Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


Courier Commentator Allen Garr, in his zeal once again to dump on hardworking City Councillor Peter Ladner (who Garr is deathly afraid of becoming Mayor) , uses two Chinese seniors who live in one DERA operated building, Solheim Place, to make a hackneyed claim of unfair treatment to Chinese Seniors.

In order to paint a rosy picture of how Seniors will be affected regarding the annual $31,000.00 which DERA controlled until a few weeks ago, Mr Garr, erroneously claims that the Seniors quality of life will somehow be diminished if this grant isn't continued. Not content though to just stop there, Allen Garr makes a distinction between deserving poor and the undeserving poor. In his commentary, Mr. Garr makes special note that none of the Chinese seniors are on income assistance. How this ties into the merits of DERA funding is unusual.

In effort to make his case that 100 seniors are being affected by the funding being discontinued, he neglects to mention that these same seniors will be able to access services run by Asian operated organizations.

Columnist Garr, aided by DERA and Sid Tan, the DERA staffer who doesn't speak Cantonese or Mandarin, the two official languages of China and Tan, (who doesn't have a vested interest in this funding being continued - yea right) arrive at Solheim place to interview two Chinese seniors, who live in DERA housing. Chinese seniors being the polite people they are, often don't desire to make waves. They know if they speak out, this raises backlash. Remember many of these seniors lived in China under a dictatorial regime so in their golden years, I know they are happy having a roof over their head, a place to garden and not having to live in fear anymore or in dire poverty.

The Chinese Seniors Coordinator obviously had a hand in who Garr spoke too. He no doubt chose a couple who may have gained some form of redress from past historical head tax matters and didn't want to disappoint Mr. Tan, who was heavily involved in the head tax issue.

However, another matter which surfaces is whether we should give all senior populations based on race, public funds? For instance, should we provide funds to South Asian, Aboriginal, Ukrainian, Japanese, Irish Seniors--all whom you can say has been disadvantaged as a result of some form of historical improprieties.

When it comes to prioritizing public spending, I'm certain the public would rather see scarce funds earmarked for our neediest citizens, which are the inner city's most disadvantaged, vulnerable and poorest children and youth in Canada. I'm certain, Chinese seniors living in affordable housing with secure pensions have less need than children growing up in single parent households who are living in dire poverty and would be happy to see our scant resources directed to them.

My feeling is that the public wants their money being used in a manner which is ethical, productive and truly makes a difference.

Since DERA has acted unethically for a number of years now, as a matter of fact, they are under public investigation, which Garr completely overlooks in his opinion piece, I suspect the public would be more assured knowing that their tax dollars are distributed in a responsible manner. This I think also factored into whether, DERA, was the appropriate group to receive this public trust funding. Obviously, Councillor Peter Ladner and the NPA didn't believe it was and made the political decision to revoke the DERA funding.

I think the public concurs with this politically smart move. Mr. Garr obviously doesn't.

Jamie Lee Hamilton