Town Hall meeting in Cornwall

Monday, December 10, 2012

On Dec. 4, 2012, the Cornwall and District Labour Council hosted a number of community groups and labour affiliates at a town hall meeting, at which Sid Ryan was our keynote speaker. We started with soup and sandwiches before formalities. Our program featured 4 panelists: Sid Ryan, president of the OFL, Diane Dewing, ETFO, Alyssa Blais, Executive Director of Agape Centre, Cornwall’s Foodbank, Thrift Store and Soup Kitchen and Elaine MacDonald, president of the Cornwall and District Labour Council followed by small discussion groups and reports. Elaine moderated, and after each panelist gave their unique perspective on the fallout from the austerity budget, the assembly, whose members ranged from councillors to poverty activists to people on ODSP to labour affiliates in groups of 5 to 8, brainstormed and reported on what the 2013 budget will have to have, to be fair to everyone. A fair tax system was called for frequently, as was help for those who will be devastated by the loss of the community start up and maintenance benefit come January 1.
Discussion was animated. Everyone left their email or phone contact and the participants look forward to further activity early in 2013. Everyone pledged their best efforts to to make Ontario fair for everyone.
Prior to the town hall event, Sid Ryan was received at City Hall by Mayor Bob Kilger. Many members of the local media, daily, weekly papers, radio, and community cable television, had arranged face time with Sid prior to the meeting so between the actual coverage of the meeting and the published prior interviews, Sid’s visit and the meeting generated a lot of buzz and interest of which the most recent arrived today, a week later, in a weekly journal. Twice daily for a week, for example, sid’s television interview was featured on community cable in our local news show.
Thanks to Duncan MacDonald for the media idea and for co-ordinating Sid’s schedule with the interview requests. And of course, a big thanks to him for driving Sid to all the various venues too.
All in all, people here were energized and encouraged the the Town Hall meeting. Thanks Sid. Thanks Duncan. Thanks Diane, Alyssa and all who participated. We’ll meet again in 2013 to carry on.
Elaine MacDonald, Cornwall & District Labour Council and The Common Front, Ontario