2 min

Questioning police priorities

Pot candidate seeks seat on council

Credit: Mark Kowalk photo

A former Marijuana Party candidate who has thrown his hat into the city council race says the way in which policing priorities are set in Vancouver is his primary concern this election.

“I’m not objecting to more police,” says John “Flash” Gordon, who’s running as an independent candidate associated with the Protecting Environment Peace Sovereignty Education (PEPSE) Generation civic pot party.

But, he says, “I’d like to have them working in different areas.”

For starters, he says, the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) should be compiling statistics so they can see where hate crimes are being perpetrated in the city and against whom.

Xtra West revealed recently that the VPD does not compile such statistics. Vancouver is one of the few cities in Canada that does not collect statistics on hate crimes committed against specific minorities, such as queers. The VPD says that job falls to the provincial Hate Crime Team whose funding was cut by Victoria several years ago.

“It doesn’t seem like too huge a logistical problem to look at those police reports,” says Gordon, urging the VPD to compile the statistics itself. “I don’t think it would take a huge team.”

Gordon would also like to see police officers get more sensitivity training.

“I don’t think taking people to Stanley Park and beating them up is exceptional policing,” he says.

Gordon hasn’t forgotten 2003’s scandal in which six officers from the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) brought three people with criminal records to Stanley Park and assaulted them. Two police officers lost their jobs as a result, and four more were suspended.

Now Gordon is worried that police will crackdown on the city’s poor as the 2010 Olympics approach.

But, he says, he’d rather focus on helping Vancouverites feel more secure in their city.

And part of feeling secure, he says, is ensuring that queers feel safe in the parks. He’s calling for more lights and more washrooms in parks frequented by gay men.

Gordon also supports maintaining St Paul’s Hospital in the downtown core, rather than moving it to the False Creek Flats. He says the West End’s HIV/AIDS population needs the hospital there, as do the elderly.

“I’d like to see them make use of the existing facilities,” he says. “I don’t think that tearing down something for no reason is any good.”

The same holds true for The Centre on Bute St, he says.

It holds a historical importance for the queer community, he notes, and reflects the pioneering spirit of the community on social and civil rights issues.

But since The Centre needs more space for its programs than its current location can accommodate, Gordon says the city should reward the queer community for its contributions with a new space.

“The city should take more of its properties and give them to non-profit organizations,” he suggests. “Lease them for a dollar or something,”

Gordon acknowledges that he probably won’t get elected.

Rather, he says, he’s in the race to get issues on the table. “It’s not a matter of votes,” he says, “even if it’s at my expense.”