Tuesday, 29 June 2010


Don't forget all that you have learned...

Monday, 28 June 2010


Some politicians whose jurisdiction of responsibility includes Toronto have remained silent on the issue of what happened here over the weekend. Others (Mayor David Miller, Deputy Mayor and mayoral candidate Joe Pantalone, mayoral candidate Giorgio Mammoliti) have supported the notion that violence can, and should, beget violence.

Today Glen Pearson, Member of Parliament for London North Centre, blogged this reversal from his Saturday opinion that it was "it was left to the Black Bloc to ruin everything":

Whatever violence these folks saw on Saturday was clearly not sufficient enough to prompt them to accept the severe curtailing of civil liberties evidenced on the weekend. Hundreds were arrested for simply being there. The special law enacted for just this weekend was much more than an emergency measure; it became, briefly enough, the Canadian version of the American Patriot Act. ...

Stephen Harper got much more for his $1billion security bill than just policing. He got, for a weekend at least, George Orwell’s 1984. This wasn’t part of the bargain. Citizens already angered over the exorbitant costs got a police state thrown in. And it didn’t sit well. For the first time in memory, Torontonians were scared. No matter the justification, that kind of outcome just isn’t worth it. Toronto the Good is still that this morning. It’s Canada we’re worried about. The freest streets on earth were wrapped in cellophane this weekend. To the shame at watching the Black Bloc do its thing, must be added the transformation of “Peace, Order and Good Government” into state control. Some innocence has been lost. In Canada, nothing is worth that price.

na na na hey hey ...

the #g20: send lawyers, guns and money

"One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it."
Anton Chekhov, letter to Aleksandr Semenovich Lazarev, 1 November 1889.

Well that went well.

900 people arrested in less than 48 hours - the biggest mass arrest in Canadian history. The first ever use of tear gas in the city of Toronto. And other milestones.

Our mayor says that criminals, who came here with the goal of committing violence and hid behind the "good" protesters, are responsible for the police going absolutely fucking batshit out of control over the weekend. Toronto police Chief Bill Blair went a bit further and said several hundred people were engaged in a "criminal conspiracy to attack the city."

Yes, Mayor Miller - some people DID come to Toronto with the goal of committing violence. Sadly many of them were police sent here to join the Integrated Security Unit. There is ample evidence to show that police were acting as the kettles, which I suppose makes the the so-called criminals the pots in this whole pot-and-kettle name calling scenario.

Porter: When police stick to phony script (police strategy)

Tear gas fired in downtown rampage (black bloc strategy)

But what about the restuvus? What about all those peaceful, officially-sanctioned, Mayor Miller-approved protesters? Here is Steve Paikin, whose stream of tweets on Saturday night shocked us as this tale unfolded, describing what happened in front of First Canadian Place:

On on Sunday evening at Queen and Spadina a similar incident occurred. People were "kettled" for several hours in a huge downpour - one that flooded Union Station so badly that the subway could not stop there. This was tweeted as it unfolded by Justin Stayshyn, known as UnionSt on Twitter, and by Lisan Jutras from the Globe and Mail. The Movement Defence Committee were asking people to come down and monitor what was happening.

The police chief responded with empathy and humanity as he described how the police work with nature: "It was unfortunate it was wet out there - it was wet for everybody, my people too, but the good thing is the rain dampened their enthusiasm and it allowed us to release those people unconditionally once the threat had been relieved." (City News)

This video of a scene on Queen Street is getting lots of play around the internet and seems to sum up how different groups of us stand on guard here in the Big Smoke:

As Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) says: "Free speech zones and massive security fences were set up in preparation for the June 26-27 Toronto summit. While the security fences held up, free speech appears to have fared poorly. Video footage, photographs and published reports paint a picture of legitimate public protest being suppressed, protesters being penned in and the use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrators in designated free speech zones."

Isn't all of Canada a "designated free speech zone?"

Did all of Toronto just learn some of the hard truths about how police can and do use force that equity-seeking groups have always known? It is time for us all to to stand on guard for our civil liberties, our freedom of speech and assembly, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, transparency and accountability for ad hoc expansion of legislation such as the public works protection act and civilian oversight for all security forces whether ad hoc or permanent.

CJFE "calls upon the police to respond to questions from reporters about their treatment of journalists. ...Merely urging individuals to file complaints about their treatment is an inadequate response from politically accountable security forces."

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has has denounced the sweeping arrests (including the arrests of CCLA monitors!) made by police at the G20 protests in Toronto.

Amnesty International Canada is calling for an independent review of the G8/G20 security measures. So are the street medics who provided care this weekend and the Toronto Star. We should join them in this demand. Or at least join this Facebook group.

Friday, 25 June 2010

democracy's veneer

...democratic policing is less about authority from above, and rather more about the act of being policed. It’s a deal we make. ...

...Perhaps Toronto’s inhabitants must now, under the thumb of the summit, urgently consider the fact that they have over-consented to being policed. That they have relinquished certain inviolable rights. ...

...What we can never again consent to in peacetime is our cities coming under lockdown, our streets cut into segments, our neighbourhoods divided into zones. We cannot agree to be barred from our places of commerce, our universities, our democratic institutions. We cannot, ever, consent to live in a house of many mansions.

