C-400 is defeated, but the need for housing continues

02-28-13

Last night, after much effort and support, Bill C-400 for a national housing strategy was defeated by a vote of 153 to 129.  To read the hansard from last night and see which MPs voted in favour click here.

Many people across Canada stepped up to support this bill.  Its defeat last night was a blow to all of those who are homeless in this country, and the nearly 50 organizations who have rallied together on their behalf.  In the past several weeks campaign members wrote articles, encouraged dozens of MPs to support housing, circulated petitions, and spread the word on social media. Even though C-400 did not move forward, we should take a moment to dwell in the collaborative efforts to firmly place this issue on the national radar where it belongs.

As a co-lead of the Dignity for All Campaign, we were so pleased to join all of you in this important work.  Thank you for your dedication, your belief in social justice and all of the efforts to contact MPs, write to the media and support this campaign.  It was definitely team work.

While the campaign did not reach all mainstream media, it managed to capture coverage in a number of provinces – NS, NL, ON, MB, YK and BC.  29 articles on C-400 in one month! Social media was also alive with comments on a national housing strategy and #C400 throughout the campaign and especially yesterday.

It is clear that our democratic process is failing and has failed.  Looking for new innovative ways to raise social issues is now key to achieving success.  However, what has been achieved during this campaign has not gone unnoticed.  One particular ‘tweet’ from yesterday sums this up:  “You’ve given people things to talk about at the table, the watercooler, and the bus stop. Groundswell grass roots”

People are awake to housing issues, so now we need to somehow continue and build on this momentum.  CWP is considering its next steps but will likely continue the discussion through the press, as well as community engagement activities.  Alongside this, the Dignity for All campaign will continue to support and join the work of our national housing partners to develop and mobilize support for a national housing strategy.  We will continue to work with all political parties to end homelessness.   We remain committed to finding a solution to homelessness, working with national, regional and Aboriginal groups on housing, and keeping our networks informed of any progress on this front.

To aptly summarize the success of C-400, Michael Shapcott of the Wellesley Institute reminded campaigners of the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.,

 ‘A final victory is an accumulation of many short-term encounters. To lightly dismiss a success because it does not usher in a complete order of justice is to fail to comprehend the process of achieving full victory. It underestimates the value of confrontation and dissolves the confidence born of a partial victory by which new efforts are powered.’