Ontario senior Bob Osborne is a disabled senior on a pension and the plight of the homeless and those needing help from food banks is much on his mind, so he decided to do something about it the best way he knows how – by writing poems. 

“I had a dream one night and I was in Ottawa in my wheelchair, living with the other homeless people,” he recalled. “I woke up and I wrote a poem an hour later asking for help. It all started with a dream.”

His poem – which he calls the Maple Leaf Tax, is asking for a $12 tax on property taxes which would go to help the homeless, food banks and shelters. 

Maple Leaf Tax

I’d like to propose a new tax

Of 12 dollars once a year

For you to see

That could be added to our property taxes

In twenty twenty-three.

If this could be passed through council

For sure, without a doubt,

The needy and our food banks

Would certainly be helped out.

Now, if this was proven

To be a success someway,

Every mayor in Ontario

Could adopt these caring ways. 

Imagine all the needy and homeless

Living on the big city streets,

Their missions and foodbanks

Would have plenty for them to eat.

You take a city with a population 

With a million-plus-some,

There could be more shelters

Built from out of these funds.

We know when we’re in our homes

On a cold winter’s night,

The needy and homeless

They will be alright. 

Please do not disrespect them,

And don’t dare you condemn,

Just be thankful it’s not us

Instead of one of them. 

This idea could go across Canada

From coast to coast,

With kindness, love and care

And all the recognition to our

Canadian councillors and mayors.

With our care and love to all mankind

This is the greatest legacy we all can leave behind,

When you do the math, you will see the sense

It equals out weekly to less than 25 cents.

There is one last thing.

I’d like to say, and I’ll be brief,

Bless all Canadians

Under our flag, the Maple Leaf. 

Last week it was brought up at Bonnechere Valley council and although Mayor Jennifer Murphy called it “very interesting” she said it would have to be considered at budget time. 

“I don’t think it is a bad idea, but it is 12 more dollars, which is $1 a month to every household,”
 she said. 

However, it was soon apparent the other members of council were not supportive of the initiative. 

Mr. Osborne, who calls himself “The Old Amateur Poet”, said he sent the poem and request for consideration to about 40 mayors and councils across the province. 

“Mayor Tory (former Mayor John Tory of Toronto) seemed very pleased with it, but then he resigned,” he said. “I don’t blame anybody if they decided not to do this.”

However, bringing attention to the plight of those less fortunate is important to him. 

“Think of the hungry children in our country,” he said. 

The impetus is not for help for himself, he stressed. He worked in Brockville and retired with a pension, living on Lake Clear for awhile and recently moving to Cobden with his wife, Elaine. A double amputee he moved to the village to make life easier for them, but he is not complaining, he stressed.

“We have our pensions and we live quite well,” he said. “We have a home and food, but you have to think about others.”

The 72-year-old said his grandparents and mother taught him about helping others. 

“All my relatives, my grandmother, my mother, were born on the Opeongo,” he said. “They taught me about helping others.”

He recalled his Grandmother Valliquette had 14 children and she had a husband who was disabled at a young age. 

“He had rheumatoid arthritis and was badly crippled,” he recalled. “She looked after him and her 14 kids and every one of them has a diploma.”

His Grandmother Osborne also inspired him and he wrote about her in a second poem, also looking for help for others, this time through an extra one percent on the HST. 

HST Plus One Percent

I’d like to send a proposal

For our government to see,

An addition of one percent

That would be added to our HST.

This would be a separate fund

With this money distributed out of these funds

This is for the needy and the homeless

Living on our streets,

With more shelters built where they sleep

Would have a safe place to sleep.

Our missions and our foodbanks

Shelves would be all full,

And when they come in from the streets

There could be plenty of food for them to eat.

There could be more family homes

That would be subsidized

With our help, we could change their lives.

This evening at dinner when you sit to eat

Maybe think of all the hungry children

Tonight when they will cry themselves 

To sleep. 

HST has another meaning to my mind,

Just was sent,

Help save the with plus our one percent.

If government passes our proposal

We are sending,

This would be our true love story

With a perfect loving ending. 

I’d like to thank all Canadians

For all your kindness, loving care

And reading this old amateur poet’s 

Prayer. 

If you care to blame me, I will realize

I’m sorry you can’t see life through caring eyes.

Over 65 years ago, my gramma told me a quote one day

She said sometimes God sends a little test our way

And we have to pass, and get an A,

If I could look in heaven’s book

In some sort of way,

I would see my gramma’s name 

With a letter A.

My Gramma Osborne gave her care and love to all mankind.

This was her greatest heritage

She left all us Canadians behind. 

If this proposal is implemented with love and caring ways

Beside every loyal Canadian’s name

Would be the letter A. 

While Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MP Cheryl Gallant did reply to his poem and letter with a handwritten letter of her own, he noted he was disappointed she is not taking this on.

Meanwhile, he will keep writing poetry and thinking about others. 

“I always loved poetry when I was a kid,” he said. “I started when I was seven or eight years old.”

If his poems cause others to think about helping those less fortunate, he will be grateful, he said. 

By Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 22, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   The Eganville Leader   Eganville, Ontario
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