This is Parkdale

Editor's Note: Parkdale is a historic working class neighborhood in west-end Toronto and has been a first home in Canada to many successive groups of immigrants to the city. Since the late 90's Parkdale has undergone gentrification, though not to the same extent as other downtown neighbourhoods. Along with Toronto's Downtown East, Parkdale is one of the most difficult downtown neighbourhoods to fully gentrify. This is largely due to its high concentration of rental housing, including many apartment buildings in deteriorating condition.

By a member of Common Cause Toronto

To the east, developers have swallowed up every viable square foot of available land and packed them with condos at a break-neck pace. Up and down the north-south streets, rental houses, duplexes, and triplexes are being “updated”,“flipped”, and renovated into “homes”. The last of the rooming houses are giving way to real estate agents and their contractors. The past year has seen the systematic removal of almost all Roma residents through deportation, eviction, and rent increases. Renovations on mid and high rise apartment blocks are quickly followed by harassment or eviction of current tenants - with huge rent increases for their replacements. When called, police show up by the truck-load. When left to their own devices they troll the streets like ne'er do well teens – but with guns and bats. Two consecutive years of staff reductions at the three local schools. Staff, hours, and program cuts at neighbourhood community services and library. It's all been said before, and more.

Police and Mental Health: Exactly who's traumatizing who?

In response to ‘Opinion: For Ian’s sake — change’


Update: This letter was sent to the Hamilton Spectator on January 15, 2014. Although they did not publish it, they did write two more stories about the fragile mental health of police officers in the three days following. It originally appeared here on the Toronto Media Co-op

In response to the anonymously written piece by 'a concerned cop' (View original article here: I would like to offer the following points.

The op-ed published by the Hamilton Spectator was just as likely to have been penned by the Hamilton-Wentworth Police public relations department in order to elicit public sympathy for police and increase pro-police sentiments, as it was to be written by a local officer struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). That said, this is only one hypothesis, which I can neither currently support nor refute, and thus I will assume that an actual local officer did in fact submit it.

Myself? I will also remain anonymous, not due to the potential impact on my career, like the reason Concerned Cop cited for anonymity, but for my own actual safety.

Reflections on the Waterloo Region Against Line 9 Campaign


The following article is a personal reflection on how a group of anarchists from KW experimented with running a professional looking activist campaign. Armed with a Declaration of Opposition that organizations could sign and a separate petition for individuals, we essentially lobbied local politicians for the Waterloo Region's municipal government to take a stand against Enbridge's plan to pump tar sands oil through the region. While we had some successes, we had trouble bringing people into our coalition, and were unable to get municipal politicians to take any real action beyond a statement of concern. The Waterloo Region Against Line 9 campaign was essentially a liberal activist campaign with a radical message that most people in our region could not identify with.

2014 Kitchener-Waterloo Anarchist Bookfair Call-out

2014 kw anarchist bookfair

March 1, 2014


Location: Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

120 Duke St W, Kitchener

Announcing the 2nd annual Kitchener-Waterloo Anarchist Bookfair! Taking place on March 1 2014 on Six Nations of the Grand River territory, we will once again welcome anarchists and non-anarchists alike for a day of workshops, presentations, info tables, book sellers and social events. With introductory discussions about anarchism in addition to deeper conversations around the ongoing relevance of anarchism and its implications for on-the-ground organizing and everyday struggles, the KW Anarchist Bookfair will be a space for radical ideas to thrive for curious folks, seasoned organizers and everyone in between.

Call for Workshops:

From the practical to the theoretical and everything in between, the Bookfair Collective is seeking workshop and presentation proposals. This year’s bookfair theme revolves around contemporary strategies and tactics that anarchists can use to engage and build social movements with a revolutionary aim in mind. We are particularly interested in proposals that focus on how anarchists organize, or how you think anarchist should organize in order to build a revolutionary movement that will cast away the chains of oppression. We are looking for workshops that aim to foster a growing anarchist movement, contribute to critical dialogue, and facilitate strategic discussion. This can include (but is in no way limited to) presentations and discussions on topics such as: intergenerational organizing, anarchism without adjectives, examples and lessons of prefiguration, white supremacy and anti-racist organizing, class-consciousness and intersectionality, queering anarchism, radical parenting and family inclusivity, ecology, gender violence and community accountability, prison resistance and abolition, anarchist decision making-models and political organization.

