Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Toronto: March for Housing, Nov. 9th


Thursday, November 9th
6:00 PM
Meet @ PARC (1499 Queen St. West)
Corner of Dowling and Queen in Parkdale
Dinner will be served


The Demands

We are asking the City of Toronto to pass a bylaw which could begin to deal immediately with the housing crisis in Toronto without having to break new ground. Across the downtown core, including here in Parkdale, there are numerous abandoned buildings. Some of these are owned by the City itself while others are owned by private landlords waiting for property values to rise before they begin construction. In a city with so much poverty and homelessness and with rents skyrocketing we find this unacceptable. Earlier this year the City expropriated the building at
1495 Queen Street West in order to convert it into supportive housing. A Use it or Lose it bylaw would put this type of positive step into law making it easier for the City to turn abandoned eyesores into housing. A good place to start would be the Pope Squat.


Social Assistance rates across Ontario are brutally low and the minimum wage does not provide enough to live on. The Province and the City both share responsibility for the fact that the majority of people living in Toronto do not earn enough to pay rent and eat properly. We are demanding that welfare and ODSP rates be increased by 40% in order to restore spending power to where it was before the 1995 Mike Harris cuts.

Toronto City Council must instruct its welfare offices to stop withholding the benefits people are entitled to and take action to ensure this policy is followed.

The minimum wage must also be increased to ensure that people who are working are earning enough to pay rent and feed their families. It must be increased to $10 an hour at a minimum.


Parkdale is one of the best examples across the city of why just simply having housing is not enough. Many of the buildings, rooming houses and apartments are in brutal condition, overpriced or simply do not provide the access or support needed. We need more housing- 6,000 units immediately and 2,000 a year after that would be a great start. We also need inspections carried out and repairs ordered on all housing across the city. This means enforcing the city bylaws regarding rental unit conditions. We need rent control. We also need to make sure that everyone is given the housing they need and that means providing fully accessible housing for disabled low income people and ensuring that it is maintained as such.


The City of Toronto has put in place the Streets to Homes program as their solution to homelessness. We are all in favor of housing- we've been fighting for it for years- and we have been the loudest voice demanding action around homelessness for more than a decade. But the Streets to Homes program offers no real solutions- it is nothing more than an enforcement program and we demand that it be abolished. Enforcement is not the answer and until there is affordable, decent and accessible housing to move people into then we cannot force people off the streets.

The City is closing down drop-in centres and our emergency shelter program is in bad need of improvement and expansion. We need investment in support programs, drop-in centres, new housing and emergency shelters not evictions and bylaw enforcement. The Streets to Homes program is a crackdown on homeless and panhandlers- it needs to end so we can find real solutions.

Remember the POPE SQUAT?

The Pope Squat is the three storey building located at 1510 King Street West in Parkdale, Toronto. The building was run as a boarding house until late 1994 when the owners went bankrupt, threw all the tenants out on to the street and the ownership defaulted to the Province of Ontario. The building sat empty for eight years until the summer of 2002 when OCAP opened it as housing during a visit of the Pope to Toronto. Over the next few months dozens of people made their home inside, dozens more stayed in the backyard and the building served as a community meeting space
and symbol of resistance to the housing crisis. During the time OCAP occupied the building many of the rooms inside were renovated and structural repairs were done. There were film nights, concerts, community BBQs and meetings. All the decisions were made by the residents of the house- all of whom had moved into the place from the streets. The occupation of the Pope Squat was one of the most popular political actions ever taken in Parkdale- it gained the support of many residents, businesses and social agencies- the entire community united around the demand that the
building be converted into housing. Nonetheless it was evicted in November of 2002 on the pretense that it was a hazard for those living there. Since that time the building has sat exactly as it was when it was evicted- empty for twelve years other than our occupation. The building has no been sold to a private landlord and the building is still just sitting there unused. The community of Parkdale is what made the occupation happen and for four months the Pope Squat was a big part of Parkdale. Since the eviction several of the residents have died, left the country or had to survive on the streets or in the shelter system- all while their old rooms sat empty.

The Ontario Coaltion Against Poverty
Fight to Win!

