Vancouver Zeitgeist
Reflections on Vancouver, British Columbia and other topics, related or not


Don’t piss off
society’s ‘most vulnerable’

Homelessness agitators might place a bounty
on your head. But this video shows how one
Maple Ridge community resisted



Susan Einarsson might be considered a journalist mugged by reality. As a former reporter and news anchor, she comes from a milieu of highly conventional people who can be easily and accurately stereotyped. So it’s safe to assume she followed the media convention of expressing compassion for persons experiencing homelessness, society’s most vulnerable. Along with that bathetic sentiment, she likely granted credibility to poverty pimps.

But apparently now retired and transplanted to Maple Ridge she says, “I moved to this small town to enjoy a quiet life, and with the influx of activists and drug addicts and the mentally ill, that did not happen.”

She describes her documentary, Our City Our Choice, as the story of people who fought back against addicts and criminals, and against their own government. They call themselves Ridgilanties, a name at odds with their restrained approach. The video portrays life among society’s supposedly most vulnerable, with insight into the opportunists who encourage the camps, life inside the camps and the effects of the camps on a family community.

None of this will shock those who’ve experienced these community-wrecking transformations. Still, it was surprising to learn that homelessness hustler Ivan Drury used to teach history. Of course there are plenty of stupid teachers as well as activists, but few people outside Hollywood central casting could match Drury’s gaping look of abject imbecility. Even so, decision-makers listen because his borderline-retard rhetoric serves a powerful poverty pimp industry.

Like Nanaimo’s Discontent City and several other B.C. sites, some Maple Ridge camps resulted from agitators’ strategic planning. At 6:57 into the video, we see garbage-strewn tents extending along one side of Cliff Avenue with what Ridgilantie Riekie Armstrong called a “scary, intimidating-looking crew of people” camping just across a narrow street from residential front yards.

Along with the camp came the usual harassment, threats, weapons, violence, thefts and, of course, needles, needles and more needles. People who object face accusations of committing hate crimes or terrorism.

They also face threats. Agitators distributed leaflets (discussed at 10:39) advising campers to arm themselves against Ridgilantie men and women. Names and photos were provided.

At 11:52 volunteer Jamie Seip says he learned that activists offered a bounty for anyone who’d “stab me, beat me or kill me for as little as $200…. So I started carrying around $250.”

The low-cost hit brings to mind the attack on Katie Lewis, vice-president of the Strathcona Residents’ Association and a critic of that neighbourhood’s notorious camp. She says she was targeted by a guy who knocked her unconscious after smashing her several times with a pipe.

The hits take place within the camps too. At about 46:46 Ridgilantie Joe Fiss recounts a conversation with one of the campers. “He pulled his hoodie back and he’s missing an ear. So he said there’s about seven other people missing an ear in Maple Ridge and there was a guy that was paid to come here and cut people’s ears off.”

“They have their own hierarchy in Tent City,” Seip says at 16:40. “There is a mayor, and there is a police chief, and there is an enforcer and there’s a pharmacist. And if you mess with any one of these people, you will be put back in your place right quick.”

The video identifies the mayor as Dwayne Martin, who makes a cameo appearance at 17:07. Not mentioned but according to news media, BC Housing gave him a free Vancouver home as part of a deal barring him from Maple Ridge’s Anita Place camp for refusing to comply with fire safety rules. That followed a series of fires at the camp.

Such a brazen payoff certainly belies any pretence that BC Housing prioritizes its clients on the basis of need. And if Martin got a free home, he likely gets unearned income too—both presumably for life—which would show additional ways that taxpayers fund destructive activism. He vowed to return to his Maple Ridge mayhem.

The video shows activist Chris Bossley describing campers as community-minded people who look after each other. Then the camera turns to a former denizen of Tent City. At 17:25 he calls for the camp to be shut down “because there’s a 15-year-old girl selling herself for heroin. And people don’t care. There’s criminals walking around stealing stuff and bringing them in there to sell them to drug dealers who run the place. There are fucking prostitutes doing tricks, drug dealers doing deals, nothing but crime.”

