In the darkness with a great bundle of grief
In the night, and overhead a shovel of stars for keeps, the people march:
“Where to? what next?”
- Excerpt from the poem The people, yes by Carl Sandberg
IAIN RANKIN MUST THINK BIGGER, says ACORN Nova Scotia. They’ve prepared a People’s Platform to help the premier of Nova Scotia do just that.
ACORN Nova Scotia is a long-time champion of decent and secure housing for low- and moderate income people. But their March 6 People’s Platform goes much farther: it also calls on the provincial government to act to undo gross economic inequality. It calls for specific action to:
raise welfare rates
raise the minimum wage,
mandate paid sick days,
regulate payday loan sharks, and more.
Rally at the legislature
Some 50 people rallied at the opening of the legislature spring session March 10 to support the People’s Platform.
“We’re calling this the People’s Platform because it was written by everyday people,” Lina Hamid, chair of the ACORN Halifax mainland chapter, told the crowd.
“We’ve had some really big wins around housing and rent control in this last year. But we do need to think bigger and in a more multifaceted way, and work together in bettering our communities from all angles. There’s strength in numbers,” said Hamid.
Several groups were quick to support the People’s Platform. Speakers expressing their support at the rally included the Halifax-Dartmouth and District Labour Council, and the Fight for 15 and Fairness campaign.
CUPE Nova Scotia president Nan McFadgen confirmed her personal commitment to the platform and promised to recommend support of the demands with the CUPE executive board.
Several of ACORN’s demands speak directly to the affordable housing crisis in the province. Prominent is the demand for government grants so that nobody pays more than 30% of their income on rent, and support for tenants who have fallen behind in their rent payments.
“We also need housing for all,” said Hannah Wood, Chair of the Halifax-Peninsula ACORN chapter. “You should not have people sleeping on the streets when we have open vacant condos all over this city and province, or while we have hotels that have no one staying in them.”
“Trickle down is a myth, society as a whole does not benefit if you give rich people more money, but everybody benefits if you give poor people more money,” said Sakura Saunders, speaking for the Fight for $15.
Long-time poverty activist Jodi Brown spoke about the importance of solidarity. She said, “It’s important that we all stick together here in Nova Scotia. We fight together because nobody’s winning, unless we are all winning”
“I’m here to talk about our unified interests,”said Hannah Wood in her closing remarks.
“We need to seize this moment, and we need to act in a unified way. Even when it seems like our rallies are small ... we are forcing the conversation, we are opening things up and we are getting issues on the agenda. We should be proud of what we are accomplishing.”
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