Mom and I had just finished the vigil/rally for the murdered and missing women from the DTES and across the nation. The rally was winding down, so we headed back towards home, traveling through China Town where a Chinese New Year’s celebration was simultaneously occurring. Emotions frayed from having just attended a memorial for hundreds of missing and murdered women across this nation, we end up colliding with crowds of shopping tourists and celebrating Chinese Canadians.
As we picked our way through the festivities, we happened to come across our illustrious mayor, Gregor Robertson. Gregor was decked out in his Chinese New Years attire, and giving his full support to the voters and tax payers with the potential to advance his political career and agenda. How he can attend this event and abstain from the other is no mystery. The voting and financial power of the Chinese Canadian community obviously overshadows that of the Native Canadians and other women lost and murdered in the DTES.
Angered by this slight to my social conscience, I approached our Mayor to throw a question his way, “Mayor Robertson, why aren’t you showing your support for the murdered and missing women of the DTES today?!” To this he quickly responded, “I’m heading there now, to Oppenheimer Park,” a somewhat fractured smile, stretched across his face. I decided to leave it at that, partly due to the sudden nature of the encounter and my being flustered over the issues at hand, unable to formulate a response that I could be proud of. So instead of continuing the dialogue, we passed each other on the sidewalk, moving in opposite directions, in more ways than one.
While I do give Mayor Gregor credit for the fact that he is actually attending the Vigil, I can’t help but think that when I had left, the vigil’s numbers had depleted by nearly half, following a passionate and heart wrenching series of speeches in front of Vancouver's DTES Police Station. This spot was chosen by the organizers to insure that our incompetent police force would finally get the message and begin to work for all citizens, be they wealthy taxpayers or the most vulnerable amongst us. This had been the climax of the entire event. I wonder; if it had been hundreds of middle class or rich women murdered and missing, would the ineptitude and Johnny-come-lately attitude of both our police force and our elected officials have even been a factor in this tragedy? On that issue, I don’t think I need to answer my own question; it’s too obvious. Mayor Robertson, like all those to have come before, has revealed that his priorities, and those of the moneyed interest that run this City, haven't shifted or skipped a beat, even with the international media spotlight being provided by the 2010 Corporate Games.
Gregor will arrive at the tail end, when the numbers are depleted, and like our infamous Prime Minister, Herr Harper and our Auctioneer Premier, Gordon “Red Mittens” Campbell, be there at the right moment, for that critical photo op. Politicians come and go; their promises and empty rhetoric echo through the streets of the City and then disappear into the sea of collective apathy and greed that keeps this flawed system running. Wake up Canada! It’s time we rose from our apathy induced slumber and began to care for our neighbors. It’s time we shelved our collective narcissism, and turned this ship of self indulgence around. We should be better citizens than we are. The time has come to react, before it’s too late, before we succumb to our baser natures and leave all hope behind. Truth before lies! Morality before greed! Not only accountability, but action is required for the absent voices that are no longer to be heard in our downtown streets and across our fractured nation.