Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Underbelly News
Downtown Eastside


Vancouver's non-partisans Non Partisan Association (NPA) which for the last 65 years dominated Vancouver municipal politics appears set on a collision course and unable to alter the course of history after being unceremoniously dumped from the political landscape in the 2002 election. As you recall, citizens voted overwhelmingly in favor of the more progressive Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE).

While the NPA went down to humiliating defeat, the city appeared deliriously happy with the selection of neophyte Larry Campbell as Mayor. Vancouverites believed they elected a softer more gentler civic government. One that they thought was more in tune with their ideas and value based systems.

That was then and boy have the citizens ever been surprised since. Assuming power, COPE has had more downs than ups. Many internal problems bubbled over and spilled out. Most often these issues were a result of their Mayor acting in the interests of developers, casino operators and bar owners instead of ordinary citizens who comprise COPE.

The NPA helplessly looked on as the Mayor and his cronies, seemed to sew up the treasure chests of the business class.

Undeterred, the NPA was not sitting back and watching, instead they plotted their return. They decided in order to be successful, first they needed to broaden their appeal with the hope of attracting a broader base of support. They held a series of public consultations. While the turn-outs were just average, the NPA appeared to be consulting and listening.

However, something went awry. First, just before their AGM, the NPA board of directors decided that membership fees within their party should increase to $25.00. The rationale behind this decision was the unfounded fear of outsiders taking over their party. By raising memberships fees, this way they could keep out outsiders. Moreover, the assumption and quite an erroneous one at that--is they would exercise better control over the internal workings of their party. Unfortunately for the NPA, this decision is costing them. It is viewed by many voters as elitist and the restrictive membership fee prohibits accessibility. A party that doesn't embrace inclusivity will not have appeal, hence problems at the polls. Students, Seniors or those earning minimum wages will be unable to fully participate in party discussions and decisions.

Where the NPA's poorly thought out decisions will manifest is their nominating process and to their unforseen embarrassment, most likely this will culminate at their nomination meeting in June.

The NPA board then went on to make another serious mistake. They knew the provincial election was set for May 2005 and to recruit candidates during the provincial election period has proven fruitless. In fact, nominating candidates 6 months before the November municipal election has proven to be disastrous. Throughout the life of the NPA, many of those desiring to be elected saw the NPA as their hope of obtaining office. To secure an NPA nomination was like like a walk on easy street. NPA had a certain cachet and a brand name to boot always helps.

Or so everyone thought.

But the NPA has had difficulty attracting candidates and you are hearing it here for the first time in my Downtown Eastside blog. In fact, so far only eight candidates have filed the requisite nomination applications by the required May 18 deadline for council. This leaves the NPA short by two seats of filling 10 nominee spots for council.

For parks board and school board it is even worse. Again by the application deadline only three nominees filed for school board leaving a gapinng hole of six uncontested spots. This is unheard of in the NPA's history. Only two individuals have filed for park board spots, leaving a shortfall of five commissioner seats open.

However, I have been informed that a number of applications have yet to be approved by the required deadline and this raises concern. The NPA appears to to be breaking its own nomination procedures and this is somewhat unusual. Look for them to say, they couldn't finalize the interviews in time. But this my dear readers is bogus. After their deadline passed the NPA knew it had a major problem on it's hands and they have enticed supporters to file papers which can be backdated. Does this remind people of a memo which was once coughed up out of thin air?

In any event, those who have been affirmed as NPA candidates for council are these stellar politicians. Sam Sullivan, Peter Ladner, Suzanne Anton, Jesse Johl, Valerie Jenkinson, Kim Capri, BC Lee and Patrick Maliha all filed applications.

Filing for park board are Heather Holdom and Ian Robertson.

Nominations for school board are Don Lee, Michelle Mollineaux and Elyn Dobbs.

As Suzanne Anton, the well respected Parks Commissioner stated at her official campaign launch, 'Its Time to put some Suzannity into City Hall'. Perhaps the NPA might be wise to first put it into practise within it's own party.

