August 4, 2008.
The Tenant Defence Sub Committee (TDSC) of the city council of Toronto is probably the worst example of the corruption of the city government. It is in effect a system of funding a group of thugs in order to prevent tenants from organising an effective voice.
The corruption in Toronto is deepening. It can only get worse until the people of the city finally do something about it. Ten years after government was hamstrung in the city, the beginnings of a popular movement are there.
They are mainly people who are new to the city's politics. They are not the people who only want to dismantle the present very bad governing system so that they can restore the almost as bad governing system which they were in control of before. They are up against the thick-as-molasses culture of apathy in the city and they are wondering what is behind it.
There are many theories, but none of them really add up. There are a lot of immigrants in Toronto, but there are even more in Vancouver, and local democracy is notably more vibrant there. Some immigrants may be unsure of themselves in a new land, but historically, Canada's best 'shit disturbers' have been newcomers, from MacKenzie and Gourlay on.
It seems that in Toronto, more than elsewhere, there is a very entrenched elite with an exceptional hostility to democracy. Apathy in Toronto seems to be about not wanting to become a target. So the question to be asked is, what is the nature of this unwillingness to even let the public organise, let alone participate in government?
Looking into the workings of the Tenant Offence Sub -Surface Committee can give some clues. It consists of seven city councillors, appointed by the overly powerful mayor, who is known to strongly favour the committee and the Federation of Metro Tenant's Associations (FMTA). One former member of this committee called it the 'fund FMTA' committee.
The seven are; Anthony Peruzza, the chair. Michael Walker, who was chair for most of the committee's eight year existance. Janet Davis, the vice chair. Shelley Carroll, who is the mayor's budget chief, and who refused to let Walker make her the chair during this council term. The others are Cliff Jenkins, Pam MacConnell, and Frances Nunziata.
These people were appointed by mayor David Miller. Any complaint about FMTA and Tenant Defense Sub Committee made to his office is turned over to the FMTA. There are a number of anonymous critics of FMTA who can be determined to be actual people who have been abused by FMTA and are angry, but terrified of it learning their real name and address.
Below are the portraits and wards of each of these contemptible politicians who fund and protect these criminals. Every one of them deserves to be thrown out of office at the next election, if not sooner, for this alone if nothing else.
For detailed information about FMTA, go to Federation of Metro Tenants Associations page.
The FMTA has been around for over thirty years. It was founded by a member of the communist party; the late Norm Brudy. It was based on an alliance of tenant associations, when such groups thrived in Toronto. It did many things for tenants during its early years.
The turn to the dark side came in the 1980s. The attack on the tenant movement was two pronged. First, laws were changed so that tenants could not go after their landlord at 'landlord and tenant court' as a group, but only as individuals. This removed most of the incentive to form and maintain tenant associations. This in turn eroded the dues base and the member base of FMTA.
Next, skilled psychological bullies, with experience at disrupting other groups, and with strong support from various fishy organisations, got themselves onto the board of FMTA and began systematically disrupting it. The last good people left because they 'did not want to keep fighting with Kenn Hale'.
However, at that time, the Harris government came into office and cut the funding FMTA had been receiving from the provincial government. This slowed them down but they were still able to push around anyone who wanted to have a tenant association independent of them. They received some city money to run the tenant's hotline, a counselling service for tenants having landlord trouble.
In 2000, mysterious forces refounded the Tenant Defence Sub Committee and brought the tenant defence fund into being. The fund was approved by one vote in council, with Lastman opposing it. While this was debated they got one of their sitting board members arrested under false charges, and some other people were intimidated.
If these people had been able to speak to council, they might have influenced this decision. They knew of the skimming of funds and falsifying of accounts, the bad advice being given by the new staff of the hotline, the steering of tenants to bad paralegals with an in with FMTA, and bullying and intimidation. Several members of the board were home owners, and people were being appointed and removed from the board without proper process, all against the FMTA's constitution.
The tenant defence fund is simply a slush fund which all goes to FMTA, one way or another.
At this time, Hale removed Howard Tessler as the chief staff person at FMTA, and brought in Dan MacIntyre from Ottawa. Most likely, Hale wanted someone less intelligent than Tessler, and who he could control more easily without having to sit on the FMTA board himself. MacIntyre ran an affiliate of the FMTA's umbrella organisation, United Tenants of Ontario, in Ottawa.
In Ottawa, MacIntyre attempted to coerce the city council into giving his group a money amount for every tenant in Ottawa-Hull. The city council of Ottawa responded by terminating his funding altogether. Some FMTA affiliated people have tried to establish similar groups in other centres in Ontario, but always seem to meet with great hostility and no success.
A group like FMTA seems able to thrive only in the peculiar climate of Toronto. This article is not to trace all the squalid links of corruption that intersect with FMTA; that would take a small book. It is to look at what is protecting them.
The protection does not come from outside the city; the present provincial government is very hostile to FMTA. Much of the left/labour/ new democrat nexus still thinks of FMTA as a sacred cow to be defended at all costs. Yet right wing, 'slash waste and corruption' councillors are strangely silent about FMTA, as is the local landlord's association.
Logically, these should be howling about a supposed tenant's organisation which gets half a million dollars a year, which always passes council with no discussion, and without any check on whether it is delivering value for money, or is even competent. But FMTA is too useful in stifling opposition to anti-tenant measures such as the 'recycling levy' and apartment licensing.
There is a great effort to keep FMTA funding below the radar. It is very hard to find out when the Tenant Defence Sub Committee meetings are taking place. The current agendas cannot be found on the city's web site. Half the time when this committee does meet, it does not have quorum.
When critics of FMTA and the 'tenant defence fund' do find out where the meetings are, they are treated in a contemptuous and intimidating way. What these critics have come to understand is that attacking Tenant Defence Sub Committee, the tenant defence fund, and FMTA in isolation is futile; a much deeper corruption must be rooted out.
But the Tenant Defence Sub Committee would make a good rallying point for those disgusted with Toronto's present corruption.
Go back to the Federation of Metro Tenants Associations Story