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(en) Canada, Toronto, OCAP MEMBER GOES TO TRIAL IN $17M THEFT

From "mick" <mick@nefac.net>
Date Mon, 24 Mar 2003 09:30:00 +0100 (CET)


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> From: OCAP <ocap@tao.ca>
In October 2001, a standardized test intended for 260,000 Grade 10 high
school students across was anonymously leaked across the Internet,
resulting in the test's temporary cancellation. The Conservative Minister
of Education at the time, Janet Ecker, described herself as "livid" upon
hearing about the leak, and vowed publicly to prosecute those responsible.

The leak occurred in the midst of a campaign of "economic disruption"
called by the Ontario Common Front (OCF), which took aim at the
Conservative Party and their corporate backers. OCAP played a large role
in this campaign, and further, several OCAP members were heavily involved
in a group that organized high school walkouts across Toronto and beyond
called the High School Flying Squad. The group also organized around the
Tory government's initiation of standardized testing in Ontario high
schools, opposing their administration on the grounds that they encouraged
privatization and were the subject of widespread disdain on the part of
high school students who were forced to take them.

On October 15, during a strong High School Flying Squad demonstration at
the Board of Education, a trustee informed the crowd of the leak, and that
the tests had been cancelled. As the demonstration was breaking up, Karen
Silverwomyn - a member of OCAP and the Flying Squad - was arrested on
charges of Possession of Stolen Property and Mischief over $5000. On the
eve of the OCF's "Shut Down Bay St." action, news stations gave varying
reports about the financial impact of the leaked tests; some saying the
cost was as high as $17 Million. Statements from the Education Quality
and Accountability Office (EQAO) - the private company contracted out to
write and administer the tests - lamented their continuing problems in
overseeing the tests, this incident only climaxing the opposition they had
faced, and threatening further the viability of the tests altogether.

Less than a month later another OCAP member, Tucker, was arrested and
charged with the stealing (Theft) and leak (Mischief over $5,000) of the
tests. The arrests of both Karen and Tucker had glaring political
motivations. Both were well-known organizers in the Flying Squad and were
labeled "leaders" by the authorities. Both were also involved with OCAP,
who (especially at the time) served as a perfect political target to pin
the leak on. Following this, no newspaper article that reported on the
events after the arrests were able to separate OCAP from the crimes.

If they did not make convenient political scapegoats for an embarrassed
government, the charges against Karen and Tucker would never have been
laid. There is no evidence against them other than hearsay. However, as
is common with those going through the court system, these dubious charges
have left Karen and Tucker in legal limbo for the past 18 months. Last
week, with less than one month from her trial, and over one and a half
years after she was arrested, Karen's charges were completely dropped.
The Crown's witnesses apparently could no longer identify the defendant.
However the theft charged leveled against Tucker still stands, and there
are no signs that it is going away. The trial is going forward this week.
Like with anyone who is singled out and punished for opposing the Tory
government, it is important that we show strong support at Tucker's trial.

We are asking all OCAP supporters to attend Tucker's trial on March 27 and
28. Court begins at 10am each morning and will be held at Old City Hall
(Queen & Bay) in Courtroom A.

**
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
517 College Street, Suite 234 Toronto, Ontario M5G 4A2
416-925-6939 ocap@tao.ca www.ocap.ca
**
Cheers,
Mick

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