FLORA Community WEB:
Russell McOrmond
FLORA Community WEB
134 Sparks St., Suite 200
Ottawa, ON K1P 5B6

Email: Russell@Flora.org
Office: (613) 231-6075
Vmail: (613) 235-7584
FAX: (613) 230-1258
WEB: http://www.flora.org/

Mauril Bélanger - MP

(Copies to Bernard Grandmaâtre - MPP, Madeleine Meilleur - Regional Councillor, Stéphane Émard-Chabot - City Councillor)

June 12, 1997

I would first like to congratulate you on your recent return to office in the Ottawa-Vanier riding. I just recently moved to the area and currently live in the Voisins coop in Apartment 609, 440 Wiggins Pvt (K1N 1A7). I am still working in my same downtown office on Sparks St. Since this is a return to the office for you, there are not as many new faces for you as there will be for me. Being new to the area, I wanted to introduce myself as I suspect that there will be a fair amount of interaction between us in the upcoming years.

I was glad to hear that although I am in a new riding, that I was already familiar with the MP from other areas such as the Defense Fund for the Montreal Rally (And my work on the http://www.plcom.on.ca/defence/ WEB site), as well as the SOS Montfort <http://www.village.ca/sosmontfort/>. Unlike the MP from my previous riding (Mac Harb, Ottawa Center) you are not one of the invisible MP's within the community.

While there are many issues I will want to discuss with you ranging from environmental and transportation issues (I have enclosed a letter I wrote to Mac about transportation taxation) as well as globalization and trade issues (Multilateral Agreement on Investment, Privatization, downloading, government downsizing, seeming emphasis on medium and large businesses for so called 'job creation'). Today I would like to focus on social housing.

As you will notice from my new address, I live in one of the co-operative housing units in Sandy Hill. My future wife (Wedding date is August 9th) and I wanted to move in together into a mixed neighborhood in order to be a part of a strong community. The coop we are in is like many that has both market rent and subsidized units: you see people from all walks of life, with many different languages (Majority English and French, but others are represented), with many different perspectives on the world. These are the breeding grounds for tolerance of differences and the real strength for a future of a strong and United Canada.

No sooner did I find out about this very needed island of learning did I find out that both the Federal and Ontario Provincial governments were wanting to get out of the housing business. The Federal governments want to offload housing to the provinces, and in turn the Ontario government wants to either get rid of or offload housing to the municipalities.

As part of the so called "Common Sense Revolution" the following statements were made:

"We will end the public housing boondoggle that profits only the large property developers and return to a shelter subsidy program for all Ontarians who need help in affording a decent level of shelter...
We will also direct the Ontario Realty Corporation to develop a plan to sell the more than 84 thousand units owned by the Ontario Public Housing Corporation..."

Fortunately the Harris Government could not easily privatize social housing (Too many agreements they couldn't break and mixed-ownership indicating that he didn't own them to sell them off!). The push is now to download things to the municipalities, something we all know will eventually mean the end to social housing as the property tax base will not support the required infrastructure, and the lack of standards across the province and country will tend to create financial ghettoes rather than the mixed-populations that I currently see in the area I live in.

I would urge you to put pressure on your government to not only not download social housing to the provincial level, but to also encourage the federal government to take a leadership roll in strengthening the co-operative and social housing sectors across the country through federal level funding and standards.

Last Wednesday I ran and was elected to the Board of Directors for the Voisins coop. In this capacity I will be following the advise offered to us by Nick Sidor (CHFC-Ontario Region President) to become more political. Please keep me informed of any changes in the area of coop and social housing, and I will definitely keep you up-to-date on how our membership feels about the upcoming changes.

I was glad to go to the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada list of candidates that supported co-operative housing <http://www.chfc.ca/support.html> and found your name on this list. It is nice to know that we will be on the same team again on this issue as we were with the Defense Fund for the Montreal Rally. You should let me know what I can do to help further these goals.

Thank you,

Russell McOrmond
Note: This and other letters can be found at: http://www.flora.org/russell/letters/.