Thousands Call For Respect
April 13, 2011, 2:45 PM EST
Ten thousand workers, students, community agency members and supporters filled Toronto's downtown Yonge and Dundas square, calling for respect from Toronto City Council for citizens and city services.
The April 9 rally was called in response to a number of moves by Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to cut, cancel or otherwise curtail social programs, city services and the rights of city workers.
Most recently, this includes cancelling the light rail transit plan for outlying areas of the city (as outlined by Transit City), attempting to sell off public housing units, firing the board of directors of Toronto Community Housing and asking the Ontario government to pass legislation removing the right to strike for transit workers. Ford has also threatened to privatize garbage collection and other services currently performed by city workers.
The rally began with speeches at the square and then demonstrators took to the streets to march all the way to City Hall. Participants heard from a variety of speakers ranging from public housing tenants, city workers to labour representatives such as Ontario Federation of Labour President Sid Ryan, who expressed solidarity with city workers.
Toronto and York Region Labour Council President John Cartwright said that the mass rally is only the beginning of the coalition of citizen and labour group's attempt to make their voice heard by City Council.
"This is just the start of the hard work that we're going to have to do in our communities talking to our elected politicians, in their own wards ensuring that they don't support negative policies that will hurt our communities but that they do support good jobs and strong public services for all," said Cartwright.
Lifelong Toronto resident and Amalgamated Transit Union President Bob Kinnear lamented the loss of goodwill at City Council, particularly towards the poor.
"We are all here today in opposition to an administration who is attempting to dismantle everything that made it one of the greatest cities to live in," said Kinnear.
The Toronto and York Region Labour Council is urging Torontonians to contact their city councillor to urge them to support city services, social programs and the promotion and preservation of good jobs.
Mayor Ford took office in early December.