Toronto Media Co-op

Local Independent News

More independent news:
Do you want free independent news delivered weekly? sign up now
Can you support independent journalists with $5? donate today!

Election day for NDP Youth, on a grassroots campaign that almost made it

Wrapping up the working class campaign for Susan Wallace in Toronto Centre

by Megan Kinch

Youth-run and grassroots oriented, this campaign office looked a little different from other NDP campaigns in the number and diversity of working class youth involved. Rashin is on the phone coordinating teams of volunteers in St. Jamestown, the Esplanade and Regent Park.
Youth-run and grassroots oriented, this campaign office looked a little different from other NDP campaigns in the number and diversity of working class youth involved. Rashin is on the phone coordinating teams of volunteers in St. Jamestown, the Esplanade and Regent Park.
Susanne Wallace was a long-shot against incumbent Bob Rae. The wikipedia page for Toronto centre still calls it "one of the safest Liberal ridings in Canada". Not anymore. Rae hung onto his seat, but barely.
Susanne Wallace was a long-shot against incumbent Bob Rae. The wikipedia page for Toronto centre still calls it "one of the safest Liberal ridings in Canada". Not anymore. Rae hung onto his seat, but barely.
The NDP largely focused the campaign on other ridings. As Wallace said at the after party: "We didn't have two nickels to rub together. The party was sending resources over there and over there- what we did here we did it ourselves".
The NDP largely focused the campaign on other ridings. As Wallace said at the after party: "We didn't have two nickels to rub together. The party was sending resources over there and over there- what we did here we did it ourselves".
George got involved as worker in the USW 9537 strike. He said: "the union involved standing together for the working class, and the same values that you have in unions you have in the NDP, and unions can't survive without the NDP. We have to stand together in solidarity".
George got involved as worker in the USW 9537 strike. He said: "the union involved standing together for the working class, and the same values that you have in unions you have in the NDP, and unions can't survive without the NDP. We have to stand together in solidarity".
The co-campaign manager for Toronto Centre, Farshad Azadian, knocks on doors in St. Jamestown. Although he is only 22, Farshad is an experienced activist, having been a leading figure in Always Question and currently with the Esplanade Community Group, Fightback, and the Toronto Young New Democrats.
The co-campaign manager for Toronto Centre, Farshad Azadian, knocks on doors in St. Jamestown. Although he is only 22, Farshad is an experienced activist, having been a leading figure in Always Question and currently with the Esplanade Community Group, Fightback, and the Toronto Young New Democrats.
Police brutality is one of the biggest issues for youth in Toronto centre, which includes the Esplanade, St. Jamestown and Regent Park. Ezra, a volunteer, says "honestly I became an activist when Junior Manon was killed, and I was like, I don't want to live in a city where police, the coronor, EMS are all cover up murder, where it's that systemic".
Police brutality is one of the biggest issues for youth in Toronto centre, which includes the Esplanade, St. Jamestown and Regent Park. Ezra, a volunteer, says "honestly I became an activist when Junior Manon was killed, and I was like, I don't want to live in a city where police, the coronor, EMS are all cover up murder, where it's that systemic".
Media co-op did participant reporting with this crew of youth as they went through St. Jamestown, getting out the vote for the NDP.
Media co-op did participant reporting with this crew of youth as they went through St. Jamestown, getting out the vote for the NDP.
Taking a break at a volunteer's house in the area.
Taking a break at a volunteer's house in the area.
Cathy Crowe, 2010 provincial NDP candidate in the same riding, said "We are so proud of Susan"
Cathy Crowe, 2010 provincial NDP candidate in the same riding, said "We are so proud of Susan"
Susan Wallace with her son at the election party on Front street: "We have the most grassroots youth activist campaign that we have ever seen."
Susan Wallace with her son at the election party on Front street: "We have the most grassroots youth activist campaign that we have ever seen."

Youth-run and grassroots oriented, the campaign office for Susan Wallace at Toronto Centre looked a little different from other NDP campaigns in due to the number and diversity of working class youth involved.  Susanne Wallace was a long-shot against incumbent Bob Rae. The Wikipedia page for Toronto Centre still calls it "one of the safest Liberal ridings in Canada." Not anymore. Rae hung onto his seat, but barely. Susan Wallace was certainly correct when she said, "We have the most grassroots youth activist campaign that we have ever seen." The NDP largely focused the campaign on other ridings. As Wallace said to her team later that night: "We didn't have two nickels to rub together. The party was sending resources over there and over there- what we did here, we did it ourselves". 

The campaign managers were Solomon Muyoboke (23) and Farshad Azadian (22), both leading figures in the Esplanade Community Group as well as the Toronto Young New Democrats. They organized teams of volunteers on a grassroots basis to campaign, with an emphasis on the downtown east side: Regent Park, the Esplanade, Sherbourne and St. Jamestown.  Farshad told the media co-op:

"It was probably one of the most racially diverse of any activist group in Canada. This is one of the most ethnically diverse regions of Toronto, an area with some of the highest numbers of immigrants and non-status people, and we realize that we have to come together on the issues that affect us.  And we realize that these issues are mixed with the issue of class and how capitalism destroys our neighborhoods and our livelihoods for the sake of profit, and we have to unite on a class basis to fight back."

George, a campaign volunteer, became active as a worker in the USW 9537 strike. When asked how that related to his NDP work, he told the media co-op: "The union involved standing together for the working class, and the same values that you have in unions you have in the NDP. The unions can't survive without the NDP. We have to stand together in solidarity."

With a difference of only 6011 votes (as of 4:39 PM on Tuesday), the vote count was even closer throughout the night as CBC reported live on results. Bob Rae gained 40% of the vote where Wallace was at 30%. This represents a huge gain for the NDP; in the last federal election the NDP only gained 15% of the vote.

