OK labour?

(note – this is not regarding the UK election in the slightest)

I found out quite by accident that “Stand!” was playing at our local Cineplex on the last weekend of November for a limited run. During a caucus break in our bargaining day, someone asked me “Are you going to stand?” and my initial response was “For what?”, assuming an election of some sort was looming and a potential candidate draft was on. My fellow worker then explained that “labour” were sponsoring viewings of “Stand!”, a movie based on the popular-in-certain-circles musical “Strike!”, which tells the story in song of the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919. Labour wanted to do something special for the 100th anniversary of this nation’s most memorable mass industrial action, which (judging by the credits) led to some heavy bankrolling of the film beyond the requisite government grants. Securing a significant block of time in mainstream big box theatres across the country would also have been a massive investment but did the cash outlay pay out any tangible dividends?

Stand-Movie-Musical

I coaxed my partner into watching the preview and she agreed to come along, as it had a “Murdoch Mysteries” enough feel to it for her to commit some of the afternoon to. I also promised to spring for the tickets, the post film burritos and at least one round of Dance Dance Revolution, proving that sitting at a negotiating table over the years can teach you some transferable life skills. Musicals are definitely not my thing in any way, having made exceptions for Les Mis, The Book of Mormon and Rent but overall there aren’t enough edibles available in the province yet to adequately numb me up for all things Gilbert and Sullivan or Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber. Considering the story behind and the effort that went into Stand!, I felt a tinge of an obligation to go. It’s the same pang that I had when I was told I should watch Downton Abbey because it had a socialist in it, knowing full well that Tom would eventually sell out as any rebel in his shoes would do. I expect nothing less but wish for so much more out of our token period piece pinkos, knowing that disappointment will prevail nearly every time.

branson-quote

Stand! is worth checking out if you can find it, I’d give it a soft 7 out of 10 but if you like musicals it might clock in at an 8.5 for you. I also have a very low tolerance for bad accents but this cast managed to keep them to a Canadian Moment level of “well it’s almost there so we’ll let it go”. No one attempted a Scottish one thankfully. The leads were handsome and gorge with great voices and enough of the actual message seemed to slip in there that one did leave the theatre with the feeling that worker solidarity is critical to our continued survival and that the world changes one heart at a time. There were two glaring disappointments however, in that the famous tram car smashing didn’t make the cut and that theatre Nine was nearly completely empty. A grand total of seven people were in attendance for a movie that was being pitched as “the next Norma Rae”. The majority of people who saw “Norma Rae” back in the day likely watched it on a rented video tape, which was the world’s You Tube at one point fellow kids. It’s bittersweet yet painfully true that more people are likely watching the 40 year old “Norma Rae” via download in North America on any given day compared to the total viewing audience that Stand! had in theatres in 2019. It could have been different.

MSDNORA EC002

This is the end result one should expect when any bureaucracy makes blanket decisions, coupled with what seems to be a lack of a grasp of modern communications. There were four showtimes to choose from on the day we went and I strongly suspect that Stand! played to dust mites and the cola ick on the floor for most of the run. In reading the on line reviews of Stand! (all internal to labour), the UFCW revealed that they are making a half a million digital downloads of the movie available to Canadian students. This is getting closer to where and how Stand! should have been distributed from the get go, with a healthy scoop of promotion to back the effort up. Netflix would have most certainly picked it up and may yet still. Our local rep cinema was showing “The Irishman” for the week, a film that also has a labour story (albeit not a feel good one) but something on the scale of Stand! would have been better placed in smaller, tighter, cozier venues as the original musical would have played in initially. At least they aren’t cranking out VHS and Beta tapes for all locals and labour councils to share. Let’s hope not.

My partner also enjoyed the film, even if Detective Murdoch or Dr. Ogden didn’t merit so much as a cameo. Other than having to endure my run throughs of “Solidarity Forever” wafting up from the basement, she is generally not exposed to the labour realm in her day to day. On the way home she randomly asked me “Why don’t the unions build houses? Renting all those empty theatres could have built a nice apartment somewhere.” and I didn’t have a good answer to the question because there isn’t one. I’m fairly certain that it was this comment and not the film Stand! that put a tear in my eye at the end of it all. OK labour?

