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On Post-Election Recuperation, Platform Paradoxes and Refund Communities

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

Well, it’s been a month since the election. I’ve had some time to reflect and, most importantly, to rest! It wasn’t the result I wanted but hey, it’s not a bad start, right? We formed an unabashedly Socialist party five months before the election, on a shoestring budget. We were the first to launch our platform, and although we were up against big developer and dark yoga money, the Vancouver Police Union, a crowded field of centre-left candidates and voter apathy, we still managed a combined 47,000 votes!

ABC effectively captured the collective anxieties of Vancouverites that the media has been amplifying for the last year, with their toxic poor bashing rhetoric. Additionally, the Non-Partisan Association’s (NPA) hard shift to the right and T.E.A.M.’s embrace of NIMBYism allowed ABC to slide closer to the centre on a platform of safety, affordability, and sustainability, and voters, ironically, decided to change the status quo by reinforcing the status quo.

So fear and safety won, and yet, we already had one of the most well-funded police forces in North America. If one-million dollars per day doesn’t make you feel safer, then 100 more cops won’t either. Question is: can he actually hire 100 cops? Ditto with his plan to hire 100 nurses. And if we do get more cops, will they magically start doing their jobs?

If the armed branch of the judicial doesn’t remain impartial, we will see things like this – an outright partisan attack so flawed, even Sim had to distance himself from it: ‘Copaganda’: Critics Challenge Police Report on Social Spending. We simply can’t trust the police to be impartial. Does anyone remember the failure of Sam Sullivan’s Project Civil City? Vancouver isn’t all of a sudden a police state: It always has been.

Adam Pankratz: Vancouver’s first Asian mayor is hardly a ‘fascist,’ no matter what the left says. This reminds me of Christine O’Donnell’s infamous “I’m not a witch” campaign video. I mean, if you have to explicitly tell people that the new mayor is definitely not a fascist, then something is terribly wrong.

And sustainability? From the same article: “In the end, it turns out that people in Vancouver are far more worried about getting stabbed than they are about the vague implications of climate change”. Vague implications? My brother in Christ! 802 people died in a “once in a century” heat dome last year! 640,000 animals died during an atmospheric river event, and the entire region was completely cut off from the rest of Canada, increasing pressure on an already exasperated supply chain! Even on election day the sky was thick with smoke, we were in the middle of an unprecedented autumn drought, and it felt like August in the middle of October. So what’s the first thing ABC does? New Vancouver park board to reopen Stanley Park lane to vehicles. Because nothing says “sustainability” like more cars. Someone should organize a Stanley Park critical mass. EDIT: They’re on it.

So what of affordability? For a guy who doesn’t even know who the Federal or Provincial housing ministers are and who owned a controversial long term care staffing firm, we shouldn’t expect any change to the affordability crisis. His developer-friendly plan to expedite housing projects and build more supply will do nothing to protect renters, seniors and families. Yes we need more supply, but we’re in a flood and we’re building stilettos instead of gumboots.

Assuming a large chunk of Sim’s base are homeowners who have a stake in not seeing prices fall, affordability seems even farther off. Without a progressive property tax, most of his promises will fall short of funding: Can Metro Vancouver’s new mayor turn the tide on housing? Experts say not so fast. “But that would require getting homeowners to acknowledge they are part of the problem — that their accumulation of wealth through their home has left the next generation behind,” he said. Exactly.

Meanwhile: Cops at risk of violence when dealing with mentally ill, homeless: Vancouver officer. Not sure how this headline got past editors when it should clearly be “Mentally ill at risk of violence when dealing with cops”.

4 police officers involved in death of Myles Gray faced other brutality allegations, family learns. You can’t reform this. No other professional association protects its members from public scrutiny like the VPU does. The VPU needs to be disbanded. I mean, look how petulant the president is:

Maya Angelou famously said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Case in point: ‘Another hurtful chapter’: VPD officers not attending First Nation’s apology ceremony for handcuffing incident.

We need to defund the police and refund restorative justice: Understaffed Vancouver community court struggles to keep up.

Things certainly look bleak, but there are a ton of groups already on the frontlines doing amazing work protecting the most vulnerable in our society. This is what we mean when we say “refund communities”. I’m going to use my platform to highlight them in the coming weeks. Groups like Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks, Women Transforming Cities, Acorn, Sustainabiliteens, Vancouver Tenants Union, Crip Care, HUB Cycling, Hogan’s Alley Society, Coalition of Peers Dismantling the Drug War Society, Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty, Our Homes Can’t Wait, The Vancouver Community Fridge Project, Vancouver Workers Assembly, DTES SRO Collaborative, hua foundation, Generation Squeeze, Dude’s Club, Neighbourhood Houses, PACE Society, Enterprising Women Making Art, Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, What’s On Queer BC, Women Against Violence Against Women, Safe Schools Coalition, Get Your Drugs Tested, Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society, WISH, The Kettle Society, Vancouver Association for Restorative Justice, Overdose Prevention Society, Free Geek (RIP), A Loving Spoonful and so many more. If I’ve left any group out that you think is important, let me know in the comments below.

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