Things are getting curiouser and curiouser here in the G20 host city. These events are mostly scary because it wakes us up to how easily the rights we assume to be sacrosanct are stripped away. To whit:

Using Public Works to Limit Public Rights

more on this: The Secret G20 Law Nobody Heard About

and help is here:
Toronto Community Mobilization Network Statement on Ontario Public Works Protection Act and Arrest
and here:
Movement Defence Committee - URGENT: warning re. increased police powers near the security zone

If you are going out of the house this weekend: Arrest line: 416-273-6761 (write this on your body!)

I would say that I barely recognize my city any more but I lived here during the Mike Harris years and learned much about the fragility of democracy from him and his band of merry cranksters: the current federal cabinet ministers John Baird, Tony Clement, Jim Flaherty ... and the still-welcomed-to-the-public-discourse-by-TVO's-The-Agenda Janet Ecker, John Snobelen, David Tsubouchi et al.

Are we, as Richard Poplak describes, consenting to all of this? The comments on some #G20 blog posts indicate that there are some of us that go way beyond consent - some of us seem to relish the idea that people they disagree with are having their rights preemptively curtailed. Perhaps they have never read this little poem by Pastor Martin Niemöller.

follow @torontoist and @g20mobilize for updates...

happy birthday carl mollins

... because you LOVE raccoons so very much ...

Thursday, 24 June 2010

picnic time

Just because I miss the ladybugs:

Monday, 21 June 2010

big G20 welcome

A facebook friend posted these today:

"A friend of mine in the transportation ministry sent me these signs that will be lining the Gardner Expressway as the motorcades of dignitaries zip into Toronto for the G20. What a nice welcome."

Sunday, 20 June 2010

tiger lilies!

... or are these day lilies!

Monday, 14 June 2010

useful beauty

I got home from Nova Scotia to find that my neighbour to the north had cut down the two glorious fruit trees that graced the yard for so many years, gave us a nice shady place to sit and were home to birds, bees, squirrels and butterflies. Two trees at the front of the house had also been also been injured and destroyed.

On Monday, the fifth tree - the beautiful, not-so-lonesome pine - met its demise.

Warning: Videos not suitable for all audiences.

In the Aeroplane over the Sea , Neutral Milk Hotel, In the Aeroplane over the Sea (2000)

Sunday, 13 June 2010

days with ronalda

After returning to Halifax from Cornwallis, I met up with the incomparable Arthur Bull who I met up on The Learning Circles Project. It was great to catch up and talk about the stuff we have been learning lately.

The next day my cousins, the inestimable Ronalda and her equally inestimable husband David came to meet me. They took me for lunch at Boneheads

and to Pier 21.

We went back to their home in Bedford for a scallop dinner (Ronalda bought the scallops because I had no scallops in Digby - you see what a good cousin she is)

and then to the casino

to see ANDY KIM!

My cousin has some juice. She met Andy Kim the day before and he had given her some tickets for the show. It was great. He has a lovely stage presence and is touring with a really talented and charming band. Oh, and the songs are good too. He played all the old favourites and some new soon-to-be favourites.

The next day Ronalda took me to Mount Uniacke (to enjoy a coffee by the lake and stories of days gone by), Windsor (to see the church where my Grandfather was a minister) and Lunenburg (to walk by the sea and eat a lobster roll).

Thank you Ronalda and David for another beautiful set of days and good laughs for the memory bank.

Someday, Some Morning, Sometime: Billy Bragg & Wilco, Mermaid Avenue Vol. II (2000)

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Theodore the Tugboat in Halifax Harbour.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

neptune et al

Crazy nautical mural in the officer's drawing room at the former CFB Cornwallis.

absent with leave

On Wednesday, Flora, of Green Willow Studio, came to spring me from the barracks. She took me to the home in Bear River she shares with fellow artist Larry Knox. You can see some of their beautiful home and studio in the slide show below and much more on Flora's blog, Our Bear River Adventure.

We had a lovely time in the garden and studio. Flora and Larry fed me soup and salad and bread and cheese and we had a lovely time chatting about new things people from their old life here in Toronto are doing and all the new things they are experiencing in their new lives in Bear River.

I felt as though I was getting a peek into a dream come true.

The River, David Byrne and Brian Eno, Everything that Happens Will Happen Today (2009)

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

camp life

I am here in the Annapolis Basin doing some train-the-trainer work for the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour and the Office of the Worker Counsellor. I am having a great time. The Annapolis Basin Conference Centre used to be Canadian Forces Base Cornwallis. They did train peacekeepers here for a while - back when Canada used to be in the peacekeeping business - but the conference centre is a really good repurposing of the military institution and is providing some work in the community. The staff here are brilliant - so kind and accommodating.

Because we are staying in a former barracks and because the location feels a little remote (it is not really), working here is a little like being away at camp. I think. I have never been away to camp but this is what it looks like in movies.

Girls' Room, Liz Phair, Whitechocolatespaceegg (1998)


Breaktime at Cornwallis.

Monday, 7 June 2010

cornwallis beach walk

Here Comes the Sun Again, M. Ward, Transistor Radio (2005)


Hello to Nova Scotia, the seabound coast. Etc.

Sunday, 6 June 2010


The view!

social web

The sofa.


My living room at Cornwallis.


My bedroom at Cornwallis.


Halifax Public Gardens. That is all.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

back to where it all began

View from my room at the Lawd Nelson hotel. It was here in Halifax, in slightly less glamorous surroundings, that I started this blog while waiting for a colleague to get ready for breakfast. Lots of pics from this park.

story juice posts and pictures
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