Tom Parkin for Parkdale-High Park

People are counting on us to win — and fight for them

In Walkerton, six people died and 2,000 became ill from E. coli in their drinking water. After caring for the sick, the urgent priority was to clean up the water.

A provincial crown corporation, the Ontario Clean Water Agency, took over Walkerton’s water operations and secured the drinking water supply.

The strongest argument I made to Justice O’Conner at the Walkerton Inquiry was based on the public service values of workers for the Ontario Clean Water Agency. We won the recommendation. Our drinking water still belongs to all of us.

But OCWA was on the auction block. It was Canada’s biggest water system operator, and global water companies like Vivendi wanted it. That meant Ontarians in 180 municipalities – from small towns to cities like Mississauga and Brampton – were facing water privatization.

And I was hired by OPSEU to work on the Walkerton Inquiry and lead the effort to save it.

This was a judicial inquiry. I needed the strongest facts and arguments to persuade Justice O’Conner to recommend that drinking water be kept public.

And my best source for facts and knowledge was OCWA’s workers – talking with them about how they did their jobs. But I also heard something else — how much OCWA workers valued providing safe drinking water as a public service.

I researched water privatization around the world – some were really horror shows. But their public service values became my strongest argument.

I wrote the OPSEU brief, argued my case to technical panels — and directly to Justice O’Conner.

We won the recommendation. Today, drinking water systems are still owned by all of us.

Whether it’s teachers, health care workers or water system operators – public service values matter deeply, and I am proud to defend them.

Inaction matters to people. It sure mattered to Lori Dupont.

Lori Dupont worked as a nurse at a Windsor hospital; her ex-boyfriend was a doctor there. And in their workplace he stalked her, harassed her, hit her and made violent comments at her. When Lori’s friends told administration, it was “Lori is an adult and can look after herself”

One day, her ex-boyfriend came to work with a knife and killed Lori Dupont – in the workplace.

Lori’s death was terrible enough. But we were all outraged when the hospital said it had no legal duty to prevent the workplace harassment that turned to violence. And many employers kept saying harassment and violence on the job wasn’t their problem.

The labour movement and the Workers Centre campaigned for urgent change.

That campaign grew. People in all sorts of worker — nurses, teachers, transit drivers, retail workers — said harassment and violence isn’t in their job description.

But Liberals preferred taking about themselves — rather than taking action on harassment and violence at work. It took the Liberals five years after Lori’s killing to table a bill of half-measures.

I’m done with waiting for the next Lori Dupont. I’m not waiting for weak action anymore – I’m taking my own action.

People’s problems are urgent – insecure housing, no drug plan, low wages, unaffordable childcare, climate change.

We win in Parkdale-High Park by talking to people about what matters to them — that’s what I’ve done in our riding, the labour movement – in columns and commentary.

People’s urgent needs don’t wait for Liberals. Nor do I.

Whenever I see an apartment tower, I think of the stories of people I can’t forget.

On December 24th, 2009, Fayzullo Fazilov, Alexsandrs Bondarevs, Vladimir Korostin and Aleksey Blumberg were fixing concrete on the outside of an apartment tower. The suspended scaffold they were working from split – they died from a 13-story fall.

The swingstage they were working from was faulty. Their employer didn’t give them fall protection equipment – that’s the story of why they died.

We talk with people about what matters to them. Then we act. And when we act we change lives — even save them

I’m the managing director at the Workers Health and Safety Centre. With building trades unions, we campaigned for new laws to ensure suspended equipment is maintained and every construction worker receives working at heights training.

We ignored those who said the job was too big to be done. We keep telling the story of the workers who died. We kept focused on saving lives.

We won – by 2017, 500,000 workers finally got good, hands-on, working at heights training. At the Workers Health and Safety Centre, we trained 200,000 workers.

The change is saving lives – deaths from construction site falls is down.

But it took eight years for the Ontario Liberals to act. While they stalled, people died.

I’ve never waited for Liberals. I never waited to fight privatizations. Or win better health and safety laws. Or be on the doorstep for good candidates. Or to speak up as a columnist and commentator.

When we act, we change people’s lives. Sometimes we even save them.

I’m running to be our NDP MP for Parkdale-High Park because people’s urgent needs don’t wait for Justin Trudeau.

We win by talking with people about what really matters to them. And then we act.

See and share my post — we win when we talk to people about what matters to them.

I know how we win here — it’s what I’ve learned living in Parkdale-High Park almost all my adult life, working every NDP campaign, canvassing thousands of doors. It’s what I’ve learned in the labour movement, building campaigns to stop privatization and improve health and safety laws.

