Toronto Action for Social Change
P.O. Box 73620, 509 St. Clair Ave. West
Toronto, ON M6C 1C0
(416) 651-5800; e-mail: email@example.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JULY 25, 1998
Robin Hood and a Merry Man Busted at Loblaws; All Members of TASC Banned From Entering Any of Loblaws' Stores
A heavy security presence greeted Robin Hood and Her Merry Band at today's corporate hypocrite picket at the new Loblaws at Lakeshore and Jarvis Streets. Robin had planned to enter the store, fill up baskets with food, and see if the manager would pass along this food, without selling it, to the poor of Ontario.
"After all, if they can afford almost $8 million in compensation for Loblaws President Richard Currie, what's a few baskets of food?" asked Hood.
After finding all entrances to the store blocked by Metro police and private security, Robin Hood and Honest Shawn (aka Sara Mackenzie and Shawn Beck, respectively) were finally arrested and charged with trespassing after they insisted on going into the store to get food for the hungry of Ontario.
TASC members were also handed a letter banning them from all Loblaws and affiliated stores under threat of arrest and civil damages (Text of letter below).
This is the latest in a series of corporate hypocrite pickets outside Loblaws, which TASC charges is profiting off of poverty through its sponsorship of food drives. TASC also points to Loblaws' refusal to pay some $56 million in deferred taxes, the outrageous executive pay, and corporate support for the Harris Tories as evidence that the food chain is not interested in ending the true causes of hunger.
TASC has held information leaflets at Loblaws for two years; numerous letters to President Richard Currie seeking an open dialogue on ending hunger in Ontario have not been answered. Instead, Loblaws has arrested Santa Claus and two elves, the Easter Bunny and three helpers, and a school teacher who happened to be shopping at the wrong time.
Robin Hood and Honest Shawn have been summoned to court August 26; the Easter Bunny and friends go to trial September 23, and Santa and the elves risk going to the gaol come December 8.
TASC is currently planning a fall action at another Loblaws to keep up the pressure for an open dialogue on ending Loblaws' role in the creation of hunger in Ontario.
For more information call 651-5800.
************************************************************************Text of letter issued to TASC from National Grocers Co. Ltd. of 6 Monogram Place, Weston, ON, 246-7899, dated June 16, 1998
"It is our opinion that the laws of this Province consider Stores to be private property, where the public is admitted, upon invitation, for the purpose of transacting business. It is our further opinion that this invitation may be withdrawn at any time. The invitation for you to visit any of our Loblaws, No Frills, Supercentre, freshmart, valu-mart and Y.I.G. locations, is therefore withdrawn effective upon receipt of this letter.
Should you henceforth enter any of our identified Stores without first obtaining our permission in writing, we will consider having you arrested and charged and in addition we may seek civil damages."
In a similar piece of correspondence handed out by private security, TASC was informed: "If the demonstrators/protesters perform such activities as providing pamphlets to our customers while on Company property or picking up grocery products in our store and depositing them directly into a Food Bank drop-off location without purchasing the product, will be classified as trespassing and the appropriate authorities will be advised and requested to act."
From Debbie Regina, Sr. Manager, Loss Prevention, Loblaws. 6220A Yonge St., 218-7700.
Text of the leaflet handed out July 25th:
FRIENDS, BEWARE THE FACE OF GREED:
Richard J. Currie, President, Loblaws:
1997 Take-home pay: $7,702., 755.00
Rank among Top Paid CEOs in Canada: #9
Deferred, Unpaid Taxes Owed by Loblaws: $56,000,0000.00
Number of Kids (and their families) in poverty in Ontario (1995
estimate---pre-Harris. Add thousands more for the real number): 506,000.
Number of times (to the best of our knowledge) Currie and Loblaws have
condemned Harris government policies which cause hunger: 0
Number of arrests Loblaws has ordered of non-violent anti-hunger
Children's heroes arrested by Loblaws: Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, elves, a
public school teacher who read one of our flyers.
Why has King Richard chosen to ignore the plight of the poor? For two
years, Toronto Action for Social Change have asked to speak with Currie
about opening a dialogue on ending hunger in Ontario, not just putting a
bandaid over it. All requests have been ignored. Loblaws sponsors good
drives, gets great PR, and profits off each purchase made for donation.
But it does nothing to end a problem to which it contributes via financial
support for the Tories, refusal to pay deferred taxes, and gross pay for
Help us open the doors of accountability. Call and fax Currie
(phone 416-922-2500, fax 416-922-0803), and demand that: Loblaws stop
arresting non-violent anti-hunger leafletters; Loblaws immediately join the
dialogue on ending hunger in Ontario; Loblaws pays its deferred unpaid
taxes; Loblaws parent Weston cease support for the Tories; that Weston CEO
Galen Weston (net worth $1.3 billion) share the wealth; Loblaws drop
charges, against Santa, elves, Easter Bunny and Friends!
TASC: Box 73620, 509 St. Clair Ave. West, Toronto, Ontario
M6C 1C0, 416-651-5800. <firstname.lastname@example.org>
NOTES FOR JULY 25TH ROBIN HOOD ACTION
---Rev. Brian Burch, Community of St. Thomas
"My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favouritism
really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with
gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor
person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one
wearing the fine clothes and say, "Have a seat here, please," while to the
one who is poor you say, "Stand there," or, "Sit at my feet," have you not
made distinctions among ourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in
the world to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love
him? But you have dishonoured the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress
you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme
the excellent name that was invoked over you?" (James 2:1-7)
We are an occupied nation, according to the Quaker activist Ursula
Franklin. Those with economic might areoccupying and destroying our
communities and implementing cruel and unjust measures to ensure that our
neighbours go hungry and are homeless while they profit from this misery.
We are able to spot our oppressors easily. They are the ones that
donate to parties that implement the neo-con/neo-liberal anti-compassion
agenda. They are the ones that the create the problems, such as hunger,
that they then try to get positive publicity for helping to ameliorate.
This is like cutting off someone's leg and then expecting to be called a
hero for buying a bandaid.
Part of the traditions of many people around the world is that of
noble outlaws---forced into the wilderness of society where they work hard
to feed the poor, house the homeless, fight injustice and seek to promote a
vision of a just and caring society.
This is the tradition of Robin Hood and the merry band of outlaws
of Sherwood Forest. They stole from the rich, whose wealth was gained from
the suffering of those they conquered, and gave this wealth to the poor.
Around us today are growing numbers of poor, homeless and
marginalized. The government has declared an open war on the poor, cheered
on and financed by companies such as Loblaws and Weston Industries. From
arresting panhandlers on the TTC to jailing squeegee kids to cutting
welfare to ending social housing programmes to closing hostels, our
occupiers have proven what side they are on. Companies like Loblaws, which
give money to the Harris' Tories, show what side they are on.
It is encouraging to know that there are outlaws like Robin Hood
here today to remind those occupying our lands and oppressing our people
that they are opposed. It is encouraging to know that there are those
willing to take risks to remind all of us that there does not need to be
hunger, poverty and homelessness in our society.
Loblaws is the Sheriff of Nottingham to Mike Harris wicked King
John. In some versions of the Robin Hood story there is a conversion of
the Sheriff. Let us hope that our late 20th century Robin Hood can help
encourage such a conversion in Loblaws today.
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