Parkdale.