WiTOPoli Weekly: Friday, April 24

A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

WiTOPoli Weekly: Friday, April 17

A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

  • The Toronto Police Services (including Mayor Tory) has approved the heavily-criticized carding policy. The Ontario Human Rights Commissioner wrote an indignant letter to Chief Blair, noting “It is clear our recommendations have not been incorporated into the Procedure in any meaningful way and even the Board’s revised Policy indicates a retreat from earlier, more progressive positions.” In addition to the concern over human rights violations, the decision sets a dangerous precedent in terms of police accountability
  • An independent review released on Thursday details how CBC management failed to investigate Jian Ghomeshi and reports of workplace harassment. Media Critic Jesse Brown provides critical context to the CBC investigation
  • What will Toronto do about the Gardiner? Torontoist weighs the options and how this will reflect our city’s true priorities
  • The Canadian Labour Congress is recommending that minimum wage be raised to $15. As detailed by Press Progress, the amount of minimum wage jobs is increasing while it becomes more and difficult to live off those earnings for many Canadians. Protests were held across North America this week for the Fight for $15 campaign. 
  • Check out the full report from the Draw The Lines campaign which reviewing Toronto’s ward boundaries for municipal elections.

We’ve been looking for you.

Join WiTOpoli!

After a busy election year, during which WiTOPoli worked hard to create tools and events to keep voters informed and to all empower candidates, we’ve been regrouping in early 2015. In the meantime, we’re still producing amazing web content like our How-To series, and keeping you up to date with our Twitter feed and our weekly news round-ups.

As we look forward to the rest of the year, WiTOPoli has some exciting new goals which, along with a new structure, will help us reach as many Torontonians as possible and help us continue our mandate to diversify the civic discourse. Over the next few months, we’re creating by-laws to govern our activity as an organization, and we have big plans in the works for our next major event.

We’re also launching a recruitment process to bring new, exciting voices to our team. We’ve created a new team structure that will help us manage our activity as we expand. Specifically, we have four (4) new volunteer Team Lead positions, and we’d love for you to apply for one of them! The team lead positions are:

  • Program Lead, who will plan and coordinate all key WiTOpoli activities that inform and inspire our community members, such as interactive events, workshop series, online resources and special projects focused on the intersections of gender and political inclusion. Read more about the Program Lead’s role, then apply here.
  • Communications Lead, who will helm all of WiTOpoli’s communications activities to engage our community in creating a more gender-inclusive civic discourse. Activities will include advocacy campaigns, social media management, content strategy for the WiTOpoli blog, and promotion of WiTOpoli events and initiatives. Read more about the Communications Lead’s role, then apply here.
  • Equity Lead, who will work with the Steering Committee, Executive Director and other team leads to build WiTOpoli’s capacity to ensure that our programs and resources address the intersecting experiences that shape, facilitate and constrain political engagement (e.g. gender, race, sexuality, gender identity & expression, class, immigration status, ability, age and more). Read more about the Equity Lead’s role, then apply here.
  • Development Lead, who will make WiTOpoli’s programming possible and accessible to as many Torontonians as possible by planning and coordinating all fundraising initiatives for the organization, including memberships, stewardship events, crowdfunding campaigns and grant applications. Read more about the Development Lead’s role, then apply here.

Each of these roles will involve about five hours of work per week, most of it from the comfort of your own home. Meetings are generally held during evenings and weekends. Sometimes two heads are better than one, so if you and a friend want to tag-team any of these roles, feel free to submit a partnered application!

WiTOpoli is committed to anti-oppression principles and continuous learning about how to best reflect these principles in our activities and initiatives. We seek the same commitment from all candidates. We are especially interested in applications from women (cis + trans) of colour, Indigenous women (cis + trans), non-binary and gender-queer folks, queer women (cis + trans), and women (cis + trans) with disabilities.

Applications are due on Tuesday, April 21st at 11:59pm and must include both:

  • a copy of your resume (emailed to womentopolitics@gmail.com with your desired position title in the subject line)
  • a completed online application form for your desired role

If you’re planning to apply, please reserve the evening of April 27th, 6:30-8:30pm in your calendar now – that’s when we’ll be hosting a mandatory mixer at The Gladstone (wheelchair-accessible, child-minding available upon request) for shortlisted candidates to get to know each other and the WiTOpoli Steering Committee. If you’d like to apply but are already booked for the evening of April 27th, please email us. If you are selected for the shortlist, you will be notified by April 24th at 11:59pm.

WiTOpoli is a 100% volunteer-run organization. We are grateful to everyone who’s contributed their time and effort to help WiTOPoli succeed so far, and we’re looking forward to this exciting new chapter.


