Toronto – The Thorncliffe Park Tenants Association (TPTA) is demanding an immediate apology from Toronto city councillor John Parker. During a tenants’ rally on Saturday to protest the deteriorating living conditions in local high-rises, Parker blamed the tenants, mainly low-income immigrants, for problems created by their landlord. Shrugging off their concerns, he accused them of failing to “keep up with all of their routine cleaning responsibilities.”
Parker’s presence at the rally was already unwelcome owing to a history of hostile relations with the community. His remarks on Saturday come on the heels of an earlier attempt to shut down dissent within Thorncliffe. Last summer, the Tenants Association provided a platform for local children to perform a play about their difficulties growing up in Thorncliffe. Despite having never attended the event, Parker had the audacity to scold the Tenants Association for encouraging “resentment, distrust and anger” in the community. Coming from the neighboring affluent community, Leaside Park, he has consistently prioritized its needs at the expense of Thorncliffe. “As far as we are concerned,” said Shakeel Ahmed, a long-time Thorncliffe resident, “we don’t have a city councillor. Every time he shows up here, he leaves more of a mess than he cleans up.”
Taking matters into their own hands, residents organized a public demonstration to make their demands heard. Some took the bold step of inviting the media into their homes to film apartment units afflicted by cockroach infestations, mould growth and intensive water leakages. These alarmingly hazardous conditions were trivialized by Parker – “I’ve seen worse” were his exact words. Further stigmatizing this community, he added to the stereotypes of immigrants as being dirty and unhygienic. As a political representative, this behavior is negligent and unprofessional. One would think that as a former Housing Minister, he would know better.
With the looming municipal elections, Parker will ignore Thorncliffe at his own peril. The Tenants Association will not stand for this kind of racism.
For More Information:
Abbas Kolia– 647-960-9178–President, Thorncliffe Park Tenants Association
Pat Moore– 416-467-0130 – Vice-President, Thorncliffe Park Tenants Association
The Thorncliffe Park Tenants Association (TPTA) is a community organization that fights for tenant rights. It has been working to improve the lives of low-income tenants in Thorncliffe for over a decade.