Sunday, February 24, 2008


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


Frances Bula, seasoned and award-winning writer at the Vancouver Sun, has taken liberties with me on her blog which I doubt she would have done in the Sun paper edition.
Ms Bula goes on to state in a put-down fashion that I'm a unique figure on the Vancouver scene because in her words, "I'm transsexual, a sex-trade worker advocate and a wild card". Not sure what wild card means though.

I'm happy though that Ms Bula has raised these matters since this provides me an opportunity to share a bit of my history and a few accomplishments which I suppose Ms Bula doesn't recognize because after all, I'm transsexual, been a prostitute and a wild card.

I was introduced from an early age to community politics as a result of my parents, Alice and Ralph. My mother was an Aboriginal Leader who co-founded in 1954, the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Movement. She remained active throughout her life and deeply committed to the struggles of our people. She installed in me and my sister these same values and this has led directly to my own advocacy and activism.

At the young age of 13 years, in 1968, I participated in the Moccasin for Miles march from Vancouver City Hall to Hope, BC. This walk was to raise awareness about the Native peoples struggles and over the three day walk, I was deeply immersed in native life, politics and learning about the struggles of my people. I think this walk directly contributed to my strong spirit and my passion & concern for disadvantaged people.

My family was thrust into poverty at the same time and I dropped out of school at age 15 and found a job working at the westside Broadway and Trafalgar Dairy Queen. I recall those first few weeks of not having any money and walking every morning from the eastside McLean housing project in Strathcona to my work. Every day for two years, I worked that job, and this cemented in me a strong work ethic. Happily, I was able to supply my family with a bit of extra income that was sorely needed since my father, Ralph was terminally sick with Silicosis disease from working in the foundry.

In 1983, I met a man and became involved with the Downtown Eastside Residents Association (DERA). My own parents were founding members in 1976. I became directly involved in planning for the opening of DERA's first housing Co-op. In 1985, I was one of the first tenants to move-in and during this time became heavily involved in Downtown Eastside politics, lobbying for change resulting from low-income people being displaced from their homes as a result of Expo.

In 1985, I took on another challenge, one which I am deeply proud of, which was to complete my high school education and for two years, I attended Capilano College and wrote provincial exams allowing me to take College-level courses. I was deeply moved when I received my diplomas.

In 1988, I worked with the mentally challenged and took on a leadership role, organizing workers at the Richmond Society for Community Living, into our first union and served as our local CUPE President. To this day, I'm proud that this union remains in place for the workers benefit. My father was a Union organizer and because of his circumstances, this is why I feel a seep sense of loyalty toward workers having the right to union-certify.

In the later 80's. our Premier was thinking of quarantining members of the gay community who had HIV/AIDS. I was involved in organizing the Coalition for Responsible Health Legislation which fought off these potential human rights violations.

In 1990, I was quite involved in organizing the Gay Games and served on the executive board of the Gay and Lesbian Centre. I hosted in my home the first Maori to ever play in the games.

During the 90's my political involvement focused on safety concerns for vulnerable sex trade workers. I'm extremely proud of being one of the first voices speaking out on the missing women cases. I believe my activism on this issue forced civic, provincial and federal leaders to tackle and take action on the horrendous violence happening to this community.

Now-a-days, I continue with my civic involvement and use my blog to raise issues on public policy matters.
For the past nine years, I have been guest lecturing at SFU, UBC and Cap College. I gain comfort knowing that I'm contributing in some small way to young academic minds who will be our future Leaders.

These contributions I've set out, I think go well beyond just what I am or what I've done in my past. I think these values are the hallmark of a citizen who deeply cares about social justice and making the City a better place to live. I'm not certain that is "unique" as many others in society share the same concerns and are just as passionate about changing the city and world.

Ms Bula goes on to state that I loathe those in Vision and all those who don't loathe Vision. This is is a total fabrication on the part of Ms Bula, however, I'm not surprised she has taken such liberties.

For the record, I am not a supporter of Vision because a number of their representatives, through treacherous actions, are not worthy of support. Moreover, I haven't as yet seen any political action from them which has benefited Vancouver. In fact, a number of personalities in Vision have worked to divide Vancouver. That said, I don't loathe Councillors Deal or Chow. In fact, I think under the right circumstances, Ms Deal and I may have even been friends.

Back to you Frances.

Oh and thank you for the link!

