York Region..Shame on Oct 17

Lack of politicians present prompted this man to speak out
Robin Wardlaw losing candidate for Aurora Newmarket provincial election

Tom Pearson of PACC generates story in media  TV and newsprint of homelessness resulting in unprecedented response.

Oct 17 2011 Fairy Lake Park..she got some hot soup, free entertainment and company!

Hip Hop Group Krhyme Syndicate
Oct 17 International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is a day you would think the "do-gooders" and agencies representing clients with low income issues etc would want to be a part of?! This inspirational day was started in 1987 in France, in front of 100,000 people from all continents and all social and economical backgrounds who had gathered at the United Nations Troscadero building to give a voice to those without one so often. Oct 17 was recognized by the United Nations in 1992 and has been adopted around the world as THE day to set aside to give serious thought to our strategies on reducing and eliminating poverty around the world and offering a voice to it. It's a shame York Region is not pulling her weight.

For the past 5 years PACC has had to organize an event to ensure it's continued marking of this important day but with few local agencies in attendance this year, and even fewer information booths, one has to wonder. The one "ally" if you will which seemed to really recognize it's important significance, The York Region Alliance to End Homelessness, is now defunct leaving the York Region Food Network, with its loose affiliation to low income issues through food as PACC's only "partner" in actually making changes for the better of the people in income crisis.

Perhaps it's not important to some organizations (or churches) to participate but it is certainly to your "clients", so we suggest you help them out and earn the grant money you're likely receiving by putting in a few hours at the internationally marked event next year when it's moved to more accommodating location at the north side of Fairy Lake in the newly dubbed "Riverwalk Commons". They are people to us, not clients or cases....and perhaps the Mayor will make it out next year...nice to see Deputy Mayor John Taylor again who showed and spoke without being prepped and attending on his own merit it seemed to me, but where were the rest of the politicians as one observer asked me. It actually inspired him to speak on our microphone which he hadn't planned, wondering aloud about the absence of the mayor among others and politicians in general.
Composer Singer Fred Joly

Youthful Signage..See video regarding kids needing buses to school and how the transit strike affect these kids.http://youtu.be/7FlNrLIInlk

Fred plays from heart and sings from experience

New ideas emerged that day..and new groups sprouting..

Collaborate This!.......Oct 17 Coming To a Community Near You!

Author, Senior, and long time outspoken local resident Ivan Propovchuk returns to speak for 2011 event.
 Newmarket MP Lois Brown will not be attending the Oct 17 as she will be in Ottawa. She last attended in 2009. Inquiries to have a federal representative offer an update on Canada's obligations to the UN agreement to end child poverty went unanswered.

I figured with Oct 17 around the corner, International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, I should blog something - if not to remind people about the significance and importance of this day which was started some years ago by a French Priest,  Joseph Wresinski, who came from poverty and who unveiled a commemorative sculpture at the Trocadera Human Rights Plaza on October 17, 1987, in front of 100,000 people from every social background and continent. Known as the World Day to End Extreme Poverty, the day was recognized by the United Nations as the International Day for The Eradication of Poverty in 1992.

PACC actually kicked off it's existence on that date in 2004 and subsequently has held an event every year since in York Region to try and instill a sense of obligation that we as a community have to change things. The hope was also to attract organizations on the same page in hoping better for people, and perhaps assisting to that end. A great opportunity also was the thinking for some of that collaboration we hear so much about as a buzz word. Oct 17 is marked by simultaneous events worldwide, resulting most recently in setting world records in successive years for those standing at once against poverty with over 20 million standing and pledging at once!Yet in York Region we have struggled to get organizations or even churches to attend, assist, participate (or donate) to ensure their voices or those in their programs or care or guidance are given the opportunity to be heard and a shot at dignity.

