When it comes to gang violence, is Mayor Robertson really living on some Happy Planet?
Last election, Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision team ran on a platform of solving homelessness by 2015. A very smart move indeed, as it requires Vancouverites to elect a Vision government in both 2011 and 2014 in order to ensure this promise becomes a reality.
I don’t think last Fall the Mayor or his fellow candidates could have predicted that within four months of taking office the issue of gang violence would unnerve Vancouver’s residents and become tops on the public’s agenda.
As the attention of the world’s media begins to focus on Vancouver in preparation for the 2010 Olympic Games, the gang warfare issue will take centre stage and could very well have serious long-term ramifications for the reputation of the city.
Why? Because the issue of gangs, guns and violence sells both locally and abroad. I also believe the issue of gang violence is also completely foreign to what the international media thinks about Vancouver. They are more apt to conjure up images of pretty snow capped mountains, fresh air, backpacking, nature walks etc...not gangland shootings.
To date, the Mayor has stumbled badly on the issue of law and order. At times he has appeared lost and unaware of how to provide leadership in this time of street mayhem. Take for example his reaction to being invited by Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts to discuss the issue of solving gang violence. He gave the meeting a pass in order to attend another cheesy Olympic photo op instead.
If the Mayor doesn’t quickly realize the importance of gang violence and that Vancouverites are concerned as hell about what is happening on their streets, he will rapidly lose support.
If you don’t believe the Mayor has his head in the sand on this issue, take a gander at what he recently told the Toronto Star:
There is no cause for concern - Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, Toronto Star
Does that sound like a Mayor providing leadership on this issue? Does this sound like a Mayor concerned that our international reputation as a safe, secure tourist destination is about to get side-swiped by a semi-trailer full of journalists over the next 10 months?
I vividly recall what happened to former Mayor Sam Sullivan when he didn’t come out and speak loudly on the issue of Vancouver’s boil water advisory a few years ago. Although realistically he was powerless, the public and media expected him to show more leadership. They wanted him to do more, say more and demonstrate that he was on top of the issue. You only need listen to Michael Smyth, a columnist from the Province newspaper, who took a barrel load of shots at Sullivan for his perceived mishandling of the issue to understand what I mean.
Unlike his predecessors Philip Owen, Larry Campbell and Sam Sullivan, the current worship has also remained all but mute regarding the future of Vancouver’s Four Pillars Drug Strategy. If properly implemented, Four Pillars was offering the hope and action required to begin addressing the serious drug addiction issues in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
As any police officer will tell you, this whole gang violence is fueled by the enormous drug profits being generated in large part by the lost souls addicted to every drug known to man. Solve the drug problem, and gang violence will be reduced – this is not rocket science.
They Mayor has been very busy with a lot of photo ops lately regarding green energy vehicles, community gardens and social housing, but has been all but MIA on the issue of gang and gun violence.
Juxtapose this against what Mayor Watts has been doing in Surrey, and you can see that Robertson and his political advisers are clearly just praying and hoping that this gang issue will just die away – no pun intended – so they can get back to their agenda.