Farshad defended his choice to work, as a radical class-struggle activist, within the NDP and pointed to gains from the campaign:

"Our NDP campaign was more radical than anything else that other activist groups do. They don't talk about issues that we talk about. Many so-called radicals are so liberal compared to what we ran on. You can say the NDP is social democratic, but we ran on a socialist campaign, and our votes went ridiculous. Compared to the last federal election we over doubled our percentage. And we had over 100 people mobilized for the campaign. And all on the back of youth, mostly youth from the different hoods in the downtown eastside. That's the definition of grassroots."

Solomon is no less dedicated to future organizing. "It's bittersweet," he said at the election party, adding that he hadn't slept in 30 hours. "We had some fun, we learned a lot, but there is still a lot of organizing to do."

 

 


Socialize:
Want more grassroots coverage?
Join the Media Co-op today.
Topics: Labour

Creative Commons license icon Creative Commons license icon

About the poster

Trusted by 10 other users.
Has posted 61 times.
View Megan Kinch's profile »

Recent Posts:


Megan Kinch (Megan Kinch)
Toronto Ontario
Member since December 2009

About:

is a writer and editor with the Toronto Media Co-op.

562 words

Comments

the NDP is an activist group now?

"Our NDP campaign was more radical than anything else that other activist groups do."

 Really?  More radical than anything else? Those are some flashy signs!

Wait a minute-- the NDP is an activist group now?

 

"...mostly youth from the different hoods in the downtown eastside. That's the definition of grassroots."

If all of your funding and energy is put towards the promotion of POLITICIANS then no, this is not infact grassroots.  The NDP is a nation-wide political party who spends millions on self-promotion-- there is no transfer of benefit to people in need whom politicians claim to work in the interest of. .  . the people in the different hoods.

 

"It was probably one of the most racially diverse of any activist group in Canada."

Wow.  Again with the activist tag.  Getting a representative into a paid position to stand behind the war machine, the prison industrial complex, and other atrocities that the Government unleashes on the world is usually what activists rally against.

 

Different kinds of activists

That was a quote from Farshad, and that's his position, not necessarily that of media coop or myself. However, Green party is always claiming to do grassroots organizing, these words have different definitions for different people. i don't see how organizing for a political party is by definition not activist- indeed i think there are lots of activists with different, and maybe even oppositional, politics to myself. No one politics owns the words  'grassroots' or 'activist' and not everyone in the left has a die-hard position against parlimentary politics.

You seem to have not asked

You seem to have not asked them any tough questions.  And certainly the first paragraph is nothing about the common citizen, but the functions of the ruling class.  How many times must you mention Susan Wallace-- why is she important?

This is not a partisan complaint- - not some left or right crap-- I would say a story about any of the parties this uncritical needs to be talked about.  Parliamentary politics will never be grassroots. 

Activism and Grassroots not necessarily good

Organized fascists and white supremacists are also activists who do grassroots organizing.  Critique the politics not the use of words. A disagreement with parliamentary politics does have a basis, but your use of words just doesn't represent reality or the way anyone else that I have ever met uses these words.  

It's sort of like the way many use the phrase 'civil society', which really just means a group not totally controlled by a state apparatus, which would include the English Defense League and the Klu Klux Klan.  

When I write about activist

When I write about activist organizing, I write what they are doing and what thier perspectives are.  I don't just write about NDP organizing in this way, but cover many different political perspectives, i don't write polemics, i don't believe in them.

http://toronto.mediacoop.ca/story/protesting-barrick-gold-gaining-moment...

http://www.dominionpaper.ca/articles/3804

http://toronto.mediacoop.ca/story/groups-protest-unholy-alliance-between...

Do you have problems with how I 'uncritically' cover these groups? I don't think it's my job to interview Ryan Rainville and be all "but don't you think the black block is useless and juvinile" or the ARA and be like "but don't you think this tactic just provkes the nazis"?. I'm interested in understanding, not issuing polemics. You might not agree with it, but there are valid arguments on the left for parlimentary politcs especially within labour parties which are not instruments of the ruling class in the same way as liberals or the conservatives. You might not support that argument, which is fine. But that doesn't mean that something can't be learned from understanding thier position. I really don't see the point of polemics, because during the G20 we were all on the streets together, they throw us all in the same cells, we show up to the same events and we read a lot of the same books.

This is open media, you are welcome to write your own story from your own position.

my own position?

Problem is there was no argument in your piece.  The NDP presented you with bullshit lies which you did not question. Perhaps you could ask any political hopeful about the ongoing genocide of native people on stolen native land, the wars for resource extraction at home and abroad, or the expensive new prisons we can't offord nor need-- how will they turn that around?

And yes this is open-publishing-- thanks for the advice,  This open-publishing is supported by a coop of folks who have agreed generally to keep it free from party politics.  What is the editorial process of the TMC?

Your headline and sub-head are telling of what the focus of this article is:  NDP-Susan Wallace-Toronto Center... that's the same crap written on her election signs! 

Let's also not forget that her "opponent" Bob Rae not long ago was leader of the NDP. 

