Hogtown is the story of an unnamed girl from a small southwestern Ontario farm community. Now she works as an articling student at a respectably conservative law firm in downtown Toronto. Be nice. Don’t ask awkward questions. Look your best. Work hard. These are the rules she tries to live by. But the rules don’t help when her boss asks her to do research for clients—two police officers—charged with raping a sex trade worker. On the eve of the G20 Summit, news breaks of the victim’s suicide, but no one notices. All eyes are on the world leaders as they breeze into town. No one has time to bother with the local tragedy of a non-person. Enraged and confused, the articling student takes to the streets with other protesters. There, her detachment evaporates as she witnesses first-hand the abuses that power can inflict on the vulnerable. Even then, she believes she can walk away with a neat collection of intellectual nuggets while avoiding the messiness of taking a stand, getting arrested, detained, beaten up. And then, thanks to the police, her turn comes.
The title of the book comes from a nickname for Toronto which arose more than a century ago when Sir Joseph Flavelle, one of the city’s preeminent capitalists, began importing hogs, slaughtering them in Toronto, and exporting the produce throughout the Commonwealth. Conveniently, the name also reminds us of the thousands of police and paramilitary personnel who locked down Toronto’s downtown core at the end of June, 2010, and committed the largest mass arrest in Canadian history.
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