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(en) National Housing Day seen from Quebec City

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sat, 23 Nov 2002 05:23:31 -0500 (EST)


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Some 20 tenants took part in the Quebec City action of the National Housing
Day. Targeting the army and the CMHC without having too much of a reaction,
it's the Capital that finally counter-attacked... To the great surprise of
everyone (even the cops!). 

Targeting the CMHC and the army

This time, the member of the FRAPRU choosed to go to Ste-Foy (a reactionary and
wealthy Quebec City suburb that is covered with shopping mall) to demonstrate.
First stop was that Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), a federal
government agency that used to develop social housing but now only collect
stats on the deterioration of both housing and the living condition of tenants.
On site, a picket line was held, slogans where canted and leaflets hand out. We
took opportunity of a speech to explain the group demand which are that the
federal government put 2 billion a year in social housing and develop a new
program for public housing (more human then the old one, of course!).

To add to the slogans of the FRAPRU, anarchists that where there proposed new
ones that where gladly taken over by the crowd ( «Bourgeois et propriétaires,
hors des quartiers populaires» [trans.: Bourgeois and landlords, out of working
class neigborhood], «ni taudis, ni condos, on veut des logements sociaux»
[trans. Neigther slums nor condominiums, we want social housing[ and «Le
logement est un droit, locataires défend toi» [trans. Housing is a right,
tenant defend yourself]). Three of them came with a nice blakc flag on wich it
was written «Soviet de Saint-Sauveur» [Saint-Sauveur is one of Quebec City
working class area] wich beg questions and interrogations (it seem that the
history, or the myth, is that the soviet in question is the flat of the three
who successfully fought against a rent hike with the help of the tenant union).

>From the CMHC, demonstrators moved to the military neighborhood (behind the
shopping malls), a neighborhood that is totaly owned by the Canadian Armed
Forces with numerous empty houses and land (we saw about 20 empty house only
walking 3 street corners in the hood). A banner reading ?Empty houses or social
housing: a choice of society? was deployed in front of one of the empty house.
Two women that are currently looking for an home talked about how hard it is to
find an appartement in the private market when you have kids. One of them
currently live with 11 other people in a 3 bedroom mobile house since july
first because she cannot find a place to stay. The other will be evicted of her
appartement with her kids on dec. 31th (nice day to move out, no?). Her
appartement will be closed down after ward following a judgement by the housing
tribunal (better to kick people in the street then let them stay in ?unsafe?
place they think). The specific demand to the army is that on one hand they
give away the empty land to build some desperately needed housing coop in
Ste-Foy and on the other that they immidiately give over their empty houses so
they can be used as temporary housing for evicted families who would other wise
end up in the street. Indeed, there is currently a minimum of TWO EVICTION a
day in Quebec city, kicking in the street an important number of people (many
of whom a families with kids) in the middle of november without any possibility
of relocalisation (even temporary relocation). 

>From the army land, the demonstrators returned to the CMHC. This time, we get
in and, to our surprise, we were well received (they even gave us coffee!). Our
demand was to meet with the regional director, but as there is no such things,
this was impossible! So we asked the highest ranking guy there to fax our
demands to the Primer of Canada office. Which he did (I was surprised)!

Capital counter-attack

Outside of two or three cop cars on the army land, who didint gave us troubles,
everything went well. That was without counting on the growing privatisation of
public space in Ste-Foy. We were supposed to meet our bus driver in the parking
lot of Place Ste-Foy (a yuppie shopping mall). There was only 15 of us then,
waiting for our bus in front of some yuppie clothes store (I think it was named
Raza or something like that). About 15 people standing, walking around, smoking
cigarettes, discussing. The manager of the store flipped out and called the
security to tell them there was an aggressive  picket line in front of her
store and that we were scaring out shoppers. The security came, first trouble.
We are on the side-walk, our banners are folded, we are waiting for our bus,
it?s not a demo or a picket line at all, no fucking way, we wont move. It stay
at that and our bus still isn?t coming. Five minute latter the head of security
come by furious shouting ?you have 30 seconds to get out of the way or I call
the police, it?s a private property here, moooove!?. Of course people reply,
not exactly politely. We agree to move a bit not be directly in front of the
clothes shop and to hide the placards. She says she give us 15 minutes to go or
she call the cops. She come back with two goons five minutes latter. From a 30
feet?s distance she scream ?now it?s enough, if you dont fucking move out of
the way, Iam calling the police?. That what she does with a cell phone. We are
starting to bet to know which will arrive first, our bus or the cops. Finaly
both arrive at the same time, together. Instead of just realizing we told the
truth, the cops encircle the bus to ?talk with the leader?. They are sure we
where demonstrating against the shopping mall and they lecture us making a
comparison between the parking lot and our living room (??). 4 or 5 cops cars
because we where wainting for our bus on a ?private property?, this is weird.
You can occupy military land, no one cares, but as soon as you approach the
Capital realm...

Elsewhere in Quebec 

It was the first time the FRAPRU organized for the National Housing Day. It
started in Chateaugay where some 30 tenants held a press conference to protest
against the housing crisis. It was in front of a motel that is full of homeless
tenats since july 1st. The Chateaugay group then move to join other people in
Longueil (Montreal south shore). There, there was 150 tenants that build a
village with cardboard boxes in front of the local liberal federal MP office.
There was a meeting with delegates. The MP said that 70% of the liberals MP
where in favor of increasing the budget of housing and in favor of maintening
the budgets for homelessness. Politician talking? Probably. In Montreal, one
hundred tenants demonstrated on the Jacques Cartier Bridge and put a huge
banner there asking for 2 billions for social housing. There was an occupation
of the CMHC office in Sherbrooke and press conference in Trois-Rivière and
Saguenay.

* They are the  Comité des citoyen-ne-s du quartier Saint-Sauveur, the Comité
logement d?aide aux locataires de Ste-Foy and the  Comité populaire
Saint-Jean-Baptiste.


=====
| Groupe Anarchiste Émile-Henry (à Québec)  :  |
| http://www3.sympatico.ca/emile.henry/eh.htm  |
| La NEFAC  http://flag.blackened.net/nefac    |
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