 

those are all valid questions

those are all valid questions to ask of the NDP, but if you haven't noticed, that's not what this article is about. it's about the people who organised the campaign. if you want to go interview NDP folks and write an article about how the NDP also stands for ruling elites and that class-based party divisions are a load of BS at this point in hisotry, go ahead, i would actually love to read it. but this article was not about that, so please stop polemicizing.

that said, the article is about the people who organised the campaign and i would have liked to know what motivated these youth, who consider themselves activits, to organize for a political party. Megan Kinch said in of her replies that being averse to party politics "doesn't mean that something can't be learned from understanding thier position." The problem is, Megan, that I didn't learn anything about their position and I am no nearer to understanding it than I was yesterday. I would like to though, because these youth - judging by your article - don't look like party hacks. so yes, i would be very interested to know what motivated them to organize for for an increasingly Liberal-looking political party. What's their take on party politics? How do they see class issues in the NDP's platform? What do they hope to achieve by getting an NDP MP elected? How does party politics play out in terms of the issues faced by their community?  etc. etc. I hope you take this as constructive criticism and not a polemic or outright blind rejection of electoral politics as some on this board are prone to.

thanks for comment

Hey Georges. Indeed, I don't really get into how these people interact with the NDP, this was a story with really limited scope. (and i certainly don't get into the ndp in general) I think my main point here is simply that some activists are supporting the NDP, but I don't really get into why. I'm hoping to do more regarding thier political perspective at some point soon, i know that Solomon and Farshad are planning on writing thier own analysis of the campaign which might make it clearer. In the meantime they write regularly for fightback, here is one article by Farshad http://www.marxist.ca/content/view/657/1/ which might make his position (which I don't quite share) clearer.

 

I can see that you don't want

I can see that you don't want political opinions other than your own presented. That's not what media coop is about, go write a zine or publishon an anarchist website if that's what you want. I am very consistent in my writing, which writes about many different prespectives on the left. If you want something that has a particular political line and promotes only that line, that's not the project that toronto media coop is doing. I write often about indigenous issues and canadian mining companies, so to call me out on ignoring that is garbage. I don't see why you are making these ad-hominem attacks on someone who is commited to building the media coop project simply because I wrote one article on people whose politics you disagree with.

Media coop Phillipsophy:

""Grassroots" means that for each topic we cover, we talk to the people directly affected by policies or activities first. Once a journalist thoroughly understands the story of those directly affected and has time and resources left over, she brings their questions to those making the decisions: politicians, corporate executives, and so on."

If my story is on an NDP campaign than the people to talk to are the people who are volunteering for that campaign. You'll note quoted rank and file volunteers more than Susan Wallace. This particular story was not on the NDP as a whole but on one particular campaign.

I see nothing in the media coop basis of unity about not covering party politics. I would have liked, actually, to interview some Liberal and Conservative campaigners and see what they were doing, as well as some Maoist and Anarchist boycott campaigns and put coverage on that- however I didn't have the time to do it. (I did actually invite some Maoists to write an article on thier boycott campaign, but it didn't come through.

I actually believe that people should be able to have thier own political beliefs and that we should respect difference among the left, not enforce some kind of ideological purity.

 

 

 

Ideological Purity?

All I was suggesting is that the NDP sholudn't be framed as grasroots because it is not. 

You have assumed a lot more with this reply. 

Telling someone to go somwhere else is not being as tolerant as you are dispousing.

Thank you.

Considerations.........

Hi peoples,

Shall we consider each others views as valid?

Or, do we continue on with "business as usual" were we tear each other apart for "not doing things my way"?

Terrible example, but relevant. The G20 shit show where all that spin was about tactics of "dissent"?

Anyhow.

The NDP are relevant to my experience as an activist and advocate. I may not be the most "radical" in the coloniized land called Canaduh, but you can bet your ass I am willing to put my shit on the line regularly.

Isn't this great that we can share our views freely?

This forum exists because people like Megan and myself (& tons of others) give a shit.

One thing I believe it really terrible about our community. Lack of love and understanding. We seem to become little dictators regularly telling others how to live their lives. I am totally included in that. "I am a work in progress".

 

I voted NDP. My riding votes that way solidly, but it is changing as jerkoff gentrifyying, oppressive crapitalists (who give their energy to mainnstream media and drank the koolaid) move into the hood  - the downtown eastside of Vancouver. (the riding of Vancouver East)

This is mainly due to our NDP rep being solid on very progressive social justice issues and makes it real clear for everyone to understand. Her riding is in the "poorest postal code in Canada". The DTES.

I believe it took guts and wisdom to post what Megan did. I don't post much around (the internet) about politics in this country, due to the controvercial nature of it. As we can see here.

I am glad the NDP took much of Quebec. I spoke with a semi activist in Montreal yesterday (May 3) about it and she said it is a good thing because the Bloc' are too secular and isolated and are only focused on the dealings within their province. I agree with that analogy.

In conclusion.

Sure politics in this colony called Canada are pretty terrible. I believe it will only change by us changing it and being the change. As I recently posted on my wall on fakebook "only way there is through". No more hiding, retreating or not particpating. I believe that is partly why we have a CONservative majority. (partly)

Meegwetch/Thank you/Saludos/Merci

Tami Starlight - Vancouver Media Coop editorial collective & video femininja (who loves tea, the mountains and her cats)

 

 

ps.......

I have TONS of respect for Megan Kinch's political and media work!!! (that is an understatement)

I am inspired!

Um, questions of 'grassroots'

Um, questions of 'grassroots' and 'real activists' aside, I'm really troubled by this:

"And we realize that these issues are mixed with the issue of class and how capitalism destroys our neighborhoods and our livelihoods for the sake of profit"

"You can say the NDP is social democratic, but we ran on a socialist campaign, and our votes went ridiculous. Compared to the last federal election we over doubled our percentage."

Since when is the NDP anti-capitalist? The second quote straight up says that while knowing that the NDP is a social democrat party, they represented it as a socialist party. And they're talking about police brutality? The NDP campaigned on adding more police to the streets.

So basically these well-meaning activists misrepresented the NDP, and apparently it paid off. Which tells us something important about how acceptable these ideas really are to the public (which is cool), but is ultimately dishonest and misspent energy. I'm appalled.

