It started as one woman’s protest against what she considers a new city mayor who is insensitive to Ottawa’s poor and homeless.
Then she was joined by others, who say they want to uphold the rights of Ottawa’s poor.
And tomorrow, going into the second month of a protest during which she’s camped outside of Mayor Larry O’Brien’s city hall window on a daily basis, activist Jane Scharf and her supporters intend to make their biggest statement yet by taking … a nap?
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Scharf has invited supporters to join her for a lunch then a mass siesta on the grounds of city hall tomorrow, in a bid to draw attention to her protest, which she says was sparked by O’Brien’s recent comments that compared the proliferation of panhandlers in downtown Ottawa to the problem of controlling pigeons in the city.
The mayor has been invited to attend the lunch, where the group is hoping he’ll apologize for what they claim are derogatory statements made toward panhandlers.
Scharf also wants the mayor to cancel or modify the Hostels to Homes program at the Union Mission.
“These people have severe problems, they need staff providing support for them,” she said. “At the Union Mission, they have a directive requiring client compliance. It’s like, ‘cut your hair, stop doing drugs then we’ll help you.’”
This creates a revolving door, without getting any real results, she said. The mayor met with the group July 18, but the terms of the apology he offered for his comments were not accepted by Scharf and company.
“(This is) about standing up for people that don’t have a voice,” said Ian Houston, who has supported Scharf in her protest.