An Open letter to Terry Whitehead and Jason Farr;
Today’s Spectator had an interesting article. The headline reads “Hamilton doctor calls councillor’s homeless encampment email ‘disheartening’“. So do I. It highlights a problem with the city government that has only become worse in the 30-odd years I’ve lived here. Our city council seems to govern in the interests of taxpayers, and not all of the citizens. For the past thirty years our social safety net had been defunded, and the ones it once served are now labelled as “loosers”, “junkies” or “bums” (or sometimes, just “The five percent”) and treated as sub-human by police, local government and some residents. Before the pandemic, it was easy to see (just spend a weekend walking around downtown at night and keep your eyes open).
I’ve spent some time talking to the ‘residents’ of two of the encampments and asked fourteen of them in total about Dr Wiwcharuk and her “Keeping Six” workers. It may interest you that eight of them had no idea who Dr Wiwcharuk was, but all eight knew of Keeping Six and were positive in their assessment of that organization. Three of the other six hadn’t heard of either (all three were recent arrivals to the encampment). The other three knew of both and two spoke positively of their work. The remaining person expressed the opinion that Keeping Six were “A bunch of busybody assholes, but they mean well and do some good.” I asked the same questions about the support received from city resources. One individual was recently arrived in Hamilton and had no opinion. The other thirteen responses ranged from and eyeroll and a dismissive gesture to a ten minute rant featuring a darkly comical and creatively profane discussion of “Mayor Freddie’s” ancestry, personal habits and probable destination in the afterlife. I recorded that conversation, and may post it once the personal details have been edited out. That individual has an impressive command of the english language.
All of which is a long-winded way of saying that I’ve taken the time and trouble to educate myself on the realities of the encampments. I was very close to that situation myself after Municipal Law Enforcement and Hamilton Police Services helped my landlord bully my roomate and I into moving out of our apartment (details are on this blog www.hamilton-slumlords.com). I got tired of being assaulted and called a fag by my landlord and his agents after two years, and having a police officer tell me that “You’re lucky we even let fags live downtown” was….disheartening. Police refused to charge crimes I had recorded on video, telling us repeatedly it was our fault for not moving out.
I don’t like bullies. I despise bullies in uniform. I absolutely detest bullies in public office, or ones in a position of trust. Like Marco Brazetti, for example. Bullies don’t change, guys. They just change tactics. And police generally back the bully. Why not? The bully usually has a witness or two to back his story, and the victim often has trouble even articulating the abuse. I’ve been told that one of Devon Selvey’s murders had previously bullied another child. The authorities dealt with it by removing the victim, which is precisely what his bully wanted. Exclusion and treating someone as an outcast, and motivating others to do the same is bullying guys, and I’m told that’s what was going on. So you removed the victim from the situation, and there were no consequences to the bully. If what I have been told is true, the I have little wonder that bully felt comfortable stabbing another child to death in front of his mother. The authority figures in his life had already tacitly approved of his bullying, why not take it a step further?
But speaking of bullies in public office, I’m starting to think you two qualify for the label. And I’m starting to wonder about the other seven council members who voted to try and have the injunction against the city moving the encampments quashed.
More and more, you two are acting the part of bullies. This bit from the article really makes me wonder:
In his Aug. 31 email to Wiwcharuk, the Mountain councillor wrote the “appropriateness” of meeting with her “would not be prudent.
“In fact, (I) will be asking our lawyers if you and your team can be held liable for any deaths that result from your actions!”
Whitehead said Thursday he stands by his email, saying “absolutely, I think it’s proper.”
It isn’t proper, Terry. It’s a real douchebag move. Did you plan on holding city staff ‘liable’ if there is a death in a shelter? Or holding HPS ‘liable’ for injuries or deaths in custody? How about the damage done to my roomate’s life by a MLE supervisor who was so stoned she couldn’t speak coherently, while on duty? (Videos are on the blog linked above.) Just askin’…
And a bit further down, there’s this little gem:
Whitehead and Coun. Jason Farr, who represents the downtown area, have been vocal critics of the coalition’s position on encampments.
Both have cited residents’ concerns about personal safety, public drug use and debris around the clusters of tents. “I mean, they’re living through hell,” Whitehead said Thursday.
As written, this appears to mean that the downtown residents are “living through hell”. If so, the cognitive dissonance (when compared to your previous self-assessment as a “champion of mental health rights”) is quite striking. If you compare the situations of someone living in an encampment and the average downtown resident, it should be pretty clear which of them is “living through hell”, comparatively speaking. That’s another douchebag move, Terry. But it plays well with the taxpayers, I guess, certainly a lot better than saying “This is partly our fault, we need to be part of the solution and it’s gonna cost some money.” It’s a lot cheaper to demonize the ones caught in this mess, and dismiss their concerns as “their issue”. And like any other bully, you’re going after your victim’s allies (which is why your email to Dr Wiwcharuk was a douchebag move, if you were wondering. Likely you were.)
Jason has made it clear over the years that he’s in favor of anything that cuts taxes, including our social safety net (but not including some sweetheart deals for developers that will cost the city in the long run). There are still quite a few units in CHH stock that have been vacant for years. The city never came up with the money to fix them. A friend of mine lives next to three vacant units in a CHH building that have been vacant for at least three years. I’ve seen the inside of one of those units; the damage appears cosmetic. That building is riddled with vacant units, guys. I know because City Housing posts notices of entry on the doors. Those notices stay up for months on the doors of vacant units.
<sar>But saving the taxpayers a buck or two is paramount. We can’t expect to attract investors to the city if the taxes are too high. Or even, apparently, if they are high enough to fund the services needed so anyone can live a life of dignity, regardless of their situation. And who wants more of ‘those people’ downtown anyway? If they’re living in City Housing they’re not much use to most downtown businesses; they can’t afford anything beyond the bare minimum for survival (and not even that since the pandemic hit).</sar>
So anyways guys, I thought I’d let you know hw I felt about it. Jason needs to know, because his ward actually has encampments and is (I’m sorry to say) my Ward Councilor. (I’m not aware of any encampments in Ward 14, Terry, but I could be wrong). I don’t think you should be bullying Keeping Six.
I don’t think either of you should be City Councilors either, and I plan to see how much difference one annoyed citizen (me) can make in the 2022 election. I don’t plan on campaigning for anyone. I do plan on campaigning against the two of you. I was getting tired of bullies in public office even before the shitshow south of the border became what it is with a bully-in-chief for a president.
It’s time for a change. That would be….heartening.
Paul Peter Bosch
(Formerly a Captain of Her Majesty’s Royal Canadian Artillery, but now just a citizen wondering how my city (and possibly my country) turned facist without me noticing.)
PS: While I have your attention, guys (if I do) there’s a possibly unrelated point I’d like to raise.
You should probably do something about the graffiti that’s popping up downtown.
That’s a bit out of line, I think. Understandable, but out of line, and the graffiti should be removed. It looks like the same person, using the same paint, in each instance I’ve seen.
UPDATE: I’ve sent a copy of this post to all 15 members of city council, and the mayor. If I get an answer, I’ll post it.