Chronicling community action, revolutionary and revealing thought

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.