FRAPRU puts up tents in front of the French Embassy and the official residence of Stephen Harper in Ottawa

    OTTAWA, Nov. 20 /CNW Telbec/ - Scores of FRAPRU members pitched tents
today, in front of the French Embassy, and then in front of the official
residence of Stephen Harper, both situated on Sussex Drive in Ottawa. The aim
of this action was to demand that the French government of Nicolas Sarkozy and
the Canadian government of Stephen Harper assume their respective
responsibilities regarding the right to housing.
    By installing a first tent in front of the French Embassy in Canada,
FRAPRU members wanted to demonstrate their support for the 215 poorly housed
families, who have been camping out day and night since October 3rd on rue de
la Banque, in the heart of the Paris financial district. These families, who
have been lodged for months if not years in hotels, hostels or with friends,
are demanding their right to real housing. Over the last month and a half,
they have resisted the repression orchestrated by the Sarkozy government,
which on many occasions, has taken apart their camp and confiscated the tents,
blankets and tarps they used for shelter. Their struggle, supported by Droit
au logement (DAL), has received endorsements by various organizations,
including la Fondation Abbé Pierre, SOS Racisme and Emmaus France, as well as
by many personalities such as the actors Gérard Depardieu, Emmanuelle Béart,
Richard Bohringer and Carole Bouquet, the film director Agnès Varda and bishop
Jacques Gaillot.
    If FRAPRU has demanded that the French government of Nicolas Sarkosy take
its responsibilities by finding suitable accommodations for the families
struggling in Paris and by working towards lasting solutions to the housing
crisis, it does not intend to be silent on the indifference of the Canadian
government of Stephen Harper. The Prime Minister has not even bothered to
respond to the severe criticism concerning the situation in Canada that was
made by the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing, Miloon Kothari, on
October 22nd in Ottawa.
    In his preliminary report made public at the end of a two week
observation mission in Canada, which FRAPRU endeavoured to symbolically
deliver a copy of to the Prime minister's residence, the UN representative
stated that he witnessed "the deep and devastating impact of this national
(housing) crisis on the lives of women, youth, children and men". He affirmed
that this was of particular concern given that "Canada is one of the richest
countries in the world".
    Mr. Kothari specifically demanded that the Harper government follow-up on
his statements in the Throne Speech regarding "affordable housing and the
number of homeless people on our streets", with concrete proposals and the
necessary funding for among other initiatives, "large scale building of social
housing units across the country". And yet since then, the conservative
government has confirmed a budgetary surplus of $8.7 billion for the first
five months of the fiscal year 2007-2008 and has presented a mini-budget that
announced new tax reductions totalling $60 billion, but has still not provided
any additional funding to combat housing problems and homelessness.
    According to FRAPRU coordinator, François Saillant, "the governments of
Nicolas Sarkozy and Stephen Harper obey the same logic, that of further
abandoning housing to the forces of the private market, that of refusing to
enable the state to fully assume its role in the area of social housing, that
of the negating the right to housing for all".
    Given the international character of the fight for the right to housing,
FRAPRU decided at its last general meeting held on November 16th, to get more
actively involved in actions at this level.

For further information:

For further information: François Saillant, FRAPRU, (514) 919-2843
(cell); François Roy, Logemen'occupe de l'Outaouais, (613) 277-6507 (cell)

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Front d'action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU)

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