Update: Anarchist Ashleigh Ingle may have a twin! It’s been brought to my attention that the person I identified as Ashleigh Ingle may have been an assistant to Jonah Schein. If so, there’s an incredible resemblance- right down to their purple framed glasses! I’ve changed the article to remove that information- will write an update when more information is available please accept my apologies for any confusion.
I went to an interesting community meeting about West Toronto’s uranium oxide plant on Saturday. The meeting itself was rather dull- there was a panel with people from GE, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), and the Toronto Environmental Alliance, and NDP MP Andrew Cash.
Zach Ruiter was there too, and a large contingent of his supporters. From what I could tell, there were more NDP operatives and anti-nuclear campaigners at the meeting than there were neighbours of the plant. There was a lot of manipulation going on too- on many different levels…
First, and I’m not the only person who noticed this, there was a lot of intimidation focussed towards the people from GE and the CNSC. Some of it was the usual stuff (people in the crowd interrupting), but there were a few new tricks this time.
One of Ruiter’s most interesting tricks is how he used his camera as a prop so that he can make nasty faces to people. I saw him doing this a couple of weeks ago at a Pro-Palestinian rally. He get’s up-close into the person’s face, and then starts making menacing expressions- only, looking at the screen rather than directly at the person. I caught an example of this on video:
Ruiter also ran around with his flag behind the panel, regularly interrupted the speakers, and was so disrespectful that local residents in the crowd were yelling out asking him to stop. It really got out of hand at times- and, I was disappointed that Cash and Schien didn’t have the leadership skills to stand up and ask that they stop. Perhaps they were okay with this behaviour?
There was also what appeared to be some hand signalling from people in the audience to someone on the panel:
Perhaps- first let me prime you with a bit of Jonah Schein’s history- he seems like a nice guy who’s been hanging out with the wrong kids. When Schein was a student at York University (yeah, you knew that was coming) he led an innovative crusade to bring more money to people who are on welfare- in a rather devious way.
He discovered an obscure part of Ontario’s welfare law that allowed a special $250 subsidy for people who have special dietary requirements. The purpose of the subsidy was for people who had medical reasons for a special diet- unfortunately for the province, the subsidy wasn’t very well defined. Schein helped start ‘clinics’ where medical professionals were willing to sign-off on the subsidy for most anyone- the assumption was (and is correct) that the Ontario Works program doesn’t provide enough money for people to eat healthy food.
Schein’s activism was a brute-force attack on the system. It was, temporarily, successful- a number of people signed up and were able to receive the subsidy. But, of course, the government got wise to what was obviously a manipulation of the system. So, they came up with a list of acceptable conditions and began filtering out people who aren’t on the list. And, unfortunately, it is now much more difficult for people who need the subsidy to get it.
This Jonah Schein sounds a bit like an anarchist- doesn’t he?
Well, perhaps not, but he’s no stranger to the anarchist/Marxist crowd. Schein decided to partner with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP). I wrote about OCAP back in September in a story about unions, anarchists and flying squads. I’ve heard more than a few people refer to OCAP as ‘anarchist central’- when there’s an OCAP march happening, you’ll always see lots of police around.
OCAP also work with Common Cause, CUPW, and union flying squads. Flying squads were invented by the Teamsters back in the 1930’s, and have often been associated with violence and dirty tricks. That doesn’t mean that everything a flying squad is dirty. They exercise a diversity of tactics– some people do helpful things like serve doughnuts and coffee to cold strikers, others ‘monkeywrench’ the system, or create distractions.
Cash & Schein campaigned together on a platform of replacing diesel trains with electric trains. It’s a very worthy cause (there are many residences beside the train line)- but, equally, a very difficult promise to fulfil in a single term of office. Equally, it is an incredibly expensive and time consuming project- it may take many years until local residents see new trains.
Conveniently, they now have a new cause to rally the voters with. And, it’s not out of the question they could get a date scheduled for the plant’s relocation in the next year. That could be a victory they can use at the next election to prove their environmental ‘cred’. Equally, they gave a lot of cred to the anarchists by attending their last meeting.
The GE-Hitachi protest carries a lot of the hallmarks of something the flying squads would do. Send in some troublemakers to stir things up, distract from unwanted discussion, and gain advantage in negotiations. Anarchists at Occupy Toronto have told me that people from the unions have been trying to recruit them for flying squads. Occupy Toronto has been deeply involved with this protest.
If this is a just a coincidence- well, there certainly are a lot of them. For example, Cheri DiNovo (who was also involved with GE-Hitachi) starts crusading against animal abuse at Marineland (a worthy cause), and next we see a group of anarchists invade the place. The Toronto Star had a great picture of Zach Ruiter there with a megaphone and a dolphin fin hat.
At the minimum, it’s all very entertaining to watch…