On a recent trip to Brazil, what is hugely evident is the staggering divide between rich and poor. Private helicopters in direct opposition of slums and kilometre long hospital lines.
It has prompted me to ponder the divide as it exists in Toronto. Living in Parkdale, I’m able to see where a clash of rich and poor come to a head. For those who know me, they’ve likely heard this example, but at 4:45 pm along Queen Street, west of Dufferin in Toronto, you’ll find a long line of people queueing outside the mission for a warm meal, and yet, not half an hour later, a few doors down starting at about 5:20pm comes another line, headed by a trendy lady with a clipboard. She’s taking names for a taco bar where the average wait is an hour and the average check is about $60 for 2 people. The lines happen almost simultaneously. Are we shy to notice this contradiction, and what it demonstrates, are we comfortable in the stark difference staring at us each day. Should this thriving business not have some responsibility to its neighbourhood? I don’t want to pick on independent businesses, because they are truly the life-blood of our fair city…
But it begs the larger question, do we want to use our collective power toward holding businesses accountable for their actions? For those who alter natural environments in impactful ways, should we not aspire to impose repercussions to their destructive behaviour? Whether its polluting, employing underpaid workers, bombarding our social channels with garbage and the large multi-nationals who skirt around paying fair taxes against staggering profits.
Why are we not enforcing that Tim Hortons use compostable cups and discontinue drive-throughs that last on average 8-12 minutes? Why don’t we avoid Starbucks, knowing that they get away with tax evasion when our small businesses are audited more frequently than large multi-nationals because the CRA doesn’t have the manpower to compete with the rich lawyers and accountants who defer and delay any hearings for years….And why the fuck do people flock to celebrate the opening of Target superstore with celebrities and an ice rink?
We aren’t mobilizing to put more pressure on the commercial world to contribute back or at least try to soften the implications on society, on the environment. Our dollars hold power. How about we exercise that power?
Who’s to blame for this? And what can we as individuals do to help?