Mar 25 2007
Poverty and homelessness activists in Vancouver and cynical NDP and Liberal politicians should win the gold medal for agit-prop for their skill in turning the 2010 Olympics into a publicity magnet for their agenda.
There’s no doubt that homelessness is a huge and tragic problem in our rainy little slice of paradise. There is a very real lack of affordable housing in this city. Coupled with easy access to cheap and addictive hard drugs, a lot of people are falling through the cracks.
But those who criticize the Olympics for taking public funds away from social assistance programs like subsidized housing and treatment centres must at least have an inkling of the illogic of their official rhetoric. Funding for Olympic infrastructure projects can’t really be said to directly take money out of the hands of our most vulnerable any more than budgeting for doctors and nurses hurts students in our cash-starved schools and universities.
Governments have to balance a menu of priorities. Implying that our national and community leadership has launched a war on the poor because we’re putting tax dollars into city-wide improvements instead of more soup kitchens and government-regulated hotel rooms is just cynical.