29 October 2009

Oh, the Compassion!

The wording in the BC Government media release says it all. The new Act, just announced, is intended "to protect homeless in extreme weather." How fortunate that the Act has been put in place in time for the Olympics!

The Province has introduced the Assistance to Shelter Act to keep homeless British Columbians safe from extreme weather by giving police the authority to take people at risk of harm to emergency shelters, announced Housing and Social Development Minister Rich Coleman.

"When an extreme weather alert has been issued, we want people at risk off the streets and into safe accommodation," said Coleman....

Once at the shelter, [homeless] have the right to decide whether or not they want to stay at the shelter....

"The RCMP fully endorses efforts to assist homeless and less fortunate people on our streets," said Gary Bass, RCMP Deputy Commissioner, Pacific Region. "We recognize that for the most part, these individuals do not commit crimes, but consider it a key pillar of our Crime Reduction Strategy... We view this as a positive step forward in terms of assisting not only the homeless but those making efforts to avoid a criminal lifestyle."

For the most part, street people are VICTIMS of crime, not the perpetrators, you idiots!

Victoria Police Chief Jamie Graham said, “The terrible dilemma for police officers is when the weather is so extreme and vulnerable people are found who are at very substantial risk. When a mental illness or addiction takes over rational decision making, the only hope is for the police to have supportive legislation allowing them to take people to safety."

Who are YOU, your officers, or anyone else for that matter, to decide what is "rational decision making"? How do YOU know that the decision to stay away from shelters might not be based on excellent reasons? And who are YOU to say whether someone is 'mentally ill' rather than simply one who doesn't conform to YOUR standards?

Compassion and concern for the wellbeing of street people isn't driving this Act. It's concern for the unsightly appearance of BC's homelessness problem during the Olympics. As for the Act, now all the government has to do is get Environment Canada onside - or at least its BC equivalent - so that 'extreme weather alerts' occur regularly during the optimum period.

ETA: See also Part 2 of this post.

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