Toronto Area: Creative Protest and Nonviolent Direct Action Workshop: Sat., Nov. 18

Creative Protest and Nonviolent Direct Action

A Workshop on the art of protest, civil disobedience, your rights, and challenging injustice in a manner that's powerful, effective, and fun, too...

Saturday, November 18, 10:30 am - 4 pm
To register and for location call (416) 651-5800

The workshop will focus on the history and philosophy of nonviolent resistance, including video clips, role plays, interactive exercises, discussions on your rights and the law when it comes to protest, and the upcoming Nov. 20 action at L-3 Wescam, Canada's #1 war manufacturer.

Sponsored by Toronto Action for Social Change and Homes not Bombs

Six Nations Update - November 5th

This is spokesperson Hazel Hill's latest update from the land reclamation site at Six Nations.

Canada finally laid its position on the table at the latest side table meeting of November 3rd 2006. What was it? Basically in a nutshell their position is that "it doesn't matter if protocol was followed back in the 1800's, it doesn't matter if the monies that were supposed to paid for the lands were paid, it doesn't even matter if they followed the law at the time, it only matters that the courts today will find in Canada’s favour because they believe it was Six Nations intent to surrender the land". They cited truck loads of documents that they have to back up their position. The only truck required is the manure truck to take their load of b.s. away! They even had the nerve to try to and flex their muscles by indicating that the peaceful negotiation process failed and that oh well, we tried; and further suggested that they are standing strong on their position with the Plank Road but would look at a more global approach. They made this statement without even hearing Six Nations position. You know what that tells me? Canada doesn't want to admit its guilt and has no intention to. All week in the media they've been tossing this issue back and forth like a hot potato, neither the province nor the federal government wanting to take responsibility. The Federal Government is citing that they are not responsible for pre-confederation treaties or land transactions. Well then buddies, send in your Governor General or Her Majesty. Better yet, send in your pope because what this boils down to is the Law of the Land, and ultimately, we know clearly who holds title to that, and the trickery lies and deciet used to usurp that authority is well known in Creation.

Canada has the nerve to call Six Nations "lawless" and terrorists" because we adhere to the principals of our own law, the Kaierenekowah, and do not now, nor have we ever, acceded jurisdiction to the Crown. We are not Subjects, We are Allies. Yet today, what is Canada's defense .... they didn't have to follow the law! I guess that's their prerogative. If that's the case, every single person who is in the process of buying a home, buy it, but don't pay for it. Canada says that the laws today will find in your favour because all they have to prove is intent. Better yet, all those who hold mortgages, stop paying for them. Canada says you don't have to. Furthermore, that would exempt everyone from paying taxes on our lands as well, so i think we should organize a big tax revolt. Stop paying your taxes, put it in a trust, and Six Nations will handle that trust. It won't matter if the monies get to benefit you, as the supposed title holder, we’ll turn the tables and do as we see fit with those dollars because ultimately, what Canada is saying is that even though the Indian Agents at the time were lining their own pockets, bank rolling Canada at the expense of Six Nations, the law today will find in their favour. So what worked for them, should work for Six Nations.

Another reason they offered is that Six Nations had more warriors then the British had army, and that Six Nations insisted on creating their own leases, but because the British Crown refused to allow that, they were forced into disposing of our lands to look after all of the squatters. Of course, their position is that it was at the insistence of the Six Nations. Well, given a couple of hundred years of population growth, the number of warriors of the Six Nations now, coupled with the alliance of the other Indigenous Nations that are standing in solidarity with us, I would say that we still have a stronghold on our territorial lands, and that the Crown had better realize this. If they believe that the coercion, forceful and deceitful tactics that they used in the past are going to continue today and that the Onkwehonweh are going to stand by and watch this fraud continue against our brothers and sisters across Turtle Island, they had better think again. I am asking all Onkwehonweh of the World to send a clear and concise message of solidarity with the Six Nations to the Crown's representatives and remind them that their responsibility to honour and uphold the treaties, take responsibility for its actions of fraud and misappropriation of trust, and to come to the table with the intent to resolve the situation rather than to try and deter from the Truth; otherwise their actions are contrary to Peace. The Onkwehonweh are standing strong and will continue to. We are not going to be bullied into acceptance of the biggest conspiracy and fraud known as Canada, and we will not tolerate Canada's attempt to be judge and jury in this case! Main Table meets on the 9th of November, and Six Nations will be presenting its rebuttal to the history of the Crown at the lands side table on November 14th. Will keep you posted.

