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wmtc: thoughts on luxury, plus know your rights, rental edition, part three

We have to move.

We are heartsick over it.

Our landlord is selling the house we live in. We’re not letting ourselves get kicked out (see below), but chances are very good we’ll have to move, so we’re taking steps to find a place sooner rather than later.

With the shock of our landlord’s announcement faded – at least a bit! – we’ve been able to evaluate our options. And sadly, very sadly, we realize that we should stop renting houses and go back to apartment life.

Comfort is easy. Less comfort is not.

It’s incredibly easy to grow accustomed (Read more…)

wmtc: more art and culture in the suburbs: indian art activism and the baps mandir

In September my mother was here for her annual visit. I always plan some art or cultural attraction for us to take in. This time she was recovering from some knee surgery, so major walking in Toronto was out. On a previous visit, we had already done most of the cultural attractions in Mississauga – or so we thought. I’m pleased to say that the west-end suburbs was up to the challenge. At the Art Gallery of Mississauga, we saw a fascinating exhibit on the Sahmat Collective, a group of artists in India who use street art (Read more…)

wmtc: steve mahoney for mayor of mississauga

We’re having a historic election here in Mississauga: it will be the first time in the city’s existence that Hazel McCallion is not running, the first mayor other than McCallion that Mississauga has ever had. Twelve candidates are on the ballot, but the race comes down to two people: Steve Mahoney and Bonnie Crombie.

Crombie tries to project an image as a business person who “gets things done,” but running a city like a business is a failing proposition. Businesses are designed for profit. Transit, education, libraries, sanitation, daycare, parks, recreation centres, and other public services don’t generate profit. (Read more…)

wmtc: guest post: "rob ford, eid prayer and the silencing of dissent"

Rob Ford, Eid Prayer and the Silencing of Dissentby Fizza Mir

July 30, 2014

My Eid started out like most, enjoying a morning coffee after a month of abstinence, rushing to get to the downtown prayers at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and navigating through hoards of playful children and beautifully dressed congregants. The khutbah was moving and poignantly addressed the state of our Ummah. Even as we celebrated the end of a blessed month, our hearts were heavy and our thoughts consumed by the horrors unfolding in Gaza, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Burma . . . it seemed like an (Read more…)

wmtc: summer, teens, the library, and me

Yesterday was my first summer program at the library. Attendance was low, but very keen. An artist and activist (who happens to be a friend of mine from the war resisters movement) led a workshop I called “Comix that Save the World”. We explored the use of the comics form to express larger social concerns. It was so much fun, the teens were so into it, that I’m thinking of expanding it to an ongoing series, where kids could really develop something. The summer at Mississauga Central Library will be packed with programs for teens – sometimes as many as (Read more…)

wmtc: sometimes knowing your rights is all it takes: in which we win our landlord battle

We won! And we won so easily, we’re left scratching our heads and asking, “What just happened?”

As you’ll recall, our landlord asked for an illegal rent increase – 10.5% when the legal allowable is 0.8%! – and implied that he would resort to dirty tricks if we didn’t pay.

We did our homework, checked and double-checked that this home does not fall through a serious loophole in Ontario rent laws. We crafted an email with just the right tone – straightforward and firm, but with nothing that could be considered belligerent.

When he received our email, (Read more…)

wmtc: know your rights, rental edition, part two

Just about one year ago today – July 8, 2013, to be exact – our area was hit with a massive flood that swamped homes, cars, highways, trains, and . . . our basement. The basement had been Allan’s office. The office in which he was working to meet a publishing deadline. Stressful? You could say that.

It could have been much worse. We got an insurance settlement, and we moved – not without some hassles, but we did it, moving in to our current rental home in September.

Now, one year later, we mentioned to our current landlord that it’s time (Read more…)

wmtc: a baby polar bear, three white lions, and my first visit to the toronto zoo

After living in the Toronto area for more than eight years, I still had never visited the Toronto Zoo, opting for several trips to Jungle Cat World and the Haliburton Wolf Centre instead (links here and here). But when one of the polar bears in the Toronto Zoo gave birth in November, there was finally enough incentive to plan a trip.

My friend J and I went in March, when the cub was four months old. We took an insane number of photos, which you can see here on Flickr. (The set is about half of what I shot.)

wmtc: dispatches from ola 2014, part 3: hip-hop programming in the library

My final post about the OLA Super Conference sessions I attended saves the best for last. “Sub-Urban Beats: Hip-Hop Programming in the Library” thrilled me with possibilities. Even more exciting, it was co-presented by two librarians from the Mississauga Library System who are youth specialists, Erica Conly and James Dekens. They worked with Damon Pfaff, of the Now Creative Group and Marcel DaCosta, a street dancer, community artist, and arts educator whose performance name is Frost Flow. Frost Flow is part of the Mississauga hip-hop collective Ground Illusionz; you can see some of his work here on YouTube.