tramsmash

Movie musical Stand! has ‘potential to be huge for labour movement’

http://www.ufcw.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=32408:ufcw-canada-proud-sponsor-of-stand-movie-musical-about-winnipeg-general-strike&catid=10098&Itemid=6&lang=en

https://cupe.ca/stand-movie-musical-opens-across-canada-friday-november-29th-get-your-tickets-today

https://www.thestar.com/entertainment/stage/2019/06/19/winnipeg-general-strike-inspires-a-movie-musical-love-story-stand.html

The World Changes…One Heart at a Time

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2198845/

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This is a personal blog. Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

 

The most important election since the last most important election after the prior most important election previous to this one

I tuned in to some of the leaders debate en francais on TVA this past week and wondered where Maxime Bernier was. It turns out he wasn’t invited to participate, nor was Elizabeth May as neither of their parties has a federal seat in Quebec. A brief scan of a few comment sections/e-opinion toilet turned up no armchair whining about these omissions that I could find. Neither party seemed to be openly whimpering about this specific debate either, unlike the minor tempest that has erupted over the cancelled not-quite-all-candidates debate that was supposed to take place at the University of Guelph.

Never before in the political history of this town has the fringe somehow managed to hold so much sway. The battle for fifth place is so interesting because the struggle for the MP seat can be so incredibly bland at times. Next kick at it, you won’t remember any of them. It’s my job to remind you over the next few years, as I do when I endlessly appeal for Pierre Poutine to come on our show. You are always welcome Pierre and we know you know where to reach me.

totally legit

I love the presence of fringe candidates and have voted for many over the years but never for anyone carrying a heavy load of insidious or just plain wacko baggage. There are times when the hubris of some of the independents can be grating, especially when it devolves into a tiresome, oxygen sucking, showboating yammer. I am not so secretly hoping that the King of the Canadian Election Fringe John Turmel hits the 100 election mark but his grandstanding schtick wore thin years ago. It does take a lot of gumption to challenge The System though, knowing fully well that the energy you expend won’t amount to any degree of hard political success. But never say never.

john turmel

With a bit of digging you will quickly find that every established party started on the margins or was a product of some kind of political divorce and factionalism. Time and experience erases much of this but the origin stories are consistent; there is nothing pure, untouched or holy about any ballot choice, as much as the sales jobs we get during the election period would lead you to believe.

My favourite line I hear ad nauseam on the social these days is that THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION OF OUR LIVES! If I had a loonie for every time I’d heard that one I could stuff an offshore bank account full enough to be on top of the Panama Papers list. I may have actually believed it in the not too distant past. As a provincial paper candidate a generation ago for the fledgling fringe party known as the Greens, it was one of my main go-to phrases when called upon to speak about all things Green. At that point, our imminent Earthly collapse was to be the year 2000. We’ve only got a decade to turn it around! I shouldn’t be here! You took my childhood!

I left the Greens long ago to be the pundit in the wilderness you listen to weekly but my bolshie values haven’t really changed all that much. One green, two green, red machine, blue machine, orange crush, francais bloc – in my opinion, at the current rate, we are all still f—ked. Yet somehow, I’ve committed to this volunteer journo job talking politics weekly, blogging sporadically and during elections, it’s darn near daily. Viva democracy!

I hold out some personal faint hope when I see all of the bodies at extrapolitical events such as the climate “strikes” of recent weeks. People have embraced young Greta because she tells it like it is to the faces of those that need to hear it. Her meteoric rise from the fringe to the mainstream has been incredible and hopefully she will be able to survive the fame. It has become fairly clear that our only collective chance at planetary survival is by owning the bakery rather than just demanding and receiving bread of varying quality after THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION OF OUR LIVES ends and Doug Ford emerges from his bunker to go back to “work” delivering gut punches to people.

Take it from somebody who has been on many a picket line, your strike needs to be perpetual for it to have a lasting effect, if any at all. The continuous questioning of authority with the goal of upending it is the only way we are going to make it through this modern shitshow. Climb off the comments page, close this blog (but thanks for tuning in), cease your never ending mobile phone prayer and get out into your community and find your functional place in it. The belief that change begins and ends exclusively with the ballot box will be our undoing. What are you waiting for?

independence

___________________________________________________________________

This is a personal blog. Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

 

The Conservative Occasional Temperance Union

We are, without a doubt, a beer loving province and nation but the Ontario PC government is positively obsessed with suds. No other item has sucked up as much virtual political ink this past week as the budget “leak” that low test booze is coming to the corner stores. In the Star’s latest take on the matter, it was reported that (Finance Minister Vic) “Fedeli – like Premier Doug Ford, does not drink alcohol”. If that’s the case, why does the Premier spend so much time posing in real and fake news photo ops as if he is having a beer with the lads?

doug ford

doug pulls a pint

loon lager

The long defeated Stephen Harper also claimed that he did not drink “alcohol”, except when it was politically expedient:

stephen and a pint

All of this might leave one to wonder whether Conservatives know that beer and wine have booze in them. Or is there a Fraser Institute paper somewhere that says the percentage of alcohol in beer and wine is negligible and therefore doesn’t count as such? Do these alleged teetotalers actually mean that they don’t drink spirits?