Election Banter and Oct 17 Int Day for Erad of Poverty

 This Poverty Free Ontario sign along with numerous others somehow disappeared in the past weeks.
 NDP candidate Robin Wardlaw (above) inserted himself in poverty reduction efforts while still a reverend by getting involved in the Put Food In The Budget campaign months before even deciding to enter the political arena. I believe his absolute disbelief at the lack of effort or care our politicians seem to have with those in poverty was a major deciding factor in his decision to run.

I was told the other day by a colleague, yelled at in fact, that I should always vote for the party when voting not the person. He was incredulous, almost frothing at the mouth in fact, that I could even entertain such a thought. Really?

I tried in vain to explain that I believed there were those that run because they care, and those that run because they care about power and ego and their party before the concerns that the locals have even come into play. I explained that I believe some people are more inclined to actually represent the people's will to their respective parties than others, and some seemed bound to or unwilling to listen to anything that went against their (party's) ideology or "plan".

For example several years ago, while a relatively newish naive PACC Chair, I met with Conservative MPP Frank Klees (and others) in a series of meetings called " A Square-table on Poverty" where we brought a succession of people who were living on low income and who all had unique circumstances that brought them there. The idea for the square-table was to bring various levels of government together to see if we could hammer out some solutions, but no matter what we did or brought to the table it seemed, nothing concrete ever got done. Of course it was around the time that then MP Belinda Stronach had famously walked across the floor to the Liberal Party, still we had her officially on board as well, although she sent only sent representatives in her place after the initial meeting. Regional Councillor John Taylor and various others including Georgina's Mayor Rob Grossi, Councillors from Aurora council, Newmarket and East Gwillumbury also attended and it was driven by live testimonials from those living in poverty. Residents involved included everyone from single moms surviving cancer, to wheel chair bound recipients, to those with mental health issues etc who came in to share their personal stories often tragic or embarrassing - something lost in the whole process - with the hope and trust that this grouping would accomplish something towards change. How naive was I? All MPP Klees would say as a solution was "Just give them a job" which in itself showed his lack of understanding of the issue as well as his lack of compassion I felt. I tried to explain that even those that can work are not guaranteed out of poverty at the current minimum wage and with all the contracting and temporary jobs replacing "real" jobs. I met a steely gaze.A recent review of the 905 area candidates by a Toronto Sun scribe who claims to know York Region said, "Frank Klees is ridiculously good at his job". If his job is being a slick politician that avoids doing anything from election to election by constantly putting down the opponents and speaking eloquently then he'd be right, but I always thought being a good MPP meant representing the constituency well - and unless you have autism or a stash of money I don't see it.

During the square-table, MPP Klees offered up that the owner of a favourite restaurant he attended liked our (wheelchair bound PACCer Dan's) idea to start a bottle collections and recycling company which we'd then use to enable guys like Dan with limited motor functions to work, as he would have "received" the bottles after collection. The restaurant had apparently agreed to come on board as a client to help get it started but it never happened. Now I can't blame the MPP completely on this particular failure though, as Stronach's attending representative also had a hand in it by not coming through with a promise made to set up the initial meeting with the restaurant even after repeated prompting by myself. At that point, when it became apparent that this "square-table" was not functioning as a solutions based body but just making it look like we were accomplishing something all the while collecting media brownie points for participating, we ended it.

It was apparent almost from the outset that MPP Frank Klees was not going to play ball with anything resembling solutions when it came to poverty. Recently we met again in 2011 when we invited him to "Do The Math", an action oriented exercise designed to inform and engage politicians about how some people are barely able to afford food and after he agreed people got little he offered up food stamps - a U.S. style of feeding the poor - as a solution. When told this creates have and have-not food centres, stigmatizes, and is undignified he said, " Tom, you and I could go back and forth all day and we're not going to agree". Enough said, he knows better than the thousands living day to day, some slowly falling or sinking (and adding cost to) into our mental health care system. Thanks for the compassion and understanding Frank. The media write-up about the "Do The Math" exercise - like what they did with the square-table on poverty - painted Klees as a willing participant for change, which from my experience was a farce. Even just recently, prior to the election candidates roll-out, Klees was quoted as saying "Poverty will certainly be an election issue". He and his party have not mentioned it since, nor announced any plan. I personally believe that YRMG poverty writer is a closet Conservative.

