Unifor Comms Staffer Appropriates My Voice For The Olivia Chow Campaign! (Feat. John Tory)


If you’ve been following this site for long you’re probably familiar with my work examining how unions, NGOs and activists all too often appropriate marginalized people’s voices. My first awareness of this phenomenon came during Occupy Vancouver when activists from No One Is Illegal inserted homeless indigenous men into the camp, labelled them as “elders”, and tried to use their presence to pressure the city into accepting a (faux) sacred fire.

My research into appropriation of voice often leads me to Canada’s new militant union unifor (a merger of the CAW & CEP). The biggest example was with Kevin Annett, a man who falsely claimed to discover a mass grave of Indian Residential School children in Ontario- there was a CAW activist on-site at the ‘dig’, and Annett was employed by the CAW after the United Church defrocked him for his fraud. My favourite example of unifor’s appropriation was in February, when two white people (including one named White!) issued a press release capitalizing on the death of Loretta Saunders.

Knowing unifor’s history, I fully expected I’d find myself writing another appropriation story. But, considering our lack of agreement on things, I never thought I’d be the person whose voice was being appropriated!


I’ve been thinking a lot about Toronto’s upcoming election. My general feeling at this point is that I can’t enthusiastically support any of the candidates. I know all sorts of things about Rob Ford (as do we all) and Olivia Chow (who we’ll get to in a moment)- but, up until yesterday, I knew very little about John Tory.

So I did some digging. One thing that shocked me (both because of what it is, and because I didn’t know) was that John Tory is still on the board of directors at Rogers- Tory was also a registered lobbyist for the company in 2013. This bothered me on a couple of levels.

First, and most important, it’s hard to believe he’s that committed to the race when he’s still got one foot in the other boat. Tory won’t even commit to how he’d step-away from Rogers if he gets elected. I’ve heard some voters express concerns that Mayor Tory would be too tied to the corporate world- his lack of a transparent transition plan concerns me.

The other thing that concerns me about Tory’s connections to Rogers is that he comes from a company that has some of the worst customer support I’ve experienced in the Western world. I was so disillusioned with Rogers a couple years ago that I wrote a guide how their customers can transition to Wind Mobile- it still gets dozens of hits a day. Compounding the problem, I don’t know a single Rogers Subscriber (I’ve polled scores) who hasn’t ended up with one of those magical bills with a giant spike in usage costs.

Do we really want a mayor who comes from a culture like Rogers? If one thing can be said for Rob Ford, it’s that he answers and responds to people’s phone calls (I’ve tested this theory, and it worked). Will Tory balance the budget by sending us magical bills?

So, as an experiment, I tweeted out to #ToPoli asking people their opinion on if it’s a good idea to protest Rogers’ crappy service by not voting for John Tory. It was in part tongue-in-cheek, but also a genuine question.

I can’t tell you how surprised when the first person to respond was unifor’s communications staffer Katie Arnup, who ‘favourited’ my tweet. If that wasn’t shocking enough, what happened next made my jaw drop down to the ground:


Like many victims of unionist appropriation, I felt used. It was never my intention to promote #Chow4Mayor, I’d sooner have Rob Ford on crack at this point. Arnup’s use of the “MT” (modified tweed) made it clear she changed my tweet, but it could still be perceived that I support Chow.

So, I decided to make my position clear:

grenouf-katie-arnup I have deep concerns about Olivia Chow’s connections to militant radicals. The first (very public) incident happened during the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) led Queens Park riot in 2000. Officers of the Toronto Police Service were working hard trying to hold back an angry mob (some with Molotov cocktails) when Olivia Chow made the decision to interfere with them. Chow left the police board very shortly after that, but still hasn’t adequately explained her relationship with the militant (violent) side of the Toronto activist community, nor her actions that day.

The first time I met Olivia Chow was when she came to one of the Robocall rallies I helped organize in 2012 (before I learned they were horribly corrupt). Chow watched as her comrades at LeadNow.ca openly called for a revolution (with a leader of the Cairo uprising at his side)- showing zero leadership, she did nothing to address what was happening.

Next, I know it’s petty, but if Olivia Chow presents herself to us as a role model for Toronto’s children, shouldn’t she refrain from using a stolen milk crate on the back of her bike? Sure, she gets points for effort by taping over the owner’s name, but we should expect more from our political leaders.

Olivia Chow marched with her bicycle and stolen milk crate...

Olivia Chow marched with her bicycle and stolen milk crate…

But, more important than milk crates, and ignoring when her foreign funded friends call for revolution, the most important question I have about Olivia Chow is her connections with militant radicals. I’m still undecided about this election but – until Olivia explains this – I’m decidedly for ABC (Anybody But Chow).


Permanent link to this article: http://www.genuinewitty.com/2014/09/10/unifor-comms-staffer-appropriates-my-voice-for-the-olivia-chow-campaign-feat-john-tory/


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    • Ardith on September 10, 2014 at 18:17
    • Reply

    Seriously? This is an issue? Do you understand how Twitter works? When you have an RT or MT in a tweet everything to the right of the RT/MT is the other person’s tween (or a shortened version) and everything to the left is an additional comment by the person doing the retweeting so it’s quite clear #chowformayor is Arnup’s response, not a comment that she’s falsely attributing to you. If you’re now going to complain that retweets are “voice appropriation” you really don’t understand Twitter since you’re basically objecting to about half the Tweets out there.

    1. I said very clearly I don’t believe Arnup had intent to mislead people- I’m just writing to make sure people understand my position. What the story is really about is that Chow doesn’t deserve to be mayor until she explains her actions at Queens Park, and her relationships with the militants behind it and the G20…

        • No Jacket Required on September 12, 2014 at 10:18
        • Reply

        Olivia Chow will never deserve to be mayor.

        1. Yes, so true…

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