There must be something to that well worn “which politician would you most like to have a beer with” trope or else they wouldn’t put so much effort into their not-really- drinking. I know quite a few people of all political stripes that take their sobriety very seriously. It can be a life or death question for many. Temperance is not a part time stance.

It is fairly clear though that the Ontario Convenience Stores Association is also obsessed with beer and wine and have been lobbying Queens Park for years:

Screen Shot 2019-03-29 at 9.00.49 AM

Looks like it has finally paid off.

Cheers?!

 

https://www.thestar.com/politics/provincial/2019/03/28/fedeli-promises-budget-will-include-a-massive-expansion-of-beer-and-wine-in-ontario.html

https://toronto.citynews.ca/2018/08/07/unveiling-of-provincial-buck-a-beer-scheme-expected-today/

http://southasiandaily.com/doug-ford-promises-beer-wine-in-corner-and-grocery-stores/

https://www.macleans.ca/politics/a-simple-no-fuss-promise-for-ontario-politicians-to-help-beer-drinkers/

https://www.pot.tv/video/2013/09/19/stephen-harper-doesnt-drink-alcohol-except-when-he-does-photos/

https://ontariocstores.ca/ocsa-lobby-day-at-queens-park/

http://ontariocstores.ca/free-our-beer-petition-largest-petition-in-ontario-history/

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This is a personal blog. Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

 

Seventy Killed. Suspects Known. No Charges Laid.

Who killed Joshua Remigio? Will we ever find out who did it? Sadly, he will be blamed either partially or fully for his own demise last week at the age of 29 while working on an electrical panel in a greenhouse in Leamington Ontario. There was far more information released about what happened to him than what is normally first reported after a traumatic workplace incident in Ontario. The standard news report, which was written 70 times in 2017 and likely in equal or greater frequency this year, is usually:

“The Ministry of Labour is investigating a fatal incident at ______ on _______.

A worker was ______ said _______ spokesperson with the ministry.

_______ spokesperson with _______ Police, said officers responded around ____ to the incident, which occurred at _______ .

A ___ year-old construction worker was transported to hospital by paramedics ____ said, but later succumbed to his injuries.

“This is currently a coroner’s investigation and our officers will support the coroner throughout the investigation,” said _________ “The Ministry of Labour is simultaneously conducting an investigation into the cause of the incident.”

Stop-work orders have been issued to the company until conditions are met regarding operating manuals for equipment, the inspection of equipment by a competent worker, and the provision of information, instruction and supervision to a worker.”

In the print dominant days, these reports were generally relegated to the back pages or used as filler for a blank between ads. Nowadays, you will rarely see this story as the opener on a home page unless it is a super slow day. When the stop work order is lifted, the wheels will continue to turn. No flowers, candles or teddy bears will be placed at the scene. No brass plaque will ever mark the spot where someone has given their life for industry and business, as they do time and again in this province and the world over every single day.

There will be no honour parade for Joshua on Leamington’s Erie Street to the church or graveyard. Fellow workers by the thousands aren’t going to fly in from all over North America to attend the ceremony. He won’t be on the top of the news cycle for a week or two with an endlessly scrolling montage of photos cribbed from Facebook and Instagram. No sombre footage will be shown of the partner and family heading forlorn into the memorial service. A weaponless murder doesn’t get many eyes on the page or screen and never seems to raise the ire of the public. We continuously forget and the cycle is given permission to continue by all.

If someone walked into a public place and killed 70 people, it would be the dominant news story for years. Yet scores of people dying under similar circumstances for the same reasons in a steady stream has trouble getting on the radar, unless it can be framed in a tidy manner like an episode of Law and Order. When this many people die, it isn’t an accident or one off tragic incident, it is a pattern like any that would be left by a serial killer. By its nature and structure, a certain amount of injuries and fatalities are required to keep industry profitable and please shareholders. Google any random large company name followed by the word “death” and you will get some idea of the body count necessary to maintain a profitable portfolio. That is by design, not by accident.

