Naomi Klein Fights For The Needs Of Vancouver’s DTES Drug Dealers & Poverty Pimps!

Naomi Klein speaking beside Harsha Walia at the rally

One of the more interesting events I attended in Vancouver was the Occupy Condos event led by Harsha Walia. I have, for months, been quite confused by this event. It was only recently what it has begun to make sense to me…

It was a story in the Globe & Mail that caught my attention- mentioning that the  Sequel 138 development was a threat to Vancouver’s DTES drug market. Suddenly, the whole thing made sense- Naomi Klein was protesting to defend the rights of Vancouver’s DTES drug dealers!

Members of the Vancouver Drug Users Association watching Naomi Klein's & Harsha Walia's speeches against building new condos...

So, I decided to research Naomi Klein a bit further and try to understand what makes her tick. The results were quite shocking!

The first thing I learned was that her brother, Seth Klein, spoke on the same stage as I did during the first day of Occupy Vancouver! Klein is also a Red Diaper Baby whose both grandparents were members of the Soviet Communist Party back in Russia during the first half of the last century.

Naomi is also a darling of the International Socialists, as you can see from this link where she speaks at the steelworker’s hall– which explains the connection to what has been happening in the Occupy Movement. It appears that George Soros and his International Socialists have their hands all-over everything Occupy!

Okay, the story about protecting drug dealers is juicy- but, if one looks beneath the surface, there is a whole lot more going on here…

Signs put-up by developer Marc Williams..

Directly across the street there is the INSITE clinic- a highly controversial safe injection clinic that’s been covered ad-nauseum by the Canadian press. Those of you who have been following my writing since the start may remember how they made a commitment to me and failed last November and how that resulted in the Over-dosage Death at Occupy Vancouver.

INSITE is operated by the Portland Hotel Society (PHS)- a major land manager in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side (DTES), and a major recipient of government grants for giving services to the homeless- a billion dollar industry in Vancouver.

I’ve heard many people refer to Portland as poverty pimps because of the huge amount of money they take-in from their grants. A fantastic example of this is a piece of informaton I learned from Michael Geller last year:

The PHS provide the city with the emergency winter “HEAT” Shelters. Curiously, they charge the city $2,800 per-month for each floor mat they provide for homeless people to sleep on. Yes, you read that right, $2,800 monthly for a mat on the floor!

Also, the PHS and other organizations provide a wealth of other services to their captive audience in the DTES. Food, medical, educational, drug rehab, family services, etc. So, you can see how gentrification could be problematic for them.

If the population of the DTES is distributed elsewhere, grant money will dry-up for organizations like the PHS and others. The poverty pimp industry will be dead!

What amazes me about this story is how the Globe & Mail, The Province and other mainstream media outlets seem to have totally missed the boat on this angle of the story. They always seem to get stories about Vancouver’s DTES wrong- is that because they are too scared to go there and dig-in to the story?

Or is there something more to it- because, this one is a no-brainer…

14 responses to “Naomi Klein Fights For The Needs Of Vancouver’s DTES Drug Dealers & Poverty Pimps!

  1. mollymcevil

    there is definitely something more to this. I will use prostitution as an example. Way back when Vancouver the prostitutes were all centred in the West End. Gentrification happened.. the new people didn’t like the old people being in their area, they protested.. action was taken and now they are scattered through the city.
    What was the direct effect? Well when they were all in one area they took care of each other and watched out for each other. When they because scattered, they no longer had that safety, and the pimps moved in. With that the violence and drugs escalated
    If you gentrify the DTES to much where are the people to go? You think they will just be absorbed and welcomed into other areas with open arms? Yes a shelter costs more than an SRO to run. An SRO has no support staff.. no one to help you out if you need it.. it’s just a room.
    Greg, before you get all high and mighty on the issues in the DTES go live down there. Not in an expensive condo, but on the street, in and SRO on welfare See how well you fair.

  2. Hi Molly,

    Thanks for writing back. I understand what you are saying about the prostitution issue- that said is the DTES not a product of what has already happened? Because, the West End never had problems even close to what’s happening now.

    I’ve spoken with dozens of people who have worked & lived in the DTES, and I have spent a lot of time in the neighbourhood. And, the one thing I’ve come out of this experience with is that the DTES is toxic. I’ve travelled to many countries around the world- both rich & poor, and I have never seen anywhere with as much negative energy except for Nigeria. (or parts of NYC in the 70’s, but that is fixed now)

    From what I can see what we’ve done is to kettle the poor and addicted together into one small area that makes people a perfect target for drug dealers and others who want to profit off of them. This cannot be healthy!

    One of the things that amazed me the night I was at this demonstration was how Harsha Walia had the DTES residents chanting “no middle class in our neighbourhood!” WTF? How is this sort of thing helpful?

    If I would suggest a solution, it would be to allow the neighbourhood to gentrify, and simultaneously build world-class housing and social services distributed to other parts of the city.

    In the Netherlands they have mixed-housing requirements. All new buildings have a certain amount of social housing as well as commercial housing for better off people. This way there are fewer ghettos, and people have a chance to get themselves out of the poverty trap. It works wonderfully, so why not here in Canada too?

  3. mollymcevil

    most other countries didn’t think that closing down mental health facilities like River View, and turning peopel out to the streets was a good idea. A lot of the people that are in the DTES have multiple problems, and no where to get them treated. It’s not just drug addiction, it’s mental health issues. And having dual problems means you fall through the cracks. The government has effectively created the DTES. And until they realize that the feel good mentality that no one should be in an institution does not work, we will always have this problem.
    You keep mentioning people that mean nothing to me. I don’t care that you have a hate on for them, i care that we need to change the system.. and the best way to do that is from within.. not standing on the streets and yelling. i seem to remember having a talk with someone about that many yeras ago. who was doing that.. and seems to be now standing on the streets..

  4. Oh, I couldn’t agree with you more on that one Molly. The government really dropped the ball on caring for people with mental health issues. And, one of the results was the issue of people with multiple problems.

    It totally disgusted me to see this happened here. That said, the people screaming out on the streets to keep the DTES as-is are not helping the situation at all.

    So, yes, in addition to allowing gentrification and building better housing options- we need to fix the mental health system while we’re at it….

  5. 2 things to think about; escort services in van run by the HA (prostitution will move to the towers with gentrification, especially in Vancouver and the drug dealers are more then happy to switch to an upper scale clientele and cocaine, like wall street.

    I just dont know who’s better anymore, the gangs or these as you say “poverty pimps”

  6. mollymcevil

    and we need to make the people realize that if they move into the DTES just because they spent 500,000 for a one room condo, gives them no more rights than the person living in their doorway. They were just silly enough to spend too much for a box.
    If the problem was there before you moved in, dont’ expect it to vanish because you are there.

    • Well, the good news is that these condos are only going to be $250K for a small one- so rather affordable! That said, they will have to live across from INSITE, and that block can get rather uncomfortable at night time…

      But, yes, I agree with you, they have to allow for what is already there and not insist on change.

  7. mollymcevil

    haha rather affordable in whose world? not mine that’s for sure.

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