On October 1, 1998, seven people were arrested in a nonviolent protest at Queen's Park to mark the third anniversary of the devastating 21.6% cut to social assistance. Water-soluble stage blood was thrown on the walls of the building to symbolize the deaths of the homeless, the murder of women by men in a province which had cut essential services to abused women, the murder of Dudley George, the deaths of people following health care cuts, and the 2,000 annual smog-related deaths in a province which has slashed environmental safeguards, to name a few examples.

After being permanently banned from Queen's Park, we were convicted in a trial in which the judge tried to prevent us from reading the names of over 100 victims of the Harris cuts. When the Justice of the "Peace" called the reading of the names "irrelevant" and found us guilty&endash;despite an overwhelming amount of evidence pointing to the relationship between the cuts and the deaths&endash;we turned our backs on the court, and were fined "$100, no alternative" (which means if there is no payment of the fine, there are no consequences.)

However, the Harris government has been harassing these seven activists with constant phone calls and threatening letters.

On June 19, I received another in a series of letters from the firm Allied International Credit Corp. which reads: "YOU HAVE FAILED TO COOPERATE!"

Advising me that this is a serious matter which could result in garnishment of wages, seizure of assets, bank accounts and bonds, or the registration of a lien against property, it advises me to pay immediately or face punitive action.

Since I believe the real criminal in this is the Harris government, and not those who have protested his brutal policies, I refuse to pay what is now a $135 fine. Since these are also the kinds of punitive measures being taken to try and kick people off of social assistance, I believe the principle is even more important to uphold: that failure to cooperate with injustice is a strong means of seeking justice.

The Harris government says it has no money to raise welfare rates or building non-profit housing, yet it has millions to pay private firms to harass nonviolent activists protesting poverty.

If you believe this is wrong, and that such threats should stop being issued, please make a toll-free call to the person listed on this letter, Lindsay Lessor, at 1-888-309-8406. Feel free to enlighten Lessor on the crimes of the Harris government, as this is a free call from anywhere in Ontario.

Feel free to quote my name and file number, Matthew Behrens, Case Number 8728662.


Matthew Behrens

Toronto Action for Social Change