March 09, 2005

Politics:I've Been There! I've Been There!

This is funny:

British Columbia passed, in 2004, a silly thing called the Safe Streets law. This rather moronic bit of prejudice is the same, in malicous spirit, as the Ontario law from a few years earlier. It makes the streets safe for the most vulnerable: you know, the homeless, the mentally ill, the impoverished, the addicted, those forced to live and/or work on the streets to survive.

And if you believe that...

The MLA backbencher that brought it into law, Lorne Mayencourt, probably doesn't think he's an utter ass. He probably thinks that by spending five nights "homeless", he has sudden empathy for those who actually live on the streets, like his spending five days as a McDonalds employee made him poor.

At least he made the effort, or at least an effort, to know what the poor go through, unlike the Priemier, who I seriously doubt talks to anyone making less than $100,000 a year, unless it's to give his order.. (The guy has apparently never been told that anything is wrong with his policies, despite the damage to those actually vulnerable...) So why be on Mayencourts case? Because he thinks his pathetic bit of experience qualifies him as an expert on poverty. As far as he can tell, people are homeless because they don't have a home - case closed, problem solved. What other reasons could there be, after all? All he had to do was life outside his home for a few days in August, and he knows what it's like. It wasn't a problem for him, why is it for others?

In Ontario, the slashing of the social safety net was accompanied by draconian laws against the poorest people, and there was a backlash. In Vancouver, there's going to be much the same. Mayencourt himself has been attacked, and reported the incident to police on March 2nd. If he's surprised, he shouldn't be: his district includes Vancouvers West End, the poorest area in the city. Needless to say, his constituency office windows were broken a couple of weeks after he introduced the bill. So doesn't this prove that the homeless are violent psychopaths who can't be reasoned with? Clearly, real people need to be protected from such degenerates... except that by far the majority of assaults involving the homeless was against the homeless.

The cost of housing on the West Coast is already the highest in Canada, as a percentage of income, and the government has cut the minimum wage to $6 an hour *ahem* "training wage".

So what exactly does the Safe Streets law do? Not much, really: it stops you and I from having to listen to someone beg for their survival if we're in our cars, or at a bus stop, or waiting for the crosswalk light to change. Of course, it makes the sidewalks a little prettier for the delegates from the IOC when they take a look at our progress with the olympic venues, and that's what's really important, isn't it? What this law allows is the police to remove anyone that is undesirable from sight, and put them in jail instead. Las Vegas does much the same thing, with loitering and public drunkeness being enforced laws only if you don't look like you can afford to gamble.

Don't want to give the tourists the wrong impression, you know.


posted by Thursday at 3:52 pm


Blogger Gazetteer said...

Excellent post, Thursday.

Hope you don't mind...quoted it over at my place.

6:28 pm  
Blogger Thursday said...

I'm flattered. Nice to get comments from those more experienced than myself.

2:50 am  
Blogger Gazetteer said...

How is Lake Cowichan making out under the SS Gordo's economic boomtimes anyway?

12:41 pm  
Blogger Thursday said...

Not much worse, but how could it? Unlike most of those rural communities that lost their only courthouses and some of their schools, LC is quite close to much bigger towns and cities, so there are readily available alternatives. Unemployment hasn't improved; and increasing the sales tax put an added burden on, but this is one place that was overwhelmingly NDP in the Fed election, so look for that to repeat in the Provincial.

11:07 pm  
Blogger Gazetteer said...


Urban rec. property sprawl driving up real estate and pushing people out of their homes?

8:04 pm  
Blogger Thursday said...

Not so much yet. I used to live on Salt Spring Island, though: I sold my house there, paid $200,000 mortgage, split the proceeds three ways and could still buy a place outright in LC. Lived on Salt Spring 25 years, and couldn't afford to stay. That kind of sucked, but the only thing I really miss about it is the people, and I can see them with an hour of travel, so life's good.

7:38 pm  

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