Why this city is the most drug-addicted in the world

Although the article below has nothing to do with pot, it is important in revealing why Vancouver is the most hard drug-addicted city in the whole world---drug liberalism carried to the most extreme...

Vancouver pro-drug lobby doesn’t deserve taxpayer dollars
VANDU gets $250,000 from province, $20,000 from city hall
By Mark Hasiuk, Vancouver Courier,  February 13, 2012

Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.

That’s how much Vancouver Coastal Health, your public health authority, gave VANDU, the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, last year. This year, according to VCH officials, VANDU will receive another $250,000 from taxpayers, continuing a provincial funding scheme established in 1999.

Most Vancouverites don’t know VANDU. Headquartered in a brick building at 380 East Hastings in the Downtown Eastside, it’s a non-profit hangout conforming to neighbourhood drug culture. Folks gather outside on the sidewalk and inside the lobby. Traffic seems to have increased since December when VANDU began distributing free crack pipes to addicts, part of a VCH crack pipe giveaway. But mainly, thanks to longtime leader Ann Livingston, VANDU exists for activism...

Wherever police move against drugs, VANDU is there. Whenever Insite stages a street-level show of support, VANDU, which according to the city’s website offers cash “stipends” for "VANDU work," shows up. Livingston and company crash city hall, chiding council for police sins like the ticketing of illegal street vendors. Last week, following a four-year legal battle, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal dismissed a complaint from VANDU and the Pivot Legal Society who claimed the Downtown Ambassadors, a private security firm, discriminated against the homeless. Not even the tribunal, which relies on frivolous cases and flimsy evidence, could justify VANDU’s complaints.

Under the radar, VANDU provides “public speakers” and “research and consultation” to anyone interested in the VANDU point of view. Before booking a VANDU expert, you must call for a “free consultation.” Any additional fees are unknown. Livingston did not return calls for this column. But in 2009, she told the Courier that VANDU employs three paid staff members who help organize group meetings and “counselling” sessions at 380 East Hastings.

Of course, counselling is subjective, depending largely on the goal. According to VANDU’s “manifesto for a Drug User Liberation Movement” available on its website, folks have the “right to obtain, prepare, and ingest drugs, and to be intoxicated on drugs.” It continues: “We might take drugs to deal with psychological trauma or physical pain, or for pleasure or fun… our drug use is a response to our experiences of poverty, inequality, colonization, forced migration, workplace injury and inadequate access to pain relief.”

This is the VANDU gospel. Enablement on steroids. Victimization, stamped and validated. Music to the ears of the addict who organizes life around shunned responsibility. Every school of addiction treatment recognizes past trauma and the desire to self-medicate. That’s what addiction is. While sober minds can debate drug policy and decriminalization, the realities of addiction remain constant. Addicts want more. In response, VANDU celebrates drug abuse. Its 1,089-word manifesto excludes the words “addiction” and “addict,” calling drug abusers “oppressed people.”

Here’s why. According to the VANDU website, only “a person who has formerly, or is presently using illicit drugs” can become a voting member of the organization. To be clear. Addicts are people. Our friends, our family, our brothers and sisters. They deserve love and respect among, what Christ called, the “weary and burdened.” But until they recover, addicts place their addictions first. Any edict born from a group of addicts, under the influence of radical ideologues, will promote more enablement, more denial. Yet in a neighbourhood steeped in addiction, where treatment and prevention remains an afterthought, our provincial government funds this madness.

Why? Where’s the benefit? VANDU’s message helps fuel drug culture in the Downtown Eastside and a never-ending bill of housing, welfare, medical, policing and court costs.

But that’s not all. In addition to cash from Victoria, VANDU received $20,000 from city hall last year and will receive another $20,000 in 2012. Moreover, since 2006, VANDU headquarters has operated without a development permit. Back in 2009, Livingston said she was “negotiating” with the city. Apparently, negotiations have stalled.

VANDU is a cancer in a neighbourhood struggling to breathe. Its public funding is obscene. No government, at any level, has received a mandate from voters to prop up a pro-dope lobby.

