London agency My Sisters’ Place launches advocacy campaign.

A local agency that serves disadvantaged citizens has had their funding trimmed and now possibly terminated.

People want jobs and low taxes but I don’t think most would want either at the expense of vulnerable citizens. Homeless people are in many ways invisible. We notice some but many are cared for by agencies and able to find shelter and supports that keep them safe and contribute to their overall health.

It should be important city business to support agencies that many depend on. The they, could be we. It worries me as a Londoner when I see the mayor and council claim support for an agency while claiming they are powerless over such affairs. I doubt that Londoner’s would wish to see an agency flounder but one that services those who truly are powerless, depend on this city to give them power. They need the power of dignified accommodations. They need the power of a team of therapists and more. They need the power of opportunity and safety. They need the power of respect, compassion and at times the assistance of other Londoners. If I fall while walking down the street, someone will bend to help me. If I live in the street not even politicians can help or at least not in London. We have federal and provincial politicians who have figured it is not overly politically strategic to bend too far for those in need.

Those in need don’t show up on polls which is why it is the duty of the elected to ensure that they are represented.

I wanted a mayor who didn’t just roll up his sleeves for pictures and popularity. I wanted a mayor who rolls up his sleeves in the business of every citizen. In my mind and heart London is more town than corporation and I think it slightly sad that the elected are unable to find a solution for this agency.

We saw their pretty faces on London street corners smiling and waving hoping that being a menace to traffic might result in a vote or two. It seems the best wavers got elected. Wow, much cheaper than the buttons. They have left the sidewalks and streets of their voting base but have basically forgotten that streets and sidewalks are beds and benches for some still.

Are we to believe that the elected are unable to assist a fundamental agency in the homelessness plan they are spreading in our faces? It’s not much good having a colouring book but no crayons. These individuals can’t draw something up? If the elected can’t assist this agency who can? What the heck is going to happen when bigger issues hit these politicians? If a factory was closing up would they throw their hands up? If they don’t know how to fax their fannies to get some attention to an issue they never will.

If these nit-wits can’t find a way around funding an essential agency which protects those with no voice they must be hunkering down to sit on their asses for the whole term. Londoners paid a bunch of letches for new tires as they left office but the people they pass in the street can pound the pavement for support? Am I to believe there was no rule to prevent an outgoing politician from increasing the value of their personal vehicle using their “Polhill cards” but things are so complex for a legitimate and productive agency to receive funding that they might have to go without tires, or curtains?

The only consistency is that I don’t have a choice in Joe Swan’s tire allowance or the funding of something honest. Democracy is a dream.

Are municipal politics so complicated that the elected can be left without a voice? If the elected can do nothing what hope is there for the citizen? If any of these vulnerable individuals fell into the Thames River the city would foot the bill for their rescue. When they are drowning in the streets no one shows up let alone foots the bill. When we allow this one agency to hemorrhage it is left to other agencies and departments to pick up the pieces. If we cut the toes and leave My Sisters’ Place dangling, the rest of the body will dance about in pain. Others may save the toe but they will expend an exaggerated amount of time and money trying to fix what was once not severed.

Londoners are not off the hook for an amount they are on the hook for something immeasurable.

What is the social and financial impact of leaving homelessness unanswered?

“Let them drink Scotch”

I read with fascination about the prime minister’s visit to the arctic. I have read about John Franklin’s expedition that disappeared while searching for the Northwest Passage in 1845. I’m happy the prime minister has a history hobby but as a Canadian it raises some serious questions. One headline read “Scotch tumblers were raised last month on the bridge of HMCS Kingston to the search for Erebus and Terror.” Many Canadians are interested in Franklin’s ships but outside of the prime ministers personal obsession, I fail to see the national significance.

Stephen Harper and the conservatives should be paying attention to the terror of the 21st century not the ‘Terror’ of the 19th century. Someone should point the prime minister to a newspaper and highlight a few current concerns. We have a war in Syria, the Ukraine-Russia crisis, conflict in Israel and Palestine, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Ebola, global warming and closer to home the economy, murdered and missing indigenous women, prostitution laws, marijuana laws, the tar sands, the torture of mentally ill offenders and poverty, homelessness and hunger.

It is time the prime minister pulled himself away from the pages of history to take a glance at the misery faced by many Canadians and their children. I’m not sure I could raise a tumbler of Scotch to a dead explorer being the leader of one of the few developed countries without a national meal program for children. It is not liberal or in any way political to ensure all children have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food.

Fifteen percent or almost 4 million Canadians are considered “food insecure.” While the prime minister is drunk on his hobby many Canadians are unsure of where their next meal is coming from. These people can be sure that next meal will not come from this prime minister. Stephen didn’t say it out loud but his actions and attentions scream, “Let them drink Scotch.”

The conservatives are drunk on perpetuating their power. Stephen Harper is politically shrewd and has clearly calculated a balanced budget is his only key to re-election. He has also calculated that 4 million hungry people don’t stand in line to vote because they are across town in a food line. The prime minister would rather drink Scotch on the bridge of a ship with his conscienceless cronies and imagine an explorer who risked it all for the benefit of a nation. “You sir are no John Franklin. Nice mittens by the way. Take them off and roll up your sleeves. Your nation needs a builder not a bookworm.”

It is not frivolous to feed people and it is fiscally responsible. Hungry children are sick more often and struggle academically. The medical and social costs are future expenses but you were elected to look ahead not look back. Children under 18 represent over 40% of food bank clients in Canada. If the prime minster wants to look back he should travel back to 1989 when Canada made an all-party resolution to end child poverty. I am not geographically gifted but the answers are not in the arctic.

