Monday, September 21, 2009


On Friday, I parked the car on Cordova near Abbott.

I had a meeting with a colleague in his offices on Water Street.

While I was paying for my metered parking with my cell phone, an addict came up beside me saying, "I don't want to interrupt you, sir, but..."

I was listening on my cell phone to the instructions from the robotic voice on which numbers to press and when.

I waved the guy off, as in, "Get away from me."

An hour later, I was returning to my car.

Suddenly, someone was yelling at me. I just about jumped out of my crinkly old skin.

Of course, it was another addict, who also didn't want to bother me but...

Coming up behind people and hollering isn't on this guy's list of Not Great Ways to Start a Productive Negotiation.

When he made his inevitable pitch for money, well, imagine how surprised you'll be when you learn that I said, "No."

It's a wondrous great thing that all these elected officials over the past thirty years have wrought for us with all their grand schemes and solutions to problems and designs for a New World.

The face of so many years of bad public policy is right there for all of us to see - and survive - on our very own streets.

This morning, Rich Coleman announces that he will pass legislation that will empower police and others to take the homeless of the streets in really bad weather.

David Eby, Executive Director of the BC Civil Liberties Association, questions the timing of this initiative, its real life efficacy and its potential clash with our famous Bill of rights.

"Whether we like it or not, staying out on the streets is their right."

Who can say why, after all these years, the BC Liberal government has chosen this moment to care about the homeless.

2010? Very possibly.

It is well nigh impossible to see the Campbell administration doing anything that isn't cravenly political in its intent.

Nevertheless, getting freezing, starving, soaked people of the street for a few nights, even against their will, is not such a terrible bad thing to do...if you can do it without breaking their arms or tasering them dead while you're at it.

On the other hand...Eby's points are all well taken. Taking people off the streets, while it may be what those of us who live in homes find most desirable, is not as easy or as simple as it sounds.

As Will Lohman's wife said, "Attention must be paid."