Sunday, September 14, 2008

the olympics are coming! the olympics are coming!!

With any concerns about Chinese human rights violations swept under the dusty award podiums of the public's sound-bite memories, plans for the next exclusive IOC party, the 2010 Whistler/Vancouver Winter Olympics, are decidedly underway.

As with the Chinese, neither will Canada's elite tolerate hideous young girls frightening the public with their uneven baby teeth. As BC's soon to be replaced Premier Gordon Campbell has promised, martini in one hand and keys to his mercedes in the other, he will do everything he can to eliminate any trace of poverty and homelessness and addiction (except of the athletic sort) when the world peers into the downtown streets of Vancouver's east side.

Recent polls suggest Gordo will have plenty of time to adjust his athletic gear in time for his little party in 2010, since the public is no longer interested in his intoxicated decision making and will likely elect the NDP in May 2009. It's brilliant, really - plan a fancy expensive party, and hire the underlings to inherit the mess. It's kinda like maintaining the status quo knowing that it's ultimately unsustainable (not to mention selfish) to use so much energy when global warming is upon us --- if we don't think about it today, we can just blame it on the kids tomorrow when they're all growed up. With enough money and PR spin from the corporate media, nobody'll ever be the wiser.

Then there's little Victoria, just an $11.25 boat ride away from Vancouver's dastardly Downtown EastSide (affectionately referred to as the DTES). Panhandlers and buskers, evicted from their low-income hotel rooms in the DTES as Gordo's officious and hardly innovative street cleaning strategy kicks in, are busy collecting their pennies for the journey. ($10.50, $11.25 ..... whoops, David Hahn needs another million for the extension on his third home in the Phillipines, ferry fares are up again ... $11.25, $11.50 ...).

Meanwhile, in Victoria, City Council (with the exception of Pam Madoff and Geoff Young who voted against, and Dean Fortin who wisely abstained) has established an unlikely precedent of removing park land from the city's coffers. Their attempts to cloud the issue with promises to add three parks for the one they've removed very nearly fooled the sleeping public until, at the very next meeting, they met to discuss removing a second park from park status. Yes, that's right, the precedent has been set --- under the auspices of sheltering the homeless (read: warehouse them somewhere other than downtown in an attempt to justify a stupid and cruel economic system) any and all available greenspace is on its way out.

While the citizenry, many of whom signed petitions and pleaded for a better decision than building another shelter on a piece of park, are still licking their wounds after a defiant abandonment of democratic process resulted in the loss of Ellice Park, the insincerity of the Mayor and some Council's intentions was made clear at THE VERY NEXT MEETING when it was announced that the small greenspace that is Cridge Park will make way for ...... wait for it ..... a children's museum.

It's no coincidence that Cridge Park is the exact precise location of the tent-city that some innovative survival-minded nomadic types established a couple of years ago. And there's no doubt that certain City officials have their nose out of joint that the court case went as far as it did, try as they might, these past couple of years, to deny it a hearing.

It's also no coincidence that Cridge Park is currently on the sidelines of the legal challenge that promises to establish some sort of precedent for homeless people all over Canada (a judge is right now deciding whether Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms has any teeth). And it's not unimaginable to consider that the flurry of letters published in the Times/Colonialist in favour of this absolutely retarded consideration (taking MORE greenspace from our world during these last days of human survival on an overcrowded greenhouse gassed planet) are capitalists chomping at the bit, drooling over the prospects of constructing yet another building ... the argument is that there's a lovely bit of green space at St. Ann's right across the street from Cridge Park (where homeless looking people are routinely rounded up and sometimes imprisoned simply because they exist) and what better legacy could we leave the children than a museum on stolen park land (twice removed) right next door to their beloved Crystal Gardens which was also stolen from them (and their native cousins before them). With any luck they'll grow up to be thieves themselves, at least acquiring their morals honestly.

Again I'm reminded of Cuba. Washington fuels the Miami mafia to the tune of millions of dollars each year (so I've heard) to enable a perpetual and insidious conspiracy to overthrow the Cuban revolution. Cuba's not perfect, but their revolution has resulted in a health and education system that is the envy of the world - at least, it's the envy of the revolutionary minded of the world.

(Aside: My family doctor has transformed the practice she built using Canadian tax-payer's money to capitalize on womens' insecurities - all of which can be remedied, apparently, not by accepting aging as a natural process, but by fighting it with botox injections and laser surgery. So today I went to a walk-in clinic and saw Dr. Potiuk. I asked him to please fill out the necessary form so I can get my creatinine levels tested so my naturopath can proceed with the heavy metals test, but Dr. Potiuk suggested I should just to pay the naturopath for that test. The conversation went like this: "I'm poor, I live in poverty, I can't afford to pay for the test." "You pay the naturopath, don't you?" "Yes I do, and he pays taxes which pay your salary." "Well I can't send you for a test if you're not sick." "The heavy metals in my body are impacting my dental health ..... you don't believe that heavy metals in my body are impacting my dental health? .... You young doctors ought to travel to Cuba and see what a system of health is really about." "Yeah, well we're not Cuba." Dr. Potiuk will, no doubt, be submitting the necessary paperwork to ensure he’s paid for my visit.)

I agree with Dr. Potiuk on one thing - we’re certainly not Cuba.

Cuba is no longer Las Vegas on steroids, as it was in its pre-revolutionary years. And, with any luck, Victoria's electorate is neither short-sighted nor demented. We remember. We remember what happened last year, we remember last month, and we remember last week when you took parkland away from a huge mass of intelligent voters who begged you to do something, anything, other. But you voted for the least worst option, leaving many of us shaking our heads and pondering our options in the fall election.

We understand you're under pressure to clean up the messy streets. Whatever you do, don't show the children the landfills, don’t explain the real costs of corporate capitalism, don’t show them the children with crooked teeth. They'll be much better off inside some brand new LEED certified building that used to be a park.