Archive for the ‘Toronto’ Tag

Return to “Normal” (11)

The core of Emmay’s thinking on our current context might be summarized in this statement of hers:

Those of us who hold resources and influence, organizationally or personally, need to be willing to have uncomfortable and challenging conversations with our peers, communities, co-workers, employees and supporters – and be willing to listen to racialized people who offer the gift of sharing their experiences with us. It is only through the willingness to linger in a place of discomfort that we can begin to fully understand and address injustice in our society, institutions and communities.

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What are the responsibilities of environmental organizations in building a racially-just society?

At a time when the struggle for racial justice is at the forefront of public discourse, environmental organizations like the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) are compelled to reflect on their roles and responsibilities in addressing the inequity, violence, and systemic oppression experienced by Black, Indigenous and other racialized peoples.

It’s a gross injustice that the burden of “righting” our society continues to be borne by the people who experience the most extreme forms of racism and discrimination. It’s long past time that those of us who hold resources and influence help to share this burden, and this includes the environmental community.

At TEA, our commitment to more deeply embed an equity lens in our work, and build meaningful relationships with racialized communities, is an ongoing process. While I do not claim to have all the answers, I’d like to share some thoughts on what allyship can look like for us and other environmental organizations, and how we can contribute to catalyzing and supporting lasting change.

Use our platforms to express support and solidarity.

In the context of the ongoing violence and dehumanizing behaviour experienced by Black and Indigenous communities, staying silent is not an option. Many environmental organizations have public platforms that can and should be used to speak out against injustice and make statements of support and commitment. The intention is not to put environmental organizations at the centre of this discourse, but rather, to support and amplify the voices and messages of those who are at the forefront of the struggle for racial justice.

There can be no climate justice without racial justice.

Build connections to our work.

At TEA, we have a clear purpose – building a greener city for all – which is grounded in the belief that environmental issues impact all residents in our city, and that solutions must consider how to address inequity related to these environmental problems. This does not diminish our important environmental watchdog and policy-advocacy role. On the contrary, by including an equity lens in the in-depth environmental analysis TEA conducts, we aim to do a better job of preventing unintended harms and maximizing the positive benefits of the solutions we put forward.

The analogy that “we are in the same storm but on different boats” has been used to describe the COVID-19 pandemic, and similarly applies to the interconnected nature of climate, economic and racial justice. For example, in our city, there is growing income inequality between racialized and non-racialized populations, and significantly higher rates of poverty among racialized people, including children. Household income can determine where people live and their housing conditions, which in turn impacts how they experience environmental shocks such as extreme heat. Low-income households have very low consumption-based emissions but are made disproportionately vulnerable to climate-related risks.

For several years, accelerating equitable climate action in Toronto has been a core focus for TEA. We consistently advocate for housing retrofits as a climate solution that can reduce emissions, make residents’ housing more resilient in extreme weather, and create good, green job opportunities for equity-seeking people in the skilled trades. We also believe that retrofit programs require safeguards to protect tenants’ rights so that retrofits don’t lead to renovictions.

Illuminate systemic impacts. 

Environmental organizations have a responsibility to understand and situate their work in relation to other systemic issues. We have to recognize that many of the drivers of environmental harm are the same drivers that create systemic inequity and injustice. Data – both statistics and other information provided by communities – can reveal the deep connections between these issues and illuminate systemic solutions that can address harm to people and the planet.

Overlaying environmental data with geographical and race-based data can tell a powerful story. For example, a 2017 US study found that concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (from transportation emissions) were 2.7 times higher in neighbourhoods with the highest proportion of racialized people than those with the lowest proportion. This type of work, which highlights the connection between pollution exposure and where racialized people live, can facilitate collaborative advocacy among environmental groups and community members.

Make space for excluded voices.

It’s a painful fact that our political institutions were born out of a colonial system that was designed to keep certain people silent and subordinate. This legacy remains with us today in overt ways – such as the Indian Act and the visible lack of diverse political representatives at all levels of government – and in more insidious ways when it comes to which voices hold influence in how government designs policy, implements programs and allocates resources.

Sadly, the environmental movement has also played a role in perpetuating this legacy. There are historic examples of conservationist beliefs conflated with eugenics, and contemporary examples of environmental campaigns that have chosen to completely disregard the implications for local populations including Indigenous communities. The voices of Indigenous people and other racialized people, who have demonstrated tireless leadership in defending land, water and air, have gone unrecognized, and at times, have been purposefully excluded or undermined.

