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(en) Canada, Ottawa, Defiance not Compliance! - Poverty and Homelessness Issue - A publication of Anti-capitalist Community Action (ACA)*

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sat, 18 Dec 2004 10:45:27 +0100 (CET)


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A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
News about and of interest to anarchists
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Hi, Here is the complete text of the first issue of the ACA zine. The zine is called Defiance
not Compliance and the first isue deals with poverty and homelessness. I guess we need some
type of approval before we start printing up tons of these to start distribution. D.
-1- Table of Contents
Editorial.......................................................1
Home is an Open Door............................................2
What Crisis????.................................................4
Join Raise The Rates and Fight To Win...........................8
If the Bank Doesn't Get You, Money Mart Will....................9
Poetry.........................................................12


Editorial

Over the last 20 years, the Canadian state has engaged in a very aggressive
war against the poor. This war against the poor is often justified in terms
of "getting the state off our backs", "fiscal responsibility", "efficiency"
and all these other discourses, that justify cutbacks to social programs
that will hurt people in poverty. Perhaps even more disturbing is the common
ideologies that people have when they think of the poor: there is the common
belief that people are poor, due to their individual or cultural
characteristics - i.e. people are poor because they are "lazy". This
ideology then justifies government cutbacks, because social programs are
seen as promoting this "laziness" and keeping them "poor". Along similar
lines, governments (especially the Harris/Eves government in Ontario) try to
give the impression that "welfare-fraud" is a common phenomenon (in fact it
is very infrequent-especially in comparison to corporate fraud!) to justify
the need to cut back and tighten the requirements for welfare.

What is lost in all this poor-bashing, is that poverty is not caused by
individual or cultural characteristics, is due to structural features of our
economic system. Poverty serves as an "incentive" to push poor people to
accept really poorly paying jobs. Unemployment helps ensure that people are
fearful that they will lose their jobs, so they don't demand more. And we
can extend this structural analysis to other aspects of poor bashing. In our
premiere edition of Defiance Not Compliance, we have requested material
dealing with questions surrounding poverty

We have received an eclectic mix of material ranging from loan companies
like Money Mart and how they exploit the poor, to the actual experiences of
being poor, to discussions of the actual social struggles that are demanding
an end to poverty and the utterly repugnant maldistribution of wealth that
pervades our society.

On a more positive note, the people who were arrested for squatting a house
on Gilmour Street, were not convicted for protesting poverty and lack of
affordable housing. So they can continue to organize resistance against a
system that impoverishes so many people.


-2-
Home is an Open Door

Is "home" where the heart is? where you hang your hat? or where you feel
most comfortable? Is it the place where you were born? the land you know
so well? the trees, familiar faces and landmarks that you've become
accustomed to? Is "home" our present shelter from the cold? the place
where we choose to live?

Our bodies are home to our souls while awake, and in sleep our dreams reveal
clues to our true home which is, perhaps, here and now in every breath.

Home is where we are loved, cared for, nourished, nurtured and treated
equally and with respect.

"Homelessness" on the other hand - the modern plague of our land and
cities - is a direct result of the greed involved in land "ownership" so
dearly espoused by capitalists. In these times if you don't have money (and
a lot of it) you are ostracized, looked down upon, castigated, treated with
disrespect and ignored by the drones who are working so busily and slavishly
to secure their own isolated fortresses - fear being beamed into their
houses via Canwest, FOX and ABC (under the whip of the powerful land and TV
station owners).

How absurd! In every city, town and home there should be shelters, cabins
and guest rooms for nomads. The traveler must be welcomed, housed, fed and
if he or she chooses to stay, welcomed in the area shelters which are
constructed as needed - always ensuring vacancies in case future needs
arise. WE CAN DO THIS EASILY!!!

Fear, selfishness, greed and lack of trust of course prevent such a
scenario. Where do we learn these negative habits of mind? They are so
deeply ingrained in "our" culture. Most people know that our Western
lifestyle is unsustainable, selfish and just plain WRONG but too few are
willing to change and begin living responsibly. Too many cannot see beyond
the nuclear family and their own self-interested prejudices. The government
controlled
-3-
education system is totally fucked up and this is a major part of the
problem.

But in spite of all this I refuse to be a drone and pay rent to someone who
claims to "own" the land. And after the sunset over the Pacific (our
evolutionary birthplace and original "home") while the filthy rich in North
and West Vancouver and West Point Grey nurture their greed in nearly empty
mansions, I'll make my way back to the rudely administered Sally Ann on
Homer Street - "secure" in my homelessness for another night.

