Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Lenten Quote #2, 2019   Leave a comment

“Refugees are reasonable people in desperate circumstances.”

The Economist, February, 2016

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Homeless in Toronto – left behind   Leave a comment

The following article was originally published on Rabble.ca at:

http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/cathy-crowes-blog/2019/01/homelessness-requires-state-emergency-response

Homelessness requires a state-of-emergency response

Crowded conditions in one of the second-tier shelters in Toronto shows rows and rows of cots where 200 people sleep. Photo courtesy of Cathy Crowe.

Graphic secret video footage released this week showed Toronto shelter conditions that are inhumane and clearly violate international human rights.

In 1998 the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee declared homelessness a national disaster. Toronto City Council and municipalities across the country made the same statement.

We won a federal homelessness program but not a national housing program. Despite the federal Liberal government’s promises of a National Housing Strategy, homelessness has worsened in nearly every community across the country. It remains a disaster and Toronto is the epicentre. There is not one crane hovering over Toronto’s skyline that is there for social housing.

  • Close to 7,000 men, women and children remain in emergency shelters.

  • Roughly 1,000 people are forced to sleep year-round in a second tier of shelter including the now 33-year-old volunteer and faith-based Out of the Cold program, overnight drop-ins for women and the ironically named “respite” centres.

  • The city is now relying on disaster relief structures as respite centres.

  • The city issues eviction notices to people who are visibly squatting outside in parks or under the Gardiner Expressway.

  • Deaths mount with four violent deaths recorded by the third week of January.

  • 181,000 people are on Toronto’s Centralized Waiting List for social housing. The wait list is at minimum 12 years for a one-bedroom. Another 14,000 people await supportive housing.

  • Renovictions rise as landlords take advantage of a 1.1 per cent rental vacancy rate.

In December an array of groups formed the Shelter and Housing Justice Network. Operating under the mantra of “Shelter rights, housing rights, human rights” the collective’s number 1 demand is that the City declare a state of emergency as it relates to the homelessness crisis in the city.

Toronto City Councillors Kristyn Wong-Tam and Gord Perks, both who have strong backgrounds in social justice, support community advocates call for homelessness and the housing crisis to be declared a state of emergency.

From their motion that will go to City Council January 30, 2019:

“We are just a few weeks into 2019, and already four Toronto residents, who experienced homelessness, have lost their lives on our streets. A homeless Indigenous man died in an alley. Crystal Papineau died trapped in a clothing donation bin; she was also homeless. Hang Vo was crushed by a garbage truck, as she lay sleeping in a laneway. She was 58 years old and homeless. Another young homeless woman died of an overdose in a 24-hour respite facility.”

The Province of Ontario Emergency Response Plan defines an emergency as “… a situation, or impending situation that constitutes a danger of major proportions that could result in serious harm to persons or substantial damage to property or other health risk”. It goes on to say that “These situations could threaten public safety, public health, the environment, property, critical infrastructure and economic stability.” It is clear to us that Toronto’s situation meets several of these criteria.

The Government of Canada’s Emergency Management Act states “A government institution may not respond to a provincial emergency unless the government of the province requests assistance or there is an agreement with the province that requires or permits the assistance.”

It is imperative that we, as a Municipal government, declare that homelessness is a humanitarian crisis, which we do not possess the resources to manage alone in Toronto. We must call on the Provincial government to assist us. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services is tasked with this response, under the Emergency Response and Civil Protection Act. Should the Province also find itself without the resources to adequately contain the crisis, a Provincial Emergency should be declared so that the resources of the Federal Government may be brought to bear.

Recommendations:

1. City Council affirm its commitment to complying with its obligations under International Human Rights Law to take all appropriate measures to address homelessness as a human rights crisis.

2. City Council declare homelessness a human rights disaster akin to a Municipal Emergency or a national emergency and an urgent human rights crisis, and seek assistance from the Province under the Emergency Response and Civil Protection Act.

3. City Council request the Provincial government to apply to the Federal Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and alert the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and his Parliamentary Secretary, to seek the establishment of an intergovernmental table with participation of those affected and their representatives tasked with addressing the housing and homelessness crisis in Toronto, and in any other similarly affected municipalities throughout Ontario.

4. City Council convene an emergency meeting with representatives of the federal government including the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister, the Provincial Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and persons who are homeless and precariously housed in Toronto and their representatives to develop an urgent plan of action.