As far as life at the site, we have welcomed many visitors to the site in the past few weeks. Yesterday, there were visitors from Columbia who shared their history, which was pretty much the same as our's having gone through acts of genocide, theft and encroachment of their homelands etc. etc.; they were able to make a presentation at Chiefs Council as well. They will be sending us a flag when they go home. Last week I received correspondence from supporters in Melbourne Australia and they are going to be sending two flags for us to fly in solidarity at the site. An Australian flag and their Aboriginal flag. I am overwhelmed with all of the letters of unity and support, the visitors who stop in with supplies, for all of those individuals and organizations who have helped out financially, and to all those who keep sending their prayers......Nya Weh!

The United Nations of Love and Light will continue to Inflict Peace throughout the World and Truth and Justice for Creation will Prevail.

In Love Light and Peace,


Toronto: OCAP March, Thursday November 9th!

This Thursday- March on the Pope Squat

November 9th
at PARC- 1499 Queen Street W.
corner of Dowling

Over the past three months the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty has been campaigning in Parkdale door to door and block by block. As the City prepares to elect a new City Council and Mayor we have been putting forward a platform of our own- a set of demands to address the Housing Crisis in Parkdale (visit

A neighbourhood under attack from gentrification and the police, it is a place where the poorest residents are hidden in overpriced and run down rooming houses; where the homeless are provided no shelter and where the City allows abandoned buildings to sit empty and unused while people sleep outside.

The attitude of government towards Parkdale can be summed up by visiting 1510 King Street- The Pope Squat. Empty for over a decade it was occupied and made into homes by OCAP in 2002. After a brutal and unnecessary eviction the building remains empty to this day- sold but unused.

Join Us on November 9th for a march to the Pope Squat-

Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
10 Britain St. Toronto, ON M5A 1R6

Monday, November 06, 2006

America's Slide to Totalitarianism

With last-minute polls showing a strong Republican comeback, Election 2006 may yet serve as a ratification of George W. Bush's dark vision of endless war abroad and an end to the American Republic at home.

Though Americans may not understand the stakes, Bush will surely interpret a Republican victory as an endorsement of his assertion of "plenary" -- or unlimited -- powers and the effective elimination of the "unalienable" rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

For the full story about the Orwellian future looming in the very near future, go to

Tomgram: Schwartz, A One-Stop Guide to Election Night 2006

If, in these last hours before the midterm elections, you want to quickly brush up on key races as well as the latest opinion polls, predictions, fraud reports, and scandals before you settle onto that couch, popcorn bowl beside you, for a long night of viewing and punditry, there's probably no better place to start than the election-resource page of (Elsewhere, election or not, Cursor offers its inspired Media Patrol daily round-up of articles you shouldn't miss.) For a good, quick rundown of opinion polls in close races, check out the right-leaning Real Clear Politics website with its extensive, easy-to-read polls on the 14 Senate races and good sets of polls on 40 of the 60 close congressional races. For a useful catalogue of the (very confusing) 60 House races now considered in the mix for election nig! ht, take a look at the careful forecast page of NPR's Ken Rudin.

But if you want tips on what to watch for once that TV goes on in your house -- as well as some canny reflections on where we all may find ourselves on Wednesday morning -- just settle back and consider the thoughts of Tomdispatch regular and former pollster, Michael Schwartz. Tom

The Couch Potato's Guide to Election Night

By Michael Schwartz

If you have a political bone in your body -- even if you're usually a cynic about elections -- you're undoubtedly holding your breath right now. With the 2006 midterm elections upon us, the question is: Will the Democrats recapture at least the House of Representatives and maybe even take the Senate by the narrowest of margins?

