Sunday, October 19, 2008

Today's Province Column

Sunday » October 19 »

2008 Federal and provincial governments must step up to help our homeless

David Berner The Province

Sunday, October 19, 2008

While the rest of us went through the somewhat hollow exercise of re-electing the same minority government that had just dissolved, a truly significant change occurred on Tuesday.
A B.C. Supreme Court decision made camping in Victoria's public parks a legal activity.

Lawyer Catherine Boies Parker, who acted on behalf of the homeless campers in their court challenge of the city's anti-camping bylaw, confirmed the 108-page judgment upheld their argument that a City of Victoria bylaw that prohibits using "temporary abodes" like tents and large tarpaulins for shelter in parks and public spaces violates the rights of the homeless.

Now, Victoria Mayor Allan Lowe is not one of my all- time favourite politicians. He is, after all the man who wants not only four safe injection sites in his city, but one of them to be "mobile." (Are you familiar with the mobile cancer clinic or arthritis centre in your neighbourhood? Of course not. They don't exist.) But Lowe did get it right when he predicted this decision will reverberate across the country.

"This judgment demonstrates what years of cuts to social programming and housing programs have done. Municipal governments were never in the business of providing housing and social support services to individuals in need," Lowe said, calling on higher levels of government to respond to the court decision.

Peter Ladner and Gregor Roberston, both campaigning to be the next Mayor of Vancouver, have homelessness at the top of their platforms. Yet both know that housing and shelter are provincial and federal responsibilities.

For many years, Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation invested wisely and creatively in low cost "public" housing under a broad range of guises and the results were simple -- people had places to hang their hats.

But these initiatives were abandoned at least 20 years ago and the federal government has had almost no impact on housing matters since then.

The Campbell government has shown little taste for aiding the poor in any arena, whether treatment for addicts or housing for anyone other than Olympic athletes.

Are we elitist if we decry the sight of homeless encampments on English Bay beach when we take a Sunday stroll?

Enabling tent cities in public parks may be manna for civil libertarians, but it's very bad public policy.

Parker, the lawyer who acted on behalf of the homeless in this case, and others who wish to help, might better serve the homeless by suing a few governments for not providing care to our most vulnerable.

Or maybe I am being naïve. Maybe this is just a clever ploy to bring this problem a larger spotlight and force the comfy sleepyheads in Victoria and Ottawa to do something real - like build buildings with kitchens and bathrooms and bedrooms in them.

You know . . . homes.

© The Vancouver Province 2008

The Wrong News - Again

New treatment works

Painkiller better than methadone therapy

What a sad and naive story this is.

Of course, anything works better than methadone. A conversation with your Aunt Tilly, a cup of green tea or a ride on the bumper cars all work better than methadone.

That alleged scientists publish "results" like this is to laugh or cry.

That newspapers pubish these stories is to laugh or cry all over again.

This is not, by any standard imaginable, treatment.

This is substituing one drug for another.

This is saying to the addict, "You are a hopeless idiot and you can never move on. So we, the DOCTORS WHO KNOW EVERYTHING, will keep you enslaved.

The addict, of course, is too stoned and too wired on his habit to resist.

But, if only one other human being reaches across the aisle and says instead, "You are not sick, Brother. You are stupid. You've been making some lousy choices, and you can learn to make new choices that are more productive..." if one person says that, at least 25% of the addicts will, with some work, become clean and sober and stay that way.

Stop the enabling and let's move on.

Fox in the Hen House, part 3,927

Now, it is called "Government Sachs."

So many of the well-compensated executives at the heart of one of the worst offenders in the meltdown, Golman Sachs, have now to been recruited to be a part of the "solution," that the bankrupt company has taken on a new moniker.

Read this truly disgusting course here.

Powell for Obama

Colin Powell's very public endorsement of Barack Obama on NBC's "Meet the Press" this morning is very much worth reading about.

Better yet, you can watch the video and hear it all for yourself.