Personally, I think the NDP

Personally, I think the NDP is ambiguous- there are socialist traditions within the NDP but also social democratic or blairite. I saw the campaign materials, and they did not misrepresent the NDP, they said things like "Susan Wallace is against police brutality" which is true in itself, although not part of this years official NDP platform. Thanks for this comment, I think this is a useful criticism, and it party the reason why this campaign is so interesting and why I wrote an article on it for media coop.

It's okay that you think the

It's okay that you think the NDP is ambiguous, I'm not interested (nor do I have the knowledge) in pinning down exactly where they fall on the spectrum at any given time. I'm just going on that quote, which indicates that the person campaigned on something different from how the NDP is typically presented. Maybe I'm missing the context of that statement, but that's the way it's presented in the article, and it's supported by the other statements made.

I don't doubt that the campaign materials weren't lying, but in my opinion it's disingenous to say the MP is against police brutality and not indicate that she would also be involved in adding more police to the streets. Plus there's no telling of what the conversations actually looked like, regardless of the campaign materials, but if the volunteers' comments are any indication, it seems they're either personally misguided on the NDP's platform or just being dishonest. Either way, it sucks.

Either way, thanks for the

Either way, thanks for the article. It's a useful piece. :)

Against the NDP or it's leaders??

I keep hearing ultra-lefts go on and on about how "the NDP sucks," or "the NDP did this or that." Now you can argue that the NDP LEADERSHIP may suck, or did this or that bad thing, but how can any self-described leftist of ANY stripe somehow paint the 4.5 MILLION ordinary Canadians who turned to the NDP in this election looking for change with the same brush? The NDP is a MASS PARTY and, especially after this election and with the Tories in a majority, it will now be open to a flood of fresh activists who see the party as their own. To write off the Party because you didn't like how 30-odd MPs (or even 100-odd MPs) voted on an issue in Parliament is to totally miss the whole damn point! THIS IS OUR PARTY! If workers can change society, we can change the NDP for gosh sakes!

Also this: "It was probably

Also this: "It was probably one of the most racially diverse of any activist group in Canada. This is one of the most ethnically diverse regions of Toronto, an area with some of the highest numbers of immigrants and non-status people, and we realize that we have to come together on the issues that affect us."

I think it would have been useful to add a comment about whether or not that's actually true (most racially diverse activist group, really?) and what the NDP would do for non-status people. Not doing so implies that Farshad's statements are true.

Activist groups don't

Activist groups don't generally keep statistics on racial or any other kind of diversity. However from my observation it seems like its a fairly valid statement- not only racial diversity but students, non students, workers etc- which is why i didn't qualify it. And it's generally true that status and non status people should come together on common issues, I don't see how one can have a problem with that statement.

From the top of my head, No

From the top of my head, No One Is Illegal is a racially diverse group. You're probably more entrenched in the activist scene than me, so I figure you'd know of others, in Toronto alone.

Yes, non-status people should come together, but for the NDP? I think prodding Farshad for an answer there would've been appropriate, along with some research of your own. Considering non-status people can't vote anyway, and more police = more deportations, I'm not convinced supporting the NDP is in the best interest of non-status people.

off the top of my head, no

off the top of my head, no one is illegal is the only one that is in the same league re: ethnic diversity- I would agree that they are probably around the same as this campaign. I would maybe argue that this campaign has more working class non-student types though, but i'm not that close to NOII so i can't really say. And this article was on one-day of campaining, I haven't had the time to do something comprehensive on the entire thing and all the issues, it's limited in scope. I'm a volunteer and I don't have time to write about every issue I'd like to or do extremely extensive interviews.

That's fair, Megan. I

That's fair, Megan. I understand you're a volunteer and I'm thankful that you wrote this piece at all. But I hope you can see why this is a contentious issue, esp if NDP campaigners are painting the party as something radical in order to get votes, leading to more apathy and cynicism in the public when those promises aren't kept, and making the work of truly radical activists harder by making the public wary when we come around saying the same things. Not to mention leading newly socially conscious people to campaign for and support electoral democracy when that energy could be better spent creating real change within those communities.

It'd be cool if you could explore some of these issues if/when you have the chance. But either way, thanks for your hard work, and I hope you take my criticisms as I mean them - with the best of intentions.

No problem, I've enjoyed this

No problem, I've enjoyed this part of the comments and found this debate productive.

Props

Good article Megan.

Party of the Middle Class...

When I think of "grassroots activist" and "radical" groups, I think of groups like the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty and the various No One Is Illegal collectives across "Canada".  Unlike the NDP, these groups are anti-capitalist as a cursory read of any of their literature would suggest.

The problem with the NDP is that they often sound "progressive" in opposition but whenever they've formed government at the provincial level, like a boxer they "fake with their left and slam with their right".  The NDP government in BC engaged in blatant poor bashing with Premier Mike Harcourt saying he was going to go after all the "welfare cheats and deadbeats" (prompting many social activists to quit the party).  It was also an NDP government that imposed a three month residency requirement for receiving social assistance (which was later overturned on a court challenge).  I recall NDP Social Service Ministers saying arrogant things like "It's not the 1960's anymore" (Joy McPhail) and "Sometimes people just need to be hit over the head" (though replace "people" with "politicians" and the statement does have merit).

It was also an NDP government, led by recently defeated Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh, that launnched a paramilitary assault against indigenous sovereigntists at Gustaffsen Lake.

The NDP is the "party of the middle class, ruling in the name of the working class, in the interests of the ruling class."

Regarding the article itself, I have no problem whatsoever with it being posted on TMC.  It's sparked a lot of intelligent debate which is always a good thing.

 

 

 

The most politically advanced

The most politically advanced workers in the auto-parts plant I work at supported the NDP in this election.  One of the guys even came in wearing an orange NDP shirt the day after the election.  