The camps provide the venue. The agitators perpetuate the problems. The mentally ill and addicts “just end up being pawns for these people,” says Ridgilantie Jesse Stretch.

Fiss—a former homeless addict who went straight eight years ago—says activists offer addicts no help other than getting another needle into an arm.

At 18:49 Armstrong says, “The kind of enabler that I think wants people to stay addicted are the ones that are either profiting financially or gaining some notoriety by being a champion for the addicts.”

The provincial government plays an enthusiastic role, by not only bankrolling enabler programs, but propagating their supposed success stories. At 40:40 Fiss talks of meeting some of those triumphs.

This is largely an account of government versus the people. Unfortunately, the film’s story of “how one community fought back” fails to inspire. The province disregarded the community’s wishes, safety and overall well-being by imposing free homes for addicts and criminals on residential streets, even near schools and seniors’ homes.

Mayor Mike Morden, elected in 2018 largely on the issue, found himself ineffectual against provincial power. Most Ridgilantie volunteers seem to be retired people with time for tasks ranging from neighbourhood patrols to garbage clean-up. Contrary to its intention, the film shows no real sign of success. Most likely the problem continues to worsen.

That’s the province’s fate in general, some rather desperate satire aside. The October election further entrenched B.C.’s plight. Einarsson posted her video the previous month, emphasizing the New Democratic government’s disregard for communities like hers. Yet the NDP won an overwhelming victory that included both Maple Ridge ridings as well as Vancouver Mount Pleasant, most of the Lower Mainland, Victoria Beacon Hill and other areas especially prone to pimp opportunism.

Notwithstanding Covid-19, the homeless problem and its pimp perpetrators should have been the main election issue. But the opposition Liberals, with 16 years of pimp collaboration during their time in office, had little to say. (Update: Since posting this article, I’ve learned that the party rejected Seip’s nomination bid for Maple Ridge-Mission.)

Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson’s only proposal was to hire more psychiatric nurses or social workers and 200 more cops. Nurses can do little outside an institution. Social workers can do little anywhere, and often push enabling programs. Additional cops would just speed up Canada’s catch-and-release program. One cause of this criminal subculture is judicial leniency, often bestowed to people with as many as 70 convictions for theft, break-ins, harassment and assaults.

On that matter it’s noteworthy that the Pivot Legal Society campaigns to undermine law enforcement against criminal campers. Pivot has long been a tax-funded career vehicle for ambitious opportunists that include B.C. Attorney General David Eby.

Although much of this mess comes under provincial jurisdiction, judicial leniency is largely a federal (and federally caused) problem. Any government that would try to reform this would need a strong majority, a strong stomach for media vitriol and a newly stacked senate. Then the courts would simply disallow the legislation.

Canada is well and truly fucked in many ways. This particular aspect of social breakdown provides just one example.

Still, an interesting subject for a future Ridgilantie documentary might be an inquiry into activist finances. It might expose, or at least expose the secrecy of, where the money comes from and how it’s spent by the entire poverty pimp industrial complex. That ranges from camp protagonists like the insipid Drury, to charlatan agencies like Pivot, to myriad self-serving enabling programs from injection sites to housing societies.

We know who benefits. We know we pay a lot of it, directly through our taxes and indirectly through tax-funded third parties. But we don’t know just how much we’re paying and who else puts up money.


BC Premier John Horgan expresses his community commitment

Newly re-elected B.C. premier John Horgan saluted British Columbians
by appointing Sheila “Situation Tables” Malcolmson minister of Mental Health
and Addictions. She’s a thoroughly flaky supporter of junkie criminals and
poverty pimps but the Liberals’ Andrew Wilkinson would have found someone similar.


See more posts about
B.C.’s junkie/homeless hustle
How’s my blogging?