Archive for April 28, 2019




19 September 2012

I wore my leather jacket this morning. I regretted not wearing a sweater underneath and a pair of gloves. Joy was huddled in a winter coat, wrapped in a blanket, wearing mitts.

“Hi Joy, how’s it going?”

“I’m freezing.”

“Any news about your apartment?”

“Janice left a phone message with Chester yesterday. The guy wasn’t able to bring the contract at noon, but said he’d be there later. So, everything’s still looking good. I’m supposed to meet with Janice at noon.

“Dennis, I just have to get out of that place.” She was near tears. “This morning I found six bedbugs in the bathroom. I saw one walking up Chester’s back towards his neck. I squished it. Now, he has the heebie jeebies about them. See the marks on my wrist. Someone told me that was a spider bite. They’re supposed to be eating the bedbugs, not me. They seem to have their wires crossed.

“The exterminator is coming today, but I said to Chester, ‘You could have had this problem cleared up weeks ago.’

“He finally put Anne’s clothes in a bag on the balcony. They’ll be infested with bed bugs by now. She’s probably the one who brought them in. When I moved in, there were no bugs, but Anne and Trudy had been staying at Nick’s and he has bedbugs.

“Can you watch my stuff for a while. I’m going to try to slip into the pizza place to use their washroom. I’m usually good for once a day, before they start giving me dirty looks.”

While Joy was away, Andre arrived. He said, “I had a bad start to my day. It was raining. I was panning at Shakes’ office when a patrol car pulled up. The cop said, ‘What are you doing, Andre?’ I said, ‘I’ll be honest, I’m just trying to get some money for food. I haven’t even been drinking.’ The cop said, ‘Would you do us a favor? Would you have a look at this building and tell us the number?’ He wrote me a ticket. He said, ‘Since you’ve been honest with us, and since we haven’t seen you panning here before, the ticket is just a warning. We know you guys don’t pay these tickets, and when they go to court they’re usually thrown out, but the law is changing. People with unpaid tickets are going to be doing jail time.'”

“That’s just great! I wouldn’t be panning if I had enough money to eat, let alone pay a ticket. If I had money I’d have a roof over my head. I went to the hut yesterday and Weasel told me that only he and Bear are allowed to stay there now; as if he has a lease on space behind a dumpster”

I said to Joy, “I know you have to work, so I’ll leave you now and see you at noon. Bye.”

“See you at noon, Dennis,” said Andre and Joy.

On my way down Metcalfe Street I came across Sunny James.

“Hi Dennis, did you hear Rick Mercer’s rant last night?”


“Have you got a minute to listen to it?”


“So Parliament is back and we learned this week that the cornerstone of Stephen Harper’s fall agenda will be yet another big budgetary omnibus bill. 

“Well of course it will. Prime ministers love an omnibus bill. Government tables a budget, they know every member of their party has to vote for the budget or they lose their jobs. And let’s face it – a lot of these characters don’t have that many options in this world. And seeing as they know that everyone is going to vote for it, instead of just putting budgetary things in the budget, you know – math, they fill it full of goodies no one’s even heard of before.

“In the last budget, in the “jobs budget” there was a provision that allows the CIA and the FBI to come across the border and arrest Canadians on Canadian soil. And I know I sound like a conspiracy theorist with a tin foil hat just saying it out loud but it’s true. It happened and there was no debate. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“Even some of Harper’s own MPs will admit privately that they had no idea what was in that last budget. Just that it was 400 pages. You know how you and I just click “accept” when entering into an iTunes contract? That’s how MPs vote on the budget. And now we find out we’re getting another omnibus bill. Aren’t we lucky? In North Korea they only get one every year.

“And listen, don’t take my word for it. One of the most elegant pleas ever made against omnibus bills was made not that long ago in the House of Commons by a handsome young man by the name of Stephen Harper. He said it, omnibus bills are anti-democratic, they’re a slap in the face to MPs and voters.

