Sunday, 10 August 2014

There are consequences for outing somone ...

The Journal de Montreal is Quebec's largest newspaper, with over a quarter-million subscribers. My ex had called one of my daughters early this morning and told her to look at page 28 of the Journal de Montreal", apparently with no other explanation.

My daughter then sent me a photo of the display ad on that page:

(Journal de Montreal, 10 Aug 2014) English translation

 Moi, Daniel Lefebvre, je m'excuse  sincèrement auprès de Madame Barbara Hudson si j'ai pu l'offencer  de quelque façon par des paroles faisant référence à sa transsexualitée lors de l'assemblée d'information des résidents de la rue Anthony le 31 octobre 2013. Je précise que ces paroles n'etaient aucunement cautionnées par la coopérative.

 Daniel Lefebvre
 Coopérative d'habitation village
 I, Daniel Lefebvre, sincerely apologize to Madame   Barbara Hudson if I was able to offend in any way with words making reference to her transsexuality at the information meeting for residents of Anthony Street on the 31 of October 2013. I want to make  it clear that these words were not approved by the cooperative.

 Daniel Lefebvre
 Cloverdale Village Housing

When this whole mess with the co-op buying our buildings (with city, provincial, and federal aid) started, and the co-op began to force people to either become members (with a big rent increase) or leave , I promised my neighbours that I would do everything I could to draw attention to the situation.

When I said everything, I meant it.

Cloverdale outed me as a transsexual before all my neighbours that night.  The other residents saw this for what it was - an attempt to shut me up.  But, like toothpaste squeezed out of a tube, there was no way to undo the damage, or "put the toothpaste back in the tube."  And this sort of juicy gossip travels fast.  People I had never met were pointing me out as "the transsexual who's leading the fight against the co-op" even though none of the tv or radio interviews had ever made any reference to it.

By outing me, one of Cloverdale's directors removed one of my biggest worries - I no longer worry about being outed.  In a way, Cloverdale has paradoxically enabled me to take it to the next level, while also publicly demonstrating the type of tactics they have been using against us.

If you want to see what some of my neighbours have to say about Cloverdale, as well as the things they've had to put up with since Cloverdale took over (raw sewage, cockroaches, mice, threats and harrassment)just go to youtube.

No shame in being what I am - a transsexual.

Sometimes it's necessary to stand up for what's right and take a hit.  The way I figure it, I've already taken the hit, so why not stand up?  Like everyone else on the planet, I've done my share of stupid, bone-headed things - but not out of malice or to make a buck, which is what this whole mess is really about, fleecing the taxpayers.  I'm proud of what I'm doing to fight the co-op, the city, the province, and the feds, and my neighbours are proud of me.  Some of them - those who used to talk about me behind my back - are now among my staunchest supporters.  To them, talking against transsexuals now is just displaying your ignorance.  It's a slow educational process, but a necessary one, and I'm glad that events have forced me to take it on.

In an example of serendipity, it's just one week before divers/Cité - Montreal's annual pride parade.  What better time to do this?

- Barbara Hudson

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

You know you're in trouble when ...

I'm Barbara Hudson with a short summary of some of the experiences I've had over the last 9 months in our fight against the Cloverdale Co-op's attempts to force tenants to either leave or become part of the largest publicly-subsidized slum in Canada. 

I ended up moving to Anthony street almost 2 years ago. Both my eyes had been repeatedly haemorrhaging, and there's not exactly a rush to hire people who are going blind. At the end of October tenants were invited to a meeting at the Pierrefonds Community Center, where representatives of the Cloverdale co-op told us a series of lies.

They claimed that the city had bought our 4 buildings, that the city was prematurely terminating our leases, and that we had to leave by the end of January. They said that we would be offered less than 1 month's rent to pay for all our moving and other expenses, and that this pittance was the maximum permitted by law. Those who elected to stay after the buildings were renovated would have no choice but to sign new leases at higher rents and become members of their co-op.