Given where we’ve come from, and the injustice that continues today, we need to proactively work to build a different path forward. It is important for the environmental movement to recognize and support the work led by Indigenous, Black and other racialized communities, which happens in spaces that are inside and outside of mainstream institutions. Environmental organizations can play a role in amplifying these voices in environmental policy and programs, and broader decision-making and resource allocation processes.

There are encouraging initiatives underway that seek to make space for racialized people in public policy and inside the institutions where decisions are taken. The action-research project led by Adapting Canadian Work & Workplaces (ACW) in collaboration with the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), Environmental Racism: The Impact of Climate Change on Racialized Canadian Communities: An Environmental Justice Perspective, focuses on building Black and racialized leadership capacity to address environmental racism and influence public policy on climate. The Urban Alliance on Race Relations recently launched the Black Youth Fellowship, a professional and leadership development program focused on building the next generation of Black public servants, which will place participants in a Toronto Councillor’s office.

As a municipally-focused organization, TEA has intentionally built relationships with organizations who work with diverse communities across the city. We collaborate with these partners to engage more racialized people in civic processes to shape Toronto’s environmental policies and the City Budget. TEA also showcases and shares stories about the work of racialized people leading outstanding environmental work. We are committed to being vocal advocates for meaningful and transparent public participation and believe that our city will benefit from a greater diversity of voices calling for deeper and more equitable environmental action from government.

Face uncomfortable truths and be prepared for a long journey.

For all of us who are committed to sharing the burden of addressing past and present injustice in our society, it will be a long journey. During the first weekend of large-scale protests across the US, ignited by the killing of George Floyd by police, the hashtag #MeanwhileInCanada was trending on social media. Instead of using this moment to try to better understand the experiences of Black people on this side of the border, a significant number of people took to social media to paint an image of contrast between our ‘troubled’ neighbours to the south with our own ‘harmonious’ society.

In my view, a key role for allies is to help people and institutions face the uncomfortable truth that Black, Indigenous and other racialized people are continually treated as less equal and less valued members of our society. This is true here, in the US, and in many other parts of the world. We need to address the cognitive dissonance that can happen when people are confronted with a reality that does not match what they believe to be true – in this case about Canadian society – and use this moment to build greater understanding and empathy, not disassociation.

This brings me back to where I started. Those of us who hold resources and influence, organizationally or personally, need to be willing to have uncomfortable and challenging conversations with our peers, communities, co-workers, employees and supporters – and be willing to listen to racialized people who offer the gift of sharing their experiences with us. It is only through the willingness to linger in a place of discomfort that we can begin to fully understand and address injustice in our society, institutions and communities.

When I discussed writing this blog with my team, they urged me to share some of our challenges as an organization. One of the examples we discussed was how we respond internally to support the people on our team. TEA has a field canvass team, which, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, went door-to-door speaking with residents all over the city and raising critical funds for our work. At present, they do this work on the phone. Over the years, racialized workers on our team have had significantly different experiences than their non-racialized counterparts – whether it’s experiencing subtle mistrust or overtly racist behaviour while interacting with the public.

While TEA cannot control individuals’ behaviour towards our team, our organization can ensure that measures are in place that help workers feel supported when such incidents occur. In addition, equipping outreach workers with professional identification and providing supportive verification systems, which we started to do last year at the team’s request, can go a long way in mitigating certain types of harmful and hurtful interactions. Our team is encouraged to exit from situations where harmful views are expressed – whether it’s on the phone in person – since we do not want our workers to be subjected to discrimination nor do we want to recruit supporters with discriminatory views. We have had to face the reality that TEA’s outreach work takes place in a society where racism exists, and we must continually listen to staff and improve on how we support our team as they engage the public.

At TEA, we still have much to do to ensure that our work meaningfully supports the priorities of Black, Indigenous and racialized communities in Toronto. We are part of a growing movement that recognizes the interconnected nature of environmental, economic and racial justice work, which is why we are calling for green and just recovery for Toronto as we emerge from COVID-19. I am hopeful that we collectively can do the work needed to turn this important moment in history into an era where real change happens.

