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Homelessness

Provincial, Municipal 1 Comment »

Victoria has a homeless problem. It’s no secret, and it’s destroying the cities reputation. Hotels are losing conferences, tourism is declining, hardworking citizens are being asked for change on every street corner, property values in certain areas are dropping, drugs are being openly used and discarded on the streets and private property is being mistreated.

I commend Alan Lowe on recognizing that this issue needs to be dealt with. Recently Victoria increased its police presence downtown from 10 to 18 officers to “combat the public disorder that is so conspicuously on display in our downtown core”.

Mayor Lowe also created a “homelessness task force”. I don’t support the creation of a task force to deal with these problems, that’s what Mayor and Council were elected to do. Politically, creating a task force is a great way to remove accountability, as they can always blame the outcome of their decisions on the task forces recommendations. If they’re looking for expert advice, meet with the experts and have them answer the questions that they may have, then its time for Mayor and Council to make some tough decisions.

Here’s how I’d deal with the problem.

Right off the bat, change the name of Welfare Office’s to Job Centers. These newly formed Job Centers would make it their mandate to get people off welfare and into jobs.

One of the biggest mistakes with dealing with the homeless is they all get bagged up into one group. Homeless people are not all alike and they have all had different sequences of events that have led to their current unfortunate circumstance. In different times the inability to find employment could be a factor, but not in our current economic climate. You can break down the causes into drug and alcohol addicts, mental illnesses sufferers, criminals, and irresponsible decisions combined with laziness.

Drug and alcohol addicts need to get off the dope. First, I’d require anyone who wanted to receive welfare to get tested for drug use. There is no way that taxpayers should be helping support the drug trade. Secondly, I would offer those same people the information for organizations that provide assistance to people who want to clean up their lives. This two-pronged approach would break the cycle that drugs get individuals into and reward the individuals that want to clean up their life, at the same time providing consequences for those that don’t.

Mental illnesses suffers would be directed to the organizations that help them deal with their illnesses and given the proper medication.

Criminals would be charged and locked up.

Then you’re left with individuals that have made irresponsible decisions (non criminal ones) and laziness. With these particular individuals it’s a matter of installing the virtue of work ethic into their persona. I would do this by requiring some sort of service to be provided in order to receive their welfare check. It could be cleaning a park, volunteering at a charity or cleaning up graffiti. As long as something productive was being accomplished they would receive their payment. This would give them a feeling of self worth, clean up the city, provide accountability, and guide the individual on the path to employment.

In order for this approach to work personal contact is required with the homeless people. For instance, when someone is sleeping on a park bench instead of the police walking by him or her, they would make contact, diagnose the individual, and take them to the appropriate location. That may be a job centre, a mental illness organization, a drug and alcohol organization, or jail. This gets people off the street and proactively guides them to the resources to solve their problems.

Does this approach sound familiar? It would to New Yorkers, as Rudolph Giuliani used a similar approach to clean up New York. What were the results? 460 000 people were moved off welfare.

I, as well as everyone else, want homeless people to succeed. It’s in our best interest that they do. Giving bigger welfare checks and putting up needle exchanges doesn’t work towards the ultimate goal of these individuals taking responsibility for their own lives. The “tough love” approach has been proven successful and proactive in cleaning up the streets of New York and should be applied to Victoria.

MLA Pay Raise

Federal, Provincial 2 Comments »

BC’s Provincial Government has been doing a great job. Of course there is room for improvement, but generally speaking I’ve been impressed with the decisions Gordon Campbell’s Government has made. Our economy is rocking, unemployment is low and the citizens are prospering. I attended Carol Taylor’s budget speech in Victoria and was satisfied to hear the long term thinking the government is using in its spending. They recognize the fact that eventually our economy will slow down and are saving some of the surplus to deal with those times.