Ross Victor Hermiston
Salvation Army, Vancouver, BC


-4-
WHAT CRISIS????
by Jane Scharf


In keeping with the commitment the mayor and city council made to help the
homeless protestors, Russell Mawby, Director of Housing sent a Salvation
Army van to pick Luc up on Nov 13 about 10:00 am and bring him to the
Catharine St. Ontario Works office. Russell's administrative assistant also
contacted John Murray, Director of this downtown welfare office and she told
us that John agreed to have someone there to look after Luc' housing crisis
when we arrived.

Luc was one of the homeless action strikers from the tent city this summer
who the mayor agreed to help when he took the camp down by force. They mayor
also informed council at public meeting October that he did help all the
homeless protestors. Luc got absolutely no help and has been sleeping
outside ever since without warm clothes or blankets.

What Luc needed is a drug card to help him get on the methadone program and
help to get of the street because he is ill, under clothed and
psychologically overwhelmed. Luc cannot tolerate the conditions of shelters
because of his physical and psychological condition.

All Luc got from the Catherine St. office was a vicious run around.

We first spoke with the counter clerk Peter on the 2nd floor when we first
arrived who aggressively advised us that we had to leave and call the main
number and make a general application. He would not check and see if there
had been arrangements made to deal with Luc on a crisis basis.

So we went to he 3rd floor to contact John Murray who was suppose to have
been contacted by Mawby's assistant. The clerk Jamie would not go and check
with John Murray. When I told him John Murray expecting us he smirked and
mockingly told me that John Murray was not in and he was not going to check
to see if we were suppose to be met by anyone. He also instructed us to go
away and call the main social assistance number and make an application.

So I called Russell Mawby's office again and told her of the abusive
treatment we were receiving. Russell assistant thought it was outrageous
that we were being told to make a general application on the phone for Luc.
She asked to speak to Jamie. He told Russell assistant

-5-
the same thing. Then he finally agreed to get a supervisor Chris Clark to
deal with us on the 2nd floor. So we went to the second floor and Peter
would not even see if Chris would see us. Instead he gave me a lecture that
we were abusing the system if we did not use the phone-in system.

All this was upsetting Luc and I tremendously. But finally we caved in and
decided to use the call in phone system.

This phone interview took almost an hour on the phone. Luc advised that he
could not tolerate conditions in shelters because of medical and
psychological reasons. She was sympathetic but said she did not think
anything but shelters were going to be offered. This clerk on the phone line
was not from Ottawa. The call was routed out of the city.

At the end of the call a woman clerk at the counter at the welfare office
not sure of her name called Luc over and started to aggressively question
him about who he was and what he was doing there. He tried to tell her he
was doing an application on the phone but she would not listen and kept
demanding answers to her questions and started to punch his name into the
computer. I had to interrupt the conversation I was having with interviewer
on the phone to go over and intervene to get the counter clerk to stop
badgering Luc with questions. Such upsetting irony because this clerk was
present when we were trying to get Jamie to look into Luc's situation from
Catharine Street. instead of the phone interview and he would not even take
his name.

Anyway finally the woman in the interview conversation said she would try to
get a response other than a shelter but she was unsure if she could do it.
She was sympathetic and respectful.

Then at the end of interview we were ushered into Chris Clark's officer who
without interviewing Luc advised that all they could offer is advise to go
to a shelter and or Housing Help.

He was polite in fact the fist polite person from the Catharine Street
office. He said he would get his supervisor Angela Moore to speak to us. I
asked if I could call Russell Mawby while he did that and he said yes. I
called and spoke to Russell who expressed his concern that we had to use a
long phone interview and that we were being told that he could only go to a
shelter.

When Chris returned and heard me say to Russell that we did not even

-6-
get a drug card Chris indicated to me that he did not know about this
request and went out and got a drug card while I spoke to Russell.

Russell said I should tell Angela that this man was part of the deal made
with mayor and the protestors and to remind her that the others on the list
were placed in hotels and the Y at the outset of the crisis intervention.
And that Luc had received no help.

Angela came in and I asked Russell to speak with her. He did and when they
were done we were told that housing was going to be asked to appeal the
decision of the department and we should come back in an hour.

We left the building and bumped into John Murray on the street coming into
the building. He asked how I was and I told him I was very upset about how
his staff had treated me and Luc and I told him what had been happening.

When I was telling him this he looked at Luc and said in a belligerent way,
"What's the crisis?"


Luc tried to show him how the bones in his spine where detruding out of his
back and John brushed it off and did not indicate in anyway that he wanted
to understand Luc's crisis.