Program Lead

The Program Lead will plan and coordinate all key WiTOpoli activities that inform and inspire our community members, such as interactive events, workshop series, online resources and special projects focused on the intersections of gender and political inclusion.

Reporting to the Executive Director, in the first three months of their appointment the Programming Lead will:

  • Build on existing WiTOpoli workshop materials to create and market a steady workshop series on a topic of their choosing.
  • Design a cohesive system for recruiting and managing occasional volunteers.
  • Provide continued leadership on the existing 2015 election barriers research project, which is based in part on data arising from the 2014 municipal election.
  • Work with the Development Lead to plan one major 2015 WiTOpoli event (e.g. panel discussion, mini-conference).
  • Work with the Executive Director to identify the other roles required on their team to bring their plans to fruition.

The ideal candidate:

  • Is passionate about political engagement for women and other equity-seeking groups (e.g. people of colour, queer people, transgender people) and recognizes the systemic barriers to their full inclusion.
  • Takes initiative, generates ideas and doesn’t need an itemized list of tasks in order to take an idea from concept to fruition.
  • Loves creating resources and planning events that spark participatory learning.
  • Enjoys research, whether it’s picking apart a policy brief or Googling til you run out of keyword synonyms!
  • Likes people and zeroes in on the best applications of each individual’s talents, interests and expertise.
  • Has experience with planning events (e.g. researching and booking venues, soliciting facilitators and presenters, sourcing in-kind sponsors, gathering physical materials such as post-it notes and pens, planning interactive online components, writing promotional copy, managing registration lists, etc.)
  • Is well-organized and good at keeping track of the details, preferably using tools like Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Drive (our internal communication system) – but we’ll train you if you haven’t used them before!

This position will require an average of 5-7 hours of your time per week (the vast majority of which can be performed remotely) and regular email correspondence with the WiTOpoli Executive Director and other team leads.

Interested? Apply now!

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Communications Lead

The Communications Lead will plan and coordinate all of WiTOpoli’s internal and external communications activities to engage our community in creating a more gender-inclusive civic discourse. Activities will include advocacy campaigns, social media management, content strategy for the WiTOpoli blog, and promotion of WiTOpoli events and initiatives.

Reporting to the Executive Director, in the first three months of their appointment the Communications Lead will:

  • Work with Program Lead to design an external communications plan for an existing research and policy project, with a goal to launch in late 2015. Plan could include but should not be limited to: social media campaigns including contests and Twitter chats, deputations to Toronto Council, publication of original research via reports and infographics, etc.
  • Provide continued leadership on an existing WiTOpoli blog series and plan a new series to launch in late 2015.
  • Coordinate “renovation” of the WiTOpoli website, including researching WordPress themes, devising a plan for organizing information, and writing new boilerplate content.
  • Design an effective long-term plan for collaborative management of the WiTOpoli social media accounts.
  • Work with the Executive Director to identify the other roles required on their team to bring their plans to fruition.

The ideal candidate:

  • Is passionate about political engagement for women and other equity-seeking groups (e.g. people of colour, queer people, transgender people) and recognizes the systemic barriers to their full inclusion.
  • Takes initiative, generates ideas and doesn’t need an itemized list of tasks in order to take an idea from concept to fruition.
  • Is active on social media and well-versed in popular platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.
  • Feels comfortable with public speaking and media interviews (experience in advocacy and/or PR would be an asset).
  • Has their own way with words and isn’t afraid to use it, but is also comfortable with WiTOpoli’s voice as a group (get to know us!).
  • Is well-organized and good at keeping track of the details, preferably using tools like Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Drive (our internal communication system) – but we’ll train you if you haven’t used them before!
  • Basic graphic design skills would be an asset, but are not essential.

This position will require an average of 5-7 hours of your time per week (the vast majority of which can be performed remotely) and regular email correspondence with the WiTOpoli Executive Director and other team leads. It requires occasional flexibility for media interviews and/or community management during the 9:00-5:00 Monday-Friday workday, like when we put out a press release about a new project or host a lunchtime Twitter chat.

Interested? Apply now!

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Equity Lead

The Equity Lead will work with the Steering Committee, Executive Director and other team leads to build WiTOpoli’s capacity to ensure that our programs, plans and resources address the intersecting experiences that shape, facilitate and constrain political engagement (e.g. gender, race, sexuality, gender identity & expression, class, immigration status, ability, age and more).

