A week for housing

It’s the end of a busy week and first chance to think about how things went on Bill C-304, to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians.

It was great to see the Red Tents on Parliament Hill on Tuesday! They are a familiar site from Vancouver, where during the 2010 Olympics last February, hundreds of red tents “popped” up as a visible reminder of homelessness. The fact they made it to Parliament Hill is a reflection of the huge campaign (www.redtents.org) that’s been underway to increase awareness about housing issues.

Thankyou to the many dedicated folks who made it out and also organized actions in many communities on that day including a rally in Victory Square in my riding of East Van.

Bill C304 was debated on Wednesday and though some thought it was a final vote on the Bill, it was actually what’s called Report Stage and 3rd Reading. This takes two hours of debate – and the first hour was Wednesday. Support is still going strong for the Bill both within Parliament and outside. In fact, the broad support in the community has made an enormous difference and has given the Bill momentum to go forward.

Getting a Private Members Bill through Parliament is no easy task and there are many potential procedural and political roadblocks to overcome. C-304 is no exception, and it’s been an eye opener to navigate and resolve various issues and problems. But so far, so good! During the debate on Wednesday, the BQ moved an amendment with my agreement that if approved, when the vote comes up, will see the Bill returned to Committee. The reason for this is to consider further amendments on the question of provincial jurisdiction. I am supportive of doing this as I want to ensure that members of the BQ and Quebec housing groups are in full support of the Bill. A previous amendment on this issue was ruled out of order by the Speaker – so it’s a good opportunity to look at this again and make it work!

Lots of folks have asked me when the “VOTE” will be! At this point, the vote on the amendment will be in a few weeks (as Bills are put on a rotation list) after we’ve had the 2nd hour of debate.

So stay tuned ….. And sincere thanks to the many amazing people who have supported this Bill all the way. It’s a real testament to what we can accomplish together, from many differing perspectives, but united in a firm belief that we must do much more to make good housing a basic right and priority in Canada.