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(en) Canada: OCAP - Liberals continue Harris' attack on the poor

Date Wed, 8 Mar 2006 14:38:17 +0100 (CET)

They defend indefensible and ?offensive? Safe Streets Act
The Safe Streets Act, a social cleansing bill passed by Harris? Tories,
attacks poor people. It gives the police another tool to harass and arrest
homeless people, panhandlers and squeegee workers. Poverty is not a crime
and the poor should not be criminalized.
The real criminals are the Liberals for their deceitful, two-faced
political antics which jeopardize the safety and security of people on the
streets. Michael Bryant, the Attorney General of Ontario, said that the
bill was ?a joke? when it was under debate. He also called the bill
?worse than the status quo?, said parts of it were ?offensive? and that it
was ?an insult to the intelligence of Ontario voters.?* Now he is working
to continue that insult by having his government defend the Act.

?The Liberal government not only refuses to provide people with enough
money to survive through social assistance, but also defends the attack on
people who are simply trying to meet their basic needs.

McGuinty and his government must repeal the Safe Streets Act and raise
social assistance rates by 40% so people in this province can live with
dignity.? Says A.J. Withers of OCAP.

The Safe Streets Act is being constitutionally challanged by eleven people
convicted of violating it. There are several grounds of appeal: it
violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by limiting people?s freedom
of expression, right to life and liberty and security of the person,
presumption of innocence and freedom from discrimination, and it is
essentially a piece of criminal legislation that the province does not
have the jurisdiction to enact.

According to Peter Rosenthal, one of the lawyers arguing the appeal, "in
my view, the Safe Streets Act was a viscious attack on the most vulnerable
members of our society. The Harris government decided to criminalize
panhandling. It had no jurisdiction to do so, and there are strong
arguments that the Safe Streets Act violates several sections of the

The appeal of the Safe Streets Act will be heard on Monday and Tuesday in
Courtroom 10 at the Ontario Court of Appeal, 130 Queen Street West,
beginning at 10:30 A.M. The Appeal is scheduled to continue on Tuesday as

(from OCAP Press Advisory)

February 26, 2006

* see Hansard of the Standing Committee on Justice and Social Policy,
Tuesday 30 November 1999.

Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
10 Britain St. Toronto, ON M5A 1R6
416-925-6939 ocap@tao.ca http://www.ocap.ca

Sender: OCAP <ocap@tao.ca>

* [Ed. Note: OCAP is anti-authoritarian anti-capitalist direct-action
social struggle initiative.]

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