Drug trafficking allegations denied by Oshawa CAMP organizer, homelessness advocate

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Published May 14, 2024 at 2:11 pm

CAMP Bond and Kerr
Raymond Bond (right) recieves a donation to the CAMP meal project from Conucillor Rick Kerr. via CAMP's Facebook page.

A homelessness advocate and organizer behind Oshawa’s CAMP (Community Assisted Meal Program) has denied allegations of drug trafficking during his work, saying he never did anything “unlawful or inappropriate” at or near the meal program.

Raymond Bond, 48, of Oshawa, was charged with five drug trafficking offences and selling unmarked cigarettes. The charges came after a police raid that allegedly led to the discovery of $480,000 worth of cocaine, methamphetamine and opiates in a home near Glen Street and Porter Street on May 3.

The charges have not been proven in court.

Shortly after police made the charges public, Oshawa city councillor Derek Giberson took to Facebook to link Bond to the decision to end CAMP, which once sat in the Midtown Mall parking lot.

Giberson claimed the allegations against Bond were known then and contributed to the program’s downfall. Bond has denied the allegation, calling it “completely false and entirely malicious in its intent.”

CAMP operated out of a trailer, supplying meals to the less fortunate every day for several years, first in Memorial Park and then at Midtown. The program’s permit expired in 2022.

At the time, Bond argued “We’re here fighting for the honour to serve our community. We ask that we be allowed to continue our work without any more interference.”

Despite public support for the extension, it ultimately failed in a 7-4 vote. Giberson was one of the votes against the extension in a surprise move from a councillor known to champion initiatives for the city’s homeless population, including his presidency of the Back Door Mission.

Following Bond’s arrest two years later, Giberson blamed Bond’s reputation for his decision to vote against CAMP.

“Remember when he led a food distribution operation for the vulnerable on a side street beside Midtown Mall, and a majority on Council decided not to extend the exemption to be set up there, and we had to take the punches right on the chin in public for that decision? Now you know,” he wrote.

Giberson also claimed Bond was a major reason for the lack of a memorial to those killed by poverty and drug use in the city. A few years ago, there was an informal memorial set up at the Pepper Patch, a community garden near the Oshawa Hospital.

However, the memorial violated city bylaws and was subsequently removed. This sparked outrage and inspired a push to build a new permanent memorial, which included Bond.

“There was no way, on my watch, that his name would be attached to such a thing. Now you know,” Giberson said.

The director of the homelessness advocacy group DIRE, Christeen Thornton, shared some information about the situation with insauga.com.

DIRE and Thornton were heavily involved with the campaign to build the permanent memorial and have long advocated for services for Oshawa’s less fortunate. Thornton shared a conversation between herself and Regional Council Rick Kerr from 2019, indicating these allegations stretch back at least that far. In the text messages shared with insauga.com, Thornton and Kerr discussed allegations involving Bond and reports of drug selling.

“Everyone who got close to Raymond had heard the allegations or saw concerning behaviour, and [Durham Police] was informed years ago by multiple people at all levels of influence in our city; nothing was done and a lot of people have died since Ray pushed me away from helping as an advocate,” Thornton told insauga.com.

“But I went to the bail disclosure hearing and learned that he had half a kilogram of fentanyl. It must be noted that all the while Ray was advocating for a memorial for those who had died of an overdose, he was allegedly selling the substances causing such deadly overdoses,” she continued.

A few days after Giberson’s statement, Bond released his own statement in his defence. While he couldn’t comment on his criminal charges, he wanted to “address some of the social media comments that have been posted by certain individuals who appear determined to cast aspersions on my character as the lead organizer of CAMP.”

He said while organizing CAMP, opposing safe consumption sites and advocating for the memorial, “I was not using hard drugs, nor was I in possession of any narcotics (with the exception of the recreational use of marijuana). At no time did I allow, or personally undertake, any behaviour that would be deemed either unlawful or inappropriate at or near the meal program.”

“This includes any suggestion that I would, for whatever reason, attempt to take advantage of those less fortunate while lobbying on their behalf.”

Taking aim more squarely at Giberson, Bond wrote, “Councillors who may, at this point, feel ashamed at how they voted on matters concerning CAMP appear to be seeking redemption by tossing around unsubstantiated accusations related to my conduct while overseeing the meal program. Their comments couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Bond has not been convicted by the courts.

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