Now some are likely thinking that PACC is supposed to be non-partisan - which we are - but frankly (no pun intended) when a "leader" won't listen to the residents he's supposed to lead at all, without room for flexibility because his party (or he) are against it, then something is broken in our system. I believe they should be representing the people first and the party-line second. Besides these are just my observations and conclusions - you can all draw your own.

Who else is in the election race in my area of York Region?...Well there is also the Liberal Christina Bisanz whom I have heard little about. They have not contacted us (PACC) or me personally as a voter so I have not much to go on, except she was quoted in the local paper as having "hands-on experience with people in poverty" from her "volunteer" board position with Belinda's Place. That's very noble and the shelter thing is very "sexy" in the realm of volunteering, however one problem...that shelter isn't even built yet so what kind of "hands-on" experience is that? Bisanz also goes on to quote false / misleading information and statistics about homelessness in York Region to make her volunteer position seem even more noble. Now I don't know anything else really about this candidate, but when what I do know are exaggerations and misleading info I know enough - at least for me personally - to make a decision because I vote for the candidate. Integrity means something to me, and when I see politicians or in this case wannabe make statements with part truth and part falsehood and spun to make them look better, then they get automatically crossed from my list - regardless of party. They actually had a chance with me. Not now.

The Green Party Candidate I know absolutely nothing about..in fact I wasn't even sure a Green candidate was running here until a couple weeks back and to date have seen only 2 roadside signs for them so I'm not sure how serious they are in this.Regardless, if the guy called me up so I could get a feel for the kind of person / character he was then candidate Kristopher Kuysten would at least have a shot.

The last candidate in my electoral riding, Robin Wardlaw is an ex- church minister at Trinty United church who, when still a reverend, would attend socially conscious meetings designed to influence change and often engaged his church in understanding more and helping more those in need. Under his watch the local homeless were allowed showers daily and hosted a free lunch Tuesdays to feed some of our hungry. Wardlaw also was a catalyst in getting a homeless father and son some work painting at the church which led to the duo getting a work reference and more work. PACC ultimately got involved and found the father a full time job so I witnessed this first hand. (Then) Rev Wardlaw,  was able to identify that by enabling these two homeless guys he was assisting everyone and that it was not solely a "good deed" on compassionate grounds, but also one that enhanced society. Wardlaw has actual first hand experience of the hardships people go through that survive on low income (and all incomes) through his clergy work and understands that some need more to work with at the very least. It's obvious to him and should be to the rest as well. Wardlaw has experience with people, integrity, compassion and is smart - the only one of the 4 candidates with all these traits based on my experience and knowledge. I also know he would listen to what I (we) had to say, would actually try to work with (us) to reduce poverty and assist us to put people back to work or in better positions to be positive contributors to society. Party platforms I cannot recite to you, however I can ask you all to look into the eyes and souls of the candidates you choose.

Sometimes, I suppose, you can't know candidates personally, but you can get a sense of their person and what they believe in personally by asking some simple questions - such as " Do You Support A Poverty Free Ontario?" or " What do you intend to do to house - not shelter- our growing number of low incomers ?"
As it stand now none of the parties actually have a poverty reduction plan that we feel is a good comprehensive plan, however we do feel there are candidates and parties that can be influenced to look at others' ideas - such as the Poverty Free Ontario Plan.
Above Pic Native group NinOs Kom Tin from 2010 Oct 17 at Fairy Lake Park to Mark International Day for The Eradication of Poverty. see video link below! The 2011 event needs some funds to help pay for it. Please help if you can as we need to raise about $750 to cover the full costs. Info Booths welcome.