Anyway we went back to the office in one hour, which was now 3:00 pm, and we
had been there since 10:00 am.
-7-
We were told at this time by Angela in a snippy way that the only thing that
Luc can do is go to a shelter and that Russell Mawby agreed with this
decision. I asked if I could call Russell from the phone as I had earlier.
She said no we need this room for people in crisis. There was only one other
person in the waiting room, and there were at least 15 of these interview
rooms.

So I said I am going to go public with the treatment we received from this
Ontario Works office. Angela said if I go public there will be reprisals for
slander. I said you cannot sue someone for slander if they are speaking the
truth. And she then said how were we abused and I started to tell her but
before I had finished one sentence she said, "this interview is over."

We left the office and called Russell Mawby who said yes he did agree with
the decision they made based on their assessment and the assessment of the
Salvation Army staff who drove Luc to the office.

I told Russell that they did not assessed Luc. The Salvation Army and the
Catherine St staff did not ask Luc any questions about his ability to stay
in shelters.

I told him the interview woman on the phone system did and she agreed that
he should not go to a shelter.

Russell said no he has to go with their decision.

This is how it was left. Luc is still sleeping on the streets in serious
physical and psychological distress.

And all the homeless protestors are still either still on the street of in
severely inadequate housing leaving them at extreme risk of becoming
homeless again.


-8-
Join Raise The Rates and Fight To Win!


The Raise The Rates campaign kicked off this spring and continues to demand
an immediate increase to social assistance by 40%. Why 40%? Because the
paltry 3% increase implemented by the McGuinty government comes nowhere near
the pre-1995 cuts of 21.7% by the Harris government. Nor does it cover the
ever-rising cost-of-living increases that Ontario has experienced over the
past decade in the areas of clothing, food, and shelter.

We are fighting to win back all that has been taken from those on welfare
and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) since 1995 when Harris came to
power. No one should have to choose between eating properly and paying the
rent or lie awake at night and wonder how to tell their kids they can't have
the things other families take for granted. The right to decent income will
have to be forced from the McGuinty Government and we are calling on people
all across Ontario to join us in making this a reality.

Sure the Liberal Government gave a 3% raise in welfare rates in June, but
that's nothing! For a single person on welfare it amounts to a measly
$15.60/month on top of the current $520/month. This is not acceptable!

The campaign is made up of social assistance recipients and concerned
Community members who demand the McGuinty government to finally do the right
thing. People who receive money from Ontario Works, ODSP, or anyone who
wants fair and just treatment for those living in poverty are encouraged to
join the Raise The Rates campaign and fight to win!

Contact Raise The Rates Ottawa - info@raisetheratesottawa.org or
786-1015.


Go into the streets where the rich dwell. Ask for work. If they do not give
you work, ask for bread. If they do not give you work or bread, take bread.

Emma Goldman
-9-
If the Bank Doesn't Get You, Money Mart Will:
Payday Loans - we'll get you coming and going!
Jamie Kneen, November 14 2004

CashMoney®. Money Mart. Fast Cash Advance.
Payday Loans. Cash Til Payday. Cheque cashing.
All very convenient, but it'll cost you!

Money doesn't make the world go 'round, but you'll need money to get a lot
of things in our society. People have come up with a lot of ways to squeeze
money out of other people, even poor people - especially poor people. So you
may stuck on welfare, or you may be able to get a shitty job, or you may
even have a decent job but be trapped by expenses beyond your control, but
you'll have a hard time getting hold of that money.

Once upon a time it was straight forward. People got paid in cash or in
kind. But then once upon a time people even used cash to buy things at the
store. Even when people were paid by cheque, you could go to the bank the
cheque was drawn on and get cash right away. There was no such thing as a
credit card and no such thing as a payday loan.

Then the banks started eliminating jobs and changing to ATMs and electronic
banking - you can get into you-r b-ank account almost anywhere, but if you
want to cash a cheque they'll hold it for up to two weeks, and charge you
for every transaction you make. And you can't even get a bank account unless
you've got a permanent address and two pieces of ID. Not a problem if you're
wealthy - if you keep a few thousand dollars in the bank they won't even
charge you service fees; hell, they might even pay you interest for getting
to play with your money. And if you run short they might even give you a
free overdraft if you're a good customer, while the rest of us would have to
pay $30 for a bounced cheque, or just hope Hydro doesn't cut you off.

It's a classic catch-22. If you don't have money, you don't get any money.
So people are forced to turn to outfits like Money Mart and CashMoney, and
these outfits are popping up like mushrooms. It's a pretty good business, if
you don't worry about the ethics of it.
Money Mart Canada brought in $US 84.8 million in 2004 just for its
-10-
core chain - more than a third of the Money Mart stores in Canada are
franchises, so the only revenue Money Mart reports from them is its
franchise fees. CashMoney has more than 40 outlets across Canada, but it's a
private company so it doesn't have to report revenue publicly.

