March 24, 2009 

Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
K1A 0A2

Via Email 

Dear Prime Minister Harper, 

Hunger striker loses 19 lbs in seven days! 

My week of the 2010 Homelessness Hunger Strike Relay is now complete.  The “spoon” has been handed over to two people; a woman from Surrey BC and a woman from the Tri-Cities area, both of whom are now into day 3 of their hunger strike.  I commend their committment and I wish them well.   

Over this past week I have kept you informed on my personal progress, I have quoted some of the research around the issue, and I have tried to put a face to the homeless.  Putting a face on the homeless is good human interest, but I’m afraid that my personal experience with a hunger strike and a few quotes from research can be pretty boring stuff…….so let me try to end my week of musings on a somewhat positive note. 

The feedback that I have received over this past week has been no less than overwhelming.  I have had emails, phone calls, and personal messages from hundreds of people, most of whom I have never met, in cities and towns all across Canada. I have also had messages from expats around the world who say that Canada’s unchecked homeless crisis is tarnishing our international reputation.  With the exception of one solitary person who expressed the opinion that my efforts were purely symbolic and unlikely to accomplish anything, all of the hundreds of other messages that I received were positive, encouraging, and indicative of the fact that Canadians are greatly concerned with the human and economic cost of the growing homelessness crisis, and they want the Federal Government to do something about it. 

In the past week many people have expressed to me an interest in participating in the hunger strike relay, and three otherwise normal people have signed up to take a week this summer…..the earliest available time slot.  The 2010 Homelessness Hunger Strike is continuing. 

I want to say a special thank-you to my friends, family, and colleagues took it upon themselves to spread the word to their contacts.  Total strangers are sending me notes saying that they were inspired and have a new appreciation of the homelessness crisis.  The feedback that I received kept my hunger down and my spirits high. 

Finally Mr. Prime Minister, one more plea from me to you for you to do something.  As I noted in earlier correspondence, the word homeless doesn’t even appear in your 2009 Budget or your Economic Stimulus Plan.  It’s time for you and your Government to step up and make homelessness a priority.  It is not only the right thing to do for humanity, it makes economic sense…’s a win-win! 

Yours truly,

Robert O’Dea

Vancouver BC  

cc. Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

    Michael Ignatieff, Leader of the Official Opposition                  

    Jack Layton, Leader of the NDP                  

    Libby Davies, MP                  

    Premier Gordon Campbell

    Jenny Kwan, MLA                  

    James Moore, MP

    Stockwell Day, MP

    Mayor Gregor Robertson