R. Jeanette Martin
Shout-out for the poor
Housing advocates celebrated a landmark legal victory against the city and police in front City Hall Monday (December 29). Eight years after Elan Ohayon, Alex Brown and Oriel Varga sued the city and police over the right to sleep in Allan Gardens - the three were trying to make a point about the urgent need for affordable housing and lack of safe shelter space - the city has agreed to pay a $100,000 out-of-court settlement. On the mean streets, though, it's business as usual, it seems. Says Varga: "Almost a decade after the community call for housing and the many promises by governments, the building of affordable housing remains at a virtual standstill and the homeless continue to be harassed by the city and police."
The total number of persons charged by police during RIDE spot checks over Christmas. That's out of more than 65,000 vehicles stopped. The question has to be asked: with so few arrests, are cops targeting the right areas of the city?
THE BIG IDEA Canada's big banks are not doing enough lending to help kick-start the economy, so says Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.
THE FLIPSIDE The Tories were the ones who handed the banks a blank cheque months ago. When every sign pointed to a recession, Flaherty refused to order the banks to lend. Now that a coalition's breathing down the government's neck, Gentleman Jim's using the banks as a convenient scapegoat to distract us plebes from the Tories' serious mishandling of the economy.
Photo By Paul Terefenko
Astral Media's new benches, snowed under and noticeably taking up a little too much sidewalk space - even if we appreciate the place to rest - outside CAMH on West Queen West.
It was easy to miss, since the world's attention was focused elsewhere, but this week's aerial attack on Gaza is actually the culmination of a two-month-long assault by Israeli forces that started with the choking off of humanitarian aid and basic supplies to the Strip after ceasefire talks broke off. Gaza's 1.5 million inhabitants have been reduced to bare survival ever since. An excerpt on the worsening situation from Amnesty International's December 5 report:
Most mills have shut down because they have little or no grain. People long deprived of many food items now cannot even find bread at times. Families never know if they will have food for their children.
When people do have food, they generally have no gas or electricity with which to cook it.
Shortages of fuel, electricity and spare parts are causing water and sanitation infrastructure and other crucial services to deteriorate a bit more every day. Eighty per cent of the wells are now only functioning at reduced capacity, and water supply is only available for a few hours every few days.
Shortages of chlorine increase the risk of waterborne diseases. Routine blackouts disrupt every aspect of life for everyone.
Hospitals are struggling to power life-saving machinery.
Patients in need of medical treatment unavailable in Gaza are often denied passage out of Gaza. Scores of people have died in the past year when they could have been saved. Targeting civilians can never be justified, no matter what the reason.