It is one thing to know that politicians lie. As the old joke has it: “How do you know a politician is lying? His/her lips are moving.”
Innately, we all know that many politicians do, and do so much of the time. It is quite another thing to watch one do it to your face. Case in point, Mayor Gregor Robertson’s sickening performance at a press conference on the side of the Art Gallery on Hornby Street on Saturday night. Roberston earned his spot in that special place in hell reserved for lying politicians as he placed the blame for the death of the young homeless woman at Occupy Vancouver (OV) on the protest camp itself.
Robertson surely knew that the cause of death was uncertain, as it remains until the coroner’s report is in. He also had to know that had the woman been a few blocks away, the outcome would have been the same. The only exception would have been that unlike a few blocks away, the OV medics who started CPR a full 10 minutes before the EMT arrived, wouldn’t have been on the scene desperately trying to revive her. I’d say shame on you, Gregor, but it seems obvious to me that Robertson has none.
Robertson also should have known that he grotesquely misrepresented the overdose on Thursday by also putting the blame on OV. In actual fact, had this victim been a few blocks away, without an OV medic by his side in seconds, he would have died. It is a sad reality that OV provides some of the city’s homeless with food, basic medical services and relative safety, something the City of Vancouver has been unable, or unwilling, to do.
None of that appears to matter for a politician and his egregiously sycophantic councilors, all ostensibly of the left, facing an election challenge from the right. Blaming OV for these events is akin to blaming the homeless for their own plight, rather than the inability of the city to come to grips with the problem. Bailing out Millennium from the Property Endowment Fund, but not using the same for the homeless, shows more clearly than anything else that the the real problem is at city hall and it’s not about resources, but priorities. Call it anything you like, but Robertson et al. serve the 1 per cent … and do it each and every time the developers and the Board of Trade pull their strings.
And now there is this: credible reporters with sources at city hall say that the city has begun preparations to send in the riot squad to clear the camp as soon as the injunction is granted. The city claims that the injunction arises because of safety, but these claims are as specious as their comments about the death of Ashlie Gough. Whenever the riot squad goes in, those who have nowhere else to go will resist, and people will be hurt. When they are hurt, others will resist too, and more people will be hurt. Try spinning that to your Visionista backers, Gregor: two riots in five months, one launched by the police against the homeless?
The NPA’s playbook would also see the riot squad move in, but they don’t have to answer to a semi-progressive group of backers. It’s not a win-win for Vision or the mayor here, but a lose-lose. Whichever way the inevitable riot shakes out, Gregor and his will get blamed, and rightfully so.
Robertson’s response to the social movement known as Occupy Vancouver has been to lie and bluster. And since this is not enough, he will now back it with force. It would be good for the clique at city hall to remember that, in a democracy, governments derive their legitimacy from the consent of the governed.
For me, and I think for many others, Robertson has lost any legitimacy he might have previously held.
The journalist H.L. Mencken maybe said it best years ago: “The only way to look at a politician is down.” This is the way any true progressive should look at Robertson and his Visionista regime.