Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

November 15, 2011 14:51 ET

An Open Letter to Mayor Rob Ford and Occupy Toronto Activists: Labour to Link Arms With Occupiers

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 15, 2011) - Reports have surfaced that earlier today, and under your orders, Toronto Police officers distributed eviction notices to Occupy Toronto activists at St. James Park, ordering them to vacate the park and threatening to remove them forcefully should they not comply by 12:01 am.

We believe that when the history of this extraordinary movement is chronicled, residents of Toronto will feel betrayed by the lack of leadership you have displayed in not standing up for them, their aspirations and their deep-seated fears about the economic chaos that has been fostered by elite interests and their political allies.

Municipal governments, like the City of Toronto, should be listening to the concerns and taking action to address them, rather than seeking ways to silence them. City bylaws are not intended to stifle free expression or freedom of assembly, so surely there is a way for the City to cooperate with the Occupy Toronto campers to allow their camp to continue on this public property. The Toronto City Council and the Toronto Police Services should be encouraging and supporting this creative and peaceful action by working with the occupiers to ensure the safe participation of all of the campers in St. James Park.

Over the past weeks, you had countless opportunities to amplify the many political messages and concerns expressed by your own citizens. Instead you have chosen to threaten their rights to expression, peaceful assembly and association.

The labour movement is in full agreement with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association in their letter to municipalities, stating that "without robust protection for these rights, many other rights become meaningless."

Surely you must know that there is no power greater than an idea whose time has come and that the Occupy movement and the truths it tells are everywhere sparking new and bigger actions. It will continue to grow as people seize the opportunity to foster economic, social and democratic change. Be aware that if you do not reconsider your heavy-handed decision, you will be adding greater momentum to this movement.

Please take this letter as formal notice that I will be personally joining the occupiers in St. James Park tonight, along many other labour activists and community leaders, to link arms with the Occupy Movement. We are all part of the 99 percent.

There should be no misunderstanding about the fact that the OFL and labour movement have a long and proud history of support for civil disobedience. It represents the finest instincts of citizens in a democracy to correct the actions of their governments when all else fails. Without it, there would have been no Civil Rights, women's rights, environmental or other seminal movements that have changed the course of history. Millions across the globe are free because of civil disobedience.

Our message to the Occupy Toronto protesters is this: While the mayor of Toronto may not care about the public services we all rely on, you do. While the mayor, the corporations and those at the top may not care about affordable post-secondary education, public pensions, living wages, quality public health care and basic entitlement to democratic rights, you do.

Your view that every single human being deserves an opportunity to work, to contribute to society and to a life filled with hope and the opportunity to live up to their full potential is what has fuelled the public's imagination to support your efforts.

The OFL stands in solidarity with you. We will do everything possible to support you in your desire to make the lives of the 99% of the people in your community better.

We pledge to be there with you, shoulder to shoulder, to defend our right to free speech and free assembly.

We thank you for bringing hope. We honour you for spreading a vision. You have given all of us a truly inspiring display of passionate and principled civic and democratic engagement.

We are one.

Finally, to Mayor Ford, it is not too late to cancel this eviction and instead dedicate your City Council deliberations to addressing the urgent concerns raised by the occupiers, namely protecting public services, creating jobs and eliminating of poverty.

SID RYAN, President

Ontario Federation of Labour

www.ofl.ca

www.Twitter.com/OntarioLabour

www.Facebook.com/OntarioLabour

Contact Information

  • Ontario Federation of Labour
    Sid Ryan
    President
    416-209-0066 (mobile)

    Ontario Federation of Labour
    Joel Duff
    Communications
    416-707-0349 (mobile) Bilingual