Tornado strikes the Outaouais leaving many families homeless

Chantier Politique, online bulletin of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec (PMLQ), has published several items on the tornadoes, effect, response and environmental, social and political implications of such natural disasters:

The PMLQ sends its thoughts and support to all those in Gatineau who have been affected by the violent tornado that struck the neighbourhoods of Mont-Bleu and Cité-des-Jeunes in Hull. Other regions affected include Dunrobin, Ottawa, Prescott Russell and many more.

The damage is huge and the people severely affected. Roofs were torn off, trees uprooted and even cars overturned by the strong gusts of wind.

Many buildings, including residences have been heavily damaged. Hundreds of people have been relocated and taken in by friends and family members or placed in temporary makeshift shelters, including the Gabrielle-Roy Pavilion at the Cégep de l’Outaouais. The City of Gatineau announced in a press release that 215 buildings were damaged or destroyed and a total of 1,686 dwellings were affected.

We express our solidarity with all the first responders, firefighters and emergency personnel who have been working without let-up to assist people, provide shelter and restore power to 50,000 homes. We salute the tireless work of citizens in the area, of families, parents’ committees and others who are providing support by preparing meals, collecting debris of all sorts strewn around the area and providing care for vulnerable people, families and seniors.

 


Logemen’occupe press release

Gatineau, September 22, 2018 — The category F2 tornado that struck western Ottawa and Gatineau around 5:00 pm [on September 21], producing wind speeds of over 180 kilometres per hour, has caused considerable damage to many dwellings, leaving hundreds of tenants without a home.

In light of the catastrophe, Logemen’occupe is demanding that Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard quickly reactivate the assistance program for households without dwellings, such as the one in place during the housing crisis at the beginning of the century. Logemen’occupe is also requesting that a resettlement committee, with all partners with expertise in the domain, be quickly established. For Logemen’occupe, it is essential that the committee be provided the tools necessary to facilitate a return to normality for those affected.

As with the housing crisis at the turn of the century, Logemen’occupe believes it is important that the Quebec government, via the Quebec Housing Corporation, reactivate its assistance program to cities, so that Gatineau and Pontiac are in a position to offer transportation and storage of furniture and goods to the households in need, until they are able to find new lodgings. Emergency Rent Supplement Program Units (PSLU) should also be rapidly made available in sufficient numbers to enable households in need to quickly relocate into other, often too costly, private-sector units.

For further information: François Roy — 819-210-8888 (Cell phone)

(Translated from original French by Chantier politique)

Mise au point

Precisely two days after the Association générale des étudiantes et étudiants du cégep de l’Outaouais (AGEECO) organized a debate where the issue of the environment was raised, certain sectors of Gatineau as well as others in Ottawa, Kanata and elsewhere suffered considerable losses due to the tornado that struck suddenly and mercilessly on the afternoon of September 21.

A salient point is that it is the less fortunate who are the most severely affected by the tornado. Not only were their losses greater, as they do not have the means to get insurance, their dwellings are also less resilient. Currently, at least 600 people of all ages have had to find shelter at the Cégep de l’Outaouais, at the corner of Cité-des-Jeunes and Mont-Bleu Boulevard. The high school, which is very close by, has also been severely damaged, with families wondering if students will have a place to go on Monday.

It is no mystery that the most vulnerable are those who suffer the most from the effects of climate change. Certainly solutions exist, such as building houses that are fit for human beings to live in them and not waiting for over a year for this to become a reality. Home owners and landlords of houses at the mouth of Gatineau River continue to wait for compensation from the Quebec government after suffering the consequences of the record 2017 floods.

The premier and leader of the official opposition came to the area, outside of the campaign they say, and one of them said he had come to learn from such disasters, to know what can be done.

The needs of the people are no mystery. Everyone works to meet those needs. The parties in power can have all the photographs taken of themselves shaking hands and promising to throw more money at the problem, however it is the human factor that is required, which is what the society is most in need of when it comes to social and economic policy. Promises to help with insurance, as in the case of those affected by the floods last year, shows what their “generosity” is all about. Clearly, this time around, they will not do anything fundamentally different. Just as during the elections, when disasters such as these take place, it is the citizens who must be listened to, and action undertaken on that basis, as many of our citizens have done. That’s why democratic renewal is required. People must be in power, not the representatives of the rich!



Reflections

Uniting to find solutions to environmental problems

Pierre Soublière 

During the AGEECO candidates’ debate on Wednesday, September 19, a student raised concerns regarding the protection of the environment and, based on the unanimous applause in the hall, everyone shared those concerns. He said that the position of some parties, including the Marxist-Leninist Party, was clear on the protection of the environment and that he presumed that each party had at least one element of solution to contribute to the urgent need to act on climate change. He asked why all the parties are not putting their ideas together and working together to find solutions to major environmental problems?

The question was very relevant. In fact, it touches the heart of the problem. The current political process ensures that the primary purpose of elections is not to solve any problem that society faces today, but to maintain a government in power, preferably one with a majority, that will claim it was given a “mandate” from the people and then implement the will of private interests. Such private interests, as has been discussed, do not seek to solve these problems since their objectives are best served when they are not hindered by concerns about the natural or social environment. One has only to think of the ecological disaster of the oil sands in Alberta, the pipelines they want running through our communities, the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, and so on.

Hence the need for democratic renewal. We are all concerned about the situation created by climate change, major weather changes, the destruction of the natural environment and the threat to the Outaouais River from the nuclear waste landfill at Chalk River. But what is the block? This political process is one of those obstacles and that is why we need to find new ways in which people can respond to their desire for change, use their expertise and implement the decisions they collectively take. In other words, vesting decision-making power in ourselves.

Pierre Soublière is the PMLQ candidate in Hull.

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