That being said, I am against the MLA pay raise and here’s why:

The most important question that’s to be answered is “do we get better candidates for MLA with a pay raise”. The answer to that question is no. When you look at what type of person is motivated to run for office, money is not the main motivator. The main motivator is prestige and power. You could pay MLA’s $50 000 a year or you could pay them $100 000 a year, you would still get the same people running for those positions. Therefore there is no added value for the taxpayer in the pay raise.
Their salary doesn’t accurately reflect the true compensation of an MLA. What is being left out by the media and by the politicians is the expense accounts that come with being an MLA.

What I would like to see happen in regards to Provincial MLA’s pay compensation across Canada is a fair salary established. Then you tie that salary to the CPI and increase it accordingly, usually around 2% per year. This would be practical and accountable.

CRD Outdoor Patio Smoking Ban

Municipal 1 Comment »

The CRD smoke ban is unnecessary, illogical and indicates a surplus of time down at the CRD. There’s a number of ways this is a waste of public resources and it’s an example of a majority voting away the rights of a minority.

Lets examine the risks to the individual of sitting beside a smoker outdoors. The chemicals given off when a cigarette is lit are less dense then air so they rise into the atmosphere and above where humans breathe air, therefore unless your in the immediate area (within a few feet) your not going to be effected. Plus if it’s a windy day it’ll dissipate even faster. When you compare sitting next to a smoker on a patio for a 5-minute cigarette to the amount of fumes you breath in when sitting at a stoplight in traffic, the bylaw becomes even more absurd. There are no long term detrimental health consequences to sitting beside a smoker on a patio.

Some people are uncomfortable sitting beside someone smoking on a patio. They would rather not smell the cigarette smoke of the people beside them. A restaurant is a private business in an extremely competitive industry. There are over 975 in Victoria! Now lets assume a huge part of the population doesn’t like sitting on patios with a smoker beside them. How long do you think it would take 1 of these 975 restaurants to implement a smoking and non-smoking section on their patio, or better yet, a non-smoking patio to specifically cater to this market? It would already have happened. The lack of this phenomenon indicates how much of a non-issue this issue is.

This is not a health care issue, this is a restaurant service issue, and the CRD should get out of it. The CRD smoke ban is a political move that sounds great and an easy bandwagon to jump on, but clearly no logic or rational thinking has been applied here. It’s easy to pick on the smokers, who’s going to stand up for them?

Picture this, soon you’ll have drug addicts shooting up in the open not getting arrested and a smoker on a restaurant patio getting a ticket. The CRD should get its priorities straight.

Congratulations Nicolas Sarkozy

World No Comments »

In the French election that was held this past weekend, the people of France had a choice. A choice between economic liberation and economic stagnation, between prosperity and status quo, between earning and entitlement, and they choose wisely in Nicolas Sarkozy.

His bluntness and courage to take on entrenched labour policies such as the 35hr work week and the “job for life” attitude that has sunken France’s economy from 7th to 17th in the world and grown the unemployment level to one of the highest in the EU shows he has what it takes to be a great leader. His intentions to renew a relationship with the USA and embrace the free market should rejuvenate their economy past the 2.1% growth, 3rd last in the EU, which it experienced last year. The only concern I have with him being elected is the protectionist policies he has a past record of supporting. Capitalism without Globalization is often much less effective in creating economic prosperity.

The alternative, Socialist Segolene Royal, would have been more of the same for the French and continued the countries downward spiral. Royal solution to the economic stagnation of France was having the state fund programs to boost youth employment, raise the minimum wage and keep the 35hr workweek. She missed the point that if you don’t have a job, raising the minimum wage isn’t going to create income for you. Among other things she made some bizarre statements such as praising the Chinese justice system and declaring Quebec deserved independence from Canada.

Nothing speaks more loudly to the benefits of capitalism and the downfalls of socialism than real world examples. If Nicolas Sarkozy is successful in implementing the policies he has spoken of, watch the French economy recover, unemployment fall, and their GDP to grow at 3% plus. If you want to watch a car accident in the making, keep an eye on Venezuela’s move towards socialism and watch the gears of their economy grind to a halt, and the living standards of the citizens plunge.

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