Political Action Update

The Political Action Committee was formed this summer with the following proposed mandate: To protect our Co-operative homes from external political threats through political action as well as education of the public and our members.

We are currently very small, but the need for your help is great! The very survival of our home is being threatened.

With no time to delay, our newly created Political Action Committee was in contact with other coops in the region. On October 16, Jennifer Freeman and I set up tents along the canal and I stayed the night to help keep Co-operative and social housing on the agenda for the next provincial election.

Co-operatives in general and Co-op homes specifically are not well understood by people outside our sector. Because of this we come under constant threat by all levels of government that see us as an easy target for spending cuts and other negative changes. We need to remind them and the public of who we are, and how the cooperative movement helps our society.

Our current campaigns primarily relate to downloading. What is downloading? Essentially it is when one level of government passes it's responsibility for something on to another level of governmnent. Most often these days this happens without the accompanying funding such that these programs become under-funded. It is easiest to equate most forms of downloading with commonly understood ideas such as "shirking responsibility".

As a mixed provincial/federal coop we are personally threatened by any negative movements made by either the provincial or federal governments, and both seem to be heading in bad directions.

From the minutes of our October 19, 1998 board minutes:

Russell gave an update of the recent "tent city" protest during Mike Harris' visit to Ottawa, and presented a Draft Resolution on the proposed transfer of co-op housing programs to the Province, and the co-op housing sector's alternative.

It was Moved by Jennifer, Seconded by Horst that the Board of Directors of Co-op Voisins firmly oppose the transfer of administration of the federal co-operative housing programs to the Province of Ontario; that the Board support the co-op housing sector's proposal for a national independent agency to administer federal co-op housing programs; and that the Board urge the federal government to keep federal housing co-ops out of any transfer of social housing to the province and to support instead the co-op sector's proposal for a new independent agency to administer our programs. Passed unanimously.

As something we can all individually do, I have some postcards that address these same issues that are to be sent to our Federal MP, Mauril Bélanger. I will drop some off at the office and will have some available at my own apartment (#609). Please return these to the office or to me as I would like to keep a list of who has filled one out - we will likely try to get volunteers to talk to our other members and hopefully get everyone to fill one out!

Remember: The Political Action Committe is non-partisan. We aren't against any particular government, but in support of the co-op sector. At times this needs to take the form of opposition of specific policies of the current government (Possibly of a government we can't easily find good policies of ;-), but will never involve us suggesting what person you should vote for. No matter what your political bend, if you believe in co-operative housing you should get involved with helping protect our homes!

If you would like to get involved, or to learn more about various campaigns, please contact me: Russell McOrmond, Apartment 609, Ring #81, russell@flora.org


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