Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


Next week, Vancouver East MP, Libby Davies will be hosting, what she is calling the Civil City Slam. She has enlisted a number of poverty pros as the guest speakers. These pros will without question rile up the audience and tell them how the Mayor and other politicians are out to get them. The presentations will be high on rhetoric and less on solutions. These poverty pros earn their comfortable living by claiming all the lower income folks in O-Town need to be protected and cared for. By them no less. Talk about their martyr complexes.

While there are legitimate concerns over what the Civil City agenda means, I'm not sure if herding a bunch of people into a Church auditorium and telling them how bad their life has become, are suitable solutions to the rampant prevailing hopelessness in Oldtown. Libby knows this and so do her poverty pro presenters.

So why are they doing this? Well its all about optics. It paints a picture of good vs evil. And as long as you paint your opposition as evil, not only will you win--you gain.

Ms Davies has said on a number of occasions that Mayor Sam Sullivan is out to get poor people. She paints a rosy picture that all the people in Oldtown are vulnerable and in need of protection. Of course Libby and her merry band of poverty pros don't live here and I'm not convinced they actually know who the inhabitants are.

No question there are many vulnerable citizens down here, including children living in poverty, sexually exploited youth, seniors with a multitude of health problems and survival sex workers. Whether these are the people, the poverty pros are out to rile up, I'm not certain.

Its more to their economic advantages (the poverty pros that is) to seek out the trauma victims, people with low education, self-esteem and worth, those with no confidence and the drug-misuser's who find it easier to blame all their woes on everyone else. In Oldtown its economically advantageous to paint everyone as victims. That way, they (not the victims) get more and more cash and the ensuing result is it keeps a grouping of people disenfranchised, disempowered and of course, angry.

But who are some of these people who benefit by certain actions of the poverty industry and its joined at-the-hip poverty pros?

Well drug traffickers definitely benefit. We see these scum riding around on their expensive bikes and they are actually thrilled that there remains a huge market in O-Town to tap into. As long as people have no hope or jobs, there will always be drug addiction.

Of course, there are citizens who are mentally ill, who either don't want to acknowledge they are suffering from illness or worse, they simply don't care. After all, there are plenty of drugs around so they can escape their realities. These people should be properly cared for in a humane institutional type setting where they can access appropriate health care, however, I can hear the mantra of the poverty pros who will strenuously lobby that this type of care is inhumane. The reason? A healthy shot of reality is there would be loss of income for those who feed off the downtrodden. I don't need to name these folks since they always out themselves. They are the ones most vocal down here, clamouring for more and more money. So dear citizen take your pick. There are plenty.

Oh and then there are the pedophiles and predators who have done their time and roam the streets, looking for their next victim. As long as this community remains a ghetto, the predators are certain of one thing. They have a ready-made and fertile-feeding ground. Whether it was Paul Gilbert Jordan, the barber shop killer who murdered Aboriginal women by pouring huge amounts of alcohol into them or Mr. Bakker who sadistically tortured at least 50 women in Crab park. Oh yes, we can't forget about those poor survival sex workers who had their heads shaved, beaten and raped all the while living in a housing complex run by DERA, a group, coincidentally, that Libby Davies, PIVOT and others continually to champion for.

And the poor children of O-Town. They are growing up being de-sensitized to ghetto living. They are ripe picking for inducement into gangs as they see no way out of their poverty. Of course, the poverty pros continuously chorus that their DTES is a vibrant and healthy community. Oh spare me these last indignities please. This community is a hell hole and no amounts of claiming it otherwise will majestically make it Disneyland North. The children and youth of this neighborhood are not stupid. They know how really really bad it is. In fact, they are in need of double protection, not only from the criminals who freely roam here, but from the predatory poverty pros who hang their hat on every block.

So Libby, by all means have your gathering and while it may be catchy calling it the Civil City Slam, after all, no doubt you will succeed in stirring people up, its quite another matter though to actually do something concrete for the people. I recall how much you did for sex worker safety when your parliamentary sub-committee, came up with a big fat Zero recommendations for sex workers at risk.

By hosting Civil City Slam, you are being somewhat disingenuous Ms Davies. Lets call a spade a spade... What you are really hosting is the Civil City Sham.

Jamie Lee Hamilton