Category Archives: Issues

A Penny in my thoughts.

A lone bouquet of flowers stands guard against the cleanup dumpster under the Peardonville underpass, in forlorn tribute to mark the passing of the homeless man who died under that underpass.

A poignant counterpoint to the crowded sanctuary at St. Matthew’s Anglican Church for Penny Jodway’s memorial service just two weeks earlier. A memorial made possible by the generosity of the members of the church.

Penny was a well known member of the homeless/street community in Abbotsford and the 150 – 200 people who filled the pews at her memorial say more than mere words can about how members of that community felt about her.

In contrast the police, understandably so, had to investigate Jean’s death to insure it was accidental.

Two deaths in the homeless/street community close to each other in time which garnered markedly different media and public attention.

Jean literally went out in a blaze of glory by dieing in a gloriously photogenic blaze that made not only the front page of the local papers, but coverage on the Vancouver TV news. In his death Jean had garnered more public attention and concern than he garnered in his life.

Penny died quietly and without media fanfare or notice, as have others of the homeless/street community in Abbotsford, BC and Canada this year.

Penny’s passing was noted in the local papers only because of submissions to the papers by people from and involved with the homeless/street population. Yet she was a remarkable enough person that 150 – 200 people attended her memorial to say goodbye and mark her life.

I feel sad about the deaths of these two who I knew, but I feel an even deeper sadness for what these events say about society.

This is a Police Priority?

I have heard city councillors moaning over the large budget increase given the Abbotsford Police Department and the affect this will have and has had on other budget areas.

I was thinking about this because the police are so hot-to-trot about tearing down homeless camps around town.

I rather doubt it was to tear down homeless camps that the police were given their $4,000,000 budget increase?

But with the spectacular fire and death under the Peardonville overpass providing cover justification, the police want to move quickly, before the image fades from the publics mind.

Is chasing the homeless from spot to spot, time after time, really the best use of police resources when there are gunfights taking place on our streets and our city is becoming a gang hangout?

Let me be clear I, and the homeless themselves, would agree and be happy to see some of the camps torn down or the residents required to maintain their campsites – as homeowners are required to upkeep their property.

We all are aware of the horror stories of neighbours who have old cars or other junk piled in their yard or of the problem of having someone on your street selling drugs out of their residence.

Those whose camps are their home feel the same way about bad neighbours as others feel about bad neighbours near their home.

These are the homeless whose camps will never make the television news or the newspapers because they are neat, tidy and well kept.

One couple I know has just started to clean up an abandoned pigsty of a campsite, having already cleaned up one such site in their neighbourhood. Considering the great deal of effort involved since they have to remove the debris one shopping cart load at a time, these are the kind of people you want as neighbours.

The police should be focusing their time, resources and taxpayer dollars on problem solving and dealing with real problems not chasing people who are and want to be good neighbours around the city from spot to spot simply because they lack the resources to meet their housing needs.

Sue the Fedeal Government and Elections Canada?

I was speaking with two homeless gentlemen who had just been order to move their tent from the location on Gladys Avenue where they had erected it.

The discussion concerned their right to camp there in light of last weeks follow up court ruling that Victoria’s recently enacted bylaw (enacted after the original BC Supreme Court ruling that the homeless had a right to camp on city property when the city had failed to provide alternative housing choices) that required the homeless to take down their tents and camps every morning.

The new ruling confirmed that the homeless have the right to camp undisturbed in BC cities where sufficient housing alternatives are not available.

I pointed out that with the City of Abbotsford choosing to deny them their legal right to camp what was required was for them to take Abbotsford to court as had been done in Victoria.

Further discussion lead to me conceding that the costs involved were a barrier; but it was a barrier all non-wealthy citizens of BC faced whether they were homeless or were, at least for the moment, housed. As the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada noted in her recent BC speech.

The conversation lead to me pointing out that if I wished to assert my right to be a candidate in the next federal election, a right protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms but currently denied to me, I would need to sue the Government of Canada and Elections Canada.

Which lead to the explanation that while Elections Canada on their own website acknowledges that “The right to be a candidate in a federal election is protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that unless specifically declared to be ineligible under section 65 of the Canada Elections Act any person qualified as an elector may run for election”, they proceed to deny me the right to seek election to Parliament.

That the requirement “At the same time as the witness files the nomination paper and other documents with the returning officer, he or she must submit a deposit of $1,000 in Canadian funds…” denies me my right to seek office.

With the financial reality of my life the required $1,000 deposit denies me (and a growing number of other Canadians) my right to seek election to Parliament.

As a result of this entire conversation I find myself beginning the process of seeking a Supreme Court of Canada injunction preventing Elections Canada and the Canadian Government from holding an election with rules that deny me my right as a Canadian citizen to seek election to Parliament.

Leaving me to seek advice, ideas as well as legal representation that fits within my financial resources and budget of – $0.

I never said that asserting ones rights when one is not wealthy would be easy, just that it was possible to sue the government and assert one’s rights.

Indubitably the injunction would spare us another immediate federal election.