The fact that many working class people voted NDP rather than Liberal is a major sign of political change in this country, similar to the Obama phenomenon in '08, though the NDP didn't win as he did.  It shows that people are looking for change and that they will be more open to radical ideas.  I believe we should try to win people on the idea that they shouldn't look to parliamentary figureheads for change, but their own collective power as a class against the corporate elites who run this country.  However, this doesn't mean we can ignore major events like the NDP doubling their number of seats, which is an important event in terms of the consciousness of the working class. 

A Hindi Tragedy

Reading comments on this thread reminds me of tragic moments in Hindi movies I grow up with. I am refering to the sorry state of some who like to call themselves "anarchists", "left" or whatever but are completely alitenated and seperated from movement of workers and people in society.

To any normal person, the fact that a NDP campaign right in the middle of Toronto has mobilized dozens of youth (more than 100 on the last day) from most lower-class areas you can imagine, the youth who otherwise would have never been political and chances are might have even voted Liberal or Conservative, is a good thing. This is the response we heard every day at the door: Thanks for organizing our kids. Thanks for giving reason and purpose to the politics here. Thanks for showing that there is a way out.

One thing that is not as much mentioned is the article is the kind of politics we espoused and the program we ran on. These were mostly politics that the Marxist newspaper, Fightback (Marxist.ca), which both Farshad and Solomon and also myself are supporters of, espouses: Free Education, National Pharmacare Plan, National housing strategy and etc. The Fightback was an intergal part of the office and dozens of copies were sold to youth and working people in the community. Their interest in the ideas of Marxism was very interesting to me!

Most importnatly, when people asked "How do we know NDP doesn't lie and change his mind after getting to power?" We would say that they might change their mind but we should pressure them and fight for these demands. I don't know how many times I said at the door, "the way to change society is not through voting but throuigh fighting. Voting NDP is just part of the process". This of course shows in the numbers that NDP and Fightback recruited during this campaign.

At the end, this shows that our methods and our approach can mobilize dozens of youth (from working-class areas not diffrent grad schools!) in a short space of a month ON SOCIALIST POLITICS. We got 16,607 votes for Socialism in Toronto-Centre! We won, for the first time, NDP majority in Regent Park, Moss Park and St. James Town. This is our power! When was the last time that all these other groups did anything that effected 16,607 people? Farshad is right to call them for what they are: Liberals.

As Michael say anybody who is oblivious to the fantastic rise of the NDP and its effect on working-class conciousness has just condemned himself/herself to irrelevance. On the basis of coming events, mass left-wing currents will emerge in the NDP and ultra-lefts of York University and New College and political grouplets they support will disappear like dust with the typhoon of class struggle. When we'll fight Capitalism on a mass scale, they can go on analyzing it and write their PhD thesises on them!

 

I'm sorry you feel like your

I'm sorry you feel like your accomplishments are not being taken seriously. Mobilizing hundreds of youth is an accomplishment, regardless of the cause, and I commend you for your hard work.

As I said before, the fact that thousands of people were motivated to vote on socialist politics is a very useful and interesting piece of information. The unfortunate fact is that the NDP is not a socialist party. Their own website calls them "social democratic"

I'm glad you told people that voting is not the only solution, and I'm sure you inspired many. Perhaps you think holding leaders accountable or shifting the party to the left internally will work. I'm just curious about what are the mechanisms to achieve this? Also if you could address the NDP's provincial record (as commented on above) or their current platform of increasing police, and how these tie into the image you presented to the voters, that would be great.

You have some valid criticisms of movements that don't include the working class, but honestly they're lost behind the insults and your overall message of "my way is the One True Way." I imagine we agree on a lot of things, as do most people reading this. I'm interested in critically examining our strategies, not being defensive about whatever path we've chosen.

Peace.

Ageism

I think that there is a point that remains to be made here;  does this article even belong here?  

According to the Dominion website, articles featured in the Dominion (which is affiliated with the online media coops),

 

"The vast majority of media in Canada is owned by a handful of corporations. For example, CanWest Global, the largest Canadian media company, controls over 30 per cent of the Canadian media. The consolidation of corporate control and ownership in Canada has resulted in a decrease in investigative journalism, an increase in the number of stories journalists are expected to produce and a narrowing in the range of debate on key issues of importance. [...] 

The Dominion's aim is not just to report that something is the case, but to examinewhy it is the case. By providing context to stories, and giving voice to perspectives that are marginalized and those most affected by events or decisions, the Dominion hopes to promote understanding through accurate, in-depth reporting."

The NDP is a huge organization that receives funding from many private businesses and homes.  It's enormous, it employs a lot of people while also relying on volunteers, and (speaking as a volunteer that was duped many years ago in believing in said party) functions very much like a corporation.  I don't understand why this branch of such a huge group needs to be featured whatsoever on this media coop.  

Personally, I was also puzzled by the scope of the article.  Why are you so interested in the age of volunteers?  This statement in particular offended me: 

"The co-campaign manager for Toronto Centre, Farshad Azadian, knocks on doors in Jamestown. Although he is only 22, Farshad is an experienced activist, having been a leading figure in Always Question and currently with the Esplanade Community Group, Fightback, and the Toronto Young New Democrats." [emphasis mine] 

If an individual is 22 years old, then that person is an adult.  Full stop.  This article focuses on how amazing it is that young people are active in their communities.  It reads to me as ageist, cloying and offensive;  plenty of younger adults and even kids volunteer.  

