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: Twitter: @tomfletcherbc


Just Posted

Central Saanich Police training a drug recgonition expert

Role needed as Canada nears cannabis legalization this year

Six stories a non-starter at Sidney’s Cedarwood Inn site

Site redevelopment plans go back to the drawing board

Latitude 48 Paddling Club races through Victoria waters

Local team clinched victory in Nanaimo to kick off season that will see them compete in Hawaii

Greater Victoria police busy with St. Patrick’s Day calls

Victoria police respond to 82 calls for service

Royals gear up for WHL playoffs after suffering season-worst loss

Victoria has a solid 7-3 record this year against opening-round opponent Vancouver

Victoria airport terminal expansion under way

Videos posted showing work in progress over the next 27 months

Women’s Expo seeks to empower women this weekend

Victoria Women’s Expo set for Saturday and Sunday at Pearkes Recreation Centre

UPDATE: Orca Airways grounded due to safety issues

Merger with Integra Air results in loss of operator’s certificate

Investigation into bullying allegations against Elizabeth May still weeks away

Federal Green Party Leader asked for third-party investigation back in January

UPDATE: Costco rumours spurred on by vague email reference

Rumours of big box stores coming to Central Saanich or Sidney happening since 1994

Anti-pipeline protestors block Kinder Morgan tanker near Seattle

Protest was spurred on by the 28 anti-Kinder Morgan activists arrested in Burnaby

Mount Douglas Mathletes enjoying success by the numbers

Saanich Grade 9s walk away with top five spots in Island math competition

Some surprises in new book about B.C. labour movement

“On the Line” charts history of the union movement back to the 1800s

B.C. cyclist races to first win of the season in New Zealand

Casey Brown captures Enduro title by more than two minutes at Crankworx Rotorua

Most Read