Throwback Thursday: Summer 1978, according to Seven News

Eric Morse continues his look through Seven News, a community newspaper published 40 years ago in what was then Ward 7, including Cabbaetown.

You don’t expect (or really want) much news in late July and August – now, or 40 years ago. Seven News reflected the mood in its July 29 Page One photo (by Cherry Hassard) of kids playing in a temporary sculpture garden at Harbourfront.

Affordable housing was then, as now, a political live wire. In the July 29 issue of the paper, Alderman Janet Howard – one of two in the ward along with Mayoral candidate-presumptive John Sewell – wrote a long lead column about the sentiment in council that rent review should be ended. The Commissioner of Housing had recommended in his annual report that rent review should be terminated as an impediment to the construction of new rental housing, and had been supported by Council. Howard objected to the position and her comment reflects how quickly a city and its politics can move through a political cycle.

“Toronto City Council has, in recent years, been fairly good about supporting measures to protect tenants … But recently, the pro-development sentiments of City Council, which had been growing since the old ‘save our neighbourhoods’ days, have led to a weakening of this position,” Howard writes

This was mid-1978. The old “save our neighbourhoods”days had only begin 12 years earlier in 1966 with the Trefann Court battles that had culminated in the election of a reformist Council and Mayor David Crombie in 1972. Scarcely six years afterward, the political wheel was seemingly beginning to turn again – or at least Howard was afraid that it might.

Also on Page One, Fauja Singh Bains of Toronto won his case before the Ontario Human Rights Commission against his employer Carrier Air Conditioning, who had suspended him for wearing his kirpan to work. The HRC ruled that when worn solely for religious purposes, the kirpan was not to be considered an offensive weapon.

It was truly the dog days in the Letters column as Sumach Street resident Victor Fletcher was at it again with his complaint against John Sewell (or at least his dogs, though as Fletcher comments, dogs cannot have agency – an attitude that would now be considered sinfully species-ist) allegedly dishing out the real poop in the back lane off Bright Street.

This time though, and in the grand tradition of MSM feeding off neighbourhood papers, Dick Beddoes of the august and veritable Globe and Mail, took up the hue and cry.

Where are they now?

The next issue, August 12, carried a rare masthead. It lists the principal staff: Editor Ulli Diemer, Subscriptions Ralph Cunningham, Bookkeeping Dorothy Bushey, Howard Huggett, Photography Cherry Hassard, Cartoons Kay Cole, Tom McLaughlin. Writers Audrey Bayduza, Eric Blair, Sharon Cameron, Tom Corbett, Ulli Diemer, (Ald) Janet Howard, Howard Huggett, Roger Rolfe, Mary Rosen, George Rust D’Eye, Bonnie Sartori, (Ald) John Sewell.

We at CRA would love to hear from any of you – contact Eric Morse eriq1949@gmail.com.

Ulli Diemer came up with a fanciful way of ending local poverty – abolish all the poverty-support agencies and give the money directly to the poor as income support. Diemer notes that the savings in salaries alone could provide every household in Regent Park with a basic annual income of $4,000 in 1978 dollars. Of course, as he also notes, it would throw a few hundred social support professional workers out of work, but as he says, they are resilient, do not come from a “culture of poverty”, and would then have time to reflect on true causes.

The struggles over Meridian’s proposed South St James Town redevelopment continued, evoking the following cartoon:

And finally, in the midst of the current civic election turmoil this little gem from 40 years ago:

The full stories introduced above are available at http://www.connexions.org/SevenNews/Docs/7News-Volume09-Number07.pdf and http://www.connexions.org/SevenNews/Docs/7News-Volume09-Number07.pdf. The PDF archive is a remarkable achievement by Connexions, a collective dedicated to preserving social activism, of which 7 News is surely a shining example.

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