 

Because they NDP has almost

Because they NDP has almost completly failed to organize young people. Sure they take young volunteers, but historically, giving them leadership positions? Organizing them in a way that gives them actual power over what they are doing? Often the NDP just chews up young volunteers and spits them out, treating them just like a corporation, as you said. The fact that this campaign organized young people NOT like a corperation, but like an activist group, is newsworthy. And this is not being covered by mainstream organizations, who instead are attacking the age (and even gender) of elected delegates in Quebec. To point out that someone who is 22 can be a very experienced activist with years of time put into social movements is not ageist I don't think.

 

Also, I don't think it is in

Also, I don't think it is in keeping with communitarian and anarchist values to argue for more censorship on an open media platform like this. Is it grassroots? Is it interesting to members? yes. Is it left as most people would understand the term? Yes. I've spent a lot of time covering the G20 protests and other struggles related anarchism, because I have an anti-sectarian movement perspective. I actually do think that diversity of tactics is something that we should look at, at that includes the full spectrum of tactics, which includes people working in the NDP.

Examining (and discussing, as we are here) the relation of the NDP to the movement is part of this process, and I think the media coop should be part of that. I don't think that ignoring party or electorial politics helps us as a social movement, and I would like to see articles covering even people who organize for the conservative or liberal parties (although I would probably not be ultra-pleased with one with a positive spin on it). The fact remains that the NDP does have attraction for a lot of youth (and other people) who define themselves as leftist and progressive, and we need to understand that even if we are against the NDP's politics.

Dancing around the issue...

Okay-- it's not about if its left or right or whatever lables you throw. 

You are supporting a major runner in the bid to DOMINATE THIS LAND AND ITS PEOPLE and --that is fuct!  This article should not be featured in the least, (especially if the auhor green-lighted it themselves--?) and the defences put up only make the arguement weaker. 

I would also second that agesim is a lingering problem in this piece.  The wording: "Although he is only 22..." insinuates that most 20 somethings and younger people are somehow disempowered...

Also, can I ask why the last picture has been changed from Susan Wallace speaking in what looked like an empty restaurant to a posed photo of her with her son?  This change happened a bit after my initial inquiry-- why is that? 

  'Cause I decided it was a

 

'Cause I decided it was a better photo? I have other photos that show the bar was packed if that's what you want to see. But I don't think it would make you happy.

Also, how anarchist and horizontal is it to go complaining to Dominion editors about a piece featured by the toronto media coop?  Doesn't 'diversity of tactics' means that an article describing people engaged in a tactic you disagree with should have some space? Why all these attacks? Why are you misquoting my honest statement "This is open media, you are welcome to write your own story from your own position." as "I've tried to search for the grassroots element of it and even having discussions with the author-- who has told me that I should just write my own story. " in your email to the Dominion editors? I have clearly engaged with you in long discussions about why I believe this article is grassroots. I am not a schill for the NDP and nearly all my articles for media coop have written about other kinds of organizations.

Not everyone, nor every indigenous person, agrees that a vote for the NDP is a vote for genocide. There is a diversity of opinion on the matter, see Tami's comment above. You only speak for yourself and i don't see why you think you can censor anything that doesn't 100% agree with you from this collective project.

I am a committed organizer with the media coop project, and it does not build a collective to have ad-hominem attacks directed at 'higher ups' in the cooperative, or to censor other people's viewpoints. I'm not going to address any further comments made by you, as you are clearly just attacking me and have no interest in consensus or reasonable debate.

this is NOT a top-down stucture.

It's great that you seem to think the coop is a top-down stucture-- it is quite the oposite.  It certainly is not conducive to a co-operative to even insinuate that.  I spoke with editors that I know and work with regularily to highlight that you were telling me to: "go write a zine or publishon an anarchist website if that's what you want."  -- also not constructive to building the media coop.

I also contribute quite a lot to the media coop-- though not so narcissistically. .  So it seems you are the one attempting to censor-- this comment section is for comments-- I have never said the peice in question should be removed and I certainly have not "attacked" you.

It's probably a good choice to quit while you're ahead--except that you've not answered my very legitimate question:

Was this piece peer-edited before it was chosen to feature? 

Isn't the point that it is

Isn't the point that it is not a top down structure, hence she can publish this article without needing approval from you?

just thought i'd weigh in,

just thought i'd weigh in, since i've also been approached about this off-site.

To be honest, i really enjoy this kinds of dicussions on the MC. not all of it, but the parts that get to the root of what we're doing at the Media Co-op and how we operate.

Full-disclosure: I'm a paid staff person at the Media Co-op. My paid work is on The Dominion and on Media Co-op stuff at the pan-Canadian level (everything from the glamorous stuff like deleting spam and making sure we have money to keep the site going to the actual fun stuff like editing). I'm also a volunteer with the recently launched Montreal Media Co-op (the tasks do overlap at times, and I'm also aware how being paid to work on the MC as a whole allows me certain prvilege that folks who solely volunteer do not).

from my own stand point - would i have necessarily featured this piece? A month ago, I'm not sure; in the current context where the corporate media is bashing newly elected NDP MPs in Quebec entirely on the basis of being young, I'd probably lean more towards yes (I think there are plenty of reasons to criticise NDP candidates; their being young isn't one of them). I'm not sure Megan's statement about 'Although he is only 22' is necessarily ageist; I think it's true that often people in their young 20s are not given significant postions in groups like the NDP and that it's important to highlight that.

But what I'm more interested in isthe question of whether pieces like this fit in with the Media Co-op's mandate. As our friend Anonymous (oh, how you are active on the site!) points out above, this piece wouldn't have been run as is on The Dominion site or in the magazine. But The Dominion and the Media Co-op are different beasts.

To me, the Media Co-op is meant to feature under-represented voices, new ideas, how people are struggling for self-determination, their successes and failures, etc. I think this piece speaks one aspect of that, but I think it's also legitimate to question it. Just as I think it's legitimate for other folks to question pieces on black bloc tactics, or how we successfully combat gentrification.

