By Mike Archer. Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman told the Abbotsford News that today’s ruling by the BC Supreme Court that his City’s decision to deny Abbostford’s homeless citizens their day in court is a “complex, 39-page decision.” He went on to say that, “… the city’s legal counsel is reviewing the decision and ‘once a full understanding of the decision has been achieved, the city will consider options and next steps.’”
39 whole pages! What your finger won’t move that fast? Let me save you the trouble Bruce.
Here’s what’s coming (besides endless, mounting legal bills which could be spent solving homelessness instead of criminalizing it).
Municipalities across BC and Canada have watched you embarrass your community and make a fool of yourself. After today’s ruling, none of them are going to follow in your footsteps.
(9/26/14) What Abbotsford’s eminent citizens are forced to do by the courts will be replayed across the province and the country for any municipality which decides to follow Abbotsford’s ludicrous example. Among the most dangerous possible outcomes for the people spending your money defending themselves are some of the following: First; The City could be forced to pay restitution to the men and women who have been demonstrably harmed by the City’s illegal and discriminatory behaviour.
Second; The City could be forced to apologize individually and publicly to the men and women it harmed and discriminated against.
Third; The City could be forced to re-train its staff from the Mayor’s office down the lowest employee in the Parks Department, in the proper, legal and effective methods of treating marginalized men and women.
Fourth; The Abbotsford Police Department (APD), from the Chief’s office down to the beat cop, could be forced to be re-trained in the proper, legal and effective methods of treating marginalized men and women.
Fifth; The men and women of the Salvation Army, Abbotsford Community Services, the Mennonite Central Committee, the Abbotsford Church Leaders Network (ACLN) and all of the smaller government and private agencies which deal with marginalized men and women could be forced to be re-trained in the proper, legal and effective methods of treating marginalized men and women.
Sixth; Hard resources such as money, land and services provided by the City, could be mandated by the court and the City might be legally forced to treat its own citizens properly and with basic human decency.
The Pain Will Continue As Long As The Law Suits Continue
The men and women who have contributed to the human rights abuses, through action or inaction, will be publicly humiliated and embarrassed by full publication of their complicity in this monumental civil rights disaster and the national and international shame of the City of Abbotsford will reach heights never dreamed of even during Bruce Banman’s Chicken Manure Incident. That may be why the politicians and the members of the power structure in Abbotsford are prepared to spend as much of your money as you will let them. But the history books will record where they stood, what they did and what they didn’t do. It will not be based on what the old chain-owned newspapers have reported but what the people of Abbotsford themselves have reported, through the citizen journalism which originally brought the whole story to light and through legal proceedings which will record the courage they have shown in standing up to the City, the APD and the accumulated power of the churches and the agencies engaged in the business of poverty in this community. I doubt that a new council, made up of principled men and women who understand the law, will allow this travesty to continue. But there is no guarantee that a quick out-of-court settlement will be any easier on the City or the people who are responsible for this mess. I’m almost positive the incumbents will want to continue to use their friends’ and neighbours’ money fighting against the community’s most marginalized, abused and desperate citizens, if only to avoid the reckoning they must inevitably face. It’s a tough election platform to sell but, if the incumbents think it’ll work, more power to them. It’s been said before; As South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission taught us, we must forsake punishment for accountability; retribution for truth. Its simple. If you want to avoid punishment … you must be accountable. If you want to avoid retribution … be truthful. The community is ready. Are the men and women who claim to be our leaders?
Give It Up Bruce
Stop pretending you know what you’re doing Bruce. This is going to end very badly for the City and its citizens, taxpayers and voters.
Cut your losses. Give it up. The Supreme Court is no longer going to allow you to criminalize homelessness, drug addiction, alcohol dependence or mental illness. They simply aren’t criminal offences. Neither is poverty or the lack of the financial wherewithal to own or rent a home.
No matter how many illegal bylaws you pass, you will not change the facts. It is not illegal to be homeless. Stop abusing people for it and get to work finding them safe shelter.
And while you’re at it … call off Bob Rich’s cops. The Abbotsford Police Department should be chasing real criminals … not homeless people.