“It’s wrong to punish students who are speaking up for themselves and their future by speaking out against Doug Ford’s education cuts. The NDP is calling for the $1,500 sidewalk chalk cleanup bill sent to high school students to be cancelled.” – Ontario NDP House Leader Gilles Bison
A Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted June 24th, 2019 on Niagara At Large
Do you know what happens to anything you draw with chalk on the surface of a sidewalk or parking lot when we have the kind of rainstorms we’ve been having across Ontario now for the past three months?
The chalk washes way and whatever message or masterpiece you have drawn for all passers-by to see is gone with the rain.
Apparently, Ontario Doug Ford and those in his so-called “Government for the People” don’t know that, or don’t want to know that or don’t care, because now they are billing a group of high school students a total of $1,444 for cleaning some words they chalked on the sidewalks of Queen’s Park during a recent demonstration against ongoing education cuts.
There are reports that the kids – and stories on this matter say they were kids between about the ages of 10 and 18 – did not follow all of the rules around holding protests on the lawns of Queen’s Park, and some even chalked things on the sidewalks that were deemed by some to be “profane,” including the image of a hand giving the middle finger above Ford’s name.
The word words “vandalism” and “defacement” were also used to describe the chalk drawings.
I would suggest that what may be viewed as profane or as acts of vandalism or defacement is strictly in the eyes of the beholder around anything this Ford government does or any way that others respond to this government’s actions.
And I would submit that the cuts the Ford government has made and is continuing to make to health care, to education and to other services for children, seniors and families, along with the weakening or total gutting of rules for protecting endangered species and our environment, and heritage buildings and districts in our communities are far more profane and far more significant acts of vandalism and defacement.
Indeed, once you wipe out a species or destroy a wetland or a woodlot or know down a heritage building, they are gone forever.
Powdered chalk, which is what the young people apparently used to express their concern and anger over cuts to their education, washes off in the rain.
And yet here is Ford, who seems to be channelling some of the inner bully that made headlines when he was a Toronto city councillor and his late brother Rob was the city’s mayor not so long ago, taking off after these kids for breaking a few rules around applying a bit of chalk to a sidewalk.
The kids were even slapped with a $1,444 bill for the clean-up?
Where in hell did that figure come from?
If it actually costs that much to clean up a bit of chalk, I’ll get a high pressure hose and wash away chalk drawings in an hour for you. That would have me making more in an hour than many people in my region of Ontario make working at a real job all week.
But seriously, what a lesson this is for a bunch of young kids about how nasty a government can be and how diminished the democratic freedom earlier generations fought and died for on the fields of Vimy Ridge and the beaches of Normandy, France in Doug Ford’s Ontario.
Below is a media release from Ontario’s NDP and Official Opposition Party on this –
NDP fights fine for student chalk-drawings
QUEEN’S PARK — NDP House Leader Gilles Bisson released the following statement in response (this June 24th) to reports that high-school students were billed about $1,500 for the clean-up of sidewalk chalk after a peaceful protest at Queen’s Park:
“It’s wrong to punish students who are speaking up for themselves and their future by speaking out against Doug Ford’s education cuts. The NDP is calling for the $1,500 sidewalk chalk clean up bill sent to high school students to be cancelled, and today we’re reaching out to the Speaker’s office to make that demand.
Spending $1,500 to do what rain or a hose could have taken care of in a few minutes is a waste. Sending that bill to students who were peacefully protesting is callous.
The crackdowns on peaceful protests need to stop. Doug Ford has attacked anyone who disagrees with him — like students and teachers. We’ve seen Ford’s MPPs call the police on seniors’ book clubs. We’ve even seen seniors — grandmas and grandpas — hauled out of the legislature’s public galleries in handcuffs.
Ontarians who are standing up to Ford’s callous cuts deserve to be heard, not punished.”
To read a newspaper story on this, click on – https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/06/21/fifteen-year-old-student-protester-gets-bill-for-1444-for-clean-up-of-sidewalk-chalk-slogans.html .
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