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Jun 7, 22

Canadian Tire Fire #38: Fighting Wage Theft in Toronto, Statue Vandalism, Police Corruption, and BC’s Drug Decriminalization Announcement

This week, the Greater Toronto Area-based Naujawan Support Network was back in action with a strong display of solidarity for a worker fighting for his stolen wages. A large crowd visited the office of Sukh Auto, who owes a former worker $4000. The group has vowed to continue pushing until the worker is paid.

Tenants at three high rise apartment buildings in Toronto rallied against a rent hike that will push residents out of their homes. The owner of the building, PSP Investments, is a Canadian Crown corporation that manages pension funds for federal public service workers. Residents are asking for solidarity in pressuring PSP to drop the rent hike – visit to learn more.

15 land defenders arrested in November during the raid of Gidimt’en Checkpoint had their civil charges changed to criminal contempt charges. The potential decision to similarly upgrade charges for those arrested at Coyote Camp the following day has yet to be made.

An RBC ATM and sign were vandalized with paint in Montreal again recently. There has been a steady stream of actions targeting RBC banks in the city, as well as elsewhere in the country, for the bank’s role in funding the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline which aims to cross through Wet’suwet’en territory.

Read on for this week’s stories!

Queen Victoria Statue in Kitchener Repeatedly Vandalized

A statue of Queen Victoria in Kitchener, Ontario has been the target of repeated vandalism. Last summer, while unmarked graves were being confirmed at the sites of former residential schools, the statue was covered in paint twice. It has been the target of multiple calls to remove it. More recently, on May 5th, National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, the base of the statue was again splattered with red paint.

Then, nine days after it was cleaned off, it was covered again sometime between May 23rd and May 25th. Past cleanings have apparently cost the city $5,000.

Shout out to the repeat re-decorators who are keeping the statue covered! With Canada Day upon us in less than a month, we hope we’ll be seeing other public celebrations of genocide and colonialism targeted as well.

Police Corruption and Misconduct

In Alberta, a group of volunteers has launched a new Police Misconduct Database. The searchable database logs external and internal investigations into police misconduct spanning the last 30 years. Thus far the database focuses on municipal police forces, though the team intends to add data on the Alberta RCMP within the next 6 months. While the Edmonton Police have publicly stated they welcome the site as a resource, communication from the president of the Edmonton Police Association to their members stated that the EPA is discussing the site with legal counsel.

The B.C. Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner is investigating allegations of “serious misconduct” at a training for undercover cops. Last month, officers from several municipal departments were attending a training where they were asked to role-play convincing people that they weren’t cops. Some participants went to such lengths as performing sexual acts with food and defecating on another participant. Nine officers are now under investigation. Willingness to work as an undercover cop alone is a vile act, and it’s hard not to say that these officers deserve each other.

Following a drawn-out freedom of information process, APTN News has found that Ontario Provincial Police attempted to cover up the true cost of their operations at 1492 Landback Lane. The newly obtained numbers show that police spent almost $21-million policing the land reclamation site within Six Nations territory. In the fall of 2021, the provincial government attempted to retract previously-issued summaries of policing costs for the site, saying that some officers salaries should not have been included in the total. The revisions removed millions of dollars from the total for officers redeployed to the site from other branches – attempting to minimize the fact that the concentration of police officers and resources on an Indigenous land reclamation site is the crucial story told by the figures they provided.

Federal Government Announces Decriminalization Plan for BC, Criticized as Too Little, Too Late

Last week the federal government announced that BC would be the first province to allow possession of small amounts of drugs including heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA. The announcement from Heath Canada came at the request of the Province of BC, where last year over 2,200 people died from an overdose. Specifically, the change will decriminalize the possession of drugs at a total combined quantity of 2.5 grams or less. This is not the same as legalization, and the sale, import, and export of drugs will remain illegal. The change comes into effect on January 31, 2023.

People who use drugs, grassroots activists, and public health professionals alike have expressed that this change is too little, too late. 2.5 grams does not reflect the patterns of purchase and consumption for many drug users. People who use drugs frequently will be forced to buy more often in order to stay within the legal limit. This counteracts the stated goal of decriminalization, that of reducing stigma and supporting people in accessing safer drugs. The request from the BC government was originally to allow possession of up to 4.5 grams. Minister Carolyn Bennett confirmed last week that the threshold of 2.5 grams was informed by advice from BC police and the RCMP. Police also have discretion on whether the drugs in one’s possession are for ‘personal use.’

Advocates have also emphasized that decriminalization alone will not solve the rampant overdose crisis – people who use drugs need to be able to access a reliable, safe supply.

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A weekly roundup of anarchist and anti-authoritarian news from so-called Canada. Email us at: [email protected]

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