Roma Tenants Organize Against Slumlord

By a member of Common Cause Toronto

On August 15, Roma tenants living in three low rise apartment buildings in Mimico, a neighbourhood in west-end Toronto, decided to take matters into their own hands, and occupied the law offices of their landlord, lawyer Leroy Bleta. After weeks of their phone calls and complaints being ignored, the tenants decided to bring their demands directly to the landlord's place of business. They were joined by supporters including members of Common Cause and IWW Toronto, as well as workers from a local legal clinic.

“We decided to take on the landlord because of the behaviour of the building superintendent,” explained Krisztina, one of the tenants involved in organizing the action, “I asked him to fix the door to my apartment which was broken when I moved in, but he refused. He said 'all you people do is complain'.”

Like thousands of other Hungarian Roma people who have arrived here in recent years, Krisztina came to Toronto as a refugee three years ago, fleeing paramilitary violence by groups associated with the neo-nazi Jobbik party, and systemic discrimination from the Hungarian State. Refugee claim success rates amongst Roma claimants is very low; Canada considers Hungary a Designated Country of Origin which respects human rights and offers state protection to persecuted groups. Krisztina's family continues to face anti-Roma racism in Canada. “He [the superintendent] harasses my son and has hit children playing outside the building. He tells us to our faces that he hates Hungarians (Roma).”

While Bleta himself was out of the office at the time of the tenants' visit, they made their demands clear to the other lawyers and support staff present. Demands included firing the building superintendent for his abusive and racist behaviour toward tenants and their children, as well as a number of repairs including fixing faulty plumbing, broken windows, and water damage caused by frequent flooding.

Sammy's Legacy: Building a Community Response to Police Impunity

By Zoey

On Saturday July 27, 2013, eighteen year old Sammy Yatim, a resident of Toronto, died at the hands of the Toronto police. A video of the incident posted to youtube reveals Sammy, armed with a small knife and seemingly intoxicated, occupying an empty street car near Trinity Bellwoods park surrounded by a group of roughly ten officers. With barely a warning, a particularly overzealous cop fired nine shots into Sammy's body; shortly thereafter, a second officer tasered him as he lay fatally wounded. A single police officer, Constable James Forcillo, has been suspended with pay. According to the Sunshine List (a list of public sector employees making over $100,000 per year), James Forcillo's annual salary is just under $107,000. Clearly, commitment to one's role as a vendor of human misery and suffering doesn't come cheap.

Although in many cases it is perfectly reasonable and indeed necessary for workers to fight for and expect to be paid during any work-related suspension, as anarchists we must draw a hard line when it comes to agents of state repression, such as police officers and prison guards. We also must note the obvious reality that it is extremely unlikely that other workers, unionized or not, would enjoy such a privilege were they to be caught on camera committing a brazen act of murder. While some online commentators have made the argument that the police were just “doing their job”, the passionate community response that has followed quickly on the heels of Sammy's death clearly demonstrates that this type of reasoning is at odds with public conceptions of justice and due process.


The first volume of Mortar, Common Cause's brand new theoretical journal, is now available online. Inside you will find an editorial introduction, along with five collectively written articles covering subjects such as building community power, disability and dual consciousness, militancy, false conceptions of democracy and anarchist perspectives on gentrification.

Run This Town: Building Class Power in the City

By Three Hamilton Members, One Toronto Member

The Marxist urbanist Henri Lefebvre wrote that the working class is made out of urban material. His point was that to understand the working class and to organize it, one had to look at everyday working class life from the totality of urban life, not only at the part of it that occurs on the factory floor. Further, one had to look at the totality of the urban working class, not only at its industrial or factory segment.

