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Are we Ready for Change?

Saturday, January 28th, 2017

Peace Arch (Courtesy of The Province)

The lines to enter the United States never seem to get shorter.

Canadians queue up patiently along the highways at the border to be vetted for entry into The States for their milk, cheese, gas and a few bits and bobs they can find in Bellingham. A Canadian invasion is gentle and always ends in the dairy section. 

Life is imperceptibly different on either side of “The Line” to the cheap-gas commuter. Just don’t speed, because the cops are ruthless down there.  

We watch CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC and tut-tut at the polarization that has evolved over time and take note that the Land of the Free isn’t so free anymore.  

The War on Drugs is tearing communities apart while the drugs themselves continue to ravage across big and small towns and cities; gun violence is at an all-time high.  

Day trippers from Langley and Surrey might not see the differences but head on down the I-5 a thousand miles and then inland a few thousand miles more and it will be ever-more apparent. 

The Black Lives Matter movement exists because seemingly, there are places down there where black lives don’t matter at all.  

For those who line up to cross into the United States at the Peace Arch crossing just a handful of metres from the salt water of the Pacific Ocean, they pass beside a white stone shed-like structure that straddles the border itself. It is, “The Peace Arch”. 

Dedicated in 1921 by the first sitting President of the United States ever to visit Canada Warren Harding revealed the inscriptions etched into the inside walls of the arch: 

May these gates never be closed” 

The iron gates mounted below the inscription are bolted open- as if to say that they never can nor ever shall be closed.  

Other inscriptions on the monument read, “Born of a Common Mother“, and “Dwelling Together in Harmony“. 

The former alluded to the United Kingdom as the primary source of our first immigrants and values while the latter was best described by Prime Minister Trudeau-the-Senior as a ‘mouse and an elephant’ living together, where the mouse has to always be wary of the elephant lest it be trampled. 

These three inscriptions best sum up the quixotic relationship we have with our continental brethren to the South. 

With the election of Donald Trump, things have changed. The United States banned certain Muslim non-residents. The USA has unilaterally withdrawn from global initiatives it was spearheading just two weeks ago. It is building walls to its (other) closest neighbour instead of leading the charge to tear them down- as Reagan did in 1989 in Berlin. 

The United States is retrenching itself, collapsing under the weight of its own corruption, delusional paranoia, and civil strife. 

Figuratively, those gates at the Peace Arch are inching closed. Yesterday it was to Muslims. We shall see what tomorrow brings but the newfound trajectory doesn’t look good for others yet to be a target of Donald Trump. 

The United States has changed. But really, has the rest of the world? Must it? 

Canada cannot afford to retrench the way the US has. Strategically we learned a long time ago our place in global affairs both politically and in trade: we are a Middle Power and a trading nation.

We must get along with others, playing the role of broker to ensure the balance of power remains balanced while trading to ensure our exports continue fuel our economy. It’s why we are as active as we are at the UN and why we sign all these free-trade deals despite parochial or populist views that they are detrimental to our well-being. 

As the United States goes through the painful contortions of a country so terribly out of balance we cannot help but start to notice that it is not the same “Peaceful light on the hill” it once was.  

It’s time we recognized there is opportunity in all this unrest. Business- especially international business- abhors uncertainty.  

Just as the banks and others are being courted by Paris and Frankfurt from London as a response to Brexit, so we should be letting businesses and NGOs in the United States that do global work that Canada is a great place to move their operations.  

After all, why should global trade stop just because the United States is having an existential meltdown?

As more and more unilateral immigration restrictions and punitive tariffs are enacted by Washington, and as violence escalates (and I believe all three of these will happen) then we need to be ready to respond to protect the global economy and the values we cherish and benefit by. 

The physical location of the United Nations may be up for grabs no less as a siege mentality seeps into every nook and cranny of the American psyche. Even those Americans with a global outlook will have to turn inward to counter the rising xenophobia as it rears ever more prominently in civil society there.  

Never mind that the “American Dream” is more attainable here in Canada. Some of the workers involved with business and NGOs in the United States will be moving for their emotional, if not physical safety.  

Eventually some of those same organizations these people worked for will have to move as well, so why not here? 

These physical, people-employing companies and NGOs will bring outside money and philanthropy with them- not to mention the jobs their fleeing workers left behind- the same jobs they will be looking for when they get here.  

Might this get the attention and thus the ire of Donald Trump? Probably. But by being steadfastly pluralist in our politics, liberal on human rights, free-minded on trade, while preservationist with the environment, and above all multilateralist in our approach, we can sell these Canadian traits to all our other trading partners looking to keep the trading door open with North America. After all, they still value these traits despite the biggest player now closing itself off from the world.

At the same time, we can reach out to Americans who still want to trade with the rest of the world. They can move here to take advantage of our excellent trading relationships we have fostered and no doubt will work hard to protect. We could be the new light on the hill.  

The United States is a big market, for sure. But 350 million people is still a fraction of the 6.75 billion people not in the United States to trade with. 

We must look past our convenient proximity of the United States to economies and societies that still desire trade and good global relations. For example, Latin and South America’s 500 million or so, including Mexico so squarely in Donald Trump’s sights, would be a great start.

The global genie is out of the bottle and won’t be put back in. By choice now, the United States doesn’t want to play at this level anyway so Donald Trump’s wrath upon us would be diminished considerably. 

Even with massive change that has happened in the past where whole empires collapse and new ones form. The same happens in wartime between non-combatants: trade and emigration continue unabated. 

But to reap the benefit in all this uncertainty, we must set out a strategy to let everyone know that the centre of gravity in international commerce and relations is shifting.  

Being at the nexus of the new Technology Revolution but importantly being the non-American centre in the Silicon Valley, Seattle, Vancouver axis is a good launching point. 

Being very international in our makeup and outlook, equidistant from Europe and Asia with some of the best international airline connections in North America already and a temperate climate to boot, we are perfectly suited to become the next modern Geneva or Venice.

I see a day where the lines past the Peace Arch will be longer heading North.  

Those lines will be filled with U-Haul vans and families looking to fulfill their dreams to live in peace and prosperity.  

We can react with our usual complaints of fast growth and housing shortages. Or else we can proactively strategize; ready ourselves and yes, encourage Americans and others discouraged by the retrenchment of the once great United States to come here and share their prosperity here with us.

The Province is the Problem at the Marpole Midden

Thursday, May 10th, 2012
Demonstrators at Marpole Midden

I dropped by to visit the demonstrators outside the HQ Living worksite beside the Arthur Lang Bridge on Southwest Marine Drive today. Boy were my eyes opened.

Off and on, they have been outside this worksite for a couple of months. A small rabble, huddled under the Arthur Lang Bridge against the driving rain.

“Save our Ancestors!” say their signs, “Musqueam History is BC History!”

Yeah, whatever, one might conclude. Whatever the problem, there is no workable solution. Enough of this appeasing of ancient history when progress calls for development!

Call me naive, but I was shocked to hear what I was told.

Before I go on, let me ask you if you value ‘due process‘?

Due process is important in our society and in our government because it is a check on arbitrary decisions and a way to mitigate adverse consequences when tough decisions need to be made.

Imagine how you would feel and what you might do if you were to learn that your house was to be torn down because your city’s planning department didn’t like the color you painted it.

Moreover, imagine your state of mind if this decision was made and a letter was sent to you informing that this decision was pending while they knew you were on holidays and out of town.

Then, imagine how you would feel and what you might do if the house was torn down before you even had a chance to repaint it… and that any avenue of appeal fell on deaf ears?

It is due process that ensures that these sorts of egregious decisions are never made or carried out.

But in effect this is exactly what has happened to the Musqueam and their documented long-standing efforts to protect their former town-site. And when I say long-standing, I mean 80+ years.

