Archive for the ‘#Occupy Toronto’ Category

Adding context; erasing deficits

IMG_0373My mind suffers from a “history deficit”.

The historical context of many events that are happening in Canadian society  is unknown to me, and I am grateful to those who offer lessons that expand my reality. One of the wonderful lessons is in the following post abut the Supreme Court’s recent decision on the Tsilhqot’in decision.

Ian Gill has published a blogpost that provided me with new insights on the context. For example, he writes:

“The Tsilhqot’in people had a history of bucking convention that stretched back to one of the great moments of resistance in B.C. history, the so-called Chilcotin War of 1864. Then, an attempt to build a road from Bute Inlet up to the Cariboo goldfields was brought to an abrupt and bloody end when several members of the road crew were killed; in retribution, six Tsilhqot’in men were arrested, tried and eventually hanged, even though they were later proven not to have taken part in the original war party.”

The full post, which helped me to reduce my “history deficit”, is available at:



Wisdom in a time of “austerity”

You insult your Maker when you exploit the powerless;

when you’re kind to the poor, you honour God.

Proverbs 14: 31 (The Message)

These are words of wisdom for all of us in this time when powerful public figures advocate “austerity” measures that slice through Canada’s social safety net.

Affordable housing in Toronto

A new house in Willowdale

The following letter was submitted to The editor of The Toronto Star:

January 27, 2012

Letters to the Editor

The Toronto Star

One Yonge Street

Toronto, ON

Dear Sir;

On Tuesday, January 24, 2012 the CEO of Toronto Community Housing, Len Koroneos, wrote a column in support of the TCHC proposal to finance repairs to TCHC housing by confiscating other TCHC housing. His proposal seems to be as sensible as cutting a hole in one sleeve of my shirt in order to patch a hole in the other sleeve.

Currently the appointed Board of Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) is proposing to sell off at least 675 units of TCHC housing, and use the money gained to finance repairs that are necessary in other homes that TCHC manages. This would be taking affordable housing from those who need it to provide repairs to affordable housing to a fortunate few. Some might say that it is like robbing Peter in order to pay Paul.

The argument that Mr. Koroneos advocates boils down to a justification for repairing the homes of TCHC tenants by using money from the sale of other TCHC housing. If implemented, this means that the TCHC would have fewer homes available to rent at a time when the waiting list for affordable housing is getting longer and longer. It also means that Toronto will be moving away from a healthy community model of providing a variety of housing types in communities throughout the city.

Who is responsible for this state of affairs? It is obvious that neither the City of Toronto, nor the Province of Ontario, have adequately funded the TCHC. TCHC tenants have been robbed of the money fro repairs to their homes in order to prevent tax increases for homeowners and businesses. This has resulted in a situation whereby many homes of TCHC tenants have been permitted to fall into disrepair. Some homes have been neglected to the point where they cannot be occupied without a substantial investment in repairs.

As a citizen of Toronto who wants to have affordable housing for all who require it, I am asking this question about the accountability of the TCHC Board, and the political elite who appointed this Board. Who is responsible for the decisions to under-fund the TCHC? Do these Board members live in TCHC housing? Why did the political elite not provide adequate funding for necessary repairs to TCHC housing? Do they permit their homes to fall into disrepair?

Each week I meet people in my parish who are marginally housed, and some who live on the cold concrete of Toronto’s sidewalks. There are tens of thousands of families on the waiting list for affordable housing here in Toronto. These are people who deserve a place to call home. Providing affordable housing to those who need it is a sign of a just society. We can do it.

The proposal by Mr. Koroneos would reduce the number of TCHC housing units. It does not deal with the fundamental issue of under-funding the TCHC. It also has the possibility of leading us down the road to the ghettoization of social housing in our fair city. If accepted, this would make the present Board as culpable as former TCHC Boards for an injustice perpetrated on the poor of Toronto.

Repairing the funding model is a more appropriate way for the Board of the TCHC, and their political masters, to invest their time and energy. Their current proposal seems to be as sensible as removing one door from the house to replace a broken door in another part of the house.

Yours truly;

Rev. Allan Baker, Newtonbrook United Church

cc Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Housing

cc Margarett Best, M.P.P.

Cc Mayor Ford

Cc Councillor Ainslie

Occupy Toronto poetry


The following poem was written by “bury reader” . It is being offered for your reflections, and the nurture of your spirit of social justice and solidarity:


It’s not just about occupying a park.

It’s about occupation.


A place of occupying being


A place where all are welcome

Where food, shelter and compassion are abundant

for those on the edge and the other 99%.

We only ask that we come together so all have enough.


The sacred fire burns bright.

May it not be put out tonight.

They who rest their souls in tents

on stolen land but owned by the church.


With the Mayor ready to evict

And waiting on courts rule

Will there be justice

Or will they forget that holy books

were written about people who lived in tents

who strived for justice and compassion.


Will there be compassion?

Will there be passion?

Will there be a chance to talk out our space?

Or will it be a G20 with gates.

bury reader

Posted November 21, 2011 by allanbaker in #Occupy Toronto