Several years ago, I was conducting a focus group discussion with a community group, and stories were shared by two elder members – one Black and one Jewish. They were commiserating about how there used to be parts of our city where they couldn’t go, and one recalled a sign that was posted in a public place that read “No Blacks or Jews allowed”. This was an important reminder to me about what has happened, in living memory, right here in Toronto. I sincerely hope that these elders will see a profound transformation in their lifetimes – a time when all people are safe, heard and valued.


Emmay Mah is the Executive Director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA).   https://www.torontoenvironment.org

 

Return to “Normal” (7)

Is anyone still counting the number of days of “COVID Confinement”? Or, have you moved on to counting the number of weeks, or months?

With our attention currently focused on the pandemic, and systemic racism, the media and others seem to have forgotten that the Earth is concurrently in a climate crisis. Toronto author Tom Rand prefers to label this situation as a time of “climate disruption”[1].

Some aspects of our natural environment have improved while “the economy” has been operating in slow motion. Air quality has improved in many cities because people are driving and flying less; carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have not risen as much this year as in the past years; we hear the birds in the morning rather than traffic, and so on.

Many people are now looking forward to a “return to “normal”. Do you remember what “normal” was doing to the Earth’s environment?

  • A world of species extinction and hyper-consumerism

  • A world of an ever increasing disparity of wealth / equity / and racism

  • A world of the car culture and the combustion engine belching polluting gasses

  • A world of homelessness and lengthy lines at foodbanks

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BUT, we don’t have to return to that “normal”. We can work together to make a better world on three levels: personal, community, and as a society. Now is the opportunity to make a difference because change is in the air, and many people don’t want to return to the “old normal”. As Dr. Kwame McKenzie said in his blog, “Normal was the problem.”[2]

What would the “New Normal” look like? Some examples, for our consideration, are:

  • A society that puts people – and inclusion – first, recognizing our inter-relatedness with all people, and all of creation

  • A society that does not pay $40 Billion in annual subsidies to the fossil fuel industry

  • A society that retro-fits housing and other buildings to reduce their carbon footprint

  • A society that uses public street space for additional forms of transportation, such as buses, bicycles and pedestrians

  • A society with a progressive income tax system that includes meaningful taxes on wealth and the elimination of tax loopholes

As Gandhi said, “ Be the change you want to see in the world.”

My question is about how I make this “new normal” happen?

  • How do I want to live as a person of the Christian faith in the “New Normal” – both individually and as a part of my faith community?

  • How can I be effective in advocating for an economy that puts people before profit, and includes people of all cultures and skin colours?

  • How will I live with respect for other people, and the Earth, in the “New Normal”?

  • How will I seek justice for the Earth and its people, love kindness, and walk humbly with the Creator?

“The next few months are precious. Things have changed quickly.

We can imagine the “New Normal”. Naomi Klein

[1]Tom Rand, The Case for Climate Capitalism, ECW Press, 2020

[2]https://www.wellesleyinstitute.com/healthy-communities/the-new-normal-moving-from-surviving-to-thriving/

Return to “Normal” (4)

Dr. Kwame McKenzie dreads returning to “normal”. In his view, the old “normal” wasn’t working for the majority of people.

In this blog posting on the Wellesley Institute website, Dr. McKenzie writes about what the old “normal” looked like; and proposes a vision of how a new “normal” could benefit the majority of people by taking care of the common good.

A new normal

Kwame McKenzie – May 13, 2020

I am told that we are preparing to slowly get back to normal. That fills me with dread.

I remember normal.

Normal was when Ontario had its highest ever GDP per capita, but at least 350,000 people used food banks and social assistance rates were so low that those considered too sick to work were living in poverty.

Normal meant a business model where many jobs were precarious, had no pension or benefits and the provincial government thought that $15 an hour and paid sick days were an unreasonable burden for employers. It was where young adults earned less than they did 40 years ago and GTA immigrants had not had a pay increase for 35 years.

Normal was a real estate market so out of control that the average family could not afford to buy a Toronto condo. It was when the majority of long-term care homes were private, for-profit and the provincial government had scaled back inspections.

It was when Ontario was the second lowest spender on health in Canada and our health services were cut back so far that people were dying in hallways. Health service workers could not have a cost of living increase and public health was to be cut by 10% provincially and 20% in Toronto.

Normal was when we spent 30% less on mental health than recommended leaving services for people with serious mental illness underfunded. It was when the target of ending homelessness by 2025 had been shelved.

Normal was the problem.

