Downtown Eastside alley in Vancouver

BC VIEWS: BC promotes poverty and crime

Premier Christy Clark will likely make poverty and housing an election issue, but her government's approach is flawed

The B.C. government is getting ready to roll out its master plan for social housing, having set up a $75 million fund, with more to come from its new foreign-buyer tax.

Poverty and homelessness are shaping up to be Premier Christy Clark’s main theme for the 2017 election, turning the page from a natural gas-fired industrial expansion that isn’t likely to arrive in time. And there are reasons for that.

Aside from the social housing spending spree guided by Housing Minister Rich Coleman in recent years, Clark has presided over an aggressive employment support program for single parents on income assistance, along with an overdue increase to disability assistance recipients.

The NDP has focused on a factually challenged urban campaign about charging for bus passes, and continues to promote the failed socialist notion that a five-year plan for poverty reduction will fix everything.

Poverty causes crime too, right? Everyone learns that in our modern welfare state, and it’s a bedrock NDP belief.

I received a couple of snide replies to last week’s column, in which I mentioned British psychiatrist Theodore Dalrymple’s questioning of this orthodox idea.

After working in an inner-city London hospital and prison for years, Dalrymple came to the conclusion that crime is not an inevitable result of economic inequality and the greed of the rich. Rather, he writes, “the cause of crime is the decision of criminals to commit it.” Indeed, if poverty were the cause of crime, then most, if not all, poor people would be criminals.

Looking at the shelter-camper-drug user-thief epidemic that has taken root in many B.C. communities, and the government and media reaction to it, a stranger would conclude that drug addiction is the main cause of crime. And since drug abuse is deemed to be a disease rather than a choice, the health care system is scrambling to hand out needles and catch up with overdoses from potent new street drugs.

The Vancouver media report on clusters of overdoses on “Welfare Wednesday,” as if spreading out the distribution of money would be an improvement. And there is growing enthusiasm that supervised injection sites will soon spread beyond Vancouver, where no expense is spared to support the ever-rising, seldom-recovering population of addicts.

Vancouver is pioneering “tenant-proof” social housing with easier-to-repair floors and walls, and bathrooms with central drains so the whole room can be washed down. Just wreck the place, people, the taxpayers will clean up after you.

One reader was offended by my reference to the loss of social order that used to be provided by family, religion and work among what the British frankly call the lower classes. Most Western countries have experienced this.

In B.C. the surge of street people is mostly feral males. Not that long ago, most of these guys could have found work in a bush camp, coming to town to blow their paycheques and then heading out again for an enforced stretch of abstinence and exercise.

Those jobs are gone, and now it’s the nanny state’s turn.

A Chilliwack reader tells me she now considers Coleman to be a leading figure of the enabling left, buying flophouses and transitional housing that even includes catered meals.

The question I keep asking is, transitioning to what? If the Downtown Eastside is the model, there’s little evidence of recovery. A staffer at the Insite injection facility was once caught offering to train a self-described newbie how to shoot heroin.

I’ll be watching the housing plan to see if there is any strategy beyond containment and catering.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

 

Just Posted

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame in Penticton

The 26th ceremony welcomed powerful figures both on and off the ice

Peach Classic Triathlon

While Penticton contemplates changes in the long-distance triathlon community with Ironman returning… Continue reading

Armchair Book Club: Delving into the threat of big tech

Heather Allen is a book reviewer for Black Press that lives in the Okanagan

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Showers to start weekend, sun returning soon

Environment Canada forecasts rain on Saturday and the heat returning next week

UPDATE: Penticton resident’s dog found safe

Nicholas Bozak thanks the public for finding his 17 month old mastiff chow

July showers wash out half of the Okanagan’s cherry crop

Cherry growers say this is the worst season they’ve seen in decades

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

Researchers found performance on key areas varies by province and territory

COLUMN: Looking back to a time of optimism

The first lunar landing 50 years ago was a time to celebrate dreams and accomplishments

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

Okanagan e-scooter company foils robberies

OGO Scooters staff helped return stolen property three times in 1st week of operations in Kelowna

Olympian brings women empowerment in sports to the Okanagan

Two-time medalist Natalie Spooner joined the Girls Rock the Rink event in Kelowna

Column: Understanding weather patterns a key to a successful garden

Columnist dives into Okanagan urban agriculture

Most Read