I’m not going to bore you with a detailed timeline- at least not here and now. Suffice it to say, although the land in question is not actually privately held Musqueam property, it is one of 127 parcels of land that the Musqueam consider to be culturally relevant.

Since the 1930s this parcel of land has been considered to be an historic site and an archeological “No Digging” covenant was placed on the property at that time. Much of the land was paved over behind a building built on shallow footings at the time so it has not been much of an issue.

Until now.

Despite the covenant that was written into the deed of the property, the current owner maintains that he was not aware of the covenant when he bought the property expressly to build a condominium development with underground parking.

He says that the original owner of the property did not tell him about the no-digging clause. As an aside, it makes you wonder whether developers actually care about these “details” or whether they neglect to conduct due diligence when making multi-million dollar investments in land. In either case, the ultimate responsibility for ‘not knowing’ is the person who buys the land- not the person who sells it.

Why do I say this? I say this because if it was the responsibility of the guy who sold the land, there would be a law suit between the seller and the buyer, where the buyer would be trying to reverse the sale.

But let’s put these doubts aside and presume only good will and the best of intentions on the part of the developer, Century Group Ltd.

So what about the due process that presumably exists to ensure that nobody is run roughshod by faceless bureaucrats?

When the property changed hands, the archeological branch in Victoria served notice that the developer intended to dig into the parcel of land with the intention to develop during the weeks in December they knew the Musqueam office would be closed. How could they not?

By the time they opened and read the letter, the dig was already underway.

Fast forward just a few months later to the present day, and several developments in the story have taken place.

The Musqueam Nation and the developers have arranged a land swap. The developers will be able to receive land at the foot of Kerr Street in exchange for this parcel adjacent to Montcalm Street. The Musqueam are even prepared to sweeten the pot with financial incentives. With this parcel of land, they intend to create a memorial park to preserve the sanctity of the village site.

The sad thing is that the swap cannot happen until the Archeological Branch approves it.

What is worse, the Provincial Government- both at the leadership level as well as at the Archeological Branch is dragging its heels as it has remained completely silent.

The government maintains, as it did in the Legislature today to an audience that included dignitaries from various First Nations, that it is “fully engaged”, working with all parties, through a special facilitator to resolve the issue.

All of this is complete platitude because nobody even knows who the facilitator is. No member of the Archeological Branch has spoken to the issue-  let alone acted.

The developer is getting frustrated. He is losing money with every passing day he cannot get his development built. The Musqueam know this too and are sympathetic with his plight.

But the longer the provincial government sits on its hands, the more volatile the situation is going to get. According to a source at the protest site, the developer is trying to provoke a confrontation with the protesters to put pressure on the provincial government to act. Even the Vancouver police see it this way.

And all of this is so unnecessary.

The City of Vancouver is onside. The developer, with the best of intentions moving forward, is onside. The Musqueam Nation is onside. The Marpole community is onside. So where is the provincial government?

Since December, the Musqueam have been shut out of any due process. Yet they are doing what they can to work with the developer to find a reasonable solution.

But the provincial government, responsible for the breach of due process has yet to step forward. The provincial government, whose responsibility it apparently is to ‘protect’ the site but isn’t, is not doing what it can to help undo the mess it has created. Indeed, it has nothing at all to alleviate the situation at all.

To me, this is just a continuation of the past how governments that presume to speak for me, mistreat our aboriginal brothers and sisters.

It is quite unfair to assert my judgement on those who came before me for their racist attitudes and their transparent mistreatment of the “Indians”. There is nothing I can do to unring the bell in these instances.

But it is quite another for me to stand by today and watch silently the same institutional mistreatment, the same ‘convenient’ ignorance of previous agreements and treaties, the same short-circuiting of due process in the Law, the same marginalization of an oft-ignored community within our ranks- actions that we all find so repugnant in our past.

This cannot continue. It is time to do something different.

