Canada, Quebec City occupation stay strong

May 28th -- 11 days, and counting, the Quebec city occupation of an empty house (now full of "squatters") to denounce the housing crisis stay strong. As always, the last couple of days were eventfull (how else could it be!) with lots of media attention and some developpements on the political front.

Friday, thanks to television yellow journalism, was our first "confrontation" with the municipal autorities. As I said in an earlyer report, the local TV channel did a special noon report on us to steer some public hatred. The thing completely backfire on them and we instead have a complete hour to present our point of view. We first had something like 20 minutes in direct (i.e. in real time tv) to present our point of view and our demands. Then there was various interventions from the city (who said they didint mind having us squatting there building, as they too wanted to have a coop there (!?!)), then an housing specialist (who coroborated our depiction of the housing crisis) and finaly a representative from the FRAPRU (who once again stress the seriousness of the situation and our demands). In between was a voxpop done during the morning with local residents and then a few calls from listeners. The funny thing is that, against all odds and to our great surprise, they where only able to find one yuppie to denounce us (only one, shit!). The same day, our occupation also backfire in the parliement with the "question period" solely devoted to the housing crisis (the opposition critics yelling to the governement "your inaction force groups of citizens to rely on civil desobedience to denounce the crisis", that's pure opportunism on their part, but hey...). The governement announce that he will announce something on june 5 (!!!).

While the weekend was quiet on the media front, wich allows the "squatters" to do some repair on the place, an anti-poverty demonstration nonetheless stopped by the house to show some support (there was something like 200 of them). The media cricus started once again on monday morning with rather long interviews (well, this means 5 to 7 minutes, but that's an eternity on TV!) with the two other local TV channels (both did their first report after 10 days!) and a radio station.

Political developpements

While the provincial governement is not moving at all despite presure, the city is. First off, we've learned during the monday news report that they have autorised the building of 25 luxury condominiums on the site (shit!) but that they are also in negociation with a community group to have a project of 40 something cooperative housing units. After double checking, this is confirmed. The "squatters", and the local coop, however find this completely disgusting, as this would mean building towers on the site (while curently there's only 2 stairs) or cutting down the remaining trees on site. Another (huge) problem is also that the said community group does not seem to be interested in working with the surrounding community. The "squatters" counter-attack is to call a popular assembly tomorow to talk with the locals about how they see the developpement of the hood and what kind of project they would like.

Support continue to build

The huge petition visitor can sign is now 700 hundred strong, wich clearly show the level of support we have in the community (400 people had to stop by the place to sign it, the rest was collected by the anti-poverty organizers at a social forum). More and more cooperatives are also showing formal supports as well as housing groups all over the province. Some are showing direct, concrete, support (like the University student unions confederation who gave political support as well as a 1500$ check). We are also making the front page of Droit de Parole, one of the local lefty free community newspaper.

The occupation was started on friday may 17th by activists from the Comite populaire Saint-Jean-Baptiste at the end of a 300 strong support demonstration. The demands of the "squatters" are the transformation of the place into a selfmanaged housing cooperative supported by the community, a ban on any new condominium project and the building of 8000 social housing units a year Quebec wide.

You can reach the "squatters" at 418-522-0454 or

Nicolas Phebus

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