Tag Archives: toronto

Pride (Inc.) Capitulates to the Cops, Betrays BLM

by John Wilson

Well, Toronto Pride has done it again. On October 16 it held a news conference to announce that uniformed police will again march in the Pride parade.  The decision was made solely by its Board, not presented to Pride’s membership for either discussion or vote. The news conference was a joint project with cop top boss Mark Saunders and Mayor John Tory. In a video of the event published by Xtra, Pride Executive Director Olivia Nuamah consistently evaded detailed questions.  She insisted that the decision was based on “community consultations” without ever specifying who comprised this “community” that was allegedly consulted. Since it didn’t even include Pride’s own membership, we may well wonder! Nuamah referred more than once to Pride’s “partnership” with the police.

Obviously, great pressure from the police, the mayor and Ontario Premier Thug Ford was brought to bear. But the rightward direction of the Pride leadership has been evident for years, as it continues to distance itself from the “community” it supposedly represents. In 2016, when Black Lives Matter temporarily halted the march to protest the massive police presence in it and to highlight other serious issues, one of the major concerns was the intimidating nature of the police presence, particularly to marginalized sectors in the LGBT population in the parade. This important issue has been shoved aside in the interest of “partnership” with the mechanism of state repression, and, presumably, funding. (To quote an old Bob Dylan song: “money doesn’t talk, it screams”.)

This outrageous betrayal completely ignores the role of the police as the praetorian guard of power and privilege and as an oppressor of queer people, racialized minorities, sex workers and the homeless. (It also undercuts other Pride organizations which have removed the police from their parades.) As James Dubro, a long-time gay activist points out, the announcement of this change was made without notice, and predicts that “they’re setting it up for major confrontation”. And he’s right. Opposition is already growing and it will be massive.

Apparently, Toronto Pride honchos are completely oblivious to the growing resistance to the viciously right wing Doug Ford-led Ontario government, resistance which will dovetail with opposition to their abjectly opportunist move.

As the slogan heading up a petition started by queer activist and Queer Ontario steering committee member Brian de Matos declares, “Liberation, Not Assimilation.”

Progress Toronto fails to make a difference. Round One goes to Doug Ford.

by Barry Weisleder

Voter turnout in the Toronto municipal election on October 22 was an abysmal 41 per cent, nearly 20 per cent lower than four years earlier.  A big factor was gross interference, in campaign mid-stream, by the Conservative Doug Ford Ontario government.  It reduced the number of seats on Toronto City Council from 47 to 25.  Many voters, confused by changed ward boundaries, and not knowing who were the local candidates, simply stayed away from the polls.

An equally important factor was the political disarray and the lack of inspiration.  There was no organized working class alternative to the main candidates backed by the big landlords, property developers and the banks.  The labour-based New Democratic Party did not field a slate.  Toronto Labour Council and the fake-left Progress Toronto outfit backed an array of so-called progressives – a motley crew of ‘independent’ Liberals and NDPers, headed by the Liberal Jennifer Keesmat who ran for mayor.  Not a socialist among them.  Falsely they claim credit for knocking off ultra-conservative Giorgio Mammoliti, along with right wingers Christin Carmichael Greb and Frank Di Giorgio.  The latter two were beaten by a Liberal and a Conservative respectively.  So-called ‘non-partisan’ Libs and Tories have a comfortable majority on council now.  Such is Progress, eh?

Keesmat, former city chief planner, was trounced by incumbent mayor, big business-backed John Tory, who is now surrounded by a pro-cutbacks, anti-labour city council.  His former arch-foe Doug Ford facilitated this outcome by legislating larger wards and the over-representation of conservative-voting suburbs.

Score Round One for Thug Ford.  He bullied his way forward, stood up to court challenges (he even threatened to use a constitutional over-ride clause), and saw through the feeble plaints of the union brass and Liberal elites.  Ford set up Toronto for the next big wave of cutbacks and privatization measures. Toronto’s subway system may be the first city asset on the auction block.  The sale of individual social housing units, a Keesmat idea that Mayor-elect John Tory admires, could follow.

