Sunday, 13 July 2014


Everyone wants an apology.

The CBC ran a story last Thursday about an association of street workers  who were demanding an apology from the City of Vancouver for having obtained an injunction prohibiting the practice of their profession in some of the better streets of our town.

This had happened in 1972. The judge who issued the order was the late Allan McEachern.

One  of several  advocates for the street workers was a professor of Sociology at UBC.

She and others said that the times were right for apologies and that while it was not quite as big a deal as the Holocaust,  these street women were quite "statuesque" and deserving. They had been driven out of the West End by a group called "Shame the Johns."

She has a good sense of timing.

The Mayor a few weeks earlier declared himself amicably separated from his wife. His own political party,VISION, from the vantage point of another dimension, denounced the NPA  for spreading false rumors to the effect that the separation was not as  morally sublime as the Mayor had intimated.

Strangely though, the rumours  in this morality play were contained in a private email to the Mayor. They were then spread (or "published" as lawyer's say in the libel biz) by the Mayor himself. Had he not done so, no one would have known about them.

Through all of this there was general agreement by the media that the private lives of politicians should be off limits unless they in some way relate to their ability to perform their duties.

If the Mayor would spread rumors about himself by publishing private insults, and expects an apology, maybe this is consistent with some of the other disappointing aspects of his job performance.

Another demand for an apology made the news a few weeks ago. Councillors Raymond Louie and Kerry Jang wanted the City to apologize and perhaps pay reparations for the  head tax that was imposed on Chinese immigrants over one hundred years ago. 

All people, including Canadians have ancestors who were pushed around by other people's ancestors in other countries.  While the Chinese were paying the head tax and building railroads in Canada, my  ancestors were not even here. They were Latvians. They had troubles of their own getting their heads bashed  during the pogroms that seemed to be weekly occurrences in Riga.

It is hard enough for politicians to govern in their own time. The past can not be revised by future generations on behalf of ancestors who had not apologized, had no inclination to do so and may have had nothing to do with the problem.


  1. Jonathan I always enoy reading your commentaries but this latest one called Apologies has gotten under my skin. First the court ruling by Allan McEachern which mass evicted sex workers from the West End happened on July 4 1984 and not 1972 as you claim. Also in 1981 Mayor Mike Harcourt brought in the street activities by-law which fined sex workers $2,000. In the first six months the City of Vancouver collected $28,000 from a by-law that the courts later ruled illegal. Funny that the City gave former Councillor Gordon Price $15,000 from those collected fines so he could study urban prostitution. Problem is Mr Price was a Founder of Shame the Johns or CROWE as they called themselves. Essentially he was paid $15,000 to push prostitutes around. It is because of the aforementioned that the West End Sex Work Memorial project is demanding a civic apology and reparations.

  2. jonathan baker16 July 2014 at 18:13

    Thanks Jamie, you are right. Not only did I forget the date but I forgot all about Harcourt and Gordon Price.