Jamie Lee Hamilton

SAM WAS RIGHT for 2005 but WRONG FOR 2008

Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC

SAM WAS RIGHT for 2005 but WRONG FOR 2008
Citizens Demand Trust

OK, I freely admit that I was supportive of Mayor Sam Sullivan in the 2005 municipal race. I believe he was the right choice at that time to be Mayor for a number of reasons. Primarily, I held to the opinion that Jim Green, the American-born Councillor would be disastrous for the City of Vancouver.

I saw Sam as the underdog in two instances and who doesn't cherish an underdog folks. The first contest was the one which pitted him against the provincial heavy-weight politician, Christy Clark. I happen to be of the belief that municipal leaders should be selected based on municipal involvement and this is why I supported Sam. My reasoning was the same when Bill VanderZalm strode into Vancouver, thinking he could become our Mayor. Citizens sent Mr. VanderZalm packing.

Another outsider desiring to be our Mayor was the American-born Jim Green. I once counted Jim as a friend for many years. I must say that Mr. Green and I shared many happy times together, however, as I observed him in political action over the years, I couldn't believe this was the same man that I had once stood steadfast with in opposition to Expo.

I watched the battle of DERA, which left many scars, I had my own disagreements with Mr. Green which left me questioning his leadership abilities, especially around trust. I watched as this former Councillor destroyed former friends and COPE, the party which lifted him to power. Talk about an American-attitude. This man has betrayed so many friends, it's hard to keep count of them all.

So was it any wonder that I came to support Sam.

Sam Sullivan was in support of former Mayor, Philip Owen's, Four Pillar Strategy, which I believe was on the cutting edge of smart public policy.

I admired Mayor Sullivan for overcoming his catastrophic injury and was extremely proud that my City, was abundantly progressive enough to elect someone with a disability to be Mayor of Vancouver.

So what happened you ask?

I've been terribly dis-appointed with Sam's leadership, however, I've refrained, unlike another commentator, from any personal attacks on the Mayor. This would serve no purpose and I just couldn't do that to someone in a wheelchair.

What I can do though is express why I feel Mr. Sullivan has failed Vancouver.

Mr. Sullivan should have ensured that the Four Pillars was working properly, especially considering this was an NPA initiative brought forward by a major supporter of his, former Mayor, Philip Owen, who had risked his political career in order to save lives. I believe Mr. Sullivan has back-peddled from the vision of Mr. Owen and this goes directly to the issue of trust.

Other pillars of the Owen strategy, treatment and prevention, seem to be completely overlooked as Sam introduced us to a program of his called CAST. This program, which he planned to introduce to sex trade workers would substiture legal drugs such as ritalin for illicit ones and the research on the effectiveness of this substitution plan is totally inconclusive and very controversial. Thankfully, this program hasn't yet been implemented although Mr. Sullivan is trying hard to see it realized.

Another area where Sam did a complete turn-around was on electoral and finance reform. He brought myself and Green leaders into the Knowards coalition with a promise of exploring other electoral systems. Once elected, Sam backed away from this and has been raising significant funds without disclosing where the funds are coming from. All politicians and parties, should provide full disclosure so the public continues to have faith and trust in our political system.

The attempt by Mayor Sullivan to trademark Eco-Density as his own personal initiative clearly has brought forward concerns around public trust. As Mayor, Mr. Sullivan is supposed to be championing the public interest, not his own.

As the 2008 municipal election approaches, many citizens are raising questions and voicing concerns around Mr. Sullivan's leadership abilities. It appears that voters want change. While Mr. Sullivan was the right choice in 2005, it appears he isn't the correct one for 2008.

Citizens of this City have approached many Leaders to consider running for the top job. This re-inforces that the voters are not happy with the incumbent Mayor and desire change.

Everyone I chat with, brings up the subject of trust when speaking about the incumbent. People are expressing sincere concerns over this issue. In fact, one very prominent businessman who was a supporter of the incumbent Mayor claims that it's impossible to have a proper conversation with the Mayor. I present this delicately so as not to hurt the Mayor's feelings.

In politics if the public loses faith in our political leaders, change will happen. That you can count on.

Citizens are now looking at Mayoral aspirants who best embody trust. Voters are demanding higher expectations from their Leaders on this critical issue and so far Councillor Ladner, at least with the people I'm talking with--is the most talked about Leader-- who embodies that trust.

Jamie Lee Hamilton