OTTAWA, Oct. 11 /CNW Telbec/ - Close to 500 people demonstrated in Ottawa
today to denounce the Conservative government for neglecting the urgent needs
of low-income tenants and the homeless, while continuing to increase Canada's
military spending. To make their message very clear, the demonstrators moved
furniture in front of a Canadian Armed Forces Recruiting Centre, situated in
the heart of Ottawa, not far from the office of Prime Minister Stephen Harper,
where they marched and continued their demonstration. The event, organized by
the Front d'action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU), a Quebec
housing coalition of 130 local organizations, took place just five days before
the Throne Speech that will decide the future of the Harper government.
"Everything for the military, nothing for housing !"
According to FRAPRU coordinator, François Saillant, "It is scandalous
that over the last ten years, federal government military spending has
increased by 69% while funding devoted to housing grew by a meagre 0.6%". He
deplores the fact that housing investments do not even amount to 1 % of
federal government program spending and that they are essentially devoted to
financing existing social housing developed in past decades. He adds that,
since his rise to power, Stephen Harper has not put a single penny towards new
housing, save the 800 million $ that was allocated through legislation voted
under the previous government, following a budgetary agreement with the New
Democratic Party. FRAPRU notes that, according to federal government figures,
there are close to 1.5 million Canadian households in the core need housing
category, including 351,000 from Quebec, not to mention 150,000 people who are
The Quebec housing coalition recalls that the military intervention in
Afghanistan, which continues to incur heavy costs in terms of human life, has
also greatly increased military expenditures in Canada. A study published last
May by the Ottawa based Polaris Institute estimated that from the fall of 2001
to March 2006, the cost of military operations directly related to this
intervention came to 4.1 billion $. The Institute predicts that these
expenditures will increase by at least another billion $ in 2006-2007, for a
total cost of 5.1 billion $. FRAPRU adds that the Conservative government of
Stephen Harper has, moreover, recently announced that it will devote
15 billion $ in the upcoming years for the acquisition of military equipment.
"With the Harper Government, it is everything for the military and nothing for
housing!", exclaimed François Saillant.
While still not knowing if the Conservative government will survive a
vote on the Throne Speech, FRAPRU demands that Stephen Harper, and also all
the parties represented in the House of Commons, make concrete commitments in
the area of housing.
More particularly, it demands a doubling of the housing budget, by
including an additional 2 billion $ for provincial social housing initiatives.
It also demands that the federal government guarantee the protection of
existing social housing, as well as the tenants who live there, instead of
putting an end to its assistance, as it will gradually do in the upcoming
Finally, FRAPRU joins with the Quebec Homeless Solidarity Network, also
present at the demonstration, to demand sufficient and ongoing assistance for
organizations working with the homeless. According to François Roy,
spokesperson for Logemen'occupe, an Outaouais housing group, "Almost a year
ago, the Conservative government announced 270 million $ of funding over two
years to maintain assistance for the homeless; not only are these funds slow
in coming, but they are inadequate and there is no guarantee that this
funding, which is indispensable, will be renewed".
For further information:
For further information: François Saillant, (514) 919-2843 (cell); Bill
Clennett, (819) 743-7771 (cellulaire)