5. City Council request the Office of Emergency Management take immediate steps to augment services for homeless individuals and seek the support of the Red Cross in managing the harm inflicted by the housing and homelessness crisis.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory has refused the community’s calls to declare a state of emergency in the past and he hasn’t budged this year either.

Watch for news on the city council vote January 30. If you’re in Toronto please help us fill council chambers. Please sign this petition.

In addition Councillor Wong-Tam’s petition will be presented to council.

Cathy Crowe is a street nurse, author and filmmaker who works nationally and locally on health and social justice issues. She has fostered numerous coalitions and advocacy initiatives that have achieved significant public policy victories. Her website is www.cathycrowe.ca. Follow her on Twitter @cathyacrowe.

Photo provided by Cathy Crowe

Our Choices Will Determine if We are Toronto the Good   Leave a comment

An op-ed in the Toronto Star, written by Devika Shah, Adina Lebo and Cameron Watts, published on January 23, 2019, spoke about the choices that Torontonians are making. It argues that if Toronto truly is a “world-class city” or “Toronto the Good,” we must choose to move beyond slogans to action. Too many Torontonians are hurting.

This raises the question about how we are taking care of our neighbours, as many of our faith communities call us to do.

The opinion piece can be accessed at: https://www.socialplanningtoronto.org/toronto_the_good

 

 

Democracy and the Climate Change Crisis   Leave a comment

We all know that there is a crisis happening now with respect to the climate(s) that we are living in. Denial, however, seems to be more powerful than the will to act to deal with the crisis.

The David Suzuki Foundation has written an important commentary on how the lack of leadership by people in positions of responsibility is affecting our democracies in North America. This certainly applies in Canada, and particularly in Ontario where there is no definite plan to counter additional greenhouse gas emissions. The Suzuki Foundation has written:

“In the face of an overwhelming crisis that threatens our very future, it might be time for an overhaul of our democratic and political systems, which are clearly failing the people they were designed to serve.”

More on this is available at: http://community.davidsuzuki.org/index.php/email/emailWebview?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTnpRMU5tVTVNalkzWVdaaSIsInQiOiJWME1MRjFNdVdUXC9GTE1Cd0ZSdWh1NndmTUFFRnpWVnJuZHJMa3NXdVErQTFDUXdFVzJSUVdQTG9kbmVEd1c3N1htMlZ5TWp6Nm9FTUEzOXZaSVM4R25tWEdURytsejRGSjBuN3MrbTFcL2N4bm5qNXorT1pmem8yc1RlNGE3bTZzIn0%3D

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Carbon tax needed

Donald Gutstein has written a book on how politicians have been influenced on this issue, and how people can inform themselves so that we can challenge their claims that they are taking meaningful action on global warming. The book is called:

“The Big Stall: How Big Oil and Think Tanks Are Blocking Action on Climate Change In Canada”

Here’s a brief review from the Toronto Public Library website:

Summary/Review: “In fall 2015, the new Trudeau government endorsed the Paris Accord and promised to tackle global wamring. In 2016, it released a major report which set out a national energy strategy embracing clean growth, technological innovation and carbon pricing. Rather than putting in place tough measures to achieve the Paris targets however, the government reframed global warming as a market opportunity for Canada’s clean technology sector.

In The Big Stall, Donald Gutstein traces the origins of the government’s climate change plan back to the energy sector itself – in particular Big Oil. He shows how, in the last fifteen years, Big Oil has infiltrated provincial and federal governments, academia, media and the non-profit sector to sway government and public opinion on the realities of climate change and what needs to be done about it.

Working both behind the scenes and in high-profile networks, Canada’s energy companies moved the debate away from discussion of the measures required to create a zero-carbon world and towards market-based solutions that will cut CO2 emissions – but not enough to prevent severe climate impacts. The progressive-seeming Trudeau Liberals have been co-opted by the embedded advocates of the oil and gas industry. The result: oil and gas companies can continue profiting from exporting their resources, instead of leaving them in the ground to minimize climate change. The door has been left wide open for oil companies to determine their own futures, and to go on drilling new wells, building new tar sands plants and constructing new pipelines.

