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Platitudes Don't Fill Plates

We spend hundreds of millions of dollars blasting through rock and building massive concrete overpasses but cannot afford to feed the hungry.

By Adrian Duyzer
Published October 20, 2006

Mayor Larry Di Ianni expressed his love for the poor at the Good Shepherd Centres' annual Harvest Dinner last week. He indicated it was important to "remember others in our community who are not so fortunate."

The work of the Good Shepherd Centres, he said, helps "alleviate the suffering that people in our community feel every day."

After speaking in the spirit of thanksgiving, the Mayor also took a moment to speak in the spirit of political campaigning, pointing out some of the city councillors in attendance - including Bernie Morelli, Tom Jackson, and Terry Whitehead - who, he said, also "supported" the work of the Good Shepherd.

Whether their support was by their purchase of a ticket to the function or more significantly in their roles as municipal legislators was left unclear.

In the case of Terry Whitehead, it was a shock that he even chose to attend. As reported by the Hamilton Spectator, in August he demanded that Hamilton's social services stop referring poor clients to his ward for housing, a stance that Spec columnist Susan Clairmont summarized as: "poor people are criminals, so let's keep them out".

Overall, it was a humble speech that lamented the fate of the many Hamiltonians who live in poverty: a sad situation that would be completely hopeless were it not for organizations like the Good Shepherd.

But this was Larry Di Ianni speaking, the senior elected official of the city, a powerful man. It was odd to see the Mayor, who supports the half-billion dollar Red Hill Creek Expressway, striking such a helpless pose.

We spend hundreds of millions blasting through walls of rock and building massive concrete overpasses, but apparently feeding the hungry, housing the homeless and providing well-paid work to the unemployed is too much for Hamilton.

If there was ever a time to announce the kind of long-term support for Hamilton's social services that would make fundraisers optional or unnecessary, it was that night.

Platitudes soothe the ear, but they leave the belly empty. Unfortunately, that's all Hamilton's most vulnerable received from the mayor last Thursday.

Adrian Duyzer is an entrepreneur, business owner, and Associate Editor of Raise the Hammer. He lives in downtown Hamilton with his family. On Twitter: adriandz

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