OCAP: Ontario Coalition Against Poverty strategy overview FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Mon, 8 Feb 1999 18:13:58 -0800 (PST)


FWD 5 February 1999 via A-Infos News Service

ONTARIO COALITION AGAINST POVERTY
<http://www.tao.ca/~ocap/>
Email: <ocap@tao.ca>
(416) 925-6939

"At every point Ontario Coalition Against Poverty is looking for the best
way available to engage the enemies of the unemployed, to cause them pain,
to hurt their cash flow, or disrupt their workings and, in this way, force
concessions out of them. We actually demonstrate to people effected by
poverty and social cutbacks that we can make a difference in their lives
and that we can resist in a way that hurts those who attack them. In this
way it is possible to inspire them and offer some hope that mobilizations
is not simply a waste of time."
- Jon Clarke

Learning lessons from the mass unemployed struggles of the 1930's the
Coalition has a developed an effective hands-on approach to welfare
cutbacks. Realising that making a difference actually means defending
people under attack, their Direct Action Casework has led to the occupation
of welfare offices to get harsh and unjust decisions reversed; the
picketing of a welfare managers house whose antics threatened a family with
eviction, and disrupting a senior welfare bureaucrat's business lunch.

Unable to stop work-fare (where you work for your welfare cheque) they have
instead targeted the agencies involved. Officials have admitted that this
has created a 'climate of intimidation' that has deterred agencies from
accepting work fare placements on a large scale.

They have stopped a by-law being passed that would have banned squeegeeing
and panhandling (begging). Took over an empty hospital getting a commitment
from the council to open the facility as a homeless hostel. Demanded a Use
it or Lose it by-law occupying empty buildings and defending squatters
facing eviction, and also defended homeless people forced to sleep in
public parks from being removed by cops. One night, they even held a park
for the homeless through to the morning despite being outnumbered by riot
cops.

The Coalition, by not giving themselves impossible targets, but gaining
lots of small victories, they have increased their numbers becoming a
serious thorn in the side for the authorities. As one activist John Clarke
says "The point is that we are fighting to win and not bothering with the
politics of empty gestures."

Contact: Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, 249 Sherbourne, Toronto,
Ontario, Canada. Email: ocap@tao.ca

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