REFUGEES Hostel workers denounce Lastman's refugee racism

Georg (
Wed, 20 Oct 1999 19:06:03 -0400

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Date sent:      	Wed, 20 Oct 1999 13:05:06 -0400
From:           	pj lilley <>
Subject:        	Hostel workers denounce Mayor's racism 
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[I received this statement through OCAP, from the Seaton House Shop
Stewards' Defence Committee on monday night.  -=pj=-]

As city managers attempt to deflect blame...

  Recent predictions of shortages of hostel beds have been awash in the
Toronto media.  As winter approaches, it appears that the City will be
hundreds of beds short in supplying the most minimal in housing for the

  In this context, Hostel Services management and Mayor Lastman are
attempting to scapegoat refugees entering the hostel system.  "It's a
federal problem" John Jagt, Director of the City's Hostel Services has
been claiming for months -- the same John Jagy who congratulated 
Bradshaw, the federal Minister of Homelessness on awarding the city the
pittance of $1.2 million towards sheltering the homeless.  "Just what I
asked for" said Jagt, as those working with and active around homeless
issues gasped at how little the federal government was contributing.

It seems that Jagt is easily appeased.  That's because his real targets, and 
those of Lastman, are refugees themselves, using them as scapegoats by 
race baiting in the mass media.  "Right now, I have 400 people in motels 
outside of Toronto because we don't have room here.  If it wasn't for the 
refugee pressure on our system, I wouldn't have to put anybody out of 
Toronto." (Toronto Star, Sept.24/99)  In the summer of '97, this kind of racist 
fingerpointing by Councillor Gordon Chong, fuelled a demonstration by nazi 
skinheads against homeless Roma refugees.  

  It's not a lack of resources any more, it's too many immigrants, they
say.  Shirley Hoy, Commissioner of Community and Social Services, claims
that another "wave of refugee claimants" cannot be accomodated in the
hostel system.  Curiously, we've heard this kind of racist terminology
used by the right in response to the arrival of a relatively small number
of Chinese immigrants.  Is Hoy's timing coincidental??  Lastman echoes
this view -- the City can't afford them.  But they can afford their bevy
of rather well paid management bureaucrats.  While dollar figures are
readily made available to the media on the cost of shelter space, the
figures regarding the number of refugees in the hostel system are
curiously absent.  This is rather interesting, since their 'case'
apparently rests on those numbers.

   The figures we *do* have tell a different story.  In mid-August,
Superintendent of Seaton House, Boris Rosolak, told the local media about
the influx of Tibetans into Seaton House ("It's a federal problem" he said
then -- memories of Jagt.)  He never specified how many.  A hostel worker
confirmed there were between 25 and 30.  Hardly a crisis for Canada's
largest hostel, where up to 300 homeless men sleep every night.  Refugees
are to blame, we are told, not the decimation of our social programs by
all levels of government. 

Who is to blame?  Indeed, the federal government is to blame, along with 
provincial and municipal governments.  When beaurocrats from one blame 
the other, they are actually obscuring the fact that they all defend the same 
status quo.  Where a 'caring' City spends $1.9 M on policing to harass the 
poor and the homeless.  One in which surplus' are achieved by disentitling 
the unemployed (no doubt driving thousands out of their homes into the 
streets).  One in which, under the guise of "worker safety" and "tenant 
protection" acts, injured workers and tenants are forced into poverty. One in 
which squalid hostels are a 'good place' for the mentally ill, and large 
developers are babied into building a few low income housing units. Where 
corporate taxes are in continual decline, and 93,000 profitable corporations 
pay none at all.  

In August we were treated to an orgy hatred for the homeless and their 
supporters in the Safe Park by Jagt and Lastman.  These are the same 
people who won't give a blanket to each homeless man who sleeps at 
Seaton House -- and those that do get a blanket may well find it thin and 
with a hole.  Now, disgracefully, to deflect blame, they attack refugees.  It is 
they and their cohorts who are to blame, and the corporate agenda of class 
privelege they represent.  It's time to organise their demise.  

       for more information, to build the
        fightback, contact (905)891-3118

    Peter Votsch
    Seaton House Shop Stewards' Defence Committee


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