We win when we talk with people about what really matters to them.

In the next 30 days, I want to share my passion and plans with you — why I want to be the next NDP Member of Parliament for Parkdale-High Park. And I want to hear what really matters to you.

https://youtu.be/qJJwRDO_P84
Trudeau keeps Canadians’ urgent needs on hold

People have urgent needs. But for three years, Justin Trudeau kept people waiting, playing the games Liberals play.

What mattered was selling Trudeau’s popularity. You and I just weren’t cool enough to be in his club. People’s urgent issues had to wait.

But really, Trudeau kept people’s urgent needs on hold because he was taking calls from Big Pharma, SNC-Lavalin and Big Oil and Gas. He didn’t make them wait. Not for corporate tax cuts. Or pipeline purchases. Or drug price hikes.

He made people wait in insecure housing. Or unaffordable childcare. With schools in disrepair. And transit that’s too slow. Paying out-of-pocket health care costs. Or worried about a climate crisis.

I’ve never waited to act on the issues that matter to people. I never waited to fight against privatization. Or to fight for better workplace safety laws. Or get on the doorsteps for our local NDP candidates. I’ve never waited to speak up as a columnist and commentator.

And I can’t wait to push the cool club out of office — and replace it with a government focused on what matters to people, starting here in Parkdale-High Park.

Fundamental change is about taking power from Ottawa lobbyists and putting it closer to people. To me, that’s what building a social democracy is all about.

Right now, Doug Ford’s cuts and centralization are taking power away from people — but two key ideas from Jack Layton might show a path for how we beat him.

Governments in Ottawa and Queen’s Park are failing us on infrastructure. Toronto schools are in disrepair. Neighbourhood public housing has a massive repair backlog. Our transit is frustratingly slow.

Toronto’s people need public infrastructure investment to make life more energy efficient – and better.

Traditionally, Ottawa works with provinces to build infrastructure. But now, Queen’s Park Conservatives centralize power to inflict austerity, blocking federal infrastructure money by refusing to match it. And the Ottawa Liberals throw up their hands, happily pinning political blame on Ford.

But that doesn’t help people. Instead of games, NDP candidates can offer a fundamental change that puts power closer to people — by building on some ideas Jack Layton proposed over 10 years ago.

Way back in 2006, Jack Layton proposed the green new deal concept – his Climate Change Accountability Act. And around the same time, Jack Layton – from his experience as Toronto city councillor and president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities – promoted an idea of a new deal for cities, pushing for federal funds that flow directly to municipalities, not through provinces.

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Jack Layton fought to give municipalities a portion of gas tax, setting a new relationship between Ottawa and municipalities. It’s also an idea David Miller pushed when he way Toronto Mayor.

This election, federal NDP candidates in Toronto can fight against Ford and fight for our city by combining Jack’s two ideas — and offering fundamental change with a Green New Deal for Cities.

Toronto NDP candidates can offer to end-run Doug Ford and directly partner with school boards and municipalities. We can offer a New Green Deal for Cities that undermines Ford’s centralizing power to fix our schools, non-profit housing and transit.

We can make a vote for a Toronto NDP candidate a vote against Ford and for the investments we need to make our city more energy efficient and livable. Let’s let Arif Virani explain why it can’t be done.

I’ve lived in Parkdale-High Park for over 25 years, working on every NDP election, knocking on thousands of doors. I’ve learned how we win here — by talking to people about what matters to them.

And without doubt, making a fundamental change by shoving Doug Ford to the side and making investments in transit, housing and schools matters deeply to people in Parkdale-High Park.

I want to propose to our party that we create a Green New Deal for Cities to help us win in Toronto and get done what matters to people.

 

Everyday, it’s getting to be a shorter step from being a student to a student activist. Especially in Doug Ford’s Ontario.

And taking that short step is something New Democrats and the labour movement need to support and encourage.

Students Against Public Education Cuts – SAPEC – is one of many new student activist groups fighting back against Doug Ford’s attack on their futures. On Sunday, I was proud to speak at their Queen’s Park rally.

Student speakers spoke out about the impact of Ford’s education cuts – particularly on students with special needs. But their anger at Ford was also connected to their fears and frustrations about climate change. img_0857

SAPEC asked me to speak about the labour movement campaigns I’ve built, fighting cuts and privatizations by right-wing governments.

When I was research director with the Amalgamated Transit Union, I organized the campaign to stop privatization of TTC’s Wheel-Trans – and we won.

