On Paying Rent in Cockroaches and Wine-Paired Dinners at 7-Eleven

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.

I know it could be much worse. We could be in Houston, freezing to death without power as we look towards a downtown core that’s all lit up like a bastion of dystopian capitalism while Jerry Jones’ natural gas company hits the jackpot and Wall Street gets ready to sell our water on the stock market. Or we could be in the UK where they are giving ‘do not resuscitate’ notices to Covid patients with learning disabilities. But when Onion headlines become truth, we’re really in trouble: Something About The Way Society Was Exposed As Complete Illusion Over Past Year Really Getting Man Down Today. That man is me.

I could handle it when it was this big global crisis that we had no control over, but now that we’re just treading bureaucratic water it’s so much worse. British Columbia has the lowest vaccination rate in all of North America. From Walla Walla to Nunavaut and Tampa to Toronto, nowhere is worse than here: Canada is sleepwalking into a third wave, and it could be the worst one yet.

Unfortunately, the pandemic response has become increasingly politicized. In-fighting between different levels of government is now commonplace and directing blame seems more frequent than finding solutions to help us out of the crisis. At government press conferences, wishful thinking is sometimes presented as scientific fact.

Indeed, we’ve decided that whole segments of the population are expendable because another economic shutdown is unthinkable. We could be pushing a national COVID-19 elimination strategy but we’re run by a bunch of milquetoast liberals trying to please everyone: COVID-19: The pandemic has exposed our devaluation of the lives of seniors and those with dementia.

The Elizabethan Poor Law of the late-16th century created the concept of the deserving poor, whose needs should be met, and the undeserving poor, whose needs could be ignored. In our second Elizabethan age, presented with the COVID crisis, we reverted reflexively to a mindset of discrimination against older adults and people with dementia and created a class of the “undeserving ill”

We can’t even shut down churches that flout the law: Judge denies B.C.’s request for injunction against churches breaking COVID-19 rules. Is there any wonder the numbers in the Fraser Valley are starting to go back up?

Of course, there is some room for optimism. B.C.’s new period of COVID uncertainty could be the last, or could be the worst.

“I’m quite optimistic about six months from now,” said Daniel Coombs, a UBC mathematician who has helped the province with its pandemic modelling. “But it’s that short to medium term … that’s just difficult.”

The reasons are threefold. First, it will be another month before vaccinations in B.C. will substantially ramp up and the weather begins significantly warming.

Second, the province’s trend line of daily and active cases has mostly stalled out after fairly consistent declines in December and January, and is now going down at a much slower rate.

The third, and biggest reason, is the slow but steady increase of variants of the virus in British Columbia — and whether enough preventative measures are in place to stop them from overwhelming our system in the weeks ahead.

It’s do or die time…part 5.

Alas, we let 1,716 people die last year because we’re twiddling our thumbs: Portraits of loss: One hundred lives, felled by an overdose crisis.

Remember, it’s not a crisis. A crisis is something you can’t control. It’s a policy failure: Why I Think We Need to Move Beyond “Harm Reduction”.

I reflected on the idea of harm reduction. It doesn’t capture the complexity associated with grown-up activities such as love or war or drug use. Instead, it preoccupies us with drug-related harms. And the connection between harms and drug use is reinforced repeatedly through our speech. This connection in turn narrows our associations, conversations, feelings, memories and perceptions about drugs and those who partake. Perhaps even worse, it relegates drug users to an inferior status. Surely, only a feebleminded soul would engage in an activity that always produces harmful outcomes, as the term implies

It’s such a massive failure in policy that even our fentanyl is tainted: Vancouver drug tester says nearly half of all heroin that comes in contains fentanyl.

Local cop tackles wrong guy riding his bike, beats the crap out of him and breaks his orbital bone, then tells him he looked like a suspect at large but was the wrong guy. Cops are supposed to use the least force necessary: Surrey RCMP allegedly beat man mistaken as robbery suspect. This is so fucking scary and it could happen to anyone.

Cut police, build affordable housing instead, says B.C. human rights commissioner. What a concept! Also, we have a human rights commissioner?

Non-profit supporting sex workers ends partnership with VPD over officer’s abuse, alleged police harassment. How bad is it that an agency founded in response to distrust between sex workers and the police in the aftermath of the Pickton murders comes to this?

‘We Actually Mean Abolish the Police’. You may think we’re just trying to push that Overton Window, but we actually mean it.

Because:

What if we move too far left and tie rent to the unit? Vacancy control: taking the next step on housing affordability.

Elevator control: Vancouver city council motion ‘good first step’ when it comes to elevator woes. Our elevator was broken for 6 months last year! Our neighbour who used a cane just had to move out.

Heroes: Toronto residents deliver cockroaches to landlords trying to evict them.

What could possibly go wrong: No-payment mortgage scheme floated in Vancouver. Great idea! Let’s continue to artificially inflate home prices by essentially short-selling our own homes. And when that fails we can bundle all these insanely high-risk mortgages together and invest our fucking pension funds in them!

More about that show Bling Empire that got me so fired up last week. Turns out the star of the show is selling a house at 4868 Drummond Drive and it’s owned by…a student: Vancouver real estate: realtor and reality series star Layla Yang selling $17 million home for $38 million.

Related: Forcing Foreign Money Out Is Academic’s Fix for Canadian Housing. It might help, but it’s no panacea. It’s not just foreign capital, it’s everywhere capital.

Dan Fumano: Lessons learned as Vancouver politician retracts accusation of made-up quote. Always keep your receipts, folks:

In her response by email, Hardwick asked whether I had an audio recording from our July 2019 interview of her using the words in question, and if so, to “please share it, as I do not recall using those words.”

I sent the relevant portion of the recording to her on Wednesday.

Dr. Amie Wolf fired, sends threatening email amid Indigenous heritage scrutiny. What a total shit show. Why do so many white academics masquerade as Indigenous?

Good news: Progressive wins Chilliwack school board by-election after divisive campaign.

Headline of the day: Vancouver man concealing steak in pants fined $230 for not wearing face covering. Come on, Vancouver is Awesome, you call this reporting? Was it a sirloin or a t-bone?

Ontario of the day: 7-Eleven Canada working on in-store ‘consumption areas’ for beer and wine. Here were are, slowly inching towards making the dystopia depicted in Demolition Man a reality, where 7-11 is the only restaurant.

Meet the Undercover Anti-Fascists. Kind of seems anathema to the idea of being undercover, but ok.

Honour bound: Baseball player launches fundraiser to support DTES men’s mental health.

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