APC Squeegee Success!
December 3, 2004
Today the Vancouver Police Department and Canada Place security guards exposed the true meaning of the Safe Street Act (SSA). This show of force took place at a pan-in organized by the Anti-Poverty Committee, which would have disrupted Vancouver Board of Trade-hosted luncheon featuring Solicitor-General Rich Coleman.
A handful of APC members showed up at Canada Place and were met by over 50 police officers and a legion of security guards (reminiscent of an APC demonstration against Gordon Campbell last week where the VPD grossly outnumbered protesters). The VPD have made it clear that their duty is to serve and protect the Liberals and their financial supporters from the poor working people who are fed up.
Seeing that there would be no way to penetrate the excessive police line, APC members began distributing information leaflets to delegates of the BC Federation of Labour Convention who were meeting in the same building.
After handing out a stack of leaflets and returning to give out more two APC members were stopped by security guards who threatened to “take them down” if they continued to leaflet. The two members dared the security to do so as they moved past the gate that had been set up.
Inside the convention room, the APC members continued to leaflet while a resolution against the Safe Street Act was being discussed on the floor. As union member after union member denounced the Act and vowed to fight against it, the two APC members were swarmed by security guards who tried to expel them from the building. Seeing this, dozens of union representatives surrounded the APC leafleters and demanded security to back off. When learning both APC members were CUPE members, the delegates sent for their local representatives who in turn stood guard while leaflets were again distributed.
The BC Fed’s resolution against the SSA passed unanimously and the Safe Streets Act was recognized as an attack on all working and unemployed people. Union members explained that the Act will be used against picket lines in the same way in will be used to police panhandlers. People got up and spoke out against the enormous police presence outside and vowed to stand with the Anti-Poverty Committee in their struggles.
The convention closed on those lines and the delegates joined the APC outside. The police quickly withdrew some of their officers, embarrassed by their obvious overkill. Squeegees where handed out to union members who took turns sqeegeeing traffic. A group of people then joined members of the Squeegee Council who worked the intersection in front of Canada Place.
Although Rich Coleman was able to give his speech on the ‘future of policing in BC’, and the Board of Trade members who aggressively lobbied for the SSA to be passed were not disrupted while toasting their success in social cleansing, the action was a success. The image of union members squeegeeing windows along side street-involved workers was worth a thousand chants. In the rain and surrounded by police, solidarity became more than a gesture - it became the strength of a movement that will defeat this government and struggle for real justice.
CBC: Study pans Ontario Safe Streets Act
VANCOUVER - A report done in Ontario shows that province's Safe Streets Act – similar to a law pending in B.C. – has resulted in tougher times for panhandlers and squeegee kids in Toronto.
The study by Guelph University professor Bill O'Grady shows that the legislation has almost eliminated squeegee kids from the streets of downtown Toronto. read more ==>
LINK: O'Grady's study of the effects of Ontario Safe Streets Act
No to Social Cleansing!
September 30, 2004
The Safe Streets Act is the latest proposed tool to be used in the war against the poor. By criminalizing acts such as panhandling and squeegee work the Liberals are outlawing the last resorts used to subsist in a life of day-to-day-survival.
This is a social policy the Liberals excel at: take away your livelihood then ensure there is no way to survive. This is a campaign of social cleansing.
When a person is forced off welfare they are thrown into a job club by the ministry. If they or any of the other thousands of people in the same club are unable to secure employment in a limited amount of time they are refused all income assistance and are unable to reapply to welfare for three years.
The Safe Street Act and two year time limit are only a couple examples of how poor people are subjected to a life that you must fight in order survive. The slaughter of women in the sex trade here in Vancouver displays to what extent the horror of social cleansing has been allowed both by government compliance and public complacency.
Placed in the proper context of social cleansing, the SSA revels the ongoing strategy of the Liberals. Creating such a climate of destitution leaves poor working people with little hope or choice. As we have seen with the implementation of the $6 training wage and workfare, people in the cheap labour pool are begging for the opportunity to feed their families.
In this province where schools and hospitals are being closed while millions are invested in supplying a shelter system to warehouse the homeless, all working people must ask how far are we willing to go. When will enough be enough?