Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Night Before Christmas

As the temperatures crash like icicles falling from your eaves, the Saviours of the Homeless are much on the march.

Or, at least, their PR people are.

Let me take you back about 12 years to a little pre-Christmas Story for the Ages.

A man who had previously been a Vancouver City Councillor and I went to visit Dr. Hedy Fry. Yes, she's been in office just about since confederation.

We had a modest proposal.

We would get the City behind it, if she would kindly drop a word of encouragement in the ear of the current Minister of Defense.

The idea?

Let's open the Seaforth Armouries at the corner of Burrard and First Avenue for the 12 days of Christmas to the homeless.

The temperatures were plummeting and the Armouries had (has) the following amenities: a roof, heat, hot water, a kitchen, showers, cots, blankets and hundreds of cadets marching back and forth about nothing in particular.

Here's what Dr.Fry had to say to us.

1. Our research tells us that the homeless don't want to be anywhere except where they are.

I told her that at the time I lived in a pretty fancy apartment building right on the water beside the Burrard St. Bridge, and that only the day before, I had spoken with three homeless men who were living under the bridge. I has asked them if they would go the Armouries for a few days to get in out of the cold if it were available. Of course, they said, "Yes!"

But that didn't fit Hedy's "research" or her world view.

2. Dr. Fry told us, "This is only a band-aid. It won't solve poverty."

I confess.

Normally swift of tongue, I had to retrieve my jaw from the floor of her well-appointed office.

This was my slightly delayed reply.

"Dr. Fry, I a not a Christian. I am a Jew. But was it not Jesus who said, 'the poor shall always be amongst ye?' No one will ever solve poverty. People who want us to believe that they have a silver bullet should shoot themselves with it. Yes, this is a band-aid. That's how good deeds usually happen. One little reaching out, which may or may not lead to other reachings out."

Out being the operative word.

We were quickly back on Denman Street shaking our heads in disbelief.

As you know, I have been an enormous fan of the good Doctor Fry ever since.

Now, please be advised that several days ago I phoned one of the current city councillors and left a voice mail.

I suggested that while the new mayor's new homelessness gang, HEAT, is casting about for places and spaces, they might have a look at the Seaforth Armouries.

Let us see what happens, shall we?


1. In a Canadian first, Fozani Group Ltd. (SportChek) CEO, Bob Sartor, has told that he's changing their approach to retailing. "cleaner, better-merchandised stores and helping the customer."

Apparently he had to tell his conference friends twice because they didn't understand what he said.

Let's see now. The last tme I had someone in a department store or chain store in Canada try to help me, I was so startled I thought she was a crook and I called security. I think that was 1959, I think. Or maybe 1961.

2. Daniel Laikin, the CEO of National Lampoon, Inc. has been charged with conspiracy and securities fraud.

You cannot write comedy material like this. Can't wait to see Chevy Chase in the movie.

3. The quote of the week belongs hands-down to that great stand-up comedian, Stephen Harper, who doubles on occasion as Prime Minister of the country. He said,

"I'm very worried about the Canadian economy."