GoFundMe in support of Hamilton activist who must pay city $15Gs nears goal in 1 day


Published December 17, 2021 at 12:11 am

Through a GoFundMe campaign, Hamilton activists have rallied around Cameron Kroetsch, asserting that a cost order against him sets a precedent that will enable attempts to silence critics of local government.
Kroetsch, a chair of Hamilton’s LGBTQ advisory committee, must pay the city $15,000 within 30 days after an attempt to have finding of misconduct reviewed failed last week. As of 11:15 p.m. on Thursday, the GoFundMe campaign had raised $11,795 since being created one day earlier by Hamilton activists Sarah Jama and Craig Burley. There were almost 133 donations.

(Update: the campaign reached $15,466 on Friday, fulfilling its goal.)

Kroetch had appealed to the Ontario Superior Court for a judicial review of the process involved in the City of Hamilton’s integrity commissioner recommending last year that he be reprimanded and removed from the committee. The court dismissed the appeal, and awarded costs to the city.

‘Still to be policed’

On the GoFundMe page, the organizers explained that activists from equity-seeking groups in Hamilton are fearful about the precedent set by the investigation.

“The whole process has sent a message to all members of oppressed communities in Hamilton that we are, even as volunteers and as caring members of community, still to be policed, surveilled, and scrutinized for our actions as political, participating members in our society,” they wrote.

Kroetsch, who is not appealing the court ruling, raised a similar point in his statement on Thursday morning.

“With the court’s decision, members of council may now decide to come after volunteers on any of its citizen committees,” he stated. “It’s a legitimate source of concern and it’s clear that there needs to be legislative change to prevent this from continuing to happen … I continue to believe that our municipal government should be open, transparent, and accountable.”

The crux of the disagreement involved whether Kroetsch, as a volunteer sitting on a committee, was covered by the same parts of Ontario Municipal Act that govern elected officials. In the appeal, court found an advisory committee is within the law’s definion of a “local board.”

Kroetsch remains on the LGBTQ advisory committee since city council rejected that recommendation. He averred Thursday that his appeal was all about process.

“The focus of our legal team was never on trying to prove whether or not I did what the city said I did, but on trying to ensure that the integrity commissioner could not continue to be weaponized by members of council against members of advisory committees in the future,” he stated.

The funds generated by the campaign will be held in trust by Burley, who is a tax lawyer.

$38Gs for youth activists

Another GoFundMe campaign is being held in support of Jama and five other contributors to the Hamilton Encampment Support Network. The six community activists, five of whom are Black, are facing various assault and obstruction of a police officer charges after supporting encampment residents on two separate occasions in late November, at J.C. Beemer Park and at the Hamilton Central Police Station.

That campaign has raised $38,345 of its $50,000 goal.

Numerous Black community organizations, labour unions and advocacy groups have called for the charges against all six people to be dropped, and for an inquiry to be ordered into police conduct. The province’s police watchdog, the Ontario Special Investigations Unit, is also examining what happened on Nov. 26 when 24-year-old Rowa Mohamed was seriously injured while being arrested outside at the protest on King William St. in front of the Central police station.

(Cover photo via GoFundMe.)

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