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Tell the millionaire mayor: Hands off our jobs and services!

January 15, 2012

January 17 is the day when thousands of people in the city of Toronto will demonstrate against the devastating cuts of millionaire mayor Rob Ford. This is the third city-wide anti-Ford mobilization in less than a year, which follows countless local community discussions, town hall meetings and protests to defend good jobs and services.

When Rob Ford was running for mayor in 2010, he exploited the fear and insecurity felt by millions of people in response to the economic crisis. When he was handily elected, there was despair among progressives and the left. Many activists interpreted Ford’s victory as a sign of popular support for a vicious austerity agenda. But in just a few short months, there was already growing opposition to Ford.

Now, just over a year into Ford’s term, a solid majority in every ward of the city is opposed to his attacks on jobs and public services, and a growing number of councillors—including some in his “inner circle”—have abandoned him, as public pressure against the cuts grows.

This demonstration is important in showing how much opposition exists to the cuts, and in uniting all the forces across the city that have been campaigning to defend Toronto’s city workers and the services they provide. But it’s also part of a bigger movement against the austerity agenda, and must continue and intensify in the weeks and months ahead—especially as Ford prepares to lock out city workers and blame them for an economic crisis they didn’t create.

There are already signs that Ford could back away from some of his harshest planned cuts—evidence that the ongoing mobilization is having its desired effect. But if he does, Ford will also deepen his divide-and-conquer strategy, counter-posing public services and city workers. Ford is hoping that he can slow and divide the movement against him by demonizing public sector employees.

But the level and quality of services on which so many people in Toronto rely depend on the workers who provide them. Good jobs mean good services. We need to build on the momentum of this demonstration to build an even bigger movement against austerity, and to stand in solidarity with city workers who will be on the front line of Ford’s attacks.

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