None of this was true, and I wasn't the only one who smelled a rat. When it was my turn to speak at the microphone, I denounced their points one by one, in both official languages, so that there would be absolutely no misunderstanding by any of the other tenants that what Cloverdale was proposing was NOT what the law provides for.

Their director repeatedly tried to shut me up by mis-gendering me, effectively publicly outing me as a transsexual to everyone present. We found out later that the janitor had provided personal and financial information on some of us to Cloverdale. When we confronted her at another meeting for tenants only, she said she had no choice – it was her job. We threw her out. Still, that didn't fix my problem – juicy gossip like this travels fast, and, like toothpaste, there's no putting it back into the tube once it's out there. I have filed a complaint against Cloverdale with the Human Rights Commission, which goes to mediation at the end of July and, should that fail, to a full hearing.

When I was finished making my points, I told Cloverdale that what they were doing was illegal and I'd see them in court. They proceeded to do everything in their power to prevent that from happening. The harassment included no hot water from January 1st to the day before our first court appearance on February 19th, not repairing a leak in an apartment above me for almost 2 months, telling Canada Post that I was no longer living here at the beginning of February, and starting construction the second week of February.

They offered to relocate me to several mouldy apartments, which I refused. They also offered to relocate me above their offices, which would have meant coming into frequent contact with the director who outed me – also out of the question.

Between the first and second court hearing, which took place in mid-March, I had the dubious pleasure of waking up at 6am to jackhammers breaking concrete on the other side of my bedroom wall, concrete debris blocking my fire exit, and all the other noises of ongoing demolition. And we found out that the buildings were contaminated with asbestos. Turns out that Cloverdale, the city of Montreal, and the province were all aware of the asbestos problem but couldn't be bothered to tell us so that we could make informed decisions as to what to do.
Many tenants rightly feel that we're being treated like the mushrooms growing in some apartments – being kept in the dark with loads of manure being dumped on us on a regular basis.

I had an operation at the end of February to restore vision to my left eye, which had gone completely blind. The day after the operation, my surgeon told me not to read anything until he told me otherwise, but the second court hearing date was already scheduled. I couldn't let my neighbours down; nor could I risk not attending and losing by default. I did my best, but I quickly got to the point where I couldn't read anything, and even just seeing hurt. I explained the situation to the judge, and did my best to continue the rest of the day with my eyes mostly closed, but I could no longer take or read notes, read the documents the other side was dumping on me, or even find the physical evidence I had to contradict their claims. Not one of my better days.

At a third hearing I asked for a retraction of the judgement because I believe the judge made a serious error in not asking me if I could continue. As I explained at the hearing for the retraction, judges have a duty in ensuring the administration of justice in their courtrooms, and that includes ensuring that the process itself does not improperly prejudice either side. The judge's failure to ask if I needed assistance when he knew that I could no longer see properly was a judicial error. I won't allow a precedent to be set against the visually handicapped.

We obtained judgements against Cloverdale in which the court found that Cloverdale was using the renovations as an excuse to illegally evict tenants and convert their apartments into larger units, that Cloverdale had to pay tenants more than 5 times what they claimed was the maximum allowed by law, and that my safety was in question because of the way the contractor was doing the work.

The construction continues, even though the contract with the City of Montreal is clear that no work was to be done until all the residents had been relocated. I've provided copies of the contract to the local borough mayor, but I understand that it's really the city's problem, and he's having a hard time getting to the bottom of this mess.

I provided a letter describing the situation to our former provincial MNA, who hand-delivered it to the former Minister of Municipal Affairs, who never responded.

Our local federal MP quickly washed her hands of the matter, saying that it was a provincial matter, even though a large portion of Cloverdale's subsidies come from the federal government. She's sitting on some of the tools I need to continue the fight, so I'm running against her in the 2015 federal elections.

What started out as a landlord-tenant dispute has me fighting to defend the rights of tenants against illegal evictions, discrimination against transsexuals, the legal rights of the visually handicapped and blind, and a federal election next year. I promised my neighbours I would do everything I could, and this is only the beginning.

Thank you all for your support.

 Other videos at youtube.