Sunday, 27 March 2016

TCHC giving domestic violence victim the runaround

Connie Harrison is a tenant of Toronto Community Housing who is seeking new accommodation so she can avoid living with the man who is currently serving a sentence for domestic violence against her. He gets out of jail in less than a month but TCHC have been dragging her feet and suggesting she should go to a shelter instead.

Please email Mayor John Tory at and ask him to tell TCHC that it's their responsibility to protect victims of violence rather than throw them on to the streets.

The message below, by Connie's son, is posted here with permission.

Daniel Murton

25 March at 13:48 ·

Please Read (its long but) Please Share. I’ll be tagging councillors and members of the TCHC board as I believe they have responsibility over this and I need your help.

For the past four months I have been embarrassed to talk about my family’s deep dark secrets. I can no longer keep my thoughts silent because I need to stand by my mother and countless other women who deal with domestic abuse on a daily basis. My mother was assaulted and threatened on November 9th of last year by her husband (my stepfather) and I was stabbed in the process of getting her out of the apartment. On March 17th he was convicted of some of these charges and is behind bars. This is a victory but a very small one because our system is broken and it’s putting women’s lives in danger.

‪#‎TCHC‬ Days after the incident my mother filed the requisite paperwork to get an emergency transfer from her home within TCHC as many friends of my stepfather were threatening and harassing her so she wouldn’t testify. She provided a letter from Victim Services and a letter from the police officer in charge who said he was a danger to my mother and could quite possibly kill her in the future. Over the months they have lost this file, told my mom to go to a shelter countless times, and said she couldn’t leave her apartment to stay with relatives for a week or two without a lawyers note (lawyers are $) as she would break the lease, yet going to a shelter doesn’t break the lease! Recently I’ve spoken with the person in charge over this file at housing connections and they said the only thing holding up this file was that police officers letter wasn’t on official letterhead and that she would call the officer and correct it. She didn’t call the officer and the officer is now on vacation for a month. She also said we could get a lawyer’s letter to explain the situation and that would count for official documentation but when a woman from housing equity called her about the file she couldn’t tell that person what the lawyer should write to get my mother the needed approval for the emergency transfer and she again said my mother should go to a shelter. We even provided a probation and conviction letter and this wasn’t enough. This woman from housing connections is killing my mother and this systemic failure by TCHC housing and similar entities are why so many women don’t report abuse as they are told go to a shelter / tough it out.

‪#‎VictimServices‬ during the trial and conviction of my stepfather my mother was told to go to a shelter and get counselling whenever she felt unsafe or stressed. She wasn’t told who the crown attorney was or how the process of the trial was proceeding only small updates without context and help. I now understand some of the ‪#‎Ghomeshi‬ witnesses in their struggle and completely understand why a defence attorney can pick them apart without help from a trained lawyer. I understand why many sexual assault cases / domestic abuse charges get dropped or settled because without a trained lawyer in your corner you feel helpless. I spent a lot of money to get my mom a lawyer and was able to get the crowns name, getting meetings to happen and overall get the people a victim services to respect my mother and give her the help she needed to prepare for the trial. The trial was settled and when we spoke with victim services who then speaks to the crown in a roundabout way. We were clear that we wanted at least 500m protection order from my step-father as we said we would rather testify and get a solid conviction on four charges than a deal on two charges if that meant less than 500m. At the day of the sentencing the crown and defence attorney agreed on 100m and left me in shock and disbelief. Sometimes lawyers are more worried about losing than doing the right thing. 100m protection order is useless and we will mostly likely have to spend more money on lawyers to get a proper restraining order that actually can give a proper distance where one can feel safe.

‪#‎shelters‬ The government is funding more shelters in the 2016 budget but I believe shelters are the last resort for victims of abuse and why many women stay home with their abuser. When someone is abused they need space, they need to feel safe and the best way to do that is give someone a portable subsidy for rent so they can afford to be on their own / with their family in an environment of their choosing. They need to be in a permanent home where they can rebuild their life not a shelter. We need to take a look at how we help people and we need to make sure we have enough housing to do it.

