On Measuring Scumbags and the Burden of Being Temporarily Inconvenienced

Tea & Two Slices is a long-running local news round-up by NEEDS frontman and veteran dishwasher Sean Orr, who lives and works in Gastown, deeply aware of his privilege.

Wet’suwet’en solidarity protests disrupt infrastructure across the country. ‘But..but…inconveniencing everyday folks is no way to get your point across!’ Methinks a militarized invasion of traditional territories is a little bit more inconvenient than one or two days of disruptions. Besides, if the economy is so fragile that it is dependent on unfettered access to stolen land just to function then maybe it’s time to rethink the fucking economy.

RCMP arrest Unist’ot’en matriarchs during ceremony to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Like, how can you read this and then, comment “Lose the keys”. Like, how much of a scumbag do you have to be? It breaks my settler heart. One bright spot, however, is the poll in the Georgia Straight, which – at the time of writing – has 79% of people supporting the hereditary chiefs over the B.C. government.

But then I made the mistake of reading the comments on The Province’s Facebook page (again) and…sigh. They range from “May the military roll in and lay them all flat…” to the very common “Paid protesters!” refrain (still haven’t got my cheque in the mail), to my favourite “Who pays for their lunch? Their transportation? How can they take this much time from work?” It was a Sunday, but whatever…

And yet, The Province one year ago had this to say: Kent McNeil: Arresting Indigenous protesters is not the way to reconciliation.

If you can’t convince these people by pointing to the nuances in aboriginal title law and pre-existing hereditary legal frameworks, that the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 1997 that the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have the final say in how their land is used and governed; or that we signed a United Nations Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples; or that Wet’suwet’en offered CGL an alternative route, one that was less precarious (CGL refused); then maybe the fact that the bottom is falling out of the LNG market will convince them that this is just a bad idea: Premier John Horgan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are going to look awfully foolish if LNG Canada plant is cancelled. Royal Dutch shares hit a 52-week low this week.

Instead, Horgan trotted out his star MLA David Eby for a cynically-timed announcement of changes at ICBC. Martyn Brown: NDP’s new ICBC—so smart and so much better, only B.C. Liberals and ambulance chasers can hate it.

It’s so frustrating because the NDP clearly have the political willpower when it comes to matters like this, but when it comes to Wet’suwet’en or housing, they’re handcuffed: What’s being done to address B.C.’s renoviction problem? Spoiler alert: almost nothing. 2016 BCNDP MLA Melanie Mark introduced legislation to curb renovictions and the BC Liberals rejected it. Since coming to power the only thing they’ve done is extended the time to appeal your eviction. Thanks for nothing.

Insurance issues could cause B.C. condo market collapse, homeowners association warns. Maybe while they overhaul ICBC the province can include cooperative strata insurance and turn every overpriced condo into a co-op. (I have no idea if this is a thing but it makes me sound very smart.)

Speaking of smart people…Paul Finch, Treasurer of the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union, has a different take on “highest and best use” than I did back in December: BC government to provide property tax relief to small businesses and non-profits. Sounds good right? Wait:

This is a direct subsidy to wealthy landowners, who have upzoned their property and do not wish to pay their share of taxes.

The problem arises from those landowners who have sought massive property value increases, and downloaded the tax costs to small businesses and art spaces who occupy the spaces slated for eventual demolition and redevelopment.

Instead of fixing the problem, the government is giving each municipality the power to give these landowners massive tax breaks.

This erodes a key Barrett-era NDP plank in property assessment – “highest and best use” – that was put in place to tax landowners.

This will exacerbate the housing crisis and lower municipal tax revenues, shifting those lost revenues straight in to the pockets of the major landowners.

People freaking out about protesters blocking a port are in for a real shock when they realize the port is completely vulnerable to extreme sea-level events: Who’s in charge of keeping B.C. dry as sea levels rise? With no singular climate plan, it’s every community for itself. Sorry, but I just a really funny visual of cities fiercely trying to “out-wall” each other.

New edition of the VanRealities out: “World Class”.

Art of the day: Ken Lum, an Artist Double Crossed?

Bonus: ‘Workers of the world unite’: American Factory director echoes Communist Manifesto rallying cry after Oscars win.

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