Members of Socialist Action joined about 30 Kurdish socialists and supporters gathered at the East York Civic Center on June 4 to listen to John Clarke, provincial organizer of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, talk about Poverty and Homelessness in Canada. The event was sponsored by Voices – an independent Kurdish Online publication.
John exposed the root causes of poverty in Ontario and described the heroic role of OCAP. He told the audience how every night over 4000 people crowd into shelters, how tens of thousands have been forced by the government’s neo-liberal austerity policies to use food banks, and how since last year there have been over 100 tragic homeless deaths on the streets— the most ever recorded in Toronto! He illustrated how disgraceful it is that this can happen in a city with such immense wealth. He also aptly defended OCAP’s use of direct action tactics, without seeking permission from the cops or anyone. Clarke noted that while workers can withdraw their labour and go on strike, the unemployed and homeless can use only direct action as their weapon to fight against the system. His talk was animated by very moving personal anecdotes about the many people that OCAP has helped over the years.
During the discussion period, Barry Weisleder, a leader of Socialist Action, stressed that the only way to end poverty is through a revolutionary break with the existing class system, that is, by a socialist transformation of society. Such a transformation has at least two pre-conditions for it’s success: a working class that is rising in anger about the unacceptability of current conditions, and a revolutionary leadership in the unions and other working class organizations that will fight for a program to fundamentally change society.
This is not a matter of charity. It is a struggle for justice and a revolt against unacceptable conditions for humanity and the environment. He urged members of the audience to join with Socialist Action in order to help build a strong and resolutely revolutionary party.
Socialist Action demands immediate action as follows:
• Mayor Tory: Immediately expand Toronto’s shelter capacity. Open the armories! People have been waiting long enough!
• Build decent housing for all, starting with a crash programme to create 500,000 new housing units by means of a publicly owned land development and construction industry.
• Provide immediate support and resources for those suffering mental health issues and drug addiction!
• Stop the war on the poor! Tax rich property owners, land developers, giant corporations and banks!
• NO MORE HOMELESS DEATHS!