Disgustingly, white supremacist Faith Goldy came third in the mayoralty race, tallying 3.4 per cent.  One of the few bright spots was the fourth-place finish of Seron Gebresellassi, a leftist lawyer of Eritrean heritage who scored 2 per cent.  Her call for Free Public Transit redefined the debate.  Socialist Action candidate in Ward 1, tenants’ organizer Peter D’Gama, received a small vote.  But the SA platform circulated widely across the city.  It showed what a socialist vision of the future looks like and it exposed the lie that it is illegal to put a party label on city election signs and literature.  What now?  Indeed, now is the time to take stock of the failure of liberal reform, class collaboration politics.  It’s time to chart a course for a Workers’ Agenda.  The fight for a Labour City Hall should be headed by a re-purposed Toronto NDP.  Or it should be the creation of a coalition of socialist parties and social justice movements.  The Left needs to get ready to take on John Tory and big business control of city hall in 2022 — because conditions of growing inequality, homelessness, pollution, transit grid lock, cop violence and urban decay are sure to get worse.

Why I am running for Toronto City Council

by Peter D’Gama

I am the Socialist Action candidate in the October 22 municipal election in Toronto because I want to bring a Workers’ Agenda to City Hall. For the past decade I have seen inequality grow while corporate profits, particularly those of the financial sector, rise astronomically. Life for workers has become more precarious as we have to settle for jobs paying minimum wage and work long hours just to meet the high cost of housing, both rental and for home ownership. Many workers have been pushed into precarious economic situations, which lands some on the streets.

This situation is made worse by capitalist politicians preaching cuts to social and community services and for privatization of public assets such as mass transit. I ran in 2010 as an independent socialist to protest the militarization of the city during the G20 Summit. Today I am running as a member of Socialist Action — for a Workers’ Agenda that is anti-capitalist, that seeks to take back public space and assets controlled by private interests.

The city, as radical geographer David Harvey famously said, is a site for class struggle. While we are not yet in a revolutionary period reminiscent of the Paris Commune of 1871 or the Russian Revolution of 1917 when workers took control away from bourgeois interests, we do see that socialism is becoming more relevant to young workers seeking to escape the traps of the capitalist mode of production.

I am running to stop landlords and large real estate investment trusts from making huge profits at the expense of renters who face whopping increases and deteriorating living conditions. Housing is a human right, not a privilege. As such we have to prioritize human needs, not private profits, by imposing strong rent controls and by building public housing massively. We need a housing agency that acts as a developer utilizing city owned land and by nationalizing a construction company to facilitate rapid building of affordable housing. Socialist Action aims to stop the sharp decline of investment in public transit and to build Light Rapid Transit and a downtown relief subway line, while at the same demanding free and accessible public transit.

As a long-time paralegal and community organizer in Etobicoke North, I am running not to be another seat holder, but to be a worker/activist who opposes neoliberal policies on council and on the street. I pledge if elected to take only 50% of a Councillor’s salary and spend the rest on community organizing to mobilize workers in Etobicoke North against anti-worker policies such as reduction of minimum wage, cancellation of LRTs and advocate for a just energy transition and the creation of green jobs. That includes putting solar panels on the roofs of city-owned buildings, making sure that green jobs are unionized, and ensuring that projects come under democratic workers’ and community control.

I stand with the theatrical stage workers represented by IATSE Local 58 and against the union-busting antics of Exhibition Place and City Council. Stop contracting-out. End the lock-out. Defend decent jobs. Improve wages, benefits and pensions. Organize the unorganized. Workers make the city run. Workers should run the city.

Socialist challenges Ford-supporter in Ward 1

Dear Friends, Fellow Workers, and Residents of Ward 1,

I begin by acknowledging that the land on which we are standing is the traditional territory of many First Nations, including the Mississaugas of the New Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples, and is now home to many diverse Indigenous, Inuit and Metis peoples.

