Tuesday, April 6, 2010



The BC Civil Liberties is unhappy about a piece of art hanging in a fire hall in the Downtown East Side.

The offending scribble calls the neighbourhood the "Skids" and it shows among other things, the Grim Reaper and a hypo needle.

In other words, it is a clumsy expression of how some of the fire fighters feel about the place where they work.

But soft...

We can't have freedom of expression, not in perfectly perfect British Columbia, where it is deeply offensive to call an addict a "dope fiend."

“Our concern is this image is actually an image that reflects a discriminatory view of people with addiction issues and of the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood as the skids."

Oy Gevalt!

You must never discriminate against people who break into your condo or your SUV to steal even the tiniest piece of your property because they have a sickness and a problem, so be nice.

Lorna Bird, a member of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, who has lost two daughters to drugs, said she was appalled by the possible messages from the mural. “It’s disgusting,” she said.

VANDU is an organization that argues that using heroin is a reasonable and legitimate choice for people and they have the right to use heroin and be treated with respect.

You might think that some one who has suffered the great tragedy of losing children to drugs would want to do everything in her power to help people avoid using drugs.

But no.

Not in the twisted logic that governs the DTES.

A Globe and Mail investigation last year concluded that more than $1.4-billion in public and private money has been spent in the last decade to deal with health, social and justice issues in the area.

And, as we all know, these monies have accomplished so much.

So now, the Firemen will have to take down their home-grown art.

Will there be an Art Committee run by the Portland Hotel to approve further excursions into the dangerous realm of self-expression?

Now every piece of art, every song, every poem in the city will have a BC Civil Lib stamp on it before it finds the light of day?


Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health will spend upward of $100 Million on three new buildings in the core of the city.

That's nice.

Their claims about a new millennium in treating people because of these buildings are laughable.

The CAMH is a huge dollar-munching empire with very few known or demonstrable results, other than research papers that tell us that more short people in Halifax are smoking Menthol Lites on Tuesdays than ever before.

Take that $100 million and distribute it please to programs across the nation that are struggling to pay the bills while they actually provide real and effective treatment on a shoestring.


Vic Toews, Canada's Public Safety Minister (Are you feeling safer already?) has proclaimed that certain types of criminals cannot be rehabilitated.

He is right.

And we should be cognizant of that fact and act accordingly in our sentencing, our jailing and our releasing from prisons.


To challenge the thousands of pardons and paroles that have worked and are working is just plain silly.

Yes, granting a pardon to a high-profile sex offender is flat stupid.

But that glaring error speaks only of itself and should not be a reflection of the almost 10,000 other pardons that have been reasonable and effective.

So Harper called Toews on Easter Sunday or whatever.

So all that tells us is that, behind Mr. Harper's cool exterior, lurks a knee-jerk hysteric.

For which, by the way, there is no known cure.


Anonymous said...

did Karla Homolka get a pardon?
I've always wondered how she was able to leave Canada to live on some French island paradise in the Caribbean.

Anonymous said...

I would have been concerned if there was an image of a drug addict being stamped on or spat on or otherwise abused. Then this art would imply that it is okay to hurt an identifiable group (in this case, addicts) and would constitute as a hate literature/images.

As it stands - the art in question is just that - art. I may think it is unattractive, I may even think that it is offensive - but it is art that frankly, did not cost me as a taxpayer (unlike most ugly art in this city).

The people of the DTES want to be able to express themselves through art, protest, signs, etc without limits (their Freedom of Expression). However, they want to dictate how others express themselves...

I guess the loudmouths at the DTES is only interested in expression that satires conservatives or big business (e.g. anti-olympic art).

Those opposed to this art should be told "freedom of expression" and leave it at that.

underemployed guy said...

I generally support the BCCLA - have sent them money, written in support of some of their campaigns, and wore David Eby's pin throughout the last civic election (even after he failed to win the nomination), but ...

This is not displayed in public, and provides a stark reminder of the very deadly realities firefighters face on each and every shift.

Freedom of expression, please!

diverdarren said...

Tell the DTES and VADU
"The truth hurts, don't it!"

Gerry Verrier said...

To iKeith: You don't necessarily need a pardon to leave Canada to go abroad. With a criminal record, you do need to get approval from the US gov't in order to legally enter the US of A. There are many countries that don't give a rat's behind about a criminal record and I do believe most carribean countries don't care. However, if you have to go through the US to get there....A US waiver currently costs about $600 US to apply for and takes about 3-6 months to process. I'm not saying they would grant her a waiver, but one never knows. Pardons also don't mean squat to the americans, the FBI tracks every single canadian criminal record for security purposes, so you can't hide from the FBeye. Pardons are more geared towards cleaning up a record for employment purposes.

As to the art work, I'm torn about it. Where do you draw the line in terms of what can be hung up in space paid for by the public and meant to be an extension of government? Would it be okay to have crude art about abortion in a walk in clinic? Or maybe some offensive art about drunk drivers in the back of ambulances? Or what about morbid obesity? Mental illness? Yes, I know these are not the same as injecting drugs. But who's to say? The general public expects services from these gov't bodies to be judgment free, and I'm not so sure that piece of art is judgment free.