VICTORIA – A full three weeks after the Occupy Wall Street protest camp sprang up in New York City, a few stragglers announced they were almost ready to “Occupy Maple Ridge” and “Occupy Revelstoke.”
Perhaps other pathetic protests are still being dreamed up around B.C. But most have already packed up, and in places such as Prince George, these anti-capitalist rallies never led to an illegal squat.
Let’s be clear about our squats, the ones in Canada and particularly B.C. They are explicitly anti-capitalist and statist in their message, which is presumably why they were funded by government unions.
Despite the free food, power and porta-potties, these squats quickly became filthy and dangerous as the chronic street drug population replaced the spoiled young drummers and hula-hoopers who camped out to curse corporations on their iPhones.
And yes, squats are still illegal here, following a unanimous October decision of the B.C. Court of Appeal against David Arthur Johnston.
This pretend-homeless guy’s antics are at the root of the latest squatter outbreak. Victoria and its courts caved in to Johnston and allowed camping on public property at night. But he demanded 24-hour squatting rights, because some supposedly homeless people are supposedly insomniacs too. Turns out there were plenty of shelter beds on which to snooze away the day or night, and his vague claim of a constitutional right to camp on public property was summarily dismissed.
I had a brief exchange with an Occupy Vancouver “organizer,” one Min Reyes, as she tried to rouse the reluctant radicals of Maple Ridge. Reyes defines herself in her Twitter profile as “Flirting with Anarchism while making love to Socialism,” which sums up B.C.’s occupy movement as well as anything.
“My personal approach to the analysis of society relies on Marx’s historical materialism,” Reyes writes on her blog. After majoring in Marxism at SFU, she moved on to BCIT’s journalism program, but dropped out after a couple of weeks because her studies “compromised my personal values.” Turns out BCIT is all about “skills” to get a “job.” Bummer.
A glimpse of these “values” was on display when a reporter from CKNW radio tried to cover a heroin overdose at Occupy Vancouver. She was shouted down and accused of shaping the news to benefit “Coke and McDonalds.”
At Occupy Victoria, which I visited a few times before it descended into another needle park, signs warned against “chem trails,” smart meters and corporations. Campers were urged to “nationalize finance, energy and food” industries. Five-year plan for tractor production, anyone?
Nationalizing banks is also at the top of Occupy Vancouver's long, pretentious list of demands.
Why is this stale leftist ideology so pervasive? Here’s a hint. The union representing these kids’ teachers is demanding higher corporate taxes to pay for their typically self-serving, financially illiterate contract demands.
Here in Victoria, as in Vancouver, the huge growth in shelter, food, clothing and transition housing service doesn’t impress the hardcore system users. Victoria’s mayor built his reputation with years of street outreach work, but he’s still targeted for the ugliest treatment, including vandalism at his family home.
Victoria council even kowtowed by voting to “support” the squat next to city hall, where Johnston used to camp. Then they cut off the power and water, which had been commandeered rather than set up by city staff at taxpayers’ expense, as was the case in Vancouver.
In B.C.’s most “progressive” cities, we’re getting used to encountering public areas fouled by vomit, feces and used needles.
Tom Fletcher is legislative reporter and columnist for Black Press and BCLocalnews.com