Jamie Lee Hamilton


Underbelly News
Downtown Eastside


After hearing this week of the horrendous targeting of children at Grandview School by pimps and other low-life's in society, memories of my own childhood trauma after so many years came flooding back. All I recall thinking is why is this still happening? Why can't society get it right and protect our young? Why are children being procured, com-modified and exploited? Why are the abuses of our young and vulnerable allowed to happen? Why can't those who we put our faith in, our leaders, prevent this victimization from happening?

If you listen to City of Vancouver Councillor Ellen Woodsworth who called the situation, "horrifying", one wonders if this is all she has to say? Ms Woodsworth lives a mere 10 blocks away from a number of elementary schools, including Grandview School, where children are being targeted and procured. As a city councillor one has to question whether she has been paying any attention to abuses happening on her own doorstep. Since her election nearly three years ago what plan has her governing party initiated regarding the plight of our inner city children? This type of abuse and victimization in case, Ms Woodsworth hasn't yet realized, has been going on in our city for some time. It is Vancouver's dark and dirty secret. Child pornography, child abuse and stalking of our young aboriginal population continues unabated. Nobody seems willing to talk about this violence either.

In fact, though, a brave women, Ms Kelly MacDonald, a native leader and human rights lawyer and defender, while serving for two years on the police board, on a number of occasions attempted to bring these issues forward. She was stymied in her attempts and literally blown off by the Police Chief and Mayor of Vncouver. After being subjected far too many times to abusive behavior at the hands of the Chief and Mayor, Ms MacDonald took the high road and resigned. How's that folks for leadership?
Co-incidentially, Ms MacDonald is nw the deputy child and youth officer for the government of BC.

Sexual Molestation of children living in poverty occurs far too often in our very sick and troubled City. Continuously, as a prostitution activist, I hear the personal stories of women trying to survive as best they can on our street corners. Only to often, these women as children and youth were subjected to violence and abuse. And all to often society fails these vulnerable women by allowing their abuses either to be hidden or by neglect. The Farm situation in Port Coquitlam brought home to many, how deeply troubled our city and society really is.

As society evolves, we hear first hand accounts of how the Victims in many cases have now become the Victimizers. As the Victimizers plot their carnage, they have figured out devious methods of hiding their evil and and torturous ways.

Luckily for the children of Grandview, one daring and committed principal at their school chose to once again speak out. It probably wasn't the first time she raised alarm bells regarding the worsening situation at her school. Voices have been calling out for many years of the need for restorative justice programs. These calls usually fall on deaf ears.

Taking into consideration that our Victimizers are seriously damaged and pose extreme risk to society, I'm not certain though whether a jail sentence would be of any useful benefit. Acting after the harm has already been committed doesn't in the short term or long term address injustice.

What we need to do in order to protect our children and youth is to take bold proactive measures. For starters we can call on our Mayor to immediately commence a Mayor's Safety Summit regarding our City's underbelly. We need to clamour for a public airing of our city's problems and leaders need to listen. They must stop making poor decisions. We also need to examine whether our leaders have been willfully neglectful. We need to hear from those who have been there and have survived. We must share our stories of how society can work toward justice and goodness.

While, Mayor Campbell, says he was shocked to hear of the situation at Grandview School and hence he will bring it up with the police chief, questioning how sincere he is must be posed. Remember folks this was the man who was Chief Coroner for many many years. He has inside knowledge that many others in our society wouldn't have.

Yet since assuming the Mayor's Chair, Mr Larry Campbell appears less inclined to tackle public order and safety issues. Instead, he has since being elected in 2002, been more keen on traveling the world or involving himself with mega projects like the Olympics or RAV line. Of course building up support in the development, casino and bar industries for his re-election bid takes up his remaining time.

One thing for certain in all of this is this. While the Mayor and Police Chief will continue spending the taxpayer's money, public safety and disorder will not any time soon if they continue their errant ways, see any decline.

For our children's safety and the greater public good, please dear citizens reflect on what is happening in our city. Speak with your children. Make sure they understand that bad people lurk around them and quite possibly live near them. Ask them to report any unusual incidences. Commit a few hours of your busy time to make our parks, schools and playgrounds safe. Go after the bad guys, including if need be,our supposed leaders. Most of all, please just Speak Out. Our future depends on it.

Jamie Lee Hamilton