(Read more…)

wmtc: please watch and share this beautiful video in defense of the toronto public library

wmtc: a small green victory: more plastics now recyclable in peel

Yes! A few years back, I blogged about discovering that many of the plastics I had been putting in my recycling bin were not, in fact, recyclable. A few months after that, I unpacked a typical environmental dilemma: organic lettuce.

Organic lettuce is the perfect example of a green paradox. It’s unquestionably better for the local water supply, and for the health of the people who pick it and who eat it. On the other hand, it requires a huge amount of energy to stay fresh, and is often packed in non-recyclable plastic. We can ask, “Which is better?” (Read more…)

wmtc: the tar sands is coming to toronto: speak out on october 19 (and every day) to stop it

By now I hope you all know about Line 9, Enbridge’s plan to transport the dirtiest, most spillable oil on the planet through the most heavily populated areas of Canada and some of the most environmentally sensitive areas of New England.

Line 9 is the third stage of Enbridge’s plans to get their resource-draining, health-destroying, earth-killing tarsands oil from Alberta to the rest of the world, putting the drinking water, health, and lives of millions of people at risk in order to squeeze more private profit out of our earth.

On October 19, concerned Canadians will demonstrate outside the National (Read more…)

wmtc: hedges: "when harper passes right-to-work, you must go on a massive general strike, or you’re finished"

Last night, I heard author, journalist, and activist Chris Hedges speak at the Bloor Street United Church in Toronto, sponsored by the excellent Canadian Dimension.

Hedges is a radical intellectual, in the Chomsky vein, also compassionate and fearless, in the mode of Howard Zinn. He touched on many subjects – and credited the work and thoughts of many others. I can only hope to impart a few snippets of the many threads Hedges wove.

“A seismic moment”

Hedges called the recent US debate on Syria a “seismic moment”. The Obama administration pulled out all the familiar mechanisms used to sell (Read more…)

wmtc: the incredible shrinking life: a flood, a hotel room, a library

I’m always amazed how when personal upheaval strikes, whether tragedy or happy Big Life Change – your world shrinks down to a tiny little circle. We moved to Canada the day Hurricane Katrina struck, and days later, we were struggling to take in all we had missed. Since the flood four nights ago, the outside world has barely registered on my radar.

So, what has happened to the Laura and Allan Family since I posted those lovely sewage-filled photos?

The aftermath

The flood was Monday night. The Greater Toronto Area received a month’s worth of rainfall in the span of (Read more…)

wmtc: in which a storm reaches our basement. through the toilet.

Our basement. Last night.

Looks like some Stephen King floating around. That wood was once a piece of floorboard. Now a raft. Toilet opening and shutting itself.

Last night more than a foot of water and sewage came gushing through the basement toilet. The basement is Allan’s office. And I was useless with my broken foot. And the basement was completely dark from power outage.

After our first flood in 2008, our landlord put in a completely new basement and washroom. That mess was trifling compared to this.

Today Allan has been moving all his books to the spare bedroom (Read more…)

. . . → Read More: wmtc: in which a storm reaches our basement. through the toilet.

wmtc: simon says, grumpy bird, and an evil witch: summer reading club begins

Summer is the busiest time of year in the Central Children’s Library. Actually, we are wildly busy any time school is out; the summer is just the most sustained period of busy-ness. Many of my colleagues have been preparing for summer programming since the end of March Break.

All through July and August, in libraries throughout Canada, kids will be participating in Summer Reading Club. The program uses incentives, activities, and fun programs to keep kids reading over the summer, which has been shown to improve their performance in school. It’s fun, and it’s free.

All Canadian libraries receive the (Read more…)

wmtc: ten years since the invasion of iraq: a fundraiser for court martial defence for kimberly rivera

If you’re in the Toronto area, please join us for an evening of community, information, and fundraising in support of war resister Kimberly Rivera. Kim is confined to the Fort Carson, Colorado army base, while her husband and four children (two of whom were born in Canada) are in Texas. We expect Kim’s court martial to begin on April 29.