There will be a report issued in a year or two, which may get a mention beyond the trade papers but probably not. The business and the bosses may get a fine, or possibly not, but no one will be paying attention except for health and safety advocates and the labour community, who will then be accused of playing politics with a tragedy. Joshua will not be addressed by name in the findings but referenced merely as “a worker”, leaving one to piece together which incident it was and where it happened to be able to put a face to the fallen.

Who killed Joshua Remigio? Will we ever find out who did it? We all know exactly who it was but we are all complicit in letting the culprits go free, every single time.

May he rest in peace and never be forgotten.

workers graveyard
http://www.wsibstatistics.ca/S1/Fatalities%20_%20WSIB%20By%20The%20Numbers_P.php

https://windsorstar.com/news/local-news/opp-name-worker-who-died-by-electrocution-at-leamington-greenhouse

http://www.iheartradio.ca/am800/news/update-two-orders-issued-following-leamington-fatal-workplace-incident-1.8572115

https://www.thesudburystar.com/news/local-news/man-killed-in-workplace-incident-at-golf-course

https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/worker-killed-in-landslide-thursday-still-buried-in-high-hoe

https://www.insidehalton.com/news-story/8973357-update-construction-worker-struck-and-killed-by-vehicle-in-downtown-milton/

https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/court-bulletin—linamar-fined-550000-in-two-deaths-one-injury-536507661.html
This is a personal blog. Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

Whitey’s Got The Doob (apologies to the great Gil Scott Heron)

musk doobie

Bill Blair’s been working overtime
now that whitey’s got the doob
a cop in charge of the portfolio no less (!!)
so that whitey could get the doob

A slew of business types lobbied hard
so that whitey could get the doob
Their party ties impossible to hide
but Holy Cheech and Chong, we finally got the doob!

Doug Ford is trying to make political hay
now that whitey’s got the doob
the best stuff used to come from Etobicoke way
in the days before the legal doob

They’re hedging on overturning past convictions
since whitey got the doob
will the disproportionately locked up get a pardon
now that whitey’s got the doob?

Six Nations of the Grand has no drinkable water
but whitey’s got the doob
they’ve spent billions on a oil pipeline
but you haven’t heard a peep about it, not since whitey got the doob

Timbit sales are bound to increase
now that whitey’s got the doob
the shareholders are no doubt thoroughly pleased
and Hallelujah, it’s raining doobs

It’s being sold as some kind of revolution
since whitey got the doob
but today the ganja has gone corporate
& whitey finally got his legal doobs

 

https://news.vice.com/en_ca/article/d35eyq/black-and-indigenous-people-are-overrepresented-in-canadas-weed-arrests

https://news.vice.com/en_ca/article/yw548b/the-politics-of-pot-lobbying-in-canada

https://www.theguardian.com/global/2018/oct/04/ontario-six-nations-nestle-running-water

https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/ndp-mp-pushing-for-expungement-of-past-pot-convictions-with-new-bill-1.4119994

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/globe-investigation-the-ford-familys-history-with-drug-dealing/article12153014/

 

This is a personal blog. Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

Facts, Opinion and the Great Slate Debate

At Open Sources we endeavour to present you with facts, devoid of spin and the plague of fake news. Since our show is an hour long generally (and much longer on any election night), our personal opinions and viewpoint are going to surface in our discussion. When we present our personal point of view, it will always be made clear without question. You may need to listen for it but any sentence that contains the words “in my opinion”, “I think”, “in my view” or “I believe” is ours and ours alone. We are actually covered by some very strict radio regulations that say you can’t just present your thoughts as a fact. Many talk radio stations use the “views expressed in this program” ass coverage disclaimer you’ve heard countless times, so that if you happen to take the advice of someone on a show and it doesn’t work out, you can’t sue the station for any misfortune that may befall you. These same regs also prevent us from overuse of words like “ass”, spouting other foul language or slander and hearsay. You bet your ass I’m going to follow the rules. If you make it to the very bottom of this post, you’ll see my very own disclaimer. Please read it before sicking The Blog Police on me. 

