Thursday, June 21, 2007


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


It is being reported that the City of Vancouver has selected its new Chief of Police. As expected, the succession comes from within the top ranks of the VPD. Longtime veteran officer and deputy chief, Jim Chu, has now been handed the reins and responsibility of ensuring public safety of a now greatly dysfunctional City.

Not much is known about Chief Chu, since he has kept a relatively low profile as one of four deputy Chiefs. One is certain though that he impressed Mayor Sam Sullivan, who as chair of the police board had significant influence over the selection process. Likely, Mayor Sullivan desired someone who is in sync with his run-amok drug strategy.

As head of the Vancouver police department, Chief Chu will be faced with balancing various interests. On the one hand, he must be seen as working collaboratively with his boss, Mayor Sam Sullivan, however, he also needs to be responsive to citizens concerns around public safety. In this regard he may well have to walk a tightrope since its becoming apparent that Vancouver citizens are not quite on-side with the Mayor's chronic addiction drug substitution treatment (CAST) plans. Many citizens feel that our going-too-far drug policies are contributing to the breaking down of livability issues in this City.

In Chinatown, many community members are deeply concerned over the city's drug strategy and recently have become increasingly vocal in voicing their concern. Councillor George Chow, who hails from the Chinese community is acutely aware of the political pulse in Chinatown and this week, voted against the Mayor's drug-substitution CAST program. Councillor Chow voiced his concern that the Mayor hasn't brought any information forward regarding CAST and therefore could not vote in favor of supporting it.

In Chinatown, escalating concerns over the drug substitution policy has resulted in what appears to be a grassroots campaign of denouncing the Mayor and lobbying of Chinese citizens to instead support Councillor Peter Ladner for Mayor in 2008. Obviously the political winds in Chinatown are aflutter and it would be wise of our new Chief of Police to pay attention to these concerns.

While citizens supported former Mayor Philip Owen's harm-reduction philosophy and a four-pillar approach to drug mis-use, since this was a more cautious approach to the escalating and flourishing open drug market in the city. Unfortunately, only one-pillar of the harm-reduction philosophy was ever implemented and the consequences of this has contributed to what is harm-production.

Citizens though have little or no information on CAST and as a result have serious concern over its implementation. Mayor Sullivan has done nothing to alleviate the public's concerns saying that CAST is a private initiative and therefore doesn't need to be transparent or accountable to the public. The Mayor kick started the program and appointed its directors. The Mayor even found the donors to implement CAST, yet he believes citizens don't need to know much about this scary program of drug substitution. This thinking re-inforces that the Mayor doesn't understand public policy issues and therefore has to be driven from holding public office. This process will be lead by the public and already we see this in action.

Even Mayor Philip Owen, much to his credit, since he was a mentor to Sam Sullivan, has grave concerns and has said that Mayor Sullivan, is moving too fast with far too many ideas on how to manage the drug problems in the city.

Another drug-subculture and sex-survival issue which is about to blow up in the City's face is the ongoing mistreatment and increasing sexual assaults on survival sex workers in the city licensed Venus porn theatre on Main street. Reports are surfacing as they have for a number of years now about this drug den and porn producing flophouse. Former Mayor Larry Campbell and the Chief of Police, Jamie Graham, didn't see fit to investigate the out-of-control happenings in this sleazy run down peep porn palace and as a result, serious concerns over public health and safety issues are once again coming to the public's attention. Mayor Sam Sullivan has recently stated that the Venus porn theatre isn't on his radar. This isn't surprising considering he would rather promote and peddle Ritalin onto unsuspecting survival sex trade workers.

Hopefully, Chief Jim Chu will not be as stupid as the Mayor and will see that ignoring the plight of survival sex trade workers in a licensed city-sanctioned crackhouse will only result in further systemic failure around safety issues of the city's most marginalized citizens. We see what happens when we neglect an issue, And as if the resulting Pickton carnage wasn't enough, hopefully though, the new Chief will see things differently and see fit to close this flophouse.

Welcome to your new job Chief Chu. I sincerely hope that the Venus is on your radar as it will be a first test of your leadership abilities.

Jamie Lee Hamilton