It allowed government to put industry’s interests ahead of the people. It made it acceptable to know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. It was bad for our health.

It increased the rates of chronic disease and slowed our gains in life expectancy. It led to 20 years difference in life span between rich and poor in some Cities. It led to indigenous and racial disparities in health, social care and policing. It left workers with fewer protections and produced epidemics of loneliness and mental health problems.

It left us more vulnerable to COVID-19.

It left families overcrowded and unable to physically distance. It left personal support workers underpaid, undervalued and resigning in droves and our long-term care homes understaffed and vulnerable. It allowed COVID-19 to prey on our elders.

It left us with so little hospital capacity that we had to develop new, poorer quality alternatives. It may decrease COVID-19 survival rates.

It left our public health system weaker, demoralized, and with the lowest rates of COVID-19 testing in Canada.

It led to people with serious mental illness swelling the numbers of homeless, or living in shared rooms separated only by a curtain, and it led to homeless shelters resembling refugee camps with just 2.5 feet between beds. It led to COVID-19 outbreaks.

I do not want to go back to that normal. It was wrong, and it will delay our recovery and have a huge economic impact. The truth is it was not normal at all and it reversed the gains we have made over the last 40 years.

We need a new normal.

A new normal where we put people first – not say we will and then do the opposite. A new normal which aims to increase affordability, equity and inclusion. A new normal where people thrive, rather than just survive.

This means we need: good jobs, employment rights and wages which ensure that people thrive; a revitalized benefits system based on a universal basic income which ensures that we never again allow people to live in government sponsored poverty; and, a housing strategy that makes homes affordable.

We need to: right-size our health and social services sector; look at how B.C. is improving standards for long-term care homes; and, reconsider the shelter system and find homes for the homeless.

We need to do this to honour the people who have died because of COVID-19, those who will die because they do not receive proper care, and the families who have not been able to properly grieve. We need to honour the essential workers who have put themselves and their families at risk, the employers who have lost their livelihood, the people who have lost their jobs and the students who have had their education disrupted.

If we just go back to normal we are disrespecting these sacrifices, we are ignoring what COVID-19 has taught us, and we are leaving ourselves vulnerable to the next pandemic.

Homeless in Toronto – left behind

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

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

 

 

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I’ve (finally) finished reading the book; Could It Happen Here? Canada in the Age of Trump and BREXIT by Michael Adams. I enjoyed it, and I learned about some of the differences between Canada and the U.S.A. from reading the statistics and the commentary within it.

The title raises an interesting question, that I heard Michael Adams address in an interview with Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star. “What do you mean by “It?”. In the book, Adams doesn’t directly answer the question, but there is plenty of evidence that he believes the answer is “NO!”.

I say that because Adams writes about Kellie Leitch at both the beginning and the conclusion to this book. In the concluding chapter he wrote:

“Throughout the Conservative leadership campaign, polls consistently showed support for Kelly Leitch’s notion of a Canadian values test, a signal that there are political dividends to harvest by appealing to the more fearful angels of our nature. That she was also ridiculed and ultimately unsuccessful revealed something about the location of the boundaries of acceptable political discourse in Canada and offers a precise answer to the question of whether “it” could happen here.”[1]

HOWEVER;

During the second of three leaders debates during the Ontario 2018 election campaign, the three political party leaders ( Liberal, NDP and Progressive Conservative ) were asked whether they would support a program to bring new immigrants to northern Ontario to fill job vacancies. Doug Ford, now Premier of Ontario, responded:

“I’d be more than happy to sit down and talk to the folks and look at a pilot project. But number one, I’m a pretty generous guy — I’m taking care of our own first. Once we take care of our own, once we exhaust every single avenue and don’t have anyone that can fill a job, then I’d be open to that.[2]”

Since his election, Premier Ford has withdrawn financial support for asylum seekers who come to Ontario.[3]

All through the book Adams compares and contrasts the U.S.A. and Canada as societies. His analysis of socio-economic data; polling, and academic papers provides plenty of detail on the similarities and differences of our two countries. One of the key differences between the neighbouring countries though lies in the responses to a simple question: “Must the father of the family be the master in his own house?[4]”

From 1992 to 2016 the “YES” responses in the U.S.A. have gone from 42 per cent of those polled to 50 per cent. The figure is 69 per cent in the “deep south”, and lowest in New England (42%). In Canada during the same time period the “YES” response has declined from 25 per cent to 23 per cent (reaching a low of 18% in the year 2000). In Canada the highest is 26 per cent in Alberta and the lowest is 19 per cent in Atlantic Canada.

