Pubdate: Tue, 13 Aug 2002
Source: Vancouver Courier (CN BC)
Copyright: 2002 Vancouver Courier
Author: Chandra Corriveau


To the editor:

Interesting to note that Geoff Williams, whose family suffered in a very 
real way ("Car theft the norm in East Van neighbourhood, say latest 
victims," July 31), sees the larger issue of the Downtown Eastside drug 
trade while ICBC, whose focus is the almighty dollar, blames the junkies 
themselves-a convenient scapegoat.

The quote from the ICBC representative, Elizabeth Goldenschtein, implies 
that the "hundreds of junkies" on Hastings Street are responsible for the 
rise in car thefts, when ICBC's own statistics don't support that 
assertion. The Vancouver increase is only about half of the provincial 
increase. I cannot imagine how a drug addict in the Downtown Eastside can 
be responsible for car thefts in Victoria, or Prince Rupert.

A more logical perspective would be to look for a province-wide 
trigger-like the B.C. Liberal cuts to social services and the Legal 
Services Society. Reducing social assistance and imposing a three-week 
waiting period, thereby putting already vulnerable and marginalized people 
in even more desperate circumstances across the province, is more likely 
the cause of increased car theft.

Compound that with the B.C. Liberals' gutting of legal aid and the Human 
Rights Commission so each time poor people are further marginalized they 
have no legal recourse.

Maybe the answer is to stop focusing on the immediate dollar loss and to 
stop using statistics in such a simplistic and prejudicial manner. Instead 
we could look to broader and more constructive solutions that address the 
issue, rather than mislay blame on treatment centres, safe injection sites 
(no matter what anyone thinks, you can't offer treatment options to someone 
shooting up in an alley), mental health facilities, alternative 
rehabilitative measures to address criminality, affordable housing outside 
the Downtown Eastside, etc., etc.

Sadly, by looking at it from a skewed statistical perspective rather than 
as a complex, systemic problem, ICBC's contention will likely be borne 
out-car theft will probably rise in Vancouver. Of course, few will look to 
the courthouse closures across the province, which will draw accused from 
outlying areas into Vancouver proper. ICBC will just say, "See, more 
junkies, more car theft."

Chandra Corriveau, Vancouver
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom