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

UPDATE: Police seeking witnesses to fatal Surrey hit-and-run

A pedestrian was killed Thursday night in a crash on Highway 10 near 152nd Street

Surrey woman with autism has scooter stolen from SkyTrain station

Kayla Polege purchased scooter after ‘shutdowns’ on transit

‘Old-Timers’ bring competitive hockey to North Delta rink

A group of 600 athletes ages 50 and older meet weekly to compete in Canada’s winter sport

Students lend hand decorating Ocean Park Community Orchard shed

Grade 1-2 classes from Ocean Cliff Elementary at South Surrey garden Friday.

Phase three of ‘King George Hub’ development moves forward

Coast Capital Savings headquarters next to King George SkyTrain was phase one of the project

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

UPDATE: Police ID man in suspicious Richmond death

A body was found in the area of Garden City and Odlin Roads in Richmond just after 8:30am Thursday

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in B.C. exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

B.C. man who left hospice to run in upcoming election dies

A week after leaving hospice to go to city hall to declare his candidacy, David Hesketh has died.

Tilray Inc sees $10-billion in market cap go up in smoke

Tilray’s share price closed at $123 US on Friday, a decline from its intraday peak of nearly $300 US earlier in the week

Breast density to be included in mammogram results across B.C.

The information is crucial in proactively reducing the risk of breast cancer, doctors say

Canada to boost support for riskier forms of renewable energy: minister

A $30-million contribution to a $117-million tidal project hopes to harness the immense power of the Bay of Fundy

Most Read