There are only four weeks left in this legislative session before the government recesses the Legislature for the winter holidays. This is always a chaotic time. The government is trying to get as many bills passed as possible in the next few weeks and I am concerned about what they will contain. They often save their most controversial and problematic legislation for this time of year because they know Ontarians are distracted by family and community commitments. During this time I will be using this newsletter to keep you updated on what the government is proposing and share ways that you can take action, so watch this space!
The issues that have been keeping me up at night recently are public safety and the crisis in Ontario’s courts. In the past few months, we have seen multiple serious cases with a high degree of merit be thrown out because the trial was delayed for too long, and the accused was denied a decision within a reasonable timeframe (usually 18 months in Ontario). The cases thrown out include the sexual assault of a woman named Emily, who has bravely spoken out publicly, a sexual assault of a minor, and a drunk driving charge. This is unacceptable. Survivors who come forward are already re-traumatized by the legal process, and now they are enduring that trauma without the closure of a resolution to their case. If you would like to learn more about these cases and this issue, journalist Abby O’Brien has thoughtfully covered this story. Please note that some of the details of these cases are very upsetting.
Court staff have been calling out this crisis for years, citing the amalgamation of courts into the Ontario Court of Justice Toronto, the lack of safety measures in the building, and especially inadequate staffing, as the reasons for these delays. Court workers have been telling the government for years that staffing would be a problem at the new courthouse, and the government is making investments to improve the issue, but it feels like a too-little-too-late reaction that should have started long ago.
I cannot overstate how important it is for people to have trust in their justice system. When people do absolutely everything right, like Emily did, and their case concerning the most brutal moments of their life is thrown out due to lack of staff and closed courtrooms, that trust begins to erode. This is wholly unacceptable and something I will continue to fight in the Legislature as your Attorney General critic.
It is terrible that all of this is happening against a backdrop of rising hatred in our communities, especially as we all contend with the ongoing violence in Palestine and Israel. I continue to call for a ceasefire, peace in the region, and hope for the safety of everyone caught in between.
Instances of Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, Transphobia, anti-Arab violence, and more are at record-high levels. And yet, the Ford government has no specific plans to counter the spread of hate in Ontario. Every impacted community should have their own unique action plan from this government, and those plans should be integrated to work together. We know that many of the disparate types of hate that are rising in our province stem from the same alt-right and radical conservative forces and that people’s intersecting identities often open them up to multiple types of hate at once. We need strategies that reflect those realities.
I know many of you are experiencing rising hate in your communities. Doug Ford needs to hear about this. He will not take real action to address rising levels of hate unless he receives massive public pressure to do so. Please email him and CC my office with your stories, concerns, and calls to action.
If you witness a hate crime, it is crucial that you report it. If instances of hate are not counted, action will not be taken. If you witness an emergency or life-threatening situation, please call 911. For anonymous, non-emergency reporting, you can create a report with Crime Stoppers. The City of Toronto has also helpfully consolidated many resources for countering hate here.
We keep each other safe and must speak up when we see discrimination. Thank you to everyone supporting their communities during this challenging time. It is critical work.
MPP, Toronto Centre
Trans Day of Remembrance Flag Raising
This upcoming Monday, November 20, is the Trans Day of Remembrance. It is a day to remember our Trans siblings who are no longer with us and to re-commit ourselves to the task of ending transphobia in our communities.
The Ontario Legislative Assembly is holding a flag-raising at noon to mark the occasion, followed by a reception hosted by the Ontario NDP Caucus and PFLAG.
The public is welcome to join the flag raising, taking place at the flag poll to the west of the Legislative Assembly’s main doors. If you would like to join us for the reception afterward, please RSVP here.
Celebrating Trans Awareness Week
I am grateful to Jagmeet Singh for supporting Trans Awareness Week by joining community members at the 519 on Wednesday. His commitment to amplifying these vital conversations is so uplifting. I know that together, we will create safer spaces, advocate for inclusive policies, and promote acceptance and respect for transgender and non-binary people.
70% of trans youth report experiencing some form of sexual harassment or violence. I’m proud to support White Ribbon and its mission to end all forms of gender-based violence while promoting gender equity, healthy relationships, and a new vision of masculinities. Learn more about the movement here.
Prayer-Time Parking On Parliament Street
Free parking along Parliament Street during prayer times has been a long time coming, and now it is here!