It is time for the provincial government came to the table to solve this issue before it becomes a crisis. The time for dithering is over.

More on the end of Occupy Vancouver

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

This entry is a copy of my response I have posted to the Georgia Straight‘s online article about the calls to shut the Occupy Vancouver camp down. It is here so you can post comments directly in response to my own.

If you are here at this site as a result of reading my comment on the Georgia Straight site, Welcome!

The Occupy Wall Street movement is firmly based on protesting the economic and political injustices waged by those at the top of the corporate structures that have corrupted our economics and our politics.

But in Vancouver, it never really seemed to achieve these lofty kinds of goals. Yes, we have a homeless issue. Yes, we have a drug addiction issue. Those facts are painfully obvious to us all already. And we are working on them. There is INSITE- something that Vancouverites are fighting hard to protect and foster. There is more non-market housing being built.

Certainly we have much work to do but Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know.

I so wanted the Occupy Vancouver protest to be successful. Vancouver is, after all, the birthplace of Greenpeace and home to Kalle Lasn’s Adbuster Magazine that called for the Occupy Wall Street movement in the first place.

But right from the start, despite the efforts of some very well intentioned activists, the OV movement has degenerated into a self-destructive shell of what could have been a poignant statement.

Then, the first overdose followed by the second resulting in a death have completely undermined the point of the OV movement. It has lost its vitality, it’s moral stance.

The corporate elite do not speak for me. But neither do those who enable drug addiction and justify it happening at such a protest.

Never mind all the “repressed and marginalized” gibber. Enough of the guilt-ridden ‘sorry you had to do this to yourself to escape this awful, terrible world’ tales of woe to glorify a heroin addict’s untimely passing. She is no martyr. Every person must take responsibility for his and her Self. The choice to come to Vancouver, to take the drugs, was hers and hers alone.

Don’t get me wrong: I am sorry she is gone and I grieve for her friend’s and family’s loss. I hope for her she is in a better place.

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

To those who desire a Utopian future… do you think that Che Guevara would have tolerated drug addicts in his ranks? Do you think that Fidel Castro would have welcomed heroin addicts into his revolutionary world?

Would de Robespierre have allowed supporters to nip out for hours to “forget their pain” on the way to Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité? Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin or George Washington, would they have embraced self-indugences like shooting up while encamped against the British on the road to Independence?

A clue to the correct answer: Everybody pulls his or her weight when striving for change. And change certainly doesn’t happen by taking pit-stops along the way to get high for the sake of getting high. I would even gently suggest that drug addicts are the first to be set adrift when serious change is in the offing.

To date, many of the calls for the camp’s removal have been bogus. Rodents. Hygene. Blah Blah Blah. We’ve heard it all before. But sadly, enablement and worse, justification, of drug abuse has undermined everything. Like a cancer, it has reared its ugly head and now the patient is dead.

Respect only comes with respect. Respect for others, respect for Self. By disrespecting themselves, by not being disciplined in their standards regarding drug use on the site, those who are there are dishonouring the movement. They are dishonouring those of us who stand in solidarity but who have not the luxury at this time to be physically present.

Further, by disrespecting the fire crews and those concerned with public safety (and the requests to eliminate fire hazards and to create safe thoroughfares are hardly bogus attempts to de-camp), the OV campers are only getting what is coming to them.

They marginalized themselves and so in the process, marginalized the movement. Making the world a different place means doing- and being- something different.

A very wise man once told me, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got“.

Like it or not, accepting, justifying and enabling drug abuse is a surefire way to undermine any effort towards change. Those hanging on to the OV movement as our saviour moment are now fighting for the wrong kind of humanity.

If the cops have swooped in without provocation as they have in other Occupy sites, hundreds would have come down to protect the camp. I’m sure of that. If I weren’t working, I would have.

But sadly, now it’s different. I wouldn’t cross the street to defend people’s ‘right’ to shoot up there… especially when Vancouver has fought so hard to get and to protect INSITE.