Reporting to the Steering Committee and in consultation with the Executive Director, in the first three months of their appointment the Equity Lead will:

  • Advise on equity and access matters during the Steering Committee’s development of a set of WiTOpoli governance documents.
  • Develop and facilitate an anti-oppression workshop for WiTOpoli Team Leads and Steering Committee (completion of this workshop will also be required for any future team members).
  • Build upon existing WiTOpoli research to create an internal guide for equitable and accessible events, ranging from key considerations at the outset of event planning to contact information for interpretation and child-minding service providers.
  • Consult with Program, Communications and Development Leads on their unfolding plans to provide guidance and recommendations as necessary.

The ideal candidate:

  • Is passionate about political engagement for women and other equity-seeking groups (e.g. people of colour, queer people, transgender people) and recognizes the systemic barriers to their full inclusion.
  • Takes initiative, generates ideas and doesn’t need an itemized list of tasks in order to take an idea from concept to fruition.
  • Understands anti-oppression principles and practice, and regularly participates in related discussion (experience on an anti-oppression, diversity or equity committee would be an asset).
  • Advocates and/or organizes for equity, inclusion and accessibility in their own lives, workplaces and/or communities.
  • Is well-organized and good at keeping track of the details, preferably using tools like Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Drive (our internal communication system) – but we’ll train you if you haven’t used them before!

This position will require an average of 5-7 hours of your time per week (the vast majority of which can be performed remotely) and regular email correspondence with the WiTOpoli Executive Director, Steering Committee and other team leads.

Interested? Apply now!

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Development Lead

The Development Lead will make WiTOpoli’s programming possible and accessible to as many Torontonians as possible by planning and coordinating all fundraising initiatives for the organization, including memberships, stewardship events, crowdfunding campaigns and grant applications.

Reporting to the Executive Director, in the first three months of their appointment the Development Lead will:

  • Conceive and plan a crowdfunding campaign to launch in late summer/fall 2015, including devising a concept and goal (in partnership with Program Lead), coordinating videography and graphic design, writing copy and working with the Communications Lead on a community management and donor recognition plan.
  • Design a membership structure for WiTOpoli including sourcing local retailers for in-kind sponsorship, coordinating production of WiTOpoli goods for members, and working with the Equity Lead and Steering Committee to determine members’ role in WiTOpoli governance.
  • Produce a grant application timeline for funds accessible to grassroots groups. If the opportunity arises to apply for a grant in the first three months, the Development Lead will do so in partnership with the Executive Director.
  • Work with the Executive Director to identify the other roles required on their team to bring their plans to fruition.

The ideal candidate:

  • Is passionate about political engagement for women and other equity-seeking groups (e.g. people of colour, queer people, transgender people) and recognizes the systemic barriers to their full inclusion.
  • Takes initiative, generates ideas and doesn’t need an itemized list of tasks in order to take an idea from concept to fruition.
  • Loves building relationships with people and has a wide network and contact list of their own. Our Development Lead also isn’t shy about calling up a stranger, asking for things, or trying to get the best deal.
  • Is skilled at the art of the “thank-you” and generates creative ideas for rewarding people’s participation and generosity.
  • Has a knack for writing, whether it’s a grant application, a newsletter article, or one of those perfect emails that strikes the balance of comprehensive and concise.
  • Is well-organized and good at keeping track of the details, preferably using tools like Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Drive (our internal communication system) – but we’ll train you if you haven’t used them before!

This position will require an average of 5-7 hours of your time per week (the vast majority of which can be performed remotely) and regular email correspondence with the WiTOpoli Executive Director and other team leads.

Interested? Apply now!

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WiTOPoli Weekly: Friday, April 3

A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

  • At this week’s city council meeting, council accepted Rob Ford’s apology for his racist remarks but opted not to have the councillor attend anti-racist training. Council also rejected a motion to combine accountability offices, and will seek a third party assessment to review the four accountability offices.
  • The Toronto Police Services Board met yesterday to discuss the practice of “carding”, though the board ultimately voted to defer any decisions of the new rules until its next meeting on April 16th. For more background on the issue, check out these recent pieces from VICE and NOW.
  • Cheri Dinovo’s bill to ban conversion therapy for LGBTQ youth passed its second reading at Queen’s Park this Thursday, garnering support from all 3 provincial parties.
  • The Ontario minister of community safety and correctional services is urging the federal government to reject the recent amendments to Bill C-279, as “it’s essentially legalizing discrimination” for transgender Canadians
  • The Ontario Attorney General concluded its review of Canada’s new prostitution laws, declaring them to be constitutional. Premier Wynne had previously express “grave concerns” as to the laws constitutionality, and coalition of organizations are urging the province not to enforce the new law, for fear that it will continue to put sex workers in danger.
  • Toronto was among several Canadians cities which hosted protests this Thursday to urge a retrial in the Cindy Gladue case. Alberta prosecutors announced they will appeal the non-guilty verdict.
  • As of April 1st, approximately 70,000 temporary foreign workers lost their legal status in Canada, following the new “4 and 4″ rule which forces labourers to leave the country after 4 years and wait another 4 years to re-apply for a work permit.
  • Although women are overrepresented in public service, they are noticeably underrepresented among the sector’s top earners.
  • Last weekend, the Broadbent Institute hosted the Progress Summit in Ottawa, including a keynote from feminist gaming critic Anita Sarkeesian. Toronto school trustee Ausma Malik also attended and discussed her views on being a millennial in politics with Maclean’s.