Thanks to collaborative efforts with Councillor Moise, mosque attendees at Masjid Omar Bin Khatab and Masjidur Rahmah will no longer have to worry about getting a parking ticket while practicing their faith. This victory makes our city more equitable, as Christians have enjoyed free Sunday parking near their churches for many years. Congratulations to the community for your successful advocacy.
Louis Riel Day
On Thursday, we marked Louis Riel Day. We remembered his legacy and his contribution to Canadian history and the North-west Resistance for the Métis peoples. I was honoured to participate in the Métis Flag Raising at Toronto City Hall alongside Mayor Olivia Chow and representatives from the Toronto & York Region Métis Council and the Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario. Thank you for welcoming me so warmly.
Dr Gordon Chong Parkette Unveiling
It was a genuine honour to witness the name unveiling of the new Dr. Gordon Chong Park at 60 Howard Street in St James Town. Dr. Chong was a veteran politician and community leader. Sharing this occasion with his family, friends, community members, Park staff, and Councillor Moise was especially meaningful.
Upcoming Community Events
Queer East Social Fa-la-la-bulous Festive Market
On November 29th, join Café ZUZU for the Queer East Social Fa-la-la-bulous Festive Market will bring together local Queer & Trans organizations to mingle with like-minded individuals and support Queer owned and/or operated businesses while having fun!
Complimentary: Polaroid Photo Room & local Queer DJ spinning pure honey.
On the Beats: DJ ThirdEye
Artist Selection: Draw-A-Dot Programmed
Market open: November 29, 4 PM - 10 PM
Social & bar open: November 29, 6 PM - 10 PM
Location: Café ZUZU at 555 Dundas Street East
12+ artists, retailers, bespoke crafts-people, paired perfectly for the gifting season
Event is Rain or Shine
Artist Mentorship Showcase: Gélédé Queens
Inspired by the West African festival which is a masked performance in veneration of the society’s ancestral mothers, "Gélédé Queens" is a multi-media experience that emphasizes gender-bending, “African Drag” and Vogue as an artistic expression. Using documentary, fashion and performance, Destinie Adélakun rebuilds and explores the truths that have been denied and the apparency of gender nonconformity in West-African mythologies. The work celebrates self-expression and the commonalities of the diaspora that were lost in the oceans during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.
When: Wednesday-Saturday until December 30, 2023, 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Where: The Market Gallery 95 Front St E, 2nd Floor
Join the Toronto History Museums as Jenn Forgie (Métis/Settler woman, artist, writer and coach born and living in Tkaronto) leads you in a journal-based workshop aimed at giving you the tools to express your thoughts, emotions, dreams and fears in meaningful, nurturing ways. The practice of journaling is a sacred one. It supports our mental, physical and emotional well-being and it can be the reminder, companion, confidante we need for honouring our own light within, especially during the darker times of life. This workshop is for anyone who wants to tap into their creativity and build confidence...all through journaling by handwriting. All levels are welcome.
Toronto History Museums delivers a series of programs from November 1, 2023, to January 8, 2024, designed to embrace the spirit of light, love, joy and celebration through light-based public art activations, music, workshops, food, culture, storytelling, and events as part of the Lots of Light programming
When: Thursdays, November 30 and December 7, 2023
Event Time(s): 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Where: The Market Gallery, 95 Front St E. 2nd Floor
Reservations / Advance Tickets are required
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (416) 392-7604
The Next Surgeon - TCHC Youth Mentorship
Are you a high school student living in TCHC housing? Do you want to work in medicine or cardiac surgery? Register for TCHC’s high school mentorship program that supports the next generation of students in grades 10-12 who see themselves as future surgeons!
Register for the info session or apply directly before the deadline.
When: January 6 to February 17, 2024.
Where: Virtual and in-person at St. Michael’s Hospital
Info session: Saturday, December 2, 2023, 1 PM - 2 PM
Registration contact: Stacy Golding - 416-989-6932
Application Deadline: December 15, 2023.
Unity Roots Workshops
Unity Roots is a group of people from minority communities that come together, participate, collaborate, build connections through educational workshops, and to discuss issues that arise in our communities.
Drop-in programs run from November 3 to December 22, 2023, on Fridays from 10 AM - 11:30 AM at 40 Oak Street, Toronto.
For more information, call or email Isharelle McIntosh at 647-4234 x 274 or [email protected]