And when I was with OPSEU, I worked on the Walkerton Inquiry – leading the effort to stop provincial plans for municipal drinking water privatization. We won that, too.

What I’ve learned in the labour movement, winning fights to stop privatization and improve health and safety laws, is the same thing I’ve learned on winning NDP campaigns in Parkdale-High Park. We win when we talk to people about what matters to them.

Opposition to climate change and Ford’s cuts is spanning student activism from the very local to the completely global. Yesterday’s global politics have left a local crisis of austerity, inequality and climate. The scope of today’s student movement gives hope tomorrow’s politics will fix an out-of-control economy.

I’m running to be our NDP MP to bring Parkdale-High Park communities together with labour and environmental movements into a Green New Deal — one that can reverse the growing disrepair of our schools.

I want fundamental change and a Green New Deal. Join me.

After decades of cuts, Toronto’s public buildings, like schools and social housing, have billion-dollar repair backlogs. They don’t have the energy efficiency we need to reduce carbon emissions.

Last Saturday I was knocking on members’ doors along Runnymede Road and passed Runnymede Public School. It’s a place I know well — my wife and I spent many hours at the parent nights and packed school concerts. We’d race there from work to pick up our kids when they were sick or hurt. I looked across the road and saw a powerful symbol of our situation.

Runnymede Public School is a strong community hub. It’s also an powerful symbol of how we’ve failed to invest.

The original building has high ceilings and big windows. Later there was an addition — in that modern 1960s style, like there was in so much of Ontario, when colleges and universities, transit and social housing were built.

But in recent decades, politicians and business leaders have told us to settle for portables dropped onto kids’ play spaces. At Runnymede PS, portables have been on-site for decades. And next, Doug Ford will have students learning in isolation at home with on-line classes.

While millionaires have become billionaires and corporate tax cuts have reduced public investment, our schools and other public spaces have suffered.

We need a fundamental shift in power — from corporate lobbyists to people — to restore our ambitions. And we need to roll-out a Green New Deal to make our ambitions real.

I hope you are with me. Fundamental change and a Green New Deal are urgent. It’s not about one of us — it’s about all of us coming together. 

Happy mothers’ day!

For many years it’s been a hard day for me — my mom died way too young from cancer. She was an incredible and independent woman — and a trailblazer for other women. She was the only woman in her medical class. In the 1970s she worked at the Bay Centre for Birth Control.

I think about her and miss my mom everyday. She made a big imprint on my values and life ambitions. She was a big force for me and my two sisters.

Now mothers’ day is about my wife — the mother of our three daughters. I love all four. I’m proud to be husband to one. And dad to the three others.

To all moms — happy mothers’ day! And for all of us, it’s a day to reflect on what we owe generations before — and what we owe the generations to come.

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My wife, daughters and me, last summer.

 

 

If the SNC-Lavalin scandal proved one thing, it’s that corporate lobbyists seeking special deals get a warm reception in Trudeau Ottawa. SNC lobbied to get their own legislation creating an alternative to a trial. They lobbied to get the penalties dropped. They even lobbied to have the Prime Minister and the Clerk of the Privy Council pressure the Attorney-General to cancel their trial.

NAC

NAC shifted power to women

But shutting down the power of lobbyists isn’t enough. We need to shift power closer to the people — to communities, movements and workers.

Canadians need fundamental change — and a green new deal. That’s why I’m want to be your Parkdale-High Park NDP candidate. Read more at www.tomparkin.ca

Formed in the 1970s as a coalition of grassroots feminist organizations, the National Action Committee on the Status of Women was part of an important fundamental power shift — one we can learn from.

NAC has been led by many strong leaders with various political leanings, including important left-wing voices. NAC made a big impact in changing laws and rights for Canadian women. Whether it was violence against women, equal pay issues or reproductive choice, NAC didn’t just talk about it in Ottawa, they mobilized on it across the country — that’s what movements do.

In the early 1990s, NAC was receiving $13 million a year in base funding to continue their activist work. But in 1993, Conservative PM Brian Mulroney cut their funding by $3 million, causing layoffs and turmoil. In 1998, Liberal PM Jean Chretien eliminated all base funding.

NAC fundamentally shifted power — and it’s the kind of power shift we need more than ever. Ottawa gives away billions in corporate subsides. Instead let’s invest in grassroots organizations — of feminists, or activists for the environment or against racism and poverty. Strengthening movements is part of a fundamental change to power.

More information about National Action Committee on the Status of Women

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