Basic income sit-in participants — even media — barred from entry to MPP’s office

By Roderick Benns

n Monday Perry had led a small group to protest in front of Scott’s office

On day two of a peaceful protest in front of local MPP Laurie Scott’s office, lawyer and social worker Mike Perry was informed they were not welcome to enter the constituency office. Neither, apparently, is media, as Scott’s staff members would not even let Pamela VanMeer of Kawartha411 in to ask a question about the protest.

Not even the postal carrier could get in because of the locked door and simply moved on with the day’s mail.

On Monday Perry had led a small group to protest in front of Scott’s office beginning at 9:30 am. After peacefully demonstrating outside for awhile, the small group went inside to ask for an apology from the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, Lisa MacLeod, for the government’s treatment of participants in the basic income pilot program. Perry told Scott’s staff they wouldn’t be leaving until they heard back from the minister.

Staff members from Scott’s office asked the small group to leave on two different occasions. The group politely refused. On their third ask, staff members told the protesters they were now “trespassing.”

Finally, a police officer from Kawartha Lakes Police Service showed up from the back entrance of Scott’s office and asked everyone to leave.

At no time did the protester interfere with constituency business or people entering or leaving the office.

Scott has now posted a notice to her Facebook page. The first line reads: “I welcome any and all inquiries and comments to my constituency office, either in person, over the phone or via email.”

(Apparently not, given Kawartha411’s experience.)

Due to privacy concerns for constituents, she writes, “we are inviting demonstrators to remain outside our office while engaging in their right to free speech.” (No one was “invited,” but they were certainly ‘told,’ according to participants who were locked out.)

The ongoing three-year income was cancelled just after a year when the Ford government took office last June. The pilot program provided a basic income of up to $17,000 (for single people) with the goal of helping them take steps to get ahead out of poverty and was abruptly cut last year.

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