Press Release: October 1, 2008

Election neglecting popular issues: war & homelessness

Huge military spending, unpopular Afghan War not questioned despite economic crisis and mass homelessness

Tonight and tomorrow, as Canada’s Federal party leaders compete in national TV debates for the October 14 election many ordinary people will be disappointed if our common issues are left out yet again. 300,000 people will experience homelessness this year – about the same number that purchase new homes in what remains the only industrialized country with no National Housing Program!

“As the financial crisis spins Canada further into recession, we already see mass homelessness. We’re hearing a lot about how to placate ‘markets’, but what about the immediate humanitarian crisis? The shelters are already full – where are people going to stay? How will we rebuild housing and community health? These vital questions are missing.” notes Beric German, TDRC co-founder. Last winter, the United Nations attributed “a large number of deaths” to the Canadian Federal government’s failure on housing.

Despite deepening economic recession, Canada’s skyrocketing military spending is now the highest since WWII and 13th highest in the world at $18.2B per year. Every month, $100 million goes to the unpopular war devastating Afghanistan. That money could build social housing with massive economic and community health benefits. This simple choice is not being offered in the election so far, despite very high popularity in civil society:

This year over 200 organizations have joined a new diverse alliance for Housing Not War! Community health centres, labour unions, organizations of immigrants, scientists, religions, lawyers, artists, women, teachers, students, environmentalists and more are uniting to demand that the Federal government end its unpopular war in Afghanistan and shift resources to peace including a National Housing Program. Stephen Lewis, Ursula Franklin and Gordon Pinsent are among the thousands of individual endorsers.

“This wild military spending is an economic black hole, wasting resources without social benefit – and it continues even as our economy now faces a historic crisis. Consecutive governments have been rejecting popular priorities that would support those most vulnerable in this crisis, instead wasting public resources on tax cuts for already rich corporations and the government’s own military power.” says Andrew Mindszenthy, TDRC Outreach Co-ordinator.