Money Mart is part of the Dollar Financial Group, along with Loan Mart and
Money Mart Express in the US and Money Shop in the UK. They have 311 stores
in Canada (117 operated by franchisees), 318 in the US, and 480 in the UK
(355 operated by
franchisees). Although they're not growing much in the US, their Canadian
revenue has grown almost 27%% over the last year while the UK operation has
grown almost 25%. In 2004 they collectively processed over $4 billion in
cheques and short term loans.

Dollar Financial claims to simply be offering convenient services the banks
don't to people who need those services. It's partly true, since



-11-
they offer extended hours and a range of services - but if you look at some
of the fees they charge, it's clear they're not doing it out of the goodness
of their hearts. Cheque cashing ranges from 3% of the amount of the cheque
plus a $2 fee, to 8% plus a $10 fee. Short-term loans run about 10% interest
plus service charges. If you roll the loan over, the charges are compounded,
reaching annual percentage rates of almost 500%. And they're not exactly
paying union wages to their own employees either - starting wage is $9 an
hour.
How do they get away with this? Well, it's clear that the government isn't
concerned; even the credit card companies get away with charging interest
upwards of 18%. And the people using these services don't have any options.
In the US there have been several investigations and some loan companies
(including Dollar Financial) have been forced to follow federal regulations
and state small loan and usury laws. Allowing clients to roll over loans at
usurious short-term rates has been a big issue, as has the practice of banks
making alliances with short-term lenders to allow them to get around
regulations.

What's the alternative? Obviously an anarchist perspective sees government
regulation as a temporary necessity - though one that needs a lot of
attention - on the road to self-reliance. We could force the banks to cut
their hold times, and at the same time regulate the activities of Money Mart
and its ilk. Employers can afford the minimal inconvenience and security
risk of paying people in cash; most businesses still hold lots of cash.

But as long as people have shitty jobs and no resources, they need support.
We need to support barter and LETS (Local Exchange Trading Systems), support
re-use initiatives like OPIRG-Carleton's Free Store, and think about lending
cooperatives to support people who can't make ends meet in the short term,
while we set about making sure that everyone will be able to make ends meet
in the long term.

And oh, yes, be aware that every time you use you-r b-ank card or credit card,
you're not just creating a record of where you've been and what you've done,
but you've contributed money to the banks for the privilege of being spied
on.


-12-

Cradle to the Grave

I am an old age pensioner
And finally got my loot;
Wages deferred invested
Until I got the boot.

A paltry sum each month
Allows me to get by
Hidden in a garret
So they can't see me die.

There is a crisis coming
They tell us every day;
The state is almost bankrupt
And can't keep on this way.

Youngsters buckle down,
Your money you must save:
Even if there is no work
It's your cradle -- and your grave.

2001 Trevor Goodger-Hill

A Poem For The Greedy
By Kirsten Anderberg

For those who drive
For those who shop
For those who drink their lattes
And look the other way when "bums" knock

For those who charge the poor high rents
For those who skim the profit off of others' labor spent
For those who "deserve" to exploit the earth's wealth
And look away when children shiver, crying for help

For those who "deserve" such privileges as these
Your lifestyle with shelter and food is guaranteed
But for those of us who never see the insides
Of your restaurants, houses, shops and cars
In which you reside
For those of us who simply watch with our eyes
As we pass all you shoppers on our bus rides

For you, hundreds of thousands of Rhododendron blooms
$20 a pop, and will be dead very soon
For you, a mantle lined with $300 of ornamental flowers
Tonight under your bridge, a homeless teen cowers.
-13-
late november, sommerset st. corner.
claudia sicondolfo


empty bus stop,
ten to ten,
wet ground,
wet air,
seven minutes.

i see you stumble across the street.
i hope
silently,
you don't break,
by me.

you bring with you
a dirty air.
thick glasses,
crooked teeth,
3rd hand jacket,
violated breath.

you ask me when the bus will come.
five minutes,
i say.
shuffle feet,
bite nails,
look away.

you stare.

i want to bring you home
and make you tea and soup,
give you blankets and a story.

i want to hold you, repair you;
knit you a scarf,
show you godard, and read you cohen.

you would be happy and pure,
and i'd rest securely,
knowing i'm changing the world.

i walk away.
one minute.