That's not to say everything is welcome on the site - not by a long shot (homophobic, racist, sexist, trans- phobic, coporate advertising BS, etc). But in the grander scheme of things, I think a piece about radical youth experimenting with electoral politics doesn't go against that. That said, I think it's valuable to discuss what we feature, what we don't, and why.

Along those lines, the Media Co-op structure is such that all locals have autonomy. Locals & their membership across the network are working out a basis of unity and policy that will help guide the locals (so that this autonomy doesn't mean that the Conservatives - or the NDP - will gain control of an autonomous branch and do what they like). No local - and no one outside the local - has the authority to remove content from another local, not even those of us who work on the overarching project (again, except if this clearly goes against everything we are trying to build: ie, White Power Bill posts some neo-nazi BS). If there is room for question, I may approach local organisers, or post a comment or email the author directly.

To be clear: no one has asked me to remove Megan's article, but the question has appeared in this discussion, and I was asked why such a piece would be featured. (At the risk of opening up every 'featuring' decision to hours of debate, I would also be interested to know whether there was discussion about featuring this piece in Toronto. I know I often feature content in Montreal without an in-depth conversation with people, but to the best of my ability when following the principles we've decided on locally.)

Fo some more info on how the MC is structured, and the decentralization of authority, you should check out Dru's post: http://www.mediacoop.ca/blog/dru/4172.

I also just realized that I don't this thost Mtl Media Co-op principles I referenced are up on the site yet. I'll add a link to the comments here once they are.

I spent a long time

I spent a long time addressing your points one by one [J Stevens] but then i just gave up. if youd maybe focused your arguement then it might be easier to address but it seems to be darting all over the place to defend every offhand comment you make. Also we'r all readers and members of the media coop here who just want to have an alternative media source that addresses our concerns and we should at least be friendly to each other, not problem causing or belittling one another. Lets just treat eachother nicely and not use bold so much shall we children? Im in highschool people. Come on.

Good-- there's lots to learn!

I began simply commenting about your article because of its content-- you have made it personal by slinging assumptions and saying that I have attempted to censor you-- which I have not-- and saying I don't care to have reasonable debate-- which I do-- here I am.  

   The main problem is that when a report is featured on a local site, it automatically gets featured on the national site as well.  On a pan-canadian level I think this sort of uncritical coverage of one of the major parties is not only unnecessary but irresponsible.  We just came out of a horible election where, in my neck of the woods, the NDP is gainging power while co-opting diversity to further their agenda. 

All this to say that we haven't adressed the questions I have posed:

Is it grassroots to support the election of a paid politician?-- ie: can she be removed by the collective?

Is this really a 'youth-run" campaign-- Isn't Susan Wallace in charge and ultimately the NDP?

What sort of editorial process did this article go through?

I think a read through of this whole conversation will show that I have not belittled you nor told you to take your ideas elsewhere-- can you say the same?

  Ceratinly I will not be calling every reader "children".

 

Just a note - you're replying

Just a note - you're replying to a user called "crispin" here, not Megan Kinch.

For what it's worth, I share your concerns as well.

Indeed, thanks for pointing

Indeed, thanks for pointing that out. That is not me, nor I do I feel the need to make up fake names for extra trolling.  I've already decided that further debate on this forum with someone this unreasonable does not build the coop and won't engage in it.

Who are you to say what my

Who are you to say what my politics should be? What my opinions should be? As a working class young woman, having the NDP in power would mean drastically different things for my life. I'm 40,000 in debt in student loans. I can't bring my boyfriend to live with me in Canada, because Harper slashed the family reunification visas to pieces, and I'm not going to have the 10,000 or whatever it is you have to have sitting in my bank account to sponsor someone in the forseeable future. I have about four Canadian girlfriends that are in relationships with non-Canadian partners. Two emmigrated, and I'm about to. One brought her boyfriend here illegally, and he's been here for seven years, unable to work or get social support, so she's supporting him by going to school full time and working full time. Men don't really have this problem, all the guys I know were able to bring their girlfriends over without much problem, because their parents see it as some sort of bizarre investment, or they're paid a lot more than I am for similar work. 

I can't have children in the forseeable future, either, because Harper slashed childcare funding, which means I couldn't support a family financially until I'm essentially infertile. 

The NDP platform on ALL these subjects would make a drastic difference in my life, immediate ones that don't require some farfetched revolution. You must be in a pretty nice situation if the NDP wouldn't make your life better, you might want to consider what an NDP government would mean for those of us in situations like this, and what it means that they're genuinely reaching out to young people.

But more than that, there's a lot of places outside toronto and montreal, where there IS no media co-op. Where there is no chapter of no-one is illegal. Where electoral politics is the only representation you have, the only voice in wider society is an x on a ballot. You're pretty lucky to live in a place where you have these options to organize in different ways, with a large percentage of like-wise thinkers. What's my Grandma who lives in the country near belleville gonna do? Or my friends and family in Oshawa? There's no Noone is Illegal chapter, or Media Co-op, no Marxist or Anarchist groups there. Try talking to them for about four seconds about how great the Nepalese Maoists are, and they'll think you're crazy, and rightly ask 'how is that relevant to Canada'? A lot of what you're saying holds zero relevance for many Canadians, while organizing for the NDP offers them the best chance they see, and the best effective way for them to have their voice heard, and to see real change in the near future. Keep that in mind.

I don't believe that anyone

I don't believe that anyone is telling you directly what your politics should be or how to feel.  You correctly point out that larger more radical groups often have problems starting up in small towns  - and don't I know it!  I grew up in a small town of about 3000 people, and there are lots of towns that are smaller.  I understand if you feel like the NDP's platform would somehow support you.  I can't say that I agree, but I do see where you're coming from.  I also disagree with your feeling that smaller towns rely on electoral politics to improve their communities, but those kinds of perspectives rely on personal experiences that I don't really want to run down through right now. 