And so the Occupy Vancouver movement, despite its initial ideals, is done. It’s toast.

I continue to support the OWS movement- the one in New York City- but here in Vancouver, it’s time to pack up and go home.

There will be another time.

Occupy Vancouver has lost credibility

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

I am really disappointed and angry that I must even have to write this entry.

After a heroin overdose at the Occupy Vancouver site earlier this week, today marks a death, apparently from another overdose. The first turn of events underscored my own tepid support for the OV movement. Defiance of the request of the fire department to clean up the site made my support that much cooler.

This death signals the end.

The Occupy Wall Street, or OWS, movement is one that is firmly based on the economic and political injustices that the current corporate structures and systems are waging on ordinary people.

The OWS is the start of an unstoppable awakening that is taking place across the United States by Americans that their government, their economic system, are at odds with them. Especially in the United States, no matter where you turn, no matter how you try to limit your exposure to big business, corporate interests have either skewed or else completely corrupted the system.

There is not a single sliver of American society and its economy that has not been touched by a corporate agenda, corporate interest, or even corporate largesse.

There has been a withering plaint from Wall Street that these ‘ruffians’ have no cohesive message, that they have no specific demands. The simplistic conclusion is that they are capitalist-hating socialists. While there may be a few dyed-in-the-wool socialists among them, most- if not the overwhelming majority of them- are actually capitalist. What else do they truly know?

My guess is that they want the current corporate structures and systems dismantled so corporate actors have as much sway on public policy as religion, or the environmental movement, or even the ballot box- if you can imagine!

Quite honestly, in principle, they are not asking for much. There was a time when corporate interests were just another piece in the jigsaw puzzle. That time was before Charles Erwin Wilsons infamous 1953 quote, “Whats good for GM is good for America“.

How hard would it be to simply go back to a time when corporations were actually accountable to the society they were created to improve? If you ask me, it is indeed possible to establish Rousseau’s Social Contract between society and the corporations. The OWS is a focal point in the awakening of the American consciousness to achieve that goal.

And from the OWS movement in New York City, came dozens of Occupy movements across the United States and others in foreign lands too. While things arent quite as bad in other places, such as the U.K. or even here in Canada, there is still plenty enough to lament and hence to protest.

Significant protests have grown across the globe. In London, senior clergy have resigned at St. Paul’s Cathedral because of harsh reactions to protestors peaceful actions. Protestors effectively shut down the port in Oakland California during their general strike this past week.

News of physical clashes with police are becoming commonplace- if you know where to find the reports- underscoring that the establishment is getting both weary of these pesky gnats endlessly demonstrating as well as beginning to understand that these same demonstrators are out for long-term and significant change.

The stakes are getting higher with every passing day and with every violent confrontation instigated by security forces, acting in defence of the status quo.

And then there is the protest here in Vancouver.

The Occupy Vancouver version was particularly symbolic, in part, because Vancouver is the birthplace of Greenpeace- the Mother of all Occupy movements. More importantly, it was here in Vancouver that the whole idea was floated. I so wanted the Occupy Vancouver protest to be worthy of Kalle Lasn’s Adbusters call to action.

But on the OV’s first weekend, on a sunny Saturday, when thousands of people came together to stand up and be counted, wanting and wishing this to be the moment for change, I couldnt help but look over the list of speakers and feel a sense of derision. Yes, there were some very credible voices in the line up- among them, an old grad school friend of mine, Seth Klein of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

But almost the rest was a shopping list of pro-drug activists ranging from Marc Emery protégés, to screechy blow-hards like Betty Krawczyk.

Honestly, if that is the best that we can produce in Vancouver as high-profile speakers at a moment when change is in the offing, then clearly, when Mr. Lasn called for 20,000 people to descend on Wall Street, even he knew it was pretty futile to expect that kind of traction here in Vancouver. And sure enough, the thousands who turned out for the OV weekend in October are gone. They’re gone because the protest does not represent them.

