Homeless Rally Brings Arrests

Jenny (jennyo@intergate.bc.ca)
Wed, 10 Feb 1999 13:13:45 -0800 (PST)


Protesters arrested at homeless rally on Parliament Hill
CP/Fred Charrand

 OTTAWA (CP) - Police in riot gear were called out Wednesday after a crowd
of homeless people and left-wing activists gathered in front of Parliament
Hill and cursed, kicked and jostled Conservative Leader Joe Clark as he
tried to speak to them.

Nine people of an estimated 150 were arrested after rushing the line police
set up to keep protesters off the steps of Centre Block. A spokesman for the
demonstrators told his comrades they were all to be released as they
prepared to leave Parliament Hill shortly after noon EST.

Later, the Ottawa-Carleton police arrested a protester for an assault on a
police officer that occurred earlier in the demonstration.  Police two rows
deep but not in riot gear stood face to face with the protesters behind
barricades for about two hours. About 40 Mounties in riot gear waited behind
the front lines, but they later withdrew.

A delegation from the rally led by New Democrat MP Libby Davies was admitted
to the Parliament Buildings where they held a news conference.  After the
conference, Davies took a delegation of six protesters to Jean Chretien's
office in an attempt to voice their concerns to the prime minister. 

They were refused entry and left shouting "We'll be back, Chretien."

The Tory leader tried to meet the group, but he was given a rocky reception.
Chants of "Tory, Tory, out, out" drowned out Clark's words. Some
demonstrators swore at him, others swung kicks. He eventually retreated.

"Joe Clark was part of the Mulroney government and he's the one who started
this" said one protester.

The rally was organized by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty. Many
participants waved placards carrying dollar signs and demands for affordable
housing.

With the federal budget coming down Tuesday, organizers wanted to speak to
Chretien and other Liberal leaders about the plight of the homeless.