WiTOPoli Weekly: Friday, March 27

A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

How-To with Laura Pin: Setting the Wheels in Motion for Community Change

This is part of a new series on the WiTOPoli blog: a series of How-To posts with women who have made change in their communities by working with (and sometimes fighting against) the institutions that make our city work. These women inspire us and remind us that though the challenges to having our voices heard are many, they are most certainly not insurmountable.

By: Talia Bronstein

Laura (right) with members of the Cycle Toronto's Ward 14 Advocacy Group.

Laura (right) with members of the Cycle Toronto’s Ward 14 Advocacy Group.

“When I first moved to Toronto, I considered myself to be a cyclist, but not a cycling advocate.”

It was experiences of feeling unsafe and marginalized on Toronto’s chaotic streets that led Laura Pin to start volunteering with Cycle TO, a member-supported organization that advocates for a healthy, safe, cycling-friendly city for all.

Nowadays, Laura proudly identifies as a cycling advocate, serving as both the co-founder and current co-captain of the Cycle TO Ward 14 Advocacy Group, which brings together energetic, passionate community residents to promote and advocate for cycling in their community.

After successfully pushing for bike lanes to be installed in her neighborhood, Laura walks us through the step she took to make the community change happen.

Step 1: Identify the Problem

Laura notes that while her neighborhood of Parkdale/High Park “has one of the highest concentration of bike commuters in the city, it has very little infrastructure to support these cyclists.” The lack of bike lanes in the area left cyclists with limited options: either battle the traffic on Queen or King, or meander through disconnected one-way neighborhood streets, sometimes against the flow of traffic. The result? Unsafe conditions that could lead to collisions.

Step 2: Understand the Problem

Laura and her Ward 14 cycling advocacy group began digging to try and understand why there were so few bike lanes in the neighborhood. They discovered that there was a municipal plan for the area that recommended a series of contraflow bike lanes (bike lanes on quiet residential streets that flow in the opposite direction of traffic), but that the plan had never been implemented.

They then turned their attention to uncovering the reasons behind the government inaction.  Through meetings with staff at the City of Toronto, they learned that the city did not want to build any new contraflow bike lanes (even though several had already been instituted) because there was some ambiguous language in the Ontario Transportation Act about whether contraflow bike lanes were legal in the city.

Step 3: Show Up and Be Heard

Once they understood the root of the problem, Laura says, the advocacy group teamed up with the staff at Cycle TO and began to “talk to absolutely everyone – our city councilor, our MPP, city of Toronto staff,” to discuss the importance of contraflow bike lanes in their community and to brainstorm how to make them happen. By educating and raising awareness amongst their elected officials, the group was able to build political support.

In 2014, a major opportunity arose: The Ontario Transportation Act was opened up for amendments.The Ward 14 Advocacy Group and CycleTO HQ jumped on this chance to have their voice heard. “We made sure to be at those public consultations and participate in the dialogue,” Laura explained, in order to educate policy makers and push for them to clarify the language about contraflow bike lanes in the Transportation Act.

Step 4: Celebrate your Victories!

After successfully advocating for the Ontario Transportation Act to change its language to allow contraflow bike lanes in the city, the advocacy group continued to meet with municipal politicians and staff to ensure the bike lane plan was actually implemented in a timely manner. Parkdale/High Park welcomed its first contraflow bike lane into the community on Fermanagh Avenue and additional contraflow bike lanes are scheduled to be built in summer 2015.

Step 5: Reflect on Lessons Learned

Laura suggests that when it comes to meeting with elected officials and government staff, be sure to do your homework beforehand. “Confidence goes a long way. You know your stuff. Don’t psyche yourself out! You have something important to say.”

For anyone trying to make a change in their community, Laura recommends connecting with the local groups in your neighborhood. Most communities have resident associations and other established advocacy groups who can offer support and help navigate the system.  “The most significant thing is to get organized. It’s not just about policy change; it’s about building a sense of community and bringing people together.”

WiTOpoli Weekly: Friday, March 20

A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.