Twitter: @MarkHasiuk

--------------------------Follow-up Article------------------------- 
Vancouver city hall coddles, protects poisonous pro-dope lobby
VANDU operates without city permits in Downtown Eastside
By Mark Hasiuk, Vancouver Courier May 7, 2012
Vancouver is the inversion capital of Canada. What Nietzsche called transvaluation blooms in full colour, where the absurd is reasonable, the perverse now sacred.

For example. The Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, better known as VANDU, headquartered at 380 East Hasting in the Downtown Eastside.

To identify the majority of neighbourhood residents with VANDU is ignorant. To confuse VANDU with other activists is to diminish all activism. To call VANDU radical is to libel radicals worldwide. According to VANDU’s “manifesto for a Drug User Liberation Movement” available online, people have the “right to obtain, prepare, and ingest drugs… to deal with psychological trauma or physical pain, or for pleasure or fun.”

This philosophy, enablement on steroids, undermines the basic tenets of drug rehabilitation in a neighbourhood steeped in crack, heroin and crystal meth.

Despite claims of bloated membership, VANDU is mainly Ann Livingston, longtime leader, whose handful of acolytes elbow and intimidate around the Downtown Eastside. Last month at city hall, a VANDU-led mob stormed council chambers to protest an East Hastings condo development called Sequel 138. According to a VANDU statement, the development will cause “disruption and displacement of drug markets” in the neighbourhood.

A rogue group, you say. Unaffiliated, without backing from any reputable source. Think again.

Since 1999, VANDU has fed from the public trough.

Last year, Vancouver Coastal Health, your public health authority, gave VANDU $250,000 and another $250,000 in 2012, not including $40,913 for VANDU’s participation in VCH’s crack pipe giveaway program. Why VANDU needs $40,913 to hand out crack pipes remains a mystery.

Funding from city hall ($20,000 last year, $20,000 this year) pales in comparison. But here’s the kicker. Since 2006, VANDU headquarters on East Hastings has operated without permits, a prerequisite for any business, non-profit or hotdog stand in the city.

According to documents obtained by the Courier through Freedom of Information legislation, in February 2007 “after receiving complaints from area residents,” city staff ordered VANDU to apply for a development permit. VANDU sought and received a 60-day reprieve, which expired on June 13, 2007. Since then, nothing.

Well, almost nothing.

Email transcripts from early 2012 (also obtained through FOI) include conversations between Livingston and Vision Coun. Andrea Reimer. Livingston complains about “vending” bylaw enforcement in the Downtown Eastside, Reimer says it’s “frustrating to hear it’s still happening.” Nothing about VANDU’s outstanding permit situation.

Incidentally, according to the Province newspaper, during last month’s VANDU-led protest at city hall, Reimer brokered a “30-minute informal information session” for protesters to speak even though Sequel 138 wasn’t on the agenda. Next election, Reimer should run a pro-VANDU campaign so voters understand where her sympathies lie.

Seventeen additional pages of VANDU-related email transcripts—four involving Mayor Gregor Robertson—are redacted, deemed off limits to public eyes.

Back on East Hastings, Manzoor Hussain, an immigrant from Pakistan, stands behind the counter at S.Amen Foods, a small convenience store next door to VANDU. Tall and burly with a black tuft of hair, Hussain points to the business licence hanging on his wall. He renews it yearly—$327 in 2012. Mention VANDU to Hussain, then stand back. “I complain so many times to the [VANDU] management,” he says, all hands and gestures. “It’s one thing after another.”

To swell its ranks, VANDU offers $3 stipends to supporters who line up outside Hussain’s store, creating a human barrier for his customers. During one incident, Hussain’s front window was smashed. It cost him $600 to replace it. “I have to follow the rules, but they get away with anything they want. Why?”

Why, indeed. City hall won’t say.

But consider this. According to a spokesperson from the city’s development services department, during any permit application process, city staff must consider the applicant’s “impact on potential neighbours.” Most probably, any honest analysis of VANDU’s impact on the 300 block of East Hastings would result in a permit denial, probable court case and eventual eviction.

Apparently, that just won’t do. When it comes to city permits, your friendly neighbourhood pro-dope lobbyists need not apply.

Twitter: @MarkHasiuk


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