Friday, December 28, 2007


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


With the recent announcement by Lorne Mayencourt, two-term MLA for Vancouver-Burrard, that he won't seek provincial re-election I thought to myself that while Lorne is stepping down from provincial political office, I doubt whether he is stepping very far.

I first met Lorne through a close friend, Drew Dickinson, at least 16 years ago. On first blush, Lorne appeared courteous and a very polite man. He didn't exude any pretensions and I liked this about him. I could tell he was a man on the move and I believed in his sincerity and genuineness. I still do, even if I dis-agree with a number of his party's policies.

In the early days of the AIDS epidemic, Lorne set up Friends for Life, a group championing for the rights of those living with life-threatening illness.

At the time, Lorne was following his dream of setting up Weeks House as a compassionate care centre for those struggling to live.

At the same time, I was across town following my own heart and crusading for the rights of marginalized women in the Downtown Eastside/Oldtown area.

I was impressed with Lorne's work, his vision and compassion. I recall an angel by the name of Leslie Diamond got behind Lorne and together Friends for Life soared.

On the other side of town, in a really gritty area, another angel by the name of Lynne Kennedy, then a City Councillor, stood in support of my own crusade and Grandma's House, a safe sanctuary for sex worker was born.

In 1997, the gay community bestowed on Lorne and myself, Community Heroes of the year. What an honour to receive this recognition together and I believe it cemented a lasting respect for one another throughout the ensuing years.

Lorne Mayencourt has championed many causes and while others may not always agree with him, I dare any of them to impugn his motives. They are done, in my opinion, for the sincerest of reasons. As a backbencher, it couldn't have been easy promoting issues that his government may have wanted to shy away from.

Lorne though stood steadfast in his beliefs, and stayed true to his political principles. Moreover, he didn't shy away from controversy or those who attempted to discredit him. This is an admirable quality that Lorne possesses. Moreover, I've never known Lorne to flip-flop like his predecessor and I admire him for standing up for the courage of his convictions.

I believe lives have improved as a result of Lorne Mayencourt's contributions. Lorne isn't afraid to tackle difficult issues. He has met them head-on and his history and contributions in provincial politics must be truthfully told. He deserves that.

I am now watching as Lorne's vision for another badly needed program takes centre stage. He has initiated a treatment, recovery centre for those severely addicted to drugs. His leadership in starting the New Hope Recovery Centre, up north, in Prince George, away from the predators and parasites of Oldtown will give citizens a fighting chance to turn their lives around.

Instead of dreary hopelessness, these lost souls will feel brighter hope for their futures.

It is a testament to Lorne's character and his leadership that lives will not be lost, or treated as mere throw-a-ways. Just as they were not at Friends for Life.

New Hope Recovery Centre will assist many sex trade workers as well and I loudly applaud Mr. Mayencourt for this highway of hope.

As for Lorne's political future I doubt whether he wants to stay in chilly Prince George and while many are touting his possible move to federal politics, I suspect he will remain rooted in Vancouver and bring about new hope for the citizens of Canada's poorest postal code. I think this is where his heart lies.

I believe Lorne will champion the rights of drug addicts and sex workers without seeking a federal seat. I suspect his strength lies in serving Vancouver residents and should he decide to continue his political advocacy, I suspect it maybe from the corridors of Vancouver City Hall.

Thank You Lorne for your caring and compassion! I know your Star will continue to shine!

Jamie Lee Hamilton