I do think that this protest has been different from many we have seen in the past. Yes, homelessness is a long-standing issue here. Yes, there is the question of the permanence of food banks and why they are necessary. Yes, we have seen a significant decline in the quality of life in the region in my lifetime. And Ill even admit that yes, there is a need to do something different regarding the laws around marijuana and services to overcome addictions.

But what good will, whatever kind of message, or messages, the protesters were trying to advance here in Vancouver, they were all undermined by the heroin overdose. They were utterly wiped from the consciousness of the city by the death.

I do not presume to be able to pronounce exactly what the protests are aiming to achieve but I can say this: Whatever the point of Occupy Vancouver, anarchy is certainly not it. Personal self-destruction, or the enabling of such action, is most definitely not one of its goals. That the Occupy Vancouver movement has not distanced itself from drug abuse is a serious flaw.

Then enabling the behaviour by saying that it was good the first overdose took place at the OV site rather than in the DTES, is so wrong on so many levels.

In reports following the first overdose, the medic who saved the persons life apparently had the gaul to say that the person was safer in the camp than in the DTES because help was at hand. This kind of justification-after-the-fact is appalling.

It turns out that the INSITE clinic is in the heart of the DTES.

Taxpayers have paid millions both fighting and defending the clinic. To the consternation of conservatives everywhere, the burgers of this fair city overwhelmingly support its existence and its goals. It is there, in all its glory, in the DTES, so that people dont overdose and if they do, there is someone there to get them to safety.

So to that medic: Do not even try to guilt Vancouverites over the overdose… and you’d do best by keeping your mouth shut over this death.

That one overdose not only undermined the OV movement, the person responsible for the overdose, and that would be the addict- nobody else-singularly destroyed the credibility of the occupation. The medic merely added yet another layer of guilt onto the addict’s emtional pain, and managed to insult everyone else in the process.

And now the death. After some petulant adolescent temper-tantrum defiance over the fire department’s request to remove tarps for their own safety, after the enabling drug use in the camp we now learn of someone else dying, by her own hands, of yet another overdose.

And because of this, the Occupy Vancouver movement is dead. Anybody with a brain will move on. There will be other times.

Meanwhile, Occupy Wall Street, with its high goals and aspirations, with its focus of purpose and its presence of mind, will prevail. It has already made the financial world stop and watch it play out in Liberty Square Park and it will inspire successes worldwide.It will achieve a change in the dialogue between world leaders at the very least. But sadly, it will go on without the Occupy Vancouver movement.

I desperately wanted this not to be just another quasi-loser-anarchist squatter-fest on the steps of the Art Gallery manifested by a bunch of misguided idealists suffering from Stockholm Syndrome and fighting for the wrong side of humanity. But despite the efforts of a few focused activists whose intentions were right, that is what it has become. That is all this is, here in Vancouver.

And by the way, where are those focused activists now?  And where are the thousands who came out on that sunny October weekend to make change happen?

We can’t even get our protests right.

This is no time to score political points, Suzanne Anton. The less you say, the better.

By the same token, we dont need the police to clean this up: juse shut off the power, Gregor Robertson.

By next Friday, except for a few die-hard stragglers, they’ll have simply packed up and left.

An Open Letter to Boston

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

 

Found at the Georgia and Granville corner of The Bay

I am Sorry

IT’S NOT WHETHER YOU WIN OR LOSE: IT’S HOW YOU PLAY THE GAME.

The hours following game seven of the Stanley Cup final in Vancouver were sad ones to say the least.

As a bystander- quite honestly, professional sports leave me a bit cold- I went down to Georgia Street adjacent to the Rogers Arena to watch the people, some 100,000 of them, there to watch the game on massive TV screens erected in the middle of the street. It started out to be simply lots of people having a good time on one of the city’s first pleasant, warm, and dry evenings of the year.