There is very little agreement about what might happen if a change in Congressional control takes place. The Bush administration, of course, has trumpeted the direst of warnings, predicting (in sometimes veiled ways) nothing less than the demise of the country. Less apocalyptic predictions include an expectation among 70% of potential voters (as reported in the latest New York Times poll) that "American troops would be taken out of Iraq more swiftly under a Democratic Congress." The more cynical among us hope for at least a few challenging congressional investigations of administration activities at home and abroad.

So we will go into Tuesday looking for that tell-tale count that will indicate a Democratic gain of 15 or more seats in the House; and -- a much bigger if -- six seats in the Senate. We probably face a long night sorting out so many disparate races -- and our traditional counters, the TV networks, won't even begin their task until the polls close on the East coast. So we could face a long day's journey into night, if we don't have some other "benchmarks" -- to use a newly favored administration word -- and issues to ponder.

Before the Polls Close

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

White Poppies for Remembrance Day


Back in 1933, the Women's co-operative Guild in England chose to wear white poppies to symbolise their commitment to work for peace and to end their acquiescence to militarism. The Guild stressed that the white poppy was in no way intended as an insult to those whodied in the First World War but that it was a "pledge to peace that war must not happen again". Indeed, many of the women had lost husbands, brothers, sons and lovers.

The tradition is now being adopted in many other communities. Many people are choosing to wear red poppies to remember veterans and white poppies to remember civilian casualties. Both symbols serve to renew their commitment to work for peace and to remember the true costs and causes of war.

Marion Frank, member of Veterans Against Nuclear Arms reflects on the linkage between September 11 and Remembrance Day.

"We grieve for the victims of September 11, just as we grieve for the women and men who gave their lives as combatants in World War II and wars past and present. We grieve also for the countless millions of women and men and young people who have perished in the collateral destruction of human life in war, and in the violence of terrorism, whether initiated by a state, or a group or an individual.

"But our grief is not a call for war. Let not this grieving be seized on and made a reason to pursue wars without end.

"The white poppy reflects the many ongoing initiatives to break the cycle of violence, and gives an opportunity to rededicate ourselves in the fight for world peace, common security and social justice. As a symbol of resistance it can help take us down the path that can rid us of war forever."

Fred H. Knelman, WW II veteran from Victoria, B.C. says:

"I want peace and security for Canadians and the whole world. This is one reason why I will be wearing a white poppy for Remembrance Day, as well as a red one.

"I want not only to remember those who have fought and suffered as soldiers but to rededicate myself to preventing war and ending militarism. I also want to remember that 95% of the casualties in contemporary wars are civilians."

Dr. Rosalie Bertell, scientist, author, Grey Nun and president of the International Institute of Concern for Public Health (IICPH):

"It seems that many of the world's governments, including our own, are addicted to violence as a way to solve international problems. They suffer from ever increasing military budgets which rarely make us more secure.

"While most members of the global family do without, governments squander money and resources on arms, just the way alcoholics squander family resources on booze.

"Let's make sure the Canadian government provides proper benefits for its military personnel but let's not let it get away with increased spending on weapons and military training."

Bruna Nota, past president of WILPF (Women's International League for Peace and Freedom), hopes that the white poppy tradition will help us arrive at a new way of viewing security: "We are like the people who created a whole science based on the false premise that the earth is flat. We are operating on the false premise that security is guaranteed by military forces and preparedness. In fact, only by a just sharing of all resources can provide the security in which we can care for each other in trusting and responsible communities."

The late Eric Fawcett, Founding President of Science for Peace, supported the white poppy campaign, adding:

"Financial warfare, the deliberate undermining of regional economies, kills people and cripples even more lives than the hot wars that inevitably follow. The concept of 'financial warfare' refers to the grinding poverty in which up to half the human race lives in poor countries that are loaded with huge debts that can never be paid. And now with free market economies being forced on Asian countries, the former Soviet Union and East Europe, we see major nations like Russia and Indonesia falling into the same morass."

Many Canadians have been making their own poppies as a way of honouring diversity. If made of waste materials such as boxboard, they are also a tribute to sustainability.

