Friday, November 20, 2009
BC's Gordon Campbell Liberals passed two controversial bills this legislative session, both unfairly, unreasonably and probably unconstitutionally targeting homeless and other marginalized people.
And both just in time for the Olympics...but that has nothing to do with it (wink, wink).
The first bill is the Assistance to Shelter Act.
Under this bill, the minister can issue an "extreme weather alert" which gives cops the power to force people into shelters against their will.
The police are allowed to use "reasonable force" to get homeless people off the streets. The Housing and Social Development Minister Rich Coleman has said that he's asked police to "use very little force."
My favorite part of this is that the target of this legislation are 'people at risk.' The determination of whether someone is 'at risk' or not is entirely up to the police. Take heed Olympic protesters.
The second Orwellian masterpiece from the Campbell Liberal brain trust is the Housing and Social Development Statues Amendment Act.
Under this law, people with outstanding warrants could be denied income assistance.
Sounds reasonable, right?
Well, the law was supposed to target people with warrants for major offences, like assault and robbery. However, as passed, the bill allows the government to deny income assistance to people with warrants on all indictable offenses.
That means a person with a warrant for a shoplifting offense could be denied welfare.
Earlier this year, the Vancouver Police conducted a major ticketing sweep and issued hundreds of tickets for panhandling, loitering and jaywalking in the city's Downtown Eastside. Most, if not all, of those who got tickets will not be able to pay them. That means there will be a warrant out for their arrest. That could mean no welfare cheques.
Just for clarification, THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE OLYMPICS. Nothing whatsoever.
Just forget all of that pesky evidence from previous Olympics that poor and marginalized folks are negatively impacted by the games.