This book offers the background information readers need to challenge politicians claiming they are taking meaningful action on global warming.”–

 

Canadians are concerned about climate change   Leave a comment

The results of a recent Canada-wide poll by Abacus Data demonstrates that 90 per cent of respondents are concerned about climate change.  What do Canadians think that elected officials ought to do about this crisis – such as adopt a method of carbon pricing? The results of this poll can be accessed at:

http://abacusdata.ca/can-the-conservatives-win-in-2019-by-running-against-carbon-pricing-its-no-slam-dunk/

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HOWEVER, in the world of politics, denial of the effectiveness of climate change solutions by those who are in elected positions seems to have morphed. An article in the Globe and Mail by Merran Smith and Dan Woynillowicz discusses the new methodology of climate change denial in the political arena.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/commentary/article-denying-solutions-is-the-new-climate-change-denial/

Denial is not an option, and authentic political leaders understand that. What is needed is a congruence of words and actions in democratic countries, including Canada.

Acting on Climate Change   Leave a comment

The release of the most recent report by the IPCC (October 6, 2018) has motivated me to abandon my passivity and write a letter to the Premier of Ontario concerning the price of carbon emissions in Ontario. I hope that, for the sake of our common environment, and life on Earth as we have known it, many others will also be taking similar actions.

If we believe in democracy, we have to believe that the political class will hear what we have to say.

 

My letter of October 22, 2018 is as follows:

October 22, 2018

Dear Premier Ford;

What will a 1.5 degree Celsius rise in global temperature mean for the “the people” of Ontario?

On October 6, 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) spelled it out in plain, damning details. The question now is: who listened?

Will the leadership in our Province of Ontario pay attention to these urgent warnings and start facilitating and implementing solutions at the pace required to forestall climate disaster? How do you suggest that we respond when our children, and grandchildren, ask us in 20 years time about what we did to prevent the type of climate catastrophes that were predicted in 2009 when James Hansen published, “Storms Of My Grandchildren”?

A week after the publication of the IPCC report, the Globe and Mail, a conservative voice in Canada, editorialized on this issue. The conservative Globe and Mail advocates a policy of taking immediate and effective action to deal with the rise in the temperature of our Earth’s atmosphere. As their editorial states; “every bit of warming hurts”.

The policy advocated by the Globe and Mail is also a policy that has been thoroughly researched by the person who was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics, William Nordhaus. As the Globe editorial states; “Mr. Nordhaus is not some lefty. His work shows that a carbon tax is the most efficient way to lower emissions, because it depends on market forces rather than on direct regulation.”

In the 2018 election campaign I heard that a Ford government would promote “efficiency”. A carbon tax, Mr. Nordhaus says, is “efficient”.

As you know, the Province of British Columbia has demonstrated that a carbon tax has been good for its economy, AND good for the environment. They have ten years of experience in this. You might ask their Premier if you wish to have additional information on how the economy of British Columbia has actually grown with a carbon tax in place.

The editorial to which I have been referring concludes with a call to action:

the UN and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences have shown that fighting climate (change) is the world’s most important collective endeavour, and that carbon taxes are the best way to join that fight. Canada must do its bit.”

We are part of a global village Mr. Ford.

  • The science says we must act now.

  • We have a means of acting effectively.

  • British Columbia has shown that it can be done.

Let’s have a meaningful carbon tax here in Ontario as soon as possible. We can do our part.

Yours truly;

Allan Baker

Cc Rod Phillips, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks

Cc Andrea Horwath, NDP Leader

Cc Mike Schreiner, Green Party Leader

Cc Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

 

 

It is not too late!   Leave a comment

On October 6, 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) spelled out in plain, damning details what will happen if the Earth’s atmosphere warms by more than 1.5 degree Celsius.

The IPCC also provided a list of possibilities for policymakers, available at: http://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/pdf/sr15_spm_final.pdf

The David Suzuki Foundation has a thoughtful commentary on this important document:

https://davidsuzuki.org/story/will-the-world-act-on-climate-change-before-its-too-late/

No, it is not too late for us to change our course. However, we must resist the powerful forces that believe in the status quo. To quote an American author, Chris Hedges:

Resistance is not only about battling the forces of darkness. It is about becoming a complete human being. It is about overcoming estrangement. it is about our neighbour.It is about honouring the sacred. It is about dignity. It is about sacrifice. It is about courage. It is about freedom. It is about the capacity to love. Resistance must become our vocation.”

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Sunrise at Cape Spear

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted October 24, 2018 by allanbaker in econotheism, Environment, Politics

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