The point of contention here is that the NDP has thrown millions of dollars onto their own websites and offices.  They're featured on CTV and on every CBC platform there is as often as they'd like.  Every riding that features someone running for the NDP has a big office complete with phones. So the question we're debating here is regarding the Media Coop's mandate and whether or not stories regarding the NDP belong on this particular website. 

That's a good point about the

That's a good point about the NDP. I do think that we should have more coverage of national elections on the media coop- independent coverage- but yes I would significantly more critical of the mainstream platform, Layton's campaign etc. This particular campaign is interesting because the national party basically abandoned this riding- they barely coughed up the standard funds for an office with phones- and was run in a way very different from other NDP campaigns. You'll note that Susan Wallace, the candidate, is actually quite critical here of how they were left to run a campaign on a shoestring despite a huge national budget of millions of dollars. Where are there priorities if they are going to not even run properly in this downtown Toronto riding? The youth in my photos are trying to change the NDP, make it more grassroots, run by volunteers, actually relavent to people. Wether this plan is hopeless or not it is interesting, and it is grassroots. And the mainstream media is certainly not covering their efforts. Is there a point at launching a polemic at a bunch of youth that have just been politiczied and are taking part in their first activism, in some cases? I don't think so. I like what they are doing and I want to encourage further forays into participatory politics, not send them back into apathy.

 

Apathy and Party Structure

Okay, but I believe that you're missing the structure of political parties in KKKanaduh.  Parties create federal mandates and members of parliament are sworn to follow said mandates.  That's why it's so exceptional when an MP chooses not to "toe the party line".  

Because of all the bureaucracy, the electorate and those who work for political parties work under the (faulty) assumption that MPs for whichever party can both represent their values and the values of the people they represent.  Time has shown that most MPs in power tend to put their own priorities first, to hell with the electorate, and that's why this article is meaningless. 

I'm not sure why you think that writing this piece would "encourage further forays into participatory politics, not send [those featured] back into apathy" when you state in the article that these young party members are experienced 'activists' and, in fact, have their own magazine. 

The leaders of this campaign

The leaders of this campaign are certainly activists and have a magazine- but they did recruit other people who are new to politics, 100 on election day, as I mention in the article, who i was referring to.

Keep that in mind.

Let's also keep in mind that the Canadian Government is and has been involved in many illegal, non-humanitarian, deadly global conflicts (aside from the current occupation on the land where we stand)-- this is how global government is working. 

Would/could Jack Layton change this? 

Just as no one forced you to take on such a large debt, no one has said what anyone's opinons should be and I challenge you to quote such things. 

 

The solution to speech you disagree with is more speech

I find it disheartening that there appears to be a push for censorship on this media co-op.  This article presents a factual news story about an important recent event --- the Canadian election.  If you disagree with its ideology, write an opinion piece.  But to require that reporting pieces match a rigid, tiny, exclusionary ideology is to misunderstand the nature of news.  News pieces should report what happened, and why it matters, which this does.  

Also, a comment on the idea of "grassroots".  The grassroots are what actual people do, and support.  Clearly, there are a large number of left activists who support the NDP out of their own free will.  To claim that they are not grassroots is to deny them the autonomy to make that choice, because you think you know better.  Megan reported on them, and their actual actions.  To claim that reporting on these actions should be suppressed because it doesn't fit into your ideological box is an insult to both Megan, and the actual individuals who are featured in the story.

Just a note that the only

Just a note that the only person thoughout this whole exchange who has said that this article should not appear on the site is 'Anonymous in Montreal.' Other questions have focused on whether it should have been featured or not.

I just think we should be careful when we talk about a 'push' for censorship. While I think some of the comments in this thread could be a bit more collegial - we are, after all, building this co-op together - I don't see any over arching push for censorship on the site, and I think that such accusations can be a lot more harmful to the discussion than help it along.

Just to clarify...

I'm sorry that my comment has been so misinterpreted.  I simply intended to raise the question of what the mandate of the media coop is.  I'm a frequent reader of the site, and it's hard to grasp exactly what journalists on this site are aiming for under the general banner of reporting underreported news.

My personal feeling about this article is that it isn't really news, but I wanted to know how the Toronto media coop editors felt about that, and what their mandate is.  I have no interest in suggesting censorship of any kind (excepting hate speech et. al) and I intended no offence whatsoever.  Kinch has clearly indicated that she has a long history of reporting with this coop, and I have obviously never called any other article into question, so hopefully this comment lays all of this censorship talk to bed. 

I'm sorry if I caused any hurt feelings, but I would still love to hear from the editors of the Toronto media coop.  

Thanks for clarifying! My

Thanks for clarifying! My point was mostly that the large part of this conversation hasn't really focussed on censorship, and I'm glad that's not what you were getting at.

I think this is an important discussion, and just felt like it didn't make sense to see if move towards aruing over who was trying to censor who, when I don't really see anyone calling for censorship or for this post to be removed.

Thanks for your support of the Media Co-op!

Join the media co-op today
Things the Media Co-op does: Support
Things the Media Co-op does: Report
Things the Media Co-op does: Network
Things the Media Co-op does: Educate
Things the Media Co-op does: Discover
Things the Media Co-op does: Cooperate
Things the Media Co-op does: Build
Things the Media Co-op does: Amplify

User login


Google+
Subscribe to the Dominion $25/year

The Media Co-op's flagship publication features in-depth reporting, original art, and the best grassroots news from across Canada and beyond. Sign up now!