Founded in Toronto in 1968, the Praxis Corporation was a progressive research institute mandated to spark political discussion about a range of social issues, such as poverty, homelessness, anti-war activism, community activism and worker organization. Deemed a radical threat by the Canadian state, Praxis was put under RCMP surveillance. In 1970, Praxis’s office was burgled and burned to the ground. No arrests were made, but internal documents and records stolen from Praxis ended up in the hands of the RCMP Security Service. All this occurred as Pierre Trudeau’s Liberal government shifted away from social spending and poverty reduction towards the economic regime of austerity and neoliberalism that we have today.
In When Poverty Mattered, Paul Weinberg combines insights gleaned from internal government documents, access to information requests and investigative journalism to provide both a history of radical politics in 1960s Canada and an illustration of misdeeds and dirty tricks the Canadian government orchestrated in order to disrupt activist organizations fighting for a more just society.
Anyone interested in the history of poverty and poor people’s movements should read this book.”
— Gaétan Héroux, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty and co-author of Toronto’s Poor: A Rebellious History
Paul Weinberg’s book reminds us that political activism is viewed as a threat by much more powerful and secretive actors with little accountability.
— Sean Hurley for The Point (full review)