Another important difference is in response to a question about the style of decision making that politicians have. 54 per cent of Americans like elected officials who “stick to their positions”, while only 38 per cent of Canadians do. Similarly, 58 per cent of Canadians like elected officials who “make compromises with people they disagree with”, versus 40 per cent of Americans.[5]

Could “it” happen here? I think that “it” already has.

The new government in Ontario seems to be dedicated to the kind of “shock and awe” program that Naomi Klein described in her book, The Shock Doctrine”.[6]Someof their decisions in the first few days of being “in power” are outlined below:

President Trump                                            Premier Ford

Environment

Withdrew from the Paris                          Withdrew from the “Cap

Paris Accord                                              and Trade” program with

                                                                      California and Quebec

                                                                      Cancelled 758 “green” energy

                                                                      Projects

Mandate

Drain the swamp                                     Clean up the “mess”

Immigration

Build the wall                                          Ceased support for asylum

Send migrants home                             seekers – “a federal matter”

Social conservativism

Withdrew from United Nations          Cancelled new sex ed curric.

progr. on breast feeding                        Not at 2018 Pride parade

Role of science[7]

Office of the President’s                         Fired Chief Scientist in ON

Science Advisor is still vacant

Of course, there’s populism and other topics that could be dealt with in this note, and both Ford and Trump have an ego that needs to be massaged.

Could it happen here?

I think that “It” has already happened here in Ontario.

[1]Could It Happen Here, page 152

[2]https://tvo.org/article/current-affairs/doug-fords-odd-take-on-immigration-in-the-north

[3]https://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2018/07/16/ottawa-says-it-will-support-toronto-with-asylum-seekers-notwithstanding-snub-by-doug-ford.html

[4]Could It Happen Here, page 146

[5]Could It Happen Here, page 151.

[6]Naomi Klein has continued her analysis in a new book, “The Battle for Paradise”; a story of what happened after Hurricanes Irma and Maria passed through Puerto Rico.

[7]Just like in the days of the “Harper Government” in Ottawa, who needs unbiased, scientific evidence when we have ideology, eh?

Okay, Toronto. It’s up to you

There are times in life when I need a bit of inspiration.

The recent provincial election in Ontario brought me to one such time. However, the antidote arrived unexpectedly in the form of a blog posting by Joy Connelly. Chicago in April 2011Joy Connelly began with the following words:

“As I watched last Thursday’s election results, I was reminded of the motto printed on housing hero Steve Pomeroy’s letterhead: focus on what you can do, not what you cannot.”

Joy then proceeds to illustrate the powers that are available to the City of Toronto to deal with our housing crisis. Yes, there are things that can be done! To read an inspirational posting about what we can focus on doing, read Joy Connelly’s blog at:

https://openingthewindow.com/2018/06/11/okay-toronto-its-up-to-you/?

 

Posted June 13, 2018 by allanbaker in Canadian society

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Toronto – still Toronto “the good”

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan DenetteFirst responders close down Yonge Street in Toronto after a van mounted a sidewalk, crashing into a number of pedestrians on April 23, 2018. The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette

 

Following the horrific event, and tragedy, that happened in Toronto, Canada on Monday, April 23, 2018, there has been plenty of commentary. Ten people are dead; fifteen were injured, thousands are traumatized. How could this happen in Toronto?

Stephen Marche has reflected on all of this, and whether it will “change Toronto” in a posting on Walrus Magazine’s website. Some of what March wrote is:

“Because the people of Toronto, at their best anyway, know that any time you put people into pre-established categories, you’re most likely being an idiot. That’s the reason to move here after all: to live in a place where they won’t put you in a box. The city doesn’t always live up to this ideal of inclusion. It fails often, even. But I believe, in a very serious way, that the aspiration towards openness and tolerance remains real. Multiculturalism works here. Everybody knows it. The ceos of the banks know it. The kids scrounging WiFi outside the libraries after hours know it. The convenience store owners know it. Drake knows it. The old wasps in the upscale Rosedale neighbourhood know it. No random act of violence is going to shake that knowledge.”

The whole article that Marche created is available at: The Walrus

 

Posted April 25, 2018 by allanbaker in Canadian society

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