Re: OCAP protesters: Toronto city's homeless task forc

Graeme Bacque (gbacque@arcos.org)
Sat, 23 May 1998 11:42:00 -0400


At 09:37 AM 5/23/98 -0500, you wrote:
>
>
>ACTION ASSESSMENT QUESTIONS:
>Will this demo, and the way the media portrayed it, help or hurt homeless
>people's prospects for material gains?  Why?
>

Speaking as someone who was there, all I can say is that anger and
desperation have that effect. In my opinion is is ridiculous that 'manners'
must be a prerequisite for discussion of literally life-and-death issues.
The anger has been suppressed for much too long. Insisting on 'mannerly'
dialogue only ensures nothing concrete occurs simply because it carries no
price tag for those in power. (Cynical as hell, I know, but this has been
my experience. People wielding control have a habit of doing nothing - ay
least nothing *good* - unless you leave them with no alternative.) You
certainly don't stand on 'manners' when your house is burning down - you
yell 'Fire!" at the top of your lungs! This also  applies to this situation
- we have a social inferno brewing here.

As it was there was no violence at this action - aside from Homeless Task
Force chair Anne Golden's falsehoods that is. She stuck to the official
line of B.S. throughout and despite harsh questioning refused to take a
clear personal stand on any of the issues raised during yesterday's
confrontation, which included 'workfare', (the Ontario Works Act which was
proclaimed May 1) the elimination of tenant protections in Ontario
(official as of May 11) and the 22% cut in social assistance which has in
itself forced thousands onto the streets since its implementation in
October 1995. What kind of 'Homeless Task Force' is it that has no stand on
these fundamental issues!? Certainly not one which can have any value -
except to the bosses.

I have it from a reliable witness that this 'task force' is also very much
in league with the provincial government people who are pushing for
oppressive changes to our Mental Health Act which would make it much easier
to lock up people against their wishes on almost any pretext and even to
force-drug people living at home (even when 'home' is the street.) It is
easy to see that an American-style 'continuum of care' police-state model
is in the works here. These are the same people who also want to purge
squeegee kids from our streets - after their policies helped put them there
in the first place. Golden lied on that one too - even though Toronto mayor
Mel Lastman was quoted in the papers just last week saying this!

In any event the Toronto Sun is a right-wing scandal-rag which probably
supports the 'New York style' scenario being considered by the various
governments here. Getting 'good' coverage from these people is basically
impossible. 

Graeme
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