Wednesday, November 22, 2000

Housing Strategy Action

National Housing Strategy Day of Action

Hamilton ON, November 22, 2000

Today at noon Santa and 20 or so elves who are also supporters of Hamilton Action for Social Change, Homes Not Bombs, and Christian Peacemaker Teams, visited Hamilton West Liberal MP Stan Keyes' campaign office on James St. S., Hamilton.

The group invited the Canadian government to "give the gift of affordable housing" to the 1.3 million Canadian children and their families living in poverty.

MP Stan came out of his office when he spotted the ONTV camera and made a speech extolling all of the goodies his party had promised to the homeless and those in danger of losing their shelter. He promised that things would be better for the poor of Hamilton somewhere in the future, because Homeless Minister Claudette Bradshaw had interviewed homeless people two years ago.

Santa reminded MP Stan that we were there to promote the 1% solution, that 1% ($2 billion) of Canada's GDP be spent to eliminate poverty by providing affordable housing as Canada's MP's pledged to do more than a decade ago. Santa also said that this small group was there in solidarity with the National Housing Strategy Day of Action taking place across Canada today.

Santa and his elves presented MP Keyes with a cardboard replica of an apartment building along with some readings from the UN's Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantee housing as a human right.
The group quoted Martin Luther King Jr., who said that "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on the military than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

They then pointed out to the MP that in the fiscal year 2000-2001 Canada will spend $11.2 billion on war, and zero dollars on new affordable housing construction to address the national crisis of homelessness.

Canada annually spends over $80 million enforcing sanctions which have killed over a million Iraqis. That money could have provided for over 2,000 affordable housing units.

Mr Keyes was presented with the cardboard affordable housing unit and these words:
"In order to remind Mr Keyes that his government must radically alter priorities, we present you with this gift, a model of decent affordable housing so desperately needed to save the spiritual soul of Canada. We vow to see that whoever is elected will not avoid their responsibility to ensure affordable housing for all. We intend to hold the government accountable. Happy Holidays!"
The group ended the visit by singing the hymn "Amazing Grace" with lyrics by poet Allen Ginsberg, words that referred to homelessness and its alleviation [lyrics reprinted below] 


I dreamed I dwelled in a homeless place
Where I was lost alone
Folk look right through me into space
And passed with eyes of stone
O homeless hand on many a street
Accept this change from me
A friendly smile or word is sweet
As fearless charity
Woe working[folk] who hear the cry
And will not spare a dime
Nor look into a homeless eye
Afraid to give the time

So rich or poor no gold to talk
A smile on your face
The homeless ones where you may walk
Receive amazing grace

[repeat first stanza]

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