I am sorry to say this but win or lose, the anarchy came as no surprise. Despite the almost-bucolic reputation we have here in the Pacific Northwest, sadly there are a few among us who are bound and determined to destroy what good can come out of community spirit and we have seen it here all too often in the past.

By contrast, the 2010 Winter Olympics were a success from a community-building standpoint here in fair VanCity and so some no doubt were hoping, maybe even pretending, that this rogue bunch would simply stay home this time too.

Alas, that was not to be.

And so, instead of celebrating sport, and celebrating a really exciting play-off series between to very closely matched teams and covering your own beloved Bruins and their fans celebrating their win, CNN had to go live to cover the anarchists, the idiots, the jerks, the looters, the drunken losers, and the fifteen-seconds-of-fame seekers (none of them rioters, really), who wreaked meaningless and wonton destruction here, as cars burned and riot police did what they could in the presence of thousands of YouTube and Facebook posting cell phones. It brought shame upon our city and dishonour to our team.

Where they come from I cannot say. But for all of us who live in the Lower Mainland- what we call the region that surrounds and includes the city of Vancouver- we must own this sad fact: these louts come from our communities: they are our relatives, our friends, our neighbours, our classmates and work colleagues- they are known personally by others who do not share their shameful behaviour. These losers represent no-one but themselves and in doing so they do nobody proud.

I honestly hope that those who do recognize them report them to the police so that they may have their day in court. Looking to the future, how we stop this aberrant behaviour before it starts is a gargantuan task- one that starts with education certainly- and is a task that me must pursue.

But that discussion is for another time. And what happened last night, was last night.

Cleaning up the smoke damage at The Bay from cars that had been set on fire.

Canucks fans clean smoke damage from The Bay

Today, I am happy to report, Vancouver is righting its ship. True fans and real citizens came out in the hundreds, maybe even the thousands, to clean up after these losers. It is their actions, their outlook that speaks for this little corner of God’s Green Earth. Their words too, as you can see in the photos I include.

Written on the plywood boards erected to cover the broken windows of several stores, including the Hudson’s Bay Company, Sears, the Future Shop and Chapters (our version of Barnes and Noble), were thousands of notes illuminating the enduring positive spirit that cuts through darkness. There is expressed love of the Canucks, love of this city, appreciation of the Vancouver Police and Fire Departments, and those who were volunteering to clean up. Other notes condemn the actions of those few, while still others plead with the world to see past this embarrassing episode.

But it was one particular note I read, written on the plywood window cover on ‘The Bay’ at the corner of Georgia and Granville Streets that inspired me to write this letter to the Boston Globe. It is the first one in the series of photos I am sending to you.

It is important for Bostonians to know that what they saw on CNN last night, instead of their Bruins celebrating their win, was not the real Vancouver- and that the sentiments written on these boards that would otherwise be seen only in Vancouver, are shared with those who were equally affected by the shameful acts of a despicable few.

The message that inspired me to write this, reads:

I am sorry to you Boston. This should be your time to party and cheer but the world is on Vancouver for the hooligans who did this. Love you all. To hockey fans, God bless you. Boston, good job Boston. We are sorry. – Barnett McIntyre

Signing the Board

Signing the Board

As these boards filled with signatures underscore, Vancouver is a city fuelled by passion- young, brash, and unbridled- not just for the city itself but for its sports teams.

Both passions were disgraced last night and so in the spirit of reconciliation- and I hope I speak for all Vancouverites when I write this to all Bostonians- it is our hope that good can come of this; that those who came out to condemn and clean up after the actions of a pathetic few can translate this spirit into something positive and long-lasting…

… so that next year, should the Boston Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks play in the Stanley Cup playoff finals again, the end result will be a celebration of sport: no matter who wins the cup.

Congratulations on your win, Boston Bruins. You are this year’s champions of the National Hockey League.

Now let’s celebrate what was a successful season for both our teams.