I’m sick in tired of politicians and their like talk about International Women’s Day and Dec 6th day and talk the talk but don’t take actions. I sick and tired of hypocrites. We don’t need more statements / condemnation that lack funding /

I want action on my mother’s housing file in the next week and if not I will be publicly protesting as many public speaking engagements of the mayor John Tory and other city councillors who have a responsibility on this file. My mother has called the Mayor’s office and every time they send the calls back to housing and she gets lost in a bureaucracy. I will hold them to account politically as much as possible and feel free to message me if you want to help because‪#‎webelivesurvivors‬ but we must ‪#‎standwithsurvivors‬ too!
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Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Once upon a CKLN

I was on the board of CKLN from the summer of 2009 until the station's demise. It was a very intense, and ultimately very disappointing time. We certainly made mistakes as a board but we also faced challenging circumstances - getting the station up and running after it had been off the air and locked out of its offices for several months, doing so with no funds (the RSU refused to release CKLN's student fee money for several months) and facing an onslauight that included a lawsuit that absorbed all our funds once they were released and a determined and unscrupulous band determined to take the station over, or take it down whose activities included a barrage of mostly pseudonymous complaints to the CRTC and online harassment of various individuals. The lockout and several month gap in programming is what got the wheels rolling at the CRTC and resulted in the hearings into our license. Our key mistake was not hiring a station manager and instead trying to manage the station on a volunteer basis. We had planned to hire a station manager but the lawsuit resulted in the the funds that would have been used for that, and many other station functions, to go to legal fees instead (the previous board had allowed the station's insurance policies to lapse and the lawsuit was filed while our new insurance application was being considered - resulting in it being rejected). 

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Michael Laxer turns the page

I've known Michael for about 25 years. He's a good friend, activist and writer. Recently he and his partner Natalie shut down their used bookstore in Etobicoke, which had existed in various forms on Lake Shore for 14 years, and will be moving his bookselling business online in a recognition of changing consumer habits. While the loss of yet another used bookstore, as well as what had become a unique community space, is sad the good news is that this will give Michael more time to write. Check out his blog, The Left Chapter, where Michael writes about politics, food, social issues, and various other topics.
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Tuesday, 29 December 2015

A target of harassment

Tim Rourke is a rather meanspirited person who has been engaging in online harassment me and a number of other people for several years now. This image of me (Rourke's version had my head on Eric Cartman's body) is from his "cause pimps" website and I think shows the calibre of the man. It's unfortunate that a person in his sixties devotes so much time to character assassination and infantile personal attacks. I sued Mr. Rourke for defamation in small claims court last year over the attacks he made on his website (the cartoon itself was not part of the litigation except in passing). Rourke filed a defence but then claimed, bizarrely, that he hadn't been allowed to do so even though his statement of defence was on record. He tried to delay the inevitable by filing motions and then attempting to further delay proccedings by refusing to show up for trial after all his motions were dismissed but his maneuvering failed and I was awarded $25,000 in damages, the maximum allowable in small claims court, by Deputy Judge Chris Ashby who in his private practice is renowned as a lawyer who specializes in defamation and slander law. His website discredited, Rourke has moved the contents to another domain name (unfortunately, small claims court only has the authority to award damages, it can't actually issue cease and desist orders) but as someone who has been found liable for defamation he has no credibility. 
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Monday, 28 December 2015

At an anti-Zundel rally

Andy Lehrer
Andy Lehrer (right), and demonstrator
at a 2004 rally against Ernst Zundel
Back in the summer 2004, neo-Nazi Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel was in detention at the Metro West Detention Centre. Neo-nazis and anti-Semites, under the leadership of Paul Fromm, had held a series of rallies outside the jail, calling for Zundel's release and received coverage on Global News and other weekend newscasts. Since senior assignment editors and journalists tended to have the weekend's off, the reporting was left to inexperienced reporters who took Fromm at face value and described him on the air as a "free speech advocate" while failing to challenge his assertins that Zundel was some sort of historian being persecuted for his views. As the rallies were becoming a focal point for neo-Nazi organizing and were getting kid gloves coverage in the media, anti-racists in the city decided it was important to openly challenge the views of Zundel and his followers. The photo above was taken at one of two counterdemonstrations that were organiazed. The fellow beside me who has part of his face covered did so because the people being opposed had a tendency towards violence and had a history of trying to identify anti-racists and stalk and beat them up if possible.
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Saturday, 25 April 2015

Fred Checkers is watching you (if you're an NDPer)

Michael Laxer reports on his Left Chapter blog on Fred Checkers and the state of internal democracy in the NDP. 
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Sunday, 5 April 2015

Quote of the day

"I can't give you a brain but I can give you a diploma"
 -- The Wizard of Oz
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Friday, 3 April 2015

Chag pesach sameach, more or less

I tried to take my 80 year old mother to synagogue for Passover because I thought she'd like it. The first synagogue we tried in Kensington Market was closed - we found the attendant just as he was leaving to go somewhere *else* for Passover dinner. Then we tried to go to Caplansky's Deli for some Passover food but it was closed for the Caplan family's Passover dinner, same with Free Times Cafe which was closed for the Pearly family seder. So then we tried the Minsker synagogue - which was open - but my mother didn't want to sit through two hours of boring prayers so we went for Chinese food instead. ‪#‎Passover‬ 
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