For more information or a sample homemade white poppy, please contact Jan Slakov at 135 Deer Park Rd., Salt Spring Island, BC V8K 1P5 (250) 537-5251. Teachers in particular might want to request a Remembrance Day lesson plan and other educational resources.

Here is wonderful, heartfelt letter to the Editor, written by peace activist Jan and her friends. If you care about peace and wish to further the white poppy tradition, please follow their example and write a similar letter to your local paper in time for Remembrance Day on November 11th:

Dear Editor,

What do we remember on Remembrance Day?

We know we are not alone with a feeling of uneasiness as we head into the future.... We watch children at play, are taken in by their charming, idiosyncratic ways of looking at things... and worry for them. What future will they have? Our way of life is not one of stewardship, of caring; we know that danger and hardship are virtually inevitable.

History shows us that some people will exploit danger and hardship to incite hatred and violence. This, as Martin Luther King said, adds "deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars."

On the other hand, we can learn to feel our own suffering as a way to connect with the suffering of all others; we can feel hope for our children, that even though much of our legacy to them will be harmful, still we can learn and we can teach - ways of living that honour life and our

How we celebrate holidays, how we remember history, is of vital importance in this process of learning and teaching. Apparently, the US government has proclaimed September 11 as "Patriot Day". Some US citizens, including Daniel Buttry, currently a peace and justice specialist with an American Baptist organization, are speaking out against making remembrance "captive to nationalist pride, arrogance and revenge".

Buttry cites as a more healthy example of remembrance, the Maruki gallery outside of Tokyo. Iri and Toshi Maruki have on display their paintings they made after visiting Hiroshima in search of missing relatives after the August 6th, 1945, Atomic Bomb. Buttry writes: "Their paintings capture the horror, the disorientation, the anguish of the people of Hiroshima. But two paintings brought in a theme absent from the [officiallly sanctioned] peace park. One depicted the crows feasting on the piles of Korean dead left unburied [because they were slave labourers who were deemed unworthy of burial]. The other portrayed the fate of American POWs who survived the
bombing only to be torn limb from limb by their enraged captors."

He reflects: "Their sorrow did not blot out the sorrow of other victims, including those labeled as "enemies". Here is the beginning of the path to hope and redemption. We can begin to pull out the tangled roots of violence only when we all recognize the other side's suffering and our own complicity in evil."

Buttry is not the only one who urges us to choose carefully how we remember. In 1933 the Women's Cooperative Guild chose to wear white poppies at Remembrance Day to symbolize their commitment to work for peace and to end their acquiescence to militarism. This tradition has been kept alive by others and is growing now, as people find in it an opportunity to make Remembrance Day more meaningful. Many people wear red poppies to remember "our" veterans and soldiers killed in war, while also wearing a white poppy to remember those who are not officially remembered on Remembrance Day. This includes civilians, who now make up the majority of those killed in war, also the people who struggled nonviolently for peace and justice, such as those who hid Jews or German deserters in World War II. Let's also remember the heroism of people like Faith Fippinger, a US citizen who travelled to Iraq last spring to try to prevent the war. Faith is now being prosecuted by the US government for her action as a "human shield" and faces losing her home, her pension and having to go to jail!

Also forgotten in official ceremonies are the veterans of the Spanish civil war, as well as veterans of the Gulf War, which our government calls "the Persian Gulf conflict" and thus denies them eligibility for full veterans' benefits (which many desperately need; many suffer from "Gulf War syndrome", which may be related to contamination with depleted uranium... Of course, our veterans are not the only ones suffering. Iraqi parents are giving birth to tragically deformed babies, thanks to the radioactive contamination.)

In Britain one can buy white poppies but in Canada so far, almost all white poppies are home-made. To find out more about the tradition and get a sample white poppy, please contact Jan Slakov (
or 537-5251) or Bob Stuart ( or 537-4315).

Sincerely, Jan Slakov, Bob Stuart, Joanna Montrichard, Lynn Thorwaldsen, Michael Surman, Joan Werner (Salt Spring Island)

Jan Slakov has been promoting the white poppy tradition since learning about it years ago.

Bloggers of Ontario Unite!

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