I have lived in Ward 1, in Rexdale, for 9 years.  I work as a paralegal with the suffering people of this area who are struggling to survive.  I have witnessed, over the years, a growing inequality in the ward, and increasingly the same nefarious trend across the City of Toronto.  More and more, the mega-city is becoming a place in which workers are pushed to the margins by economic policies designed to serve the interests of the rich and big corporations, such as banks, land developers and the real estate industry.

Toronto is a city where profit margins have climbed, but the tax rates the rich pay have declined.  This puts a greater onus on workers who have seen their real incomes fall while their taxes go through the roof.

Construction cranes crowd the landscape, erecting tall condos from which a global elite and Real Estate Income Trusts garner huge profits.  Meanwhile, life becomes more precarious for renters who face skyrocketing costs and are pushed to margins of society.  In 2017 the resulting social displacement led to the deaths of over 100 homeless people.

Service cuts, combined with tax giveaways to corporations, have fostered crises in affordable housing, health, transportation, energy, waste management and recreation.  Cuts contribute to growing inequality, low wages and precarious employment. Workers, like those doing three jobs and working for minimum wages have said enough is enough.  Workers have begun to organize against the onslaught of economic measures that deprive us of our rights and a decent income. I am running not to be another seat holder on city council, but to help build and mobilize a movement for a workers’ agenda and put socialism on the table at city hall.

That is why I am the candidate of Socialist Action in Ward 1.  In the absence of a slate of candidates openly representing the labour-based New Democratic Party across Toronto, I ask the voters of Ward 1 to vote Socialist Action, and to press the Toronto and York Region Labour Council, and the NDP, to field a socialist team in the future that will fight boldly and clearly for a Labour City Hall and school board.

Imagine a world beyond the false priorities of the private profit system.  Imagine the liberating potential of a rent freeze, of a mansion tax on properties valued at over $5 million, of a truly progressive property tax system, of a worker and community-controlled affordable housing strategy centered on the use of City property and public land trusts.  Think of the benefit of properly supported health services that would heal the mentally and physically ill and reduce the growing incidence of murderous gun violence.

Imagine what we could accomplish by taxing the rich and giant corporations like banks, land developers and Real Estate Investment Trusts. Such enterprises have seen their share of taxes actually decline since 2005.  I will fight for an increase in big business property tax rates.  I will fight for Free and Accessible Public transit and for a Green Transition that would create jobs with a living wage by retrofitting schools and other properties such as the Toronto Community Housing Corporation.

I invite you to join me and Socialist Action in this movement for a Workers’ Agenda and a Labour City Hall.  We are committed to advance an alternative agenda to that of the Doug Ford PC government, and the assortment of thinly-disguised Liberals and Tories, including Mayor John Tory, who run City Hall for the vested interests.

The policy that I advocate puts the needs of workers and our communities before private profit.   Please join this movement by volunteering your time, donating funds, endorsing the platform, and by pledging your support at: www.votepeterdgama.ca

For more information, please call me at: 437-333-7247.

Socialist Action walks in solidarity with striking Pearson International Airport workers

Teamsters Local 419 represents 700 workers employed by Swissport, a multinational company subcontracted to handle baggage for several airlines at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport (YYZ). The workers have been on strike since July 27. Their demands are:  wage increases that will be only slightly above the proposed increases to the Ontario minimum wage, and keeping benefits for part-time workers.

The workers have overwhelmingly voted down two proposed deals because the employer insists upon concessions. In the second vote, it was 98 per cent NO.  The protracted strike will soon create greater problems for the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA).  The strike has implications for airport industrial relations and its 50,000 workers.

Socialist Action is proud to express its solidarity for workers on strike, especially for the members of Local 419 who demonstrate the courage to stand up to the bosses’ demands for concessions, and fight back for gains.