portlandia-cfru

Some people (in my opinion) are bothered by the fact that we don’t steamroll, railroad or corner people when they are on the show. That’s not our modus operandi in the slightest. We’re not out to “get” anyone. This perception in certain circles that we have a specific political agenda has led to a few people not wanting to have anything to do with Adam’s Guelph Politico or our beloved CFRU and that’s fine. It’s unfortunate though, considering we have a significant following of a good cross section of town and we extend the same open offer to ALL ward and mayoral candidates. The Free Time Paid Political Announcements at the provincial and federal level do not apply municipally but we maintain the spirit of it and with that hopefully keep several ounces of integrity. We have been providing ten free minutes of no strings attached airtime that will be broadcast more than once leading up to election day.  The mayoral candidates are offered an hour each and both have committed to stopping by. You will find that no other broadcaster is doing this because there isn’t one locally to do it. It is our mandate as a campus/community radio operation to provide this service and our team receives zero remuneration for our efforts. We occasionally get some pizza left over from a meeting though.

Adam Donaldson is a well established freelance journalist who puts in countless hours of his own time covering city hall, live tweeting the action at endless, epic meetings and living out of the vending machine. There is probably no better person in town to glean local, non biased political information and data from to formulate your own opinion in my view, and I’m not just saying that because he is a mate. He is this city’s top authority on local government and that is an indisputable 100% fact. I always jokingly refer to myself as “the B unit” of the OS team and there is truth to that in our arrangement. I’m officially the show’s board controller but I’m also called upon to hit the field at times as I’ve done for the past 15 years for the station. There is labour involved beyond just sitting in my robe this morning banging this out. It’s our mission and we have chosen to accept it. 

the team

Compared to older, more conventional media, the rules in the blogosphere and across the device driven spectrum are a different world. There is oftentimes no filter other than that which is self imposed and self regulating. This leads to a massive blurring of the line between fact and opinion. The overarching Criminal Code rules apply to all but it can be difficult to hunt down angry anonymous trolls in their underwear, intent on spreading a smear job, hate or two scoops of bullshit. There are times when the hammer does come down though, such as when a CAO at City Hall filed a lawsuit against Guelph Speaks blogger Gerry Barker. This hasn’t dampened Gerry’s propensity to claim to speak for Guelph’s grassroots but at least he isn’t anonymous. I’ll never understand why so much weight is put on what this single blogger says every election. There is no movement or organization behind Barker whatsoever, unlike the Chamber of Commerce or the Labour Council who have members (plural) and it’s up to you to assign how much weight you put on their picks should they offer them. And if you place any value on the cesspool that is the comments section of anything, my advice to you is just don’t do it.  

Which leads us to this week’s “slate” flap, where blogger Alan Pickersgill’s postings and Facebook speculation has turned into a battle royale of the kind that makes an election far more interesting than it was until now. Nowhere has it been mentioned in any media platform that there is absolutely nothing preventing people running as a group or a slate, according to the election rules put down by Municipal Affairs. The only thing that can’t happen is that your campaign finances cannot intertwine and there is zero evidence to suggest that has occurred in the slightest. The mayor’s decision to campaign with like minded council hopefuls and tacitly endorse certain people for the job isn’t evidence of a bona fide slate but it is a new arrangement in recent history. If you head back in time and had enough hours to slug it out with the microfiche at the GPL, I would guarantee that the mayors of the past have always had their favoured candidates, especially when the business and religious communities ran the place outright in the 19th century. Some of those old arrangements are still with us today, in the form of Ontario insisting on maintaining four separate school boards where in reality we only realistically need a single, unified, secular and bilingual school system. But that’s just one bike riding pinko’s opinion.

https://www.guelphtoday.com/columns/market-squared-by-adam-a-donaldson/whose-team-is-your-candidate-on-1054622

http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page18735.aspx

https://opensourcesguelph.com

http://www.cfru.ca

http://umanitoba.ca/colleges/st_pauls/ccha/Back%20Issues/CCHA1984/Nash.pdf

https://www.guelphtoday.com/local-news/should-the-mayor-be-campaigning-with-select-candidates-depends-who-you-ask-1052602

https://www.guelphtoday.com/columns/market-squared-by-adam-a-donaldson/when-guelph-politics-get-too-toxic-even-for-facebook-1037817

https://www.guelphmercury.com/news-story/8915462-guelph-mayor-campaigning-with-select-candidates-unethical-practice-or-a-sound-strategy-/

This is a personal blog. Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

 

 

 