The search for Franklin is a joint public-private partnership. I’m not sure what the unemployed or hungry think but I feel this historical hunt could and should be entirely privately funded. This government can’t find food for families but they dredge dimes from Canadians to find Franklin. With respect to the dead the man and his mission are beyond saving. The voices of the past are important but meaningless in comparison to the voices of hungry children. This prime minister needs to toss the tumbler and drink in some empathy and social responsibility.

We have two Canadian Coast Guard ships propelling past the permafrost on government gas. What exactly are we giving Canadians? I usually save my swear words for when I’m through the drive thru but Canadian school children don’t give a FROSTY about Franklin when they can’t find food.

Sucking back Scotch with the prime minister were Industry Minister James Moore, Environment Minister Leona Aqlukkaq, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt and billionaire and Blackberry profiteer Jim Balsille was there to represent common Canadians. The Inuit on shore who pay $8.99 for a head of lettuce and the rest of Canadians were too ashamed to participate, or, a shameful reminder. Billionare Balsille “was very proud. It was a nation-building moment.” Anyone familiar with Jim Balsille or Blackberry might question his perception of building.

There’s nothing wrong with being a geography geek, a history hound, a billionaire or a bureaucrat but when your interests are at the expense of taxpayers and citizens without work or food, you become a “figurehead” of folly. The ass end of a ship is the best place for such individuals. Presently we can’t do much about many of these idiots but when the conservative ship capsizes we won’t have to yell “man overboard” as there weren’t any to begin with.

Canadians will no doubt sleep better when we find splinters of these historic hulls. Too bad the prime minister and his cronies will be the few who have food in their teeth to make use of the toothpicks.

Found In Translation

I attended a birthday meal for a septuagenarian this evening. I wasn’t the cook so it was this side of better. It seemed a breeze was breathed on us continuously which was relief from the humidity I seemed to experience everywhere else I was present for the day. We were sitting talking before the meal which for me means listening to predominantly Chinese phrases. I am sometimes isolated by my vocabulary which consists of ‘xie xie’ or “thank you” and ‘dou bu qi’ which means “I’m sorry”. I have had a six year relationship with my Canadian Chinese fiancé knowing nothing more and needing not much else. There is some English when we visit her family which provides me the opportunity to put my foot in my mouth and say ‘dou bu qi’ and practice my Chinese.

Someone asked what time it was. My initial reaction was to suggest it was time to eat as BBQ almost everything was already on the table but something struck me. Someone reached into their pocket and siphoned the time from their cell phone while I turned my wrist and glanced at my watch. If I want to know the time I look at the microwave, the oven or my watch before I even think about the cell phone in my pocket. As far as I’m concerned cell phones are for music, EBay and confirming how few of you read this blog. I don’t even use mine to make calls as I have one of those old phones you have to travel half way across the house for. I would like to argue that I like the exercise but there are people I know who do read this blog and they could only laugh at such an argument.

Time means something different to each of us. To the 8 year old at the table it was an eternity until we cut the cake. The chef at the BBQ toiled for hours marinating and turning several forms of flesh and I ate most of it in a fraction of the time it took others. This slight failing falls squarely at the feet of my parents who birthed four hungry boys. Last one to the table scrapes the bowl. My swiftness to swallow was further fine tuned among inmates who would ask “are you going to eat that?” If it was on your tray you didn’t want it.

Like time, life experiences are subjective and subtle. Money for someone who experienced the Great Depression is something different from the 13 year old with the X-Box, IPod and Dr. Dre Headphones. Homelessness is a foreign concept to one and a reflection and reminder to the other. The 8 year old waiting for the cake will likely never fathom his grandmother passing her portion of rice to her children.

If you were to ask one about food, the stories, memories, impressions, meanings and experiences would be as far apart as the years themselves. I hope neither know hunger again or ever but there is nothing like it to add to appetite and to colour food with flavour and celebration. It becomes not something we do three times a day but something we are blessed with in the moment.

London Homeless Coalition

“King’s College Reaches Out to City’s Homeless.”
This is the headline provided by Londoner, a weekly newspaper that makes its way to my front door. I am interested in homelessness and read it.
“A few students from Kings University College are collecting donations to help with a memorial addressing issues of homelessness and the need for affordable housing in the city.”In conjunction with the London Homeless Coalition, students are raising funds for a memorial that aims to provide a space to remember those who passed away due to homelessness.“The memorial – a large uncut rock – will be located in Campbell Memorial Park.” The memorial will cost $ 15 000. So far, the London Homeless Coalition has raised $9 500.”
It is my belief that we do need to raise awareness regarding homelessness.
It is my belief that students can be the heart of community action.
It is my belief that there are many fine people who work hard fighting homelessness on its many fronts.
What I can’t believe is that a $15000 rock is what anyone (either dead or alive) who experiences homelessness would want you to do with $15 000 dollars. I think they might say buy us some candles so we can walk down the street in their memory and feed us with the rest.
The poor souls who lose their lives each year because of homelessness need to be recognized. Maybe that is the key to action but why don’t we have a little march and feed someone while we can.
I don’t even know where Campbell Park is but I would think a bronze umbrella would make a better memorial. At least the homeless could huddle beneath it to keep dry.
If homeless people need rocks, they can find them in their shoes!
I’m sure I have insulted more than a few people. My aim was to make us think before we insult the homeless. This government is as uncreative as any other. Let the only real hope of the homeless be a hand that feeds them. Londoner`s have been able to dig in their pockets for a fair chunk of change. Let it be a chunk of “change. “