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
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.