The Stolen Bike Capital of Wellington County

My work bike was swiped early on in the mass bicycle theft wave that has swept over town in the past few years. I didn’t have a sentimental attachment to it yet I still had that sinking feeling you get at the moment you look at the space where it used to be. It’s a violation. The scenario was identical to that of Ricci in the 1948 classic Italian film The Bicycle Thieves; I set the thing down for a minute to fetch something for a job and then it was gone. Six months later our shop was robbed in a weekend heist that netted power tools, my mobile and laptop, another bicycle and a beautiful set of lightweight bolt cutters that have probably been used in many a heist since. If your idea of security is a chintzy cable lock then you might as well leave the damn thing unlocked. And if you do leave it unlocked, it’s as good as gone.

the bicycle thief

Campus is an open buffet for these scammers, so much so I’ve called in at least six different dudes taking bikes in the middle of the day. They try really hard to pass for students but no student walks past all of the racks eyeing up the potential merch then doubles back around to do it again. They don’t give a shit and I don’t either. If you do this and we see you, the campus police are coming for a chat. Count yourself lucky that I’m not allowed to directly intervene.

I don’t see them as “cockroaches” though, as somebody at the Ward 2 Townhall put it last week. The assorted daylight robbers I see over and over are always male, white, 5’6” to 5’11” carrying a heavy duffle bag instead of a backpack, emaciated and definitely strung out. There are exceptions to this, such as the King Of The Bicycle Thieves who you will see slugging a different set of wheels around town on any given day. He’s usually not riding it as he seems to have some kind of back trouble. A spine like that would definitely need some kind of treatment and since opioids are prescribed like candy, I strongly suspect The King has a habit to feed. He would also need existence money as disability benefits are paltry. And he unequivocally does not give a f___. Your bike will fill the void for a while.

stolenbikechicago-600

We aren’t quite at the austerity levels of post war Italy but our current gentrification wave has it’s share of casualties. All rents are up, nothing is affordable and if you have an addiction as well, the money has to come from somewhere. The thefts are brazen because the thieves aren’t actually capable of caring about it. Pain is pain be it physical, psychological or a continuous hunger pang. We all know that feeling and there is a moment when you are willing to do anything to make it go away.

Guelph also has one of the largest addiction and mental health treatment facilities in the nation. Conveniently located across from Guelph General, Homewood’s claim to fame is that they have treated countless famous people over the years who pay big bucks to come here from all over to clean up. It’s a for profit operation grandfathered into our socialized medicine system but public money is injected into it, public private partnership style. 80,000 patient days of services on contract from OHIP to be exact. That is the care for the rest of us not on a Hollywood salary. You have to shell out for any upgrades to the base level.

The Schlegel company paid $129 million for Homewood in 2010. An investment like that is only sunk into a place if you are expecting a good return on it. Homewood is always held up as an example of a P3 success story but if it was as great as advertised, this town should have far less dudes that need to steal bikes to maintain the lifestyle to which they are accustomed.

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So beyond town hall meetings, what can be done? Community supports have expanded but not without controversy. People still are wary of safe injection sites and the Community Health Van but these are very necessary parts of addressing the problem in the short term. Legal marijuana should also help as two studies have suggested that in places where weed is legal, opioid use drops. If we start to get a “law and order” campaign from the new government(s), coupled with the demonization of those on benefits and the “finding of efficiencies” it is going to get worse. Locking them up just creates a pile of locked up addicts.

Until the deeper root causes are addressed such as economic disparity, a lack of affordable housing and the misapplication of pharmaceuticals by those quick to the prescription pad continues, your bike and anything portable of value is a target. Police insist that thieves are generally lazy but if someone is busting into your shed and rooting through it for the primo stuff, that’s a bit more savvy than snagging a bike left sitting out by gli stupidi like Ricci and I. You need to lock your bike to the snow tires and even then it might not be enough. But don’t leave the damn thing lying out like you’re out in the country. Big city aspirations lead to big league problems. Welcome to the club, Royal City.

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https://www.therecord.com/opinion-story/2607704-homewood-a-beacon-of-hope-for-addicts-and-taxpayers/

https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/04/25/an-epidemic-within-an-epidemic-why-opioid-use-in-canada-keeps-rising.html

https://www.guelphtoday.com/local-news/ward-2-voices-its-concerns-about-increased-and-more-brazen-crime-927926

https://www.guelphmercury.com/news-story/7533272-need-for-co-ordinated-action-on-opioid-crisis-guelph-health-workers/

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/04/02/598787768/opioid-use-lower-in-states-that-eased-marijuana-laws

https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/noras-blog/2017/10/addressing-opioid-crisis-means-confronting-socioeconomic-disparities

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