Monday, November 19, 2012

You know what's a fun thing to make a wager on? Hungry people!

I'm going to be a killjoy here and burst the bubble of everyone going nuts about Mayor Bet. If you didn't already know the Grey Cup is happening soon and the two teams footballing against one another are the Toronto Argonauts and the Calgary Stampeders. There aren't very many teams in the CFL so I get confused sometimes about why we have a Grey Cup at all, but I don't mind football and Canadian teams should get the same "rah rah rah" as NFL teams I suppose.

Today the Mayor of Calgary offered up a little bet to our own Rob Ford: the losing city's Mayor will donate his weight in food to the winner's food bank and also wear the winning jersey for a city council meeting. First of all, is this a jab at our Mayor's weight? If so, I don't care.

What I do care about is that I think it's kind of stupid of Mayor Nenshi to reach out to Ford right now. He's being sued for libel, people are starting to realize he's corrupt, he's pretty stupid, he says horrifying things constantly, and he skips out on his job to coach football. I also just feel like it's kind of a stupid wager. I'm sure that whoever wins will also end up donating to the other's food bank, but it's in really poor taste to make a food bank donation seem like a free-wheeling charitable fun time for all. Men betting! Mayors having a jovial time! I think a Food Bank donation is a great thing but for a few reasons I think their wager is ill-timed and kind of offensive.

Since 2006, the recession, and the increase in fiscal conservatism in our country, Food Bank usage has absolutely skyrocketed.

Here are some Toronto statistics:

And here are some Calgary statistics:

 A 70% increase in Calgary since 2006.  Over 100'000 Emergency Food Hampers. 42% of their clientele are children. An 18% increase in Toronto since 2008. Food Banks aren't just a natural thing that pop out of the ground, they were supposed to be a temporary solution to the immediate issue of hunger. Food Banks are understocked (and overly stocked with sugary and processed foods lacking in nutrition), rely mainly on volunteers to keep them running, are underfunded, and are not meant to be a permanent fixture in society. These two Food Banks are just that: two Food Banks. That doesn't take into account all of the organizations that provide emergency food, soup kitchens, churches, ands student food banks on college and university campuses. People aren't just hungry because there is no food. People are hungry because our government allows corporations to operate here, use our resources, exploit our labour, pay little to no taxes, and then put absolutely no money into our community infrastructures. People are hungry because they are losing their jobs, because their Unions are being busted. People are hungry because they have to choose between eating properly or paying for childcare so that they can go to work at all. People are hungry because women make less money than men in the same positions, are more likely to have to work several part time jobs, and more likely to have to raise children alone.

Nobody should be patting these two men on the back for making a measly donation to a Food Bank out of the goodness of their big, fat, rich hearts. Applauding Rob Ford for taking on this wager is completely forgetting that he once threw a hissy fit because City Council wanted to have a homeless shelter in every Ward of the City. Since, you know, people are homeless and not properly housed everywhere in Toronto. Having to house the homeless, he said, was an insult to his Ward. How many people in that Ward, I wonder, have ever used a Food Bank? I'm sure Rob Ford would be astounded at the number.

This is the kind of attitude our Mayor has about those who are in need: that they are an insult to those who are not. Last year Rob Ford tried to take budget money out of high priority areas like Day Cares and Community Centres, Homeless Shelters. This year he announced a war on those homeless people who found themselves sleeping at Nathan Phillips Square.

Why don't you make a donation to a Food Bank in Toronto, Mayor Ford? Why don't you address poverty in our city? How can you possible try to throw people out of Nathan Phillips Square when they have nowhere else to go? This is a man with blinders on, he has no idea how society operates for anyone who isn't him: rich, white, privilege. I don't know much about Nenshi's policies on these issues but I would suggest he not align himself with a truly self-righteous and ignorant bigot, who would rather ignore the social issues he is responsible for as Mayor of this City.

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