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On Vancouver’s False Dichotomies and Banning Landlords From Holding Public Office

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.

Wait, I thought ABC was supposed to stand for ‘anything but conservative’? Oh well, I guess now we’re voting for anything but ABC: Opinion: New Vancouver political movement demands a better city. Wherein they lay out of a series of crises – housing, opioid, climate, pandemic – before blaming…partisanship. Our current council is literally the most ideologically diverse council ever. If anything we need more partisanship, not less. You might as well call yourself the Non “Non Partisan Association” Association.

This kind of namby pamby centrist “non ideology” is the worst ideology of all. It panders to corporate interests and will kowtow to far-right influence if it means electoral success. If your founding members include those who watched the NPA be taken over by extremists, then you’re just the same party with a new slogan. (Remember, it’s not a horseshoe, it’s a fish hook.) Let’s have platform points and actual policy, not just an opinion piece full of platitudes. Stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.

A better city for everyone is literally impossible. You have to take a side. Just look at this bevy of false dichotomies that ignore outright the matrix of power relations: “bikes vs. cars, renters vs. owners, the housed vs. the homeless”. Imagine, for example, if the homeless had as much agency as the housed. Imagine if renters had as much power as landlords. They don’t.

The sharks are circling: Longtime political strategist Mark Marissen plans to run for mayor of Vancouver. Oh great, just what we need. Another white, male, right of centre mayoral candidate. Is this the path to power for all the washed up BC Liberals as they wait to be called before the Cullen Commission? Is “ex-husband of Christy Clark” really the political brand you want to build right now? I know we’re all obsessed with the “rampant crime” that doesn’t exist but do you really think we forgot about BC Rail? Likewise, maybe “guy who recently attended a large political gathering against public health orders where someone died” doesn’t have the cachet it used to.

And why all this now when the election is so far away? Could it be to raise cash outside of the official Campaign Period so it’s not subject to donation limits? It’s not too late to triple delete your campaign announcement, Mark.

Then there’s MDG: Opinion: Councillor Melissa De Genova is a liar, not suited for public office. Mo is my new best friend. But he didn’t even mention that during the Black Lives Matter protests she made The Thin Blue Line, a noted white supremacist symbol, her social media background. Nor did he mention that she once shamed a fellow councillor for having ADHD; or that she voted against a tax proposed to stop people dying in the so-called opioid crisis; or that she voted against the empty homes tax; or that she defended VPD chief Palmer saying “there’s no systemic racism in the VPD”.

But who really needs a developer friendly candidate like Bob Rennie’s bestie Mark Marissen when we are doing this?

Ah yes, the old. We need to kick you into the streets because if an earthquake happens you could end up on the streets. This needs 8 councillors to pass but Pete Fry got it postponed because it wasn’t going to pass. Say no to this developer renoviction subsidy.

‘Threatening to withhold property tax isn’t about our land values, it’s about the health and safety conditions of the community’! Vancouver real estate: Strathcona house prices increase amid bidding wars while homeless camp in park.

Too big to fail, part 984: Canada Says Property Bubble “Not Great” For Locals, Good For Foreign Investors. This is why anyone who owns property should be barred from office:

When discussing a price drop, the minister said “I can understand why that is seen as a positive thing for people who are trying to get into the market, but hands up if you’d like to see 10 percent of the equity in your home suddenly disappear overnight.”

In short, I got mine, so fuck you. Because they will literally do anything other than the thing that needs to be done:

Is that a canary I hear in this coal mine? Downtown Vancouver office vacancy rate exceeds level of 2008 financial crisis. Uh, looks like we’re gonna be expropriating the new Amazon HQ for social housing pretty soon.

Neoliberalism kills. Capitalism is a death cult. Do you believe me now? Canada ski resort linked to largest outbreak of P1 Covid variant outside Brazil. We built this whole place on boosterism. We can’t close down resorts because we are one.

But experts were shocked to see a large cluster in Whistler, an alpine resort in British Columbia’s Coast Mountains. It remains a mystery how the variant arrived: none of the 84 people initially flagged at the beginning of the Whistler outbreak reported any travel outside Canada.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that workers in Whistler are huddled together in tiny dorms, eating pot noodle and drinking lighter fluid like it was a scene from Withnail and I.

Remember, BC ranks worst in Canada in terms of access to paid sick leave with 61% of workers not having paid sick days: Ability to work from home and paid sick leave benefits by precarious employment and socioeconomic status. Good thing we have a worker’s party with a majority government!

And yet we must rush out to vaccinate all the precarious Whistler workers. Because capitalism: As Whistler launches vaccination push, experts say B.C. has a COVID-19 data problem. Stares in Surrey:

Why. Are. Resorts. Open? COVID-19 public exposure warning issued for Sasquatch Mountain Resort.

“We’re not a real country, we’re a sort of waystation or set of airports with some resource extraction and banks thrown in” – Derrick O’Keefe. COVID-19: More than 100 passengers arriving at YVR refuse government’s ‘mandatory’ hotel quarantine. It certainly doesn’t help that the wife of HootSuite founder Ryan Holmes calls them internment camps.

It certainly doesn’t help that our media perpetuates this bullshit: Protesters show support for small business. I guess “Protesters hijack the legitimate plight of small businesses and use it to mask their extremist, anti-government science denialism rooted in the conspirituality of white supremacism” was too long?

These are the same people: Vancouver rally draws accusations of transphobia, misinformation. The VPD blocked a counter protest to protect this anti-Trans hate group. Shame. If this pisses you off, make a submission to the Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act.

BC announces new extreme emergency suggestions: COVID-19: Henry pleads with B.C. residents to stay close to home as pandemic worsens. Really? Is that what she said? Because I thought she said “seeing a small number of people from outside your household outside is allowed but it needs to be done in a small way and we are discouraging even that right now.” If this is the kind of messaging we’re receiving it’s no wonder we’re screwed.

No new protections for workers: Tell Minister Robinson that you stand with essential B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch workers’ call for essential pay.

TransLink to remove more bus stops each year to speed up buses. Best comment: “Tell me your company doesn’t prioritize disabled people without telling me your company doesn’t prioritize disabled people”

First Nation says old-growth activists ‘not welcome’ in Fairy Creek area. I can’t wait for knee-jerk reactionaries to weaponize this as though First Nations aren’t a homogenous and amorphous blob and are in fact completely separate nations within a larger nation that have different regional economic and cultural interests.

Good news: Improved cell service coming to B.C.’s Highway of Tears.

Elsewhere: On Kwikwetlem Territory, a New Vision for Riverview.

RIP to 18 year old me’s favourite restaurant: Surrey’s Round Up Cafe is set to close forever, after 60 years of feeding community.

Bonus: Scientists discover hybrid ermine species isolated in Haida Gwaii for 300,000 years. That’s funny, because I feel like I’ve been isolated for 300,000 years…

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