Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Legal Brothels, Jamie Lee Hamilton, Ellen Woodsworth and Me

Legal Brothels, Jamie Lee Hamilton, Ellen Woodsworth and me

Last Saturday afternoon, in a open candidate debate in the Carnegie Centre on homelessness, Jamie Lee Hamilton chided me in front of the audience for not adopting Ellen Woodsworth’s opinions on further legalizing prostitution which means legal brothels, presumably in time for the Olympics. As this was done in public and I didn’t get a chance to reply in public then I will reply now.
In the Work Less Party we don’t necessarily agree on this issue. In fact, we don’t agree at all. We don’t have to. If I am elected mayor I will resist firmly and passionately any attempt to open legal brothels in this city. I have duly noted some of the people who support Jamie Lee Hamilton’s bid for the Parks Board, but does this mean these supporters necessarily also support her business interests as a sex trade worker in her bid for legal brothels? I think there should be some clarification on this, especially from Ellen Woodsworth and Adriane Carr. But wait a minute. What about all of the coalition members running in the municipal election which includes Vision, Cope, and the Green Party? And why should the NPA be excluded? Do these members of parties all support legal brothels, presumably in time for the Olympics? I am personally very fond of Adriane Carr and admire some of her work. However, this question is not about fondness or friendship; it is about something fundamental that is chewing away at our society like a dog knawing on a bone. It is lack of respect for women.
When I was serving time in the women’s prison in Burnaby for protesting the proposed clear cutting of the Elaho Valley my daughter Marian was hired by SAVE THE CHILDREN to research the experiences of young aboriginal youth in the sex trade, and fashion these experiences into a book for the government of Canada to ponder. It was published under the title “Sacred Lives”. My daughter’s research showed that the average age of aboriginal children entering the sex trade was fourteen years.
There is something so barbaric about this treatment of children, the fact that “kiddie strolls” still exists in Vancouver, that a prominent section of society thinks that might be okay if prostitution were only made safer. I have heard all the arguments surrounding this issues from the other side, the claims that that those who have a business interest in promoting brothels are not interested in prostituting children, only making things safe for adult women.
It doesn’t work this way. Men who seek prostitutes are particularly fond of young girls, the younger the better. We know that drinkers can find drinking places after hours and so can Johns find the youngest of girls after hours. We know that pimps already regularly patrol the malls and school yards, even elementary school yards looking for the freshest of young girls who can be lured with drugs, a few clothes, good times and once addicted, the girls are usually lost. We need to confront our politicians who support legal brothels and I think aboriginal women, whose daughters are particularly at risk, but all mothers of daughters should lead the way in this questioning. It is not too late. The election is not until Saturday. And oh yes. The government is still pondering “Sacred Lives”. On a dusty shelf somewhere in Ottawa.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Ridiculous, you say? Outrageous? With all that prison background over trying to save old growth forests of British Columbia which makes me a little too colourful, not to mention way too old even though I tap dance to Bob Seger's OLD TIME ROCK AND ROLL?
Too colourful? Well, if you spend your life trying to save a smidgen of the planet for young ones and trying to knock down the province’s use of injunctions to make this next to impossible, and you insist on keeping on anyway, then sooner or later somebody in the press will start mentioning you as a colourful local character. Which of course then eliminates any chance of the work you do as being anything serious.
The books that I write? They aren’t taken seriously either, although one won a book prize and one is widely read. But my latest: Open Living Confidential”, which speaks to the condition of women in relation to the environment in relation to the BC prison system has been systematically ignored by local media reviewers just as my bid for the mayoral race has been. One could think, well, okay, perhaps my books and my message are just not worthy of mention except for one thing…when the press is desperate on a fallow news day and nobody has been murdered, beaten and robbed, abducted or sexually assaulted then there might be a small notice that I have been arrested under the incredibly effective silencer of public protest called a court injunction. But running for mayor? Never a peep.
But are either of the two contenders for mayor of Vancouver whom the media touts as the only serious contenders in this public lottery up for the job? Well, if we were looking at business as usual, if our construction based developer dominated economic system was sustainable, then that would be one thing. Under those circumstances, then Gregor Robertson (Vision) may not be quite the train wreck that Peter Ladner (NPA) is. But on the other hand, maybe Gregor is as bad practically speaking and worse philosophically speaking. Why? Because at least with Peter Ladner we know what we are dealing with Ladner is a hard core believer in elite rule which occurs out of sight of the public. He was old boys club before the term was even invented and that club is for ever expanding construction and money in their pockets. He is the classical “greed is good” capitalist. But Gregor Robertson? He presents as something quite different. But is he?
I don’t think Robertson and his party Vision really is that different. We tend to forget that in the recent city 100 million dollar loan to a private company it wasn’t just Ladner and the NPA at fault. There were four members of Vision who also signed on to that secret loan of public money to a private corporation (Louie, Stevenson, Chow and Deal). By taking corporation money as their majority contributors (over 70 percent) Vision will not be able to act independently. Money not only talks, it screams and shouts. Out of party necessity, Gregor Robertson and Vision will be obliged to continue to try to patch up the comatose construction bubble while their plea for economic justice will fade to a faint whisper.
I am not kidding you people of gentle hearts and good intentions; I would be the best one for the job of mayor of Vancouver. Our Work Less Party four candidates running for council (Geri Tramutola, Christopher Shaw, Ian Gregson, and Timothy Wisdom) and one candidate for the Parks Board, (Ivan Doumenc) would also be the best choices considering these coming troubled years. These are wonderful candidates that any city could be proud of. But why would I personally be best choice for mayor? Let me count the ways.
First, I am a deep ecologist, and a Motherist (a Motherist is one who believes that the mother’s love and protection of children of both sexes and the environment should be paramount in the world). This city needs some mothering, not more private exploitation of public assets. I believe that each of us are on a spiritual journey in this world and that should be acknowledged in our journeys, not in a religious dogmatic sense, but in our inner heart searches. I write what I believe and what I do. I read enormously, not only of history and anthropology, but of the current affairs of Vancouver and BC, the nation and the world. I follow economic trends and listen to economists of all stripes and balance them against my own innate sense of what is true and just.
Inadvertently I have become an example of how to be physically healthy while negotiating with old age. I would like to share my increasing knowledge of how old age can work physically and mentally to be an enormous source of energy rather than a determent.
And lastly, my experience with economic depressions and hard times; my knowledge of how to cope under stressful circumstances of fires, floods, hurricanes, and changing countries while rearing eight children could be very valuable to the unknown challenges we will be facing soon. It’s not going to be business as usual. Our future will be different. But one thing I am sure of…if we approach change as an opportunity for sincere evaluations of what it means to be human, to be in a journey on this earth, to be part of the experience of living with our fellow-sister beings including the animals both wild and tamed, the plants that nourish us and the oceans and rivers that sustain us, and the skies that keep us rooted on this earth then we will prosper. In the very most important ways, we will prosper.