David Harvey, another Marxist urbanist, points out that most Marxists have largely not taken Lefebvre’s lessons to heart, and have instead tended to ignore both working class life outside the factory and working class segments outside of the industrial proletariat. This point is less true of anarchism as a whole. Anarchists have historically theorized about and organized amongst the full range of working class and dispossessed groups, such as the peasantry and indigenous people. Neither the anarchist canon nor anarchism in practice identified the industrial working class as the indisputable vanguard segment of the dispossessed.

Indeed, since the revival of anarchism in the 1990s, a great deal of anarchist theory and practice has focused on the terrain of urban class struggle; particularly, in the form of squatting, anti-police and anti-racist organizing, local food security, struggles against ecologically destructive and colonialist urbanization, building counter-cultural spaces in the city, and building urban sanctuaries for migrant workers. This is especially true in North America where the link with the broader anarchist tradition has been almost completely broken.

What Wears us Down: Dual Consciousness and Disability at Work

By Two Toronto Members, One Hamilton Member

Anarchists have in recent years taken up the topic of disability in our political analysis and activism, which is a positive development. The historical resistance of disabled people to segregation, institutionalization, poverty, and oppression has yielded strong political theory from which we can learn, and social movements in which we should participate. To avoid confronting disableism ignores its profound implications for the entire working class.

Historically and presently, anarchist orientations toward disability are extremely varied. While a clear refutation of Social Darwinism and eugenics can be found in Kropotkin’s writings on Mutual Aid, some of his contemporaries and followers promoted these backwards and vicious ideas. Presently, anarchist orientations range from the extreme disableism embedded within anarchoprimitivist thought, to an almost exclusive emphasis on identity politics and intersectionality from the social movement activist milieu, to the vulgar class reductionism often encountered within the anarchist communist tradition. Our goal is an understanding of disability that avoids class reductionism, while remaining firmly based in class struggle politics.

There remains a great deal of ambivalence, discomfort, and contradiction in our actions surrounding disability. Able-bodied working class people often times actively participate in the oppression of disabled people, while at other times standing in solidarity with their struggles. In working toward building strong working class resistance, these divisions and contradictions within the working class must not be stepped around, but examined and addressed head-on. Stating ‘we are all disabled’, or ‘we may all be disabled some day’ are insufficient; what’s needed is an examination of disableism’s broad manifestations in the class.

The Nature of Militancy

One Toronto Member, One KW Member

It is a truism common among Western anarchists, and the revolutionary left more generally, that militancy is in short supply these days. This sentiment is often expressed in a rather offhanded way, as a lazy excuse to rationalize decades of working-class defeats, or else through fiery polemics denouncing the cautious reformism exhibited by trade unions, “progressives”, liberals and social democrats. Far too infrequently is an honest attempt made to clarify precisely what we mean by the term militancy—or better yet, how we can help qualitatively develop this characteristic within movements struggling for social and economic justice. Instead, militancy is often presented uncritically, as though it were some sort of esoteric derivative of political ideology, a synonym for violent tactics, or even as a tactic unto itself—a vital and yet somehow unattainable sine qua non of radical change.

In this article we will attempt to clear up some of this confusion by providing a working definition of the term militancy, and an answer to the related question of what it means to be a militant. We will then move on to explore the contentious 'diversity of tactics' debate that emerged within the anti-globalization movement, and continues to this day—a disagreement rooted in the heterogeneous political composition of the movement's participants, and two opposing, yet ultimately liberal conceptions of violence. Finally, we will offer a brief study of past movements that have exhibited a high level of militancy and political cohesion, with an eye to distilling common characteristics that could potentially aid in the development of a contemporary North American movement able to effectively wage war on the forces of neoliberal capitalism currently embodied under the rubric of austerity.

I: Mapping the Terrain: Towards a Common Conception of Militancy