WHAT: Ten Years Since the Invasion of Iraq: The case for U.S. war resisters: Fundraising dinner in support of Kimberly Rivera’s legal defense

WHEN: Monday, March 25, 6:00 dinner, 7:00 programme

WHERE: United Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil Street, Toronto

. . . → Read More: wmtc: ten years since the invasion of iraq: a fundraiser for court martial defence for kimberly rivera

wmtc: workers doing it for themselves: fighting the austerity agenda in north america

I’m re-running this, which I wrote for Socialist Worker Canada (now at a temporary site while a new website is being completed). If you are part of this struggle – or if you want to be part of it – and live in the GTA, please join us tomorrow night for Fighting Austerity in North America: Walmart Workers to Bill 115. Details below.

* * * *

Workers Doing It For Themselves: Food service workers in New York and Chicago unite to improve working conditions

One of the most exciting developments currently unfolding among the working class in North America

. . . → Read More: wmtc: workers doing it for themselves: fighting the austerity agenda in north america

wmtc: enbridge line 9: all pain and no gain for ontario, quebec, and new england

Have you heard about Line 9?

Enbridge has begun a process that would create a third option to get their dirty tarsands oil out of Alberta to sell to the rest of the world. The Keystone XL pipeline would stretch from Alberta to Nebraska. (Gee, what could go wrong?) The Northern Gateway pipeline would see, impossibly, huge supertankers threading through the rocky, island-dotted British Columbia coast. (Another no-brainer.)

Under this third plan, Enbridge would reverse the flow in two existing pipelines – Line 9 and the Portland-Montreal Line. Oil would flow from Alberta through Sarnia, Ontario, onto Hamilton

. . . → Read More: wmtc: enbridge line 9: all pain and no gain for ontario, quebec, and new england

wmtc: follow-up memo to children’s aid: we told you so. happy christmas.

Back in May, I blogged about a family in my area who faced a nightmare: social services had threated to remove their child from their home. Both parents have disabilities, and although they had proved themselves completely capable of taking care of a baby, Children’s Aid said they must hire round-the-clock assistance, or the family could not stay together.

When the story came to light, there was a huge outcry, not only from the disability community but from the general public, too. Children’s Aid backed down, and, according to this follow-up story, has become their support and their ally.

wmtc: walmart workers, marvin miller, rob ford: important stuff that happened while i wasn’t blogging

As the title says, here are some things I thought about while I was taking a blogging break.● Marvin Miller died. Miller should be a hero of both the labour movement and baseball history. He should also be in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Anyon… . . . → Read More: wmtc: walmart workers, marvin miller, rob ford: important stuff that happened while i wasn’t blogging

wmtc: in mississauga: a people’s history of the war of 1812

The Harper Government has spent nearly $30 million promoting The War of 1812, all part of its overall effort to re-brand Canada as a “warrior nation”. History is always worth remembering, but who tells the story? What’s emphasized and what’s forgotten?… . . . → Read More: wmtc: in mississauga: a people’s history of the war of 1812

wmtc: in toronto: a fundraiser for iraq war resisters, featuring noah richler

The War Resisters Support Campaign presents “TELLING OUR STORY: A Fundraiser for U.S. Iraq War Resisters”, at Innis College Town Hall in Toronto, Friday, December 7, at 7:00 p.m. This very special evening features author Noah Richler reading from his n… . . . → Read More: wmtc: in toronto: a fundraiser for iraq war resisters, featuring noah richler

wmtc: first they came for pride: city of toronto vs free speech

Last week, I blogged about the ongoing pattern of harassment and discrimination against people who express solidarity with the Palestinian people. This isn’t in the same universe as the oppression endured by Palestine every day; nonetheless, it’s a violation of our own civil liberties and rights, and raises a huge obstacle to disseminating accurate information about the situation in Gaza and elsewhere.

When powerful institutional forces are heavily invested in repressing information, for much of the public, that information will remain invisible or be seen as suspect and dangerous. In other words, when someone like Immigration Minister Jason Kenney constantly

. . . → Read More: wmtc: first they came for pride: city of toronto vs free speech

wmtc: illegal detention abroad, censorship and media propaganda at home: solidarity with palestine under attack

As you may have heard, the ship The Estelle, sailing in international waters, was illegally boarded by the Israeli navy, and its occupants taken into custody. Among those being held are Jim Manley, a Canadian, and a former New Democrat MP.

The Estelle is part of the Freedom Flotilla movement, which seeks to draw attention to the illegal blockade of Gaza, to stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine, and to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza. The 30 activists on board The Estelle hailed from Israel, the US, Canada, Israel, Norway, and Sweden.

In a story about the

. . . → Read More: wmtc: illegal detention abroad, censorship and media propaganda at home: solidarity with palestine under attack