“See, this fascinates me, because it’s one thing if you don’t know any better, but he clearly does, he just doesn’t care. Who does that? I wouldn’t want to spend five minutes in that guy’s head for all the money in the world. Because he knows right from wrong here, he’s on record, but he has decided it’s okay to do wrong in order to advance the right. And democracy no longer enters into it.”

Sunny showed me a picture of a Sun Car, a solar powered car. “How would you like to have one of these parked in your garage?”

“It’s beautiful, Sunny, how much does it cost?”

“As far as the cost is concerned, they will be less expensive, per capita, than the nine billion that the government is spending on sixty-five fighter planes, to bomb other countries and take more lives.

“A friend and I want to start production of these at the GM Auto Assembly Plant in Oshawa. Have you heard that they’re shutting that down? They’re also closing down plants in Windsor and Ottawa. The reason is higher gasoline prices. Unemployment will rise by 3700.

“Dennis, the cops stole all my gear. I just left my cart for a minute to get something to eat, when I got back it was gone. I’d just stocked up for winter. I talked to the cops, they said it was the N.C.C. (National Capital Commission). I don’t believe them. I’ve sent emails to the Mayor and the Councilman for my area. Could you help me to get my stuff back?”

“I don’t know what I can do, Sunny. I’ll look into it and do whatever I can.”

“Thanks, Dennis, anything you could do, I’d really appreciate it.”

Noon at the park was alternately warm and cool; warm when the sun was shining, cool when clouds obscured the sun. The congregation today included all the regulars.

I asked Irene, “How do you like your new apartment?”

“It’s beautiful. It’s above Pho Bo Ga Vietnamese Restaurant, near Somerset. You should come over for supper. I made stew. Outcast was over last night.

“We’ve got a huge king size bed. I hardly even know that Shark is there.”

Shark said, “I know Irene’s there every time she punches me in the stomach.”

Shakes  was quiet. wearing a button on which was stamped ‘Stephen Harper Hates Me’, referring to our Prime Minister’s policies concerning the homeless. These buttons were made by the Public Service Alliance of Canada, the largest union representing federal public servants. Employees who wore these buttons to work were asked to remove them. This was considered, by employees, as a violation of their freedom of expression.

I said to Shakes, “Where are you staying now?”

“I’m staying at the Sheps. They won’t let me in at the Salvation Army. I still haven’t heard anything about them getting me an apartment.”

Outcast, said, “Are those the jeans you got from Zellers? I hear that you didn’t pay for them.”

“These are the jeans I got from Zellers. My worker gave me the money to pay for them. I had it with me, but there was nobody around, so I just walked out with them.”

Lucy came by in her electric wheelchair. She pulled out her change purse and gave everyone a one dollar coin. James, from the Odawa Center, Bannock Bus, handed out energy bars. He advised everyone of locations where they were providing meals, socks and underwear. He also asked if he could take a group photo for publicity purposes. Everyone obliged. The Odawa Native Friendship Center is a non-profit organization providing services to Ottawa’s Aboriginal Community.

The Bannock Bus is a mobile unit that delivers a hot nutritious meal during the evenings, Monday to Friday, to Ottawa’s Aboriginal homeless population. The Bannock Bus fills a void, as most programmes in the city offer lunch but not a meal in the evening. The Bus travels around the city to the popular hang outs for the Aboriginal Homeless population. They always have bannock on hand, a traditional Aboriginal comfort food. The programme also offers referrals, clothing, blankets and hygiene products for the homeless and those at risk of homelessness.

Outcast said, “I’m not exactly homeless, I have a roof over my head, but I’m just staying with a friend. She could kick me out any time. We’re just barely scraping by.”

James said, “That’s okay, we also provide services for those at risk of being homeless.”

Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:
Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People ($.99 Download) ($.99 Download) ($.99 Download) ($.99 Download)