-14-
Home in Kingston, Ontario
Ross Victor Hermiston, Vancouver, BC

Home is a kind word, good deed, friendly smile
Homelessness is a diesel truck, spewing exhaust

Home is a bike and a free repair job at YBA*
Homelessness is a 25 cent charge for air outside the "7-11" on Princess

Home is a free bowl of soup at the Sleepless Goat**
Homelessness is "the bitter taste of exploitation" at Starbucks

Home is the wild and varied natural beauty of Block D***, left alone
Homelessness is the Landmark**** (and the "Community" Foundation of Greater
Kingston doing nothing to save Block D and supporting the Landmark by paying
them rent)

Home is the picnic table in front of the Courthouse, north end of City Park
Homelessness is the Holiday Inn

Home is once around the track at Friendship Park
Homelessness is a cigarette butt in a river

Home is you and me together again, see you soon
Homelessness is goodbye, forever.

*Yellow Bike Action Centre
23 Carlisle St
Kingston, ON

**Sleepless Goat Cafe and Worker's Co-op
Princess Street
Kingston, ON

***A parcel of waterfront land yet to be developed in the Sydenham District
Kingston, ON

****A monstrous waffle concrete "development" by Homestead Land Holdings
beside Block D
Kingston, ON
What Is ACA?

Anti-capitalist Community Action (ACA) is an Ottawa-Outaouais-based group
focusing on local struggles and global struggles against capitalism and
imperialism. As a revolutionary anti-capitalist group, our goal is to
achieve a decentralized, non-hierarchical, directly democratic, and
non-oppressive society. ACA is dedicated to fighting against all forms of
oppression. In the past 3 years we have been involved with numerous actions,
campaigns, and projects. To get involved, you can join any of ACA's
workgroups or projects or participate in our monthly general assemblies.

What has ACA been up to?

* No To Bush Committee/PGA Bloc Ottawa: Members of ACA, along with many
other community groups and individuals, organized and supported 3 days of
protest surrounding the recent visit by George W Bush to Ottawa.
* Angry Grrls: angry girrls is a group of radical women that came out of our
frustrations with the exploitation of our bodies and lives, as well as our
dreams of a world free of sexism, patriarchy and all oppression. we have
been involved in putting out a zine, having stitch and bitches/making
menstrual pads, and have much more planned! we will not be told to behave or
ask permission for our equality.
* Raise The Rates: Join ACA and other members of your community in
organizing for an immediate increase of 40% to social assistance rates. We
are building a local Raise the Rates organization as part of a province-wide
campaign.
* Popular Education: ACA regularly hosts freeskools, talks, and workshops to
educate the public about the issues which concern us all.
* Housing Issues: ACA was one of the groups responsible for the squat action
at 246 Gilmour Street. We worked in solidarity with the 2004 tent city
protest at Ottawa City Hall.
* Black and Red Flying Squad: We attempt to make links between worker's
struggles and other struggles. We support worker's struggles through
picket-line support and direct action.
* Anti-imperialism: As part of the Coalition for Peace in Iraq, ACA drew
links between imperialist wars abroad and the war at home against refugees
and the poor.
* ACME: ACA played a role in disrupting the annual CME (Canadian
Manufacturers and Exporters) Awards gala in January 2003. The gala, dubbed
'Serving the Poor Profitably', was more about propping up WTO sponsored
trade agreements and lining corporate pockets than fighting poverty.

Workgroups currently on hiatus include Direct Action Casework Ottawa (DACO),
Copwatch, and the Latin-American Solidarity Workgroup.

How do I contact ACA?
aca@mutulaid.org or www.a-c-a.net


Basis of Unity

ACA has adopted the People's Global Action <http://www.agp.org> hallmarks as
our basis of unity:

1. A very clear rejection of capitalism, imperialism and feudalism; all
trade agreements, institutions and governments that promote destructive
globalization.
2. We reject all forms and systems of domination and discrimination
including, but not limited to, patriarchy, racism and religious
fundamentalism of all creeds. We embrace the full dignity of all human
beings.
3. A confrontational attitude, since we do not think that lobbying can
have a major impact in such biased and undemocratic organizations, in which
transnational capital is the only real policy-maker;
4. A call to direct action and civil disobedience, support for social
movements' struggles, advocating forms of resistance which maximize respect
for life and oppressed peoples' rights, as well as the construction of local
alternatives to global capitalism.
5. An organizational philosophy based on decentralization and autonomy.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
I don't believe in charity. I believe in solidarity.
Charity is vertical. It goes from the top to the
bottom. Solidarity is horizontal. It respects the
other person and learns from the other. I have
a lot to learn from other people. --- Eduardo Galeano
==========================================
* [Ed. Note: ACA is antiauthoritarian anticapitalist
direct action social struggle initiative.


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