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The fight for a legal right to housing in Canada

On this week's episode of Talking Radical Radio, I speak with Helen Luu and Ann Fitzpatrick about the Right to Housing Coalition and its combined legal and community strategy to win a positive right to housing in the Canadian context.

There's a growing school of thought that one way to help ensure that people have the basic necessities that all of us need to live -- for instance, housing -- is to recognize those things as legal rights. In 2009, a group of advocates, service providers, and social justice-focused lawyers began to meet in Toronto with the goal of forging a strategy to secure the recognition of a legal right to housing in the Canadian context. They formed what has come to be known as the Right to Housing Coalition, a network that has expanded significantly and has partners across the country, but is still rooted in Toronto. In 2010, they launched a dual-pronged strategy: A combination of public outreach, education, and mobilization, with a legal challenge under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. From the word go, however, the federal and provincial governments have been fighting tooth and nail against the effort. As of 2015, the coalition is still being prevented from actually presenting its 10,000 pages of evidence and dozens of expert witnesses in court -- in late 2014, in a split decision the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld a lower court decision to dismiss the case without allowing evidence to be presented, and at the moment the coalition is awaiting a response from the Supreme Court of Canada on their application for leave to appeal that decision. Luu and Fitzpatrick are both involved in the Right to Housing Coalition, and they speak with me about the severity of the housing crisis in Canada, the origins of the coalition, the legal case, the public education efforts, and the importance of winning a legally recognized right to housing.

To learn more about the work of the Right to Housing Coalition, click here.

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada. We give you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show in general, visit its website here. You can learn about suggesting topics for future shows here.

Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Sudbury, Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

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