Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Shell Casings and Corpses

The title of a new horror movie? Nope. What British newspaper The Independent describes is littering the streets of Vancouver. From heaven to hell: 18 die as drugs war rages on streets of Vancouver
Once upon a very recent time, Vancouver had a clean, safe image. Nestled between a spectacular bay and snow-capped mountains, this Canadian city, which is twice the size of Birmingham, was described by The Economist as the most liveable in the world. Not any more. As it prepares to host the 2010 Winter Olympics, what it's got now is not cuddly, eco-friendly publicity, but blood-spattered streets littered with shell casings and corpses.

Vancouver is the battlefield in a war between myriad drug gangs, which include Hell's Angels, Big Circle Boys, United Nations, Red Scorpions, Independent Soldiers and the 14K Triad. Guns – often machineguns – are fired almost daily. "We've always been told by media experts to never admit that there is a gang war," the chief of police, Jim Chu, said last month. "Let's get serious. There is a gang war and it's brutal." Vancouver's Mayor, Gregor Robertson, confessed that the police are fighting a losing battle. Since mid-January, the city has recorded 50 gang-related shootings, 18 of them fatal. And the violence is not confined to seedy neighbourhoods. The cross-fire is happening in quiet, residential cul-de-sacs and the car parks of up-scale shopping centres. It's a suburban civil war.


In the long run, many British Columbians, on both left and right, accept that legalisation and regulation are the answer. Just the sales tax on C$7bn of drugs would pay for several hospitals and schools, policing costs could be reduced, property crime by addicts to pay for their drug habits would be slashed, and the gang wars could be quickly reined in. "But the international politics are unbelievable," said Dr Rob Gordon, director of Simon Fraser's school of criminology. "The DEA [US Drug Enforcement Administration] starts to foam at the mouth at the idea of there being a huge, legal marijuana farm just north of the border. Under George Bush, the concensus was that if Canada ever moved to exercise its economic sovereignty, they would shut the border down by searching every vehicle."

It's definitely getting that Chicago in the 1920's feel to it these days.

BC Premier Gordon Campbell is upset at the criticism.
"It's a shame that you have got some people that are going to try and take some cheap shots," Mr. Campbell told reporters following a speech.

"[People] will come here. They will discover not just Vancouver, but all of British Columbia. They will discover Canada, and the Asia Pacific, and I think they will be excited. It will be a great Olympics and I am sure The Independent will write the great stories when the time comes."

1 comment:

  1. I just love the way elected pukes like Campbell, can dispute hard factual information. He refers to the facts as "a cheap shot". There is no crime problem in Vancouver, because the government told us there is no crime problem.
    It`s a good thing we have high salaries for elected officials, that allows us to attract the best people to the job.