Weeknotes, August 18 – August 24

Today there is a Windsor City Council Meeting at 11am. My annotated agenda is here.

On that note, I did not know until now that the City of Windsor’s website has Municipal Calendar that looks lovely.

It would be nice if the calendar could have also been presented as a feed (although when there are three competing calendar standards I can completely understand the choice not to do so).

Also it would nice to have the agency and board meetings listed as well, and matters relating to the Windsor Police Services Board. I made a simple Google Calendar for these.

I’m pretty angry at the tepid funding that Doug Ford’s Conservative government is giving Ontario schools to keep risks down for our children. This episode of onpoli is a good summary of the government’s missteps & its refusal to spend the $ needed. And yet there is funding for more provincial police.

TVO’s The Agenda recently caught up with the executive director of the City of Guelph’s Smart Cities office who has started up four year initiative to create Canada’s first circular food economy that was funded by the federal government’s Smart Cities Challenge. Government and civic leadership in Windsor would be wise to learn from Guelph’s focused and successful bid.

I was on Windsor CBC Radio last Tuesday speaking about how we should no longer call Windsor the 4th most diverse city in Canada because it is not/no longer true. In many ways, what my work is doing is not proving or disproving numbers but trying to change the way we use the word diversity in this city. Diversity is not immigration status or whether you are a visible minority or not. As Statistics Canada states,

Ethnic origin refers to a person’s ‘roots’ and should not be confused with citizenship, nationality, language or place of birth. For example, a person who has Canadian citizenship, speaks Punjabi (Panjabi) and was born in the United States may report Guyanese ethnic origin.

Ethnic Origin Reference Guide, 2006 Census.

By the way, the example above is not as extraordinary as you might think. When I posted this quote on Facebook, my friend who was born in Sarnia and now lives in the States, described herself in a reply as this “My mom is from trini (Hindi) and dad from Guyana (Muslim/catholic parents).”

What I’ve been thinking about since that interview is how should Windsor characterize itself now that we can bring out ‘Windsor is the 4th most diverse city in Canada’ any more. I haven’t done extensive research on the matter but it seems to me that our high level of immigration is no longer exceptional in Canada. We’re not even in the top 10 cities.

What story does our city tell now itself when its “diversity” is no longer exceptional? How does the story change if we talk about our high percentage of visible minorities or refugees instead?

Since my interview with the CBC, I haven’t seen a single reference of ‘Windsor is the 4th…” but I have seen references how we are one of most diverse cities in Canada. Again, if we want to speak from evidence, this is simply not true. It might be too soon to say, but it looks to me there is a reticence to say that Windsor has the 3rd highest percentage of visible minorities in Ontario.

Speaking of diversity, there is a new Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce in Windsor-Essex and they already had the ear of two Liberal MPs. In an interview with CBC Windsor radio, two of the Taskforce’s members were asked how their group differs from the existing City of Windsor’s Diversity Committee which was not engaged by either the mayor or city council in discussions arising from recent Black Lives Matter protests.

I’m personally very curious about how this group is going to navigate the dark and turbulent waters of municipal electoral politics. They say that they want to change the make up of city council so are they going to endorse a candidate in the upcoming Ward 7 election? I also share many of the questions that Frazier Fathers raises about this task force, namely how can this group both seek government funding (6:10) and advocate for changes in political leadership?

On April 23, 2020, CCLA joined with Aboriginal Legal Services, the Black Legal Action Centre and HIV/AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario to write to the Ontario Solicitor General outlining our significant concerns with the government’s decision to provide police with access to individuals’ personal health information.

Health Information and Policing, CCLA

From this report from the Auditor General, Windsor Police Services searched the database of personal health records 1,841 times from April 17, 2020 to July 20, 2020.

On August 18th, it was made public that a constable from the Windsor Police Services had been charged with criminal harassment.

Addendum: More reason why Ontario must end for-profit long-term care: