Monday, August 21, 2006

Free to sleep under bridges in BMWs

I am really pissed about this.

Last week the manager of the Empress Hotel in Victoria reported they had just lost a conference contract worth $200,000 from a Washington DC company on their second follow-up visit to Victoria because of "the quality of the shops and aggressive panhandlers".

Hey DC tourists, not enough high end shopping up here for ya?
And, coming from Washington DC, you are of course completely unfamiliar with the concept of panhandlers.
Don't let the door hit your fat tourist ass on the way out.

This week, CBC refocused the story with this headline :
"Conference organizers scared off by aggressive panhandlers".

Whoa! What happened to the crappy shopping angle?
It wouldn't be easier to just put the whole blame on homeless people, would it?

Here's the odious Lib MLA(Van/Burrard) Lorne Mayencourt on Friday's CBC Almanac.
After citing and agreeing with complaints from the Downtown Vancouver Business Association that panhandlers are hurting tourism and should be charged under his "Safe Streets Act", he goes on to say :

"Many panhandlers are faking it" and they "go home to Coquitlam to shine up their BMWs".

Damn those panhandlers and their car payment problems.
You know, Lorne, I don't think the 200,000 homeless in Canada, one third of whom are kids, are panhandling to pay off their $60K BMWs. No, I'm guessing they're doing it because when they were little kids, they lay in bed at night dreaming of growing up to scrape crud off windshields for a loonie a pop.
And with its cutbacks in services, the Campbell government is helping them to achieve that goal.

Cost of current band-aid approach to homelessness - $1 billion Cdn per year in health care, criminal justice, social services.
Cost of eradicating homelessness - $3.5 billion in affordable housing and social services.
Cost of 2010 Games so far - $3 - 4 billion, not including infrastructure improvements.

Coz that's what this is about, isn't it? Cleaning up the streets for the Big 5 Ring Circus.
But thanks again, Lorne, for bringing up the panhandlers in BMWs meme.
And for pointing out that poverty is primarily a tourism problem.

Props to the Almanac host and callers for chewing out his sorry ass.


scout said...

damn it, janet, victoria's my home turf. you bet there's a lot of panhandlers, and there always has been....last stop out west, mildest climate.

the ratio has picked up but really, they're not exacctly an aggressive lot. and certainly not as crowded as in the u.k.. i've sat and gabbed with vic's homeless, just like the u.k. and vancouver.....same everywhere...most are pretty nice and you get the occassional asshole. victoria's got more probs with gangs then anything else. it's always been one of the unemployment capitals of b.c..

yup, the big campbell olympic broom is sweeping the province. gordo condoning safe site injection, looking all nice and progressive for the heh hem, world, while wanting $$$ from the feds for the dustpan. will vancouver merchants try for the 'parking meter' scheme of a few years ago, whereby begging is outlawed but passersby can put spare change in a meter that will go to food banks??

high end shopping? the d.c. crowd obviously can't appreciate george straiths, one of the finest clothiers there is, or wilsons.....condi's made it law it has to say prada. and the funk of market square, pandora, fan tan alley would scare them to death.

your figures are right on alison, and pardon me while i engage in your rage. the faux liberal dustbuster is going to grow to giant proportions. i say come 2010 we all dress in rags and wander the tourist corridors en masse.

Q said...

Hotel people are notoriously ruthless, so can you lovely gals spare a brother cat a couple of bucks for my lego research? Wait, there's already an fu in the word verification, never mind.

Mike said...

Gawd, I'm having a flashback to Reagan and the welfare mothers with Cadilacs...Nice to see Conservatives are consistent. Stupid as a bag of hammers and as compasionate as a kick in the nuts, but consistent nonetheless.

Dave said...

The only aggressive panhandlers I personally remember from Victoria were the Oak Bay kids doing the grunge thing, but frankly, that was ten years ago. Most homeless people have too much sense to be pricks.

These DC people were probably scared by the fact that a homeless person had the nerve to talk to them.

Also: Is the Empress really in dire financial straits? Like, if this conference doesn't happen, they'll have to pack it in?

Anonymous said...

It's hard to imagine the Empress being in dire financial straits, given how popular they are. There is always traffic in their pull-in area. Of course, I suppose they could always suffer from financial mis-management.

And the Empress has some very high-end shops right inside it and in the corridor to the Conference Center. I can see why some of those shops might be in trouble, since average people won't be buying anything there.

Victoria's panhandlers certainly exist, but I've met very, very few who could be considered at all aggressive, unless you count the blind guy who sits on a bench a couple of blocks up from the Conference Center and loudly and repeatedly calls "Can you spare a little change today?" as being aggressive. And if you do, well honey, that's just your guilt talking.

Alison said...

Go, Scout.
It will be particularly interesting to see how much more aggressive the Vancouver Ambassador Red Shirts will get since the court ruling that states they can no longer harrass people on public property.

Mike : Yeah. God forbid we should forego the opportunity to repeat every single friggin US Con mistake up here.

Q: Seen this yet? Rusty Idols linked to it.

Dave & Deanna : "Empress in dire financial straits"
LOL. The Empress was part of the huge international Fairmont Hotel chain which was in turn bought out this year by the consortium of a Saudi prince who is the world's 5th richest man.
As Kurt Vonnegut once put it a long time ago: "We are all the Indians now."

Bazz said...

These BMW-owning homeless folk that are causing such distress to tourists and hotel-owners must have come over from Alberta. Our government's been whining about them pretty much since Klein got into power.

RossK said...

Mike is spot on with his analysis re: The Welfare Queens With Cadillacs.


Has Little Lord Lorne made a pilgrimage the Fount of the Sacred Bleeding Luntz?

Anonymous said...

I see that Squinty McGuinty's Ontario has some serious competition for the moronic category.

And I heard today on one of the news channels that poverty is on the rise nationwide, so the homeless will be even more 'visible'. A sad, tragic commentary on the state of our country. The 'haves' have an abundance, while the 'have-nots' get by with less and less. Housing costs rise disproportionately to the incomes of the working poor. Social assistance is deplorably low, insufficient for even mere subsistence. Toronto, and the entire GTA, have growing homeless populations. Our uncaring governments want to sweep this issue under the rug. Ontario actually has a large surplus in their budget this year, so where are the funds for affordable housing and social programs? It is a sick society we live in....

Those DC tourists aren't human beings, and should stay home in their insulated towers where they don't see the real world, if they feel so much disdain for those less fortunate. I won't tell you what I wish for those plastic snobs.

As for that asinine comment by Lorne Mayancourt: well, that merely reaffirms what many of us know: the Libs and the Cons are merely the reverse sides of the same counterfeit coin. There is little difference in their ideology. Neoliberals-neoconservatives, same thing given different names. An asshole is an asshole, regardless of calling it by any other name. Sheesh! All these heartless, disgusting, superiority complex-filled egotistic types make me sick.

Scout, add me to that group who'll be wandering around in rags in the tourist corridors in 2010. That's an excellent idea. I'll bring my kid bro too!

Scotian said...

The first thing that went through my mind when I read this was Reagan's welfare Queens driving Cadillacs, same as Mike. Having been homeless myself in the past and forced to beg for charity from the public I know exactly how bogus this argument truly is. While it has been eight years since my time out there I still talk to those I knew from then that have not been as fortunate as myself in getting off the streets again. Indeed many of the people on the street I met started out from one of two backgrounds (generally speaking, with the inherent limitations of any generalization). They either started out from good circumstances and hit a run of bad luck of one type or another, or they grew up in abusive environments and got out as soon as they could. What I never saw was someone that panhandled that owned a car, let alone a bloody Beemer.

However there was another part to your post that I think needs to be considered that has yet to be discussed in this thread, and that being just how easily the blame for this loss went from crappy businesses and panhandler aggressiveness to solely being because of the panhandlers. Isn't it amazing just how easily people will shift blame to those powerless to refute it, whereas including businesses in that criticism would anger local business people with potential negative fallout to those that do so.

Got to love the screwing the panhandlers/homeless get in this one, they are made a sole scapegoat and have it done in a manner where they are portrayed as sleazy hustlers that really have money enough for things like Beemers instead of what they truly are, desperate people trying to survive. The idea that people panhandle and live on the street because they are secretly wealthy is patently absurd, yet I suspect there are many that would believe it and none of these people have any actual experience with the realities of street life.

Alison said...

Always a pleasure, Scotian.

Anonymous said...

Scout, Annamarie :
I'm in. That's how we nailed the Ambassadors.

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