Friday, November 27, 2009

Why I Do Not Trust the DTES's Wendy Pedersen

On Monday November 23, 2009 I decided to attend a forum on homelessness and the Olympics at SFU Harbour Centre. Below is a description:

When the Olympic bid process was underway, the Inner City Inclusive Commitment was signed in 2003 and included commitments around a housing legacy and protection from Olympic related evictions. This public forum, hosted by the Impact on Communities Coalition, will look at the impacts of the 2010 Olympics on housing and other urbanization processes underway in Vancouver including the crisis of affordability, the proliferation of homelessness and loopholes in tenancy legislation which are resulting in evictions.

I was particularly attracted by the quality of the panelists...including Nathan Edelson, a former City planner, Reverend Rick Matthews, Martha Lewis of TRAC, and Monte Paulson. Also on the panel was Wendy Pedersen, someone with whom I have had numerous disagreements over the past two years and who, despite her advocacy for the poor and downtrodden, has effectively halted what I consider numerous worthwhile initiatives in the DTES community.

The first speakers were all very thoughtful, and the general consensus seemed to be that while the Olympics have had negative ramifications, in fact, there have also been many benefits, including the purchase and renovations of many SRO hotels. Furthermore, the evictions that were predicted, really haven't happened.

However, when Ms. Pedersen began to speak, I was stunned by her remarks. Before accusing City Councillor Geoff Meggs of saying that having a low income community is unethical, she made the following statement which she attributable to Jack Poole.

"The real purpose of the 2010 Olympics bid is to seduce the provincial and federal governments and long-suffering taxpayers into footing a billion-dollar bill to pave the path for future real
estate sales."

While I suspected that Ms. Pedersen had distorted Meggs' comments, I knew in my heart that Jack Poole would never have said, nor thought what she attributed to him. Unfortunately, Jack is no longer with us to defend himself, so I decided to source out the truth. I found it in a June 2002 edition of the Western Investor.

As I expected, it turned out that Jack Poole never uttered these words. While he was referenced in the article, they were editor Frank O'brien's words, written as part of his lead editorial. Ms. Pedersen probably knew this too, but it was far more effective for her to attribute the quote to Jack Poole, former Chair of VANOC, to an audience comprising many of her supporters....one in which I was the only person wearing a tie!

This is not the first time Ms. Pedersen has altered the truth to suit her purposes. She often does it and while it might seem petty of me to point this out, I do so because I truly believe that she has had a very negative impact on worthwhile efforts to achieve progress in the DTES community. Notwithstanding her 'sweet little girl' manner, she is a very harmful lady.

I have written to Ms. Pedersen, pointing out that she misquoted Jack Poole, and expressing the hope that she try not to misquote others in the future, especially when they are no longer around to defend themselves. I shared my note with some of the other panelists, including the highly respected Monte Paulson, who was booed off the podium at the same forum by some of those in attendance who didn't like the very sensible message he was bringing.

I doubt my email will have much effect. Ms. Pedersen has a particular agenda and while her following is much more limited today than it was 2 years ago when I started volunteering in the DTES community, she will continue to do her best to block condo developments and other regeneration efforts if they might reduce her fame and popularity as a community activist, one who often gets to appear on radio and television and speak at community forums such as the one I attended on Monday night.

8 comments:

Brenton said...

Hi Michael,

Is Ms. Pedersen affiliated with any group? You don't mention one here.

Interesting report on the event. Other than this, how did it go?

Regards,
Brenton

Anonymous said...

Michael,
I was googling Pedersen and came across your comments. Read all you had to say. While I agree that one needs to be careful in quoting, your complaint, at least this one, seems astoundingly petty when a much bigger issue is at stake. You also sound very sexist, which I usually ignore because ending homelessness is the issue. But calling women "girl" etc and using the whole boring argument that anyone with leadership qualities just wants to be on the news.... really. Stop splitting hairs and start being helpful. Allies can correct each other, like the quote part, but to go on and on about it sounds like you are ignorant of the issues and feeling jealous. Do you really think VANOC doesn't spin things? Must we all be perfect before we can complain about serious problems? Time to grow up Michael and pull your own weight.

Unknown said...

Hi Michael,

Its about time someone stoodup and exposed the bullying & negtive agenda going on by people like Wendy and her circle.

Your post sounds like an open constructive shot to low cost housing.

Anonymous, Hmmm.....

PS. No we don't all hate woman!



Anonymous said...

I am astounded that the activist circle gets funded and continues to stand alone. I would like them to List the initiatives and housing programs they have implemented with government and private business.
Who do they work for? Who funds them and why such hostility when many in the streets welcome the change. People moving into the DTES just want less drugs and crime - do the activists? Beauty requires a wholesome change towards improvement and that is what everyone is required to do to evolve. IMHO, these activists say the same thing and do the same thing over and over - NOTHING!

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