Not Worth A Can of Tuna–Open Letter about the McGuinty Budget.

I’m going to do something I hate to do in a blog. I’m going to shame myself publicly. Writing personal tales is something I find humiliating.

But I’m going to do it. Why? Because someone needs to say it.

Obviously, Mr. McGuinty—I’m not worth a can of tuna to you.

Can of Tuna

The measly 1% that you agreed to raise ODSP/OW rates this year, you are flushing in the name of “tightening the budget”. Mr. McGuinty I don’t know how much tighter I can make mine. I didn’t know being disabled was supposed to be a punishment.

Yes, this year I bought a computer because my old one was dying. Guilty as charged. I know from buying computers that you get what you pay for so I saved for 18 months to have $600 to spend. I have no TV, no radio, no CD or DVD player. All I have is a computer. Twice, due to emergencies I had to put off buying it in that 18 months.

Do you know what I went without for 18 months, Mr. McGuinty? All my long johns are full of holes. If you haven’t noticed, it’s cold in Canada. I own one nice towel with no holes that cost $2 at Value Village. I do not own one bra that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen in at my doctor’s because the elastic has failed and they’re full of holes.

My transportation, an e-trike needs repairs. That’s how I used to find my groceries on sale and bring them home. It’s outside rusting right now because I can’t afford to pay to get it fixed. If my friend didn’t take me grocery shopping weekly I don’t know what I’d do.

I go nowhere unnecessary because it costs $6 to get there and back. I confess that two months ago I had a pizza because someone else bought it. I haven’t had a fresh vegetable in two weeks. My duvet is falling apart and I can’t replace it. I haven’t seen a movie in a theatre for over five years.

In my entire adult life I have not had a vacation.

Do you know what I bought myself for Christmas Mr. McGuinty? A good dish drainer. Because my old one kept leaking all over the counter. What did you get for Christmas, Mr. McGuinty?

Now let me tell you, Mr. McGuinty what I did to deserve that can of tuna.

I worked from the time I was 16. When young, I worked high risk security and investigations. There are people alive and paying you taxes today that might not be if I hadn’t broken up that domestic fight, stopped a man from blowing up his car and taking out the side of a building, investigated some wives’ allegations that their spouses were dangerous to themselves and children, and stopped a riot in a hallway where two families in adjacent apartments came out with blunt instruments and were about to beat each other to death when myself with some other guards came to break it up at great risk to ourselves.

For barely more than minimum wage. That’s just a few incidents off the top of my head.

When I was married I had foster kids some of whom I never saw a dime for, and worked, too. What’s that worth to you?

I rarely had any medical benefits other than OHIP. I paid expenses such as meagre dental and medications out of my pocket, saved my money, only ever collected EI two times in my whole working life and paid a fortune into it.

In later years when I could no longer tackle big men if I needed to—I went to school for social services. After all, I’d been dealing with difficult people all my life with panache, humour, understanding and when necessary, firmness. Good fit, right?

That threw me into a miasma of debt even though I worked the whole time, only to come out the other end working as many as three jobs to make ends meet. Contract work. When I could no longer rob Peter to pay Paul– I squatted in Tent City while I worked part time. When I got there I was 20 lbs underweight from starving myself for months to pay my bills.

When we were housed, no thanks to you, I might add—I went back to work full time but still, contracts.

After years of struggling inside and outside the systems, my body collapsed and my mind shattered.

I wound up on ODSP.

There are people ALIVE and well today Mr. McGuinty because I saved their lives. When I found people overdosing I did CPR until the ambulance came. I went through the dark alleys and found the lost, the hopeless. I tried to show them a place in this world that wasn’t quite so dark.

When they died or were murdered, I grieved.

Mine isn’t the only story like that out there, Mr. McGuinty.

I feel blessed because some people have it even worse. And some have done even more to earn that pittance called Ontario Disability. Some of them are freezing on the streets. Some are ex-cops, firefighters, social workers, veterans and other life-savers who have put their lives on the line to save others which is more than you will ever do.

Even those that have never been able to work are out there, volunteering, helping other people, generous with the gifts they bring even if their skills don’t pay.

Apparently, none of us are worth a can of tuna to you.


The Edge of the Well Oiled Knife

Toronto Star

This country stands at the edge of a knife. It’s not Robocalls, scandals, wealth redistribution, poverty, lack of employment or corrupt banks that will push this nation across the line into throwing their bodies on the machine. Nobody is willing to die for any of those causes.

We stand at the brink of civil war. A civil war with huge governmental resources on one side and First Nations, environmentalists and a large percentage of the Canadian population on the other.

Harper has managed to do what even Matthew Coon Come couldn’t do. He has managed to sufficiently piss off every single Aboriginal nation into cleaving together as one huge resistance movement. He’s managed to pull on board, every environmental group into a unit that Canadians are not denouncing, but applauding.

People are willing to die for this. And they’re willing to die because the lack of water, oil spills and pollution are going to kill them soon, anyway. For what? Less than 600 full time jobs and a few thousand temp jobs? “Job creation” isn’t even a valid argument in a land this size with that pitiful showing.

Make no mistake. If Harper does not back down, when the dust clears—there won’t be a nation left for him to rule because Canadians are not letting this pipeline through. Even Obama saw the risk of civil war breaking out with First Nations and environmentalists in the USA.

“S/he who cares the most, wins.”

First Nations have everything to lose and nothing to gain from this pipeline. Harper has nothing to lose except the government he’s sworn to uphold and a sassy fat new job at Enron when through his deliberate, greedy machinations, he throws this country into a civil war.

Let’s Give Harper a Break–Literally


I say we give Harper a break of “innocent until proven guilty.” Yeah, yeah pick yourselves up off the floor, stop gasping for air and let’s look at this with some logic over the Robocalls scandal, shall we?
Now, what happens if you are suspected of an illegal act on your job?
Your boss suspends you until the investigation is completed.

Now, the citizens of Canada are Stephen Harper’s boss, which is what democracy is supposed to be, right? In that case, we should be able to suspend him without pay until the investigation is completed. If he’s innocent, we apologize [because Canadians are so good at it] and give him his back pay with a settlement. If found guilty–out he goes, forever, hopefully to spend part of his “forever” behind bars so other politicians won’t be tempted to play the same game.

If Harper really cared about Robocalls or the country he’s attempting to govern, he’d step down for the moment. Why? Because if the charges didn’t stick, the man would be truly Teflon, forever. Nobody would believe any opposition who said otherwise.

Too bad he’s not as smart as he thinks he is or he’d play us for suckers on it. Either that or he may well be guilty of knowing exactly what went on under his banner. Or it could be any combination of circumstances.

But whatever it is, it sure smells like he doesn’t want us to know about it.

Effective Protests–The Man in The Tree

‘Way back when I was pushing for squatter’s rights I supported a man in a tree.

Yeah, you read that right. A man who lived in a tree. Been so long I’ve forgotten his name or the park in the USA where he lived in the tree but really, the details don’t matter.

He was homeless. So, he moved into a big tree in a public park.

He placed a little sign at the bottom of the tree. “Support Public Housing.”

People passing by noticed The Man in The Tree. One of them was part of the squatter’s rights movement and that’s how people from all over the world started talking about The Man In The Tree.

No media covered him. He wasn’t important. He was just some crazy guy living in a tree. All he wanted was a place to live and at least it wasn’t on the wet ground below and he had a bit of protection from the rain.

Soon the people who frequented the park started bringing him food and clothes and carrying buckets to do his business in. An outreach worker that knew about our squatting email tree sent around update bulletins.

The City Council got wind of it and paid $25,000 to put a fence  up to stop people from supporting the Man in The Tree. The cops took away his sign.

People who lived near the park then climbed the fence and fed him, brought water bottles and handed off his slop buckets.

Within a month the City council ordered a 24/7, $25+per hour police guard while they passed anti-camping legislation. Since police protocol stated there must be two policeman together at all times, two police watched him. Nobody narked out how he got food after that point but I suspect the police were quietly handing it up.

58 days later they arrested the Man in The Tree. Add up the math. How many people could have been housed while the City Council harassed The Man in The Tree?

60 days after that the city council agreed to build 50 housing units because a few dozen squatter’s movement people were debating with them and sending the word around.

Whether The Man In The Tree moved into one unit or not, I couldn’t say.

The Man in the Tree wasn’t an activist. He had no organization. He had no money, no resources, no friends, no computer, no video camera, no media contacts and no hope that sleeping in a tree would change anything. He had no history of activism or experience.

Whenever I look at some “movement” or other and whether or not I want to put my energy into it, I ask myself, “Is this The Man In The Tree? Would I do this even if I was alone with no support because it is the right thing to do, just because it is, and not because of group pressure or popularity?

Do I believe in it enough to sacrifice for an untold amount of time and have everyone believe me to be crazy just because someone has to do the right thing? Am I really willing to throw my body on the machine for this?”

And before you ask me to ‘join your movement’–you’d best be able to answer those questions, yourself. If you can convince me of your sincerity and passion–then you are well on your way to convincing anyone else you meet whether or not they agree to join you.