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Vancouver NPA director under fire for telling people to 'harass' city's homeless

Last Updated Sep 3, 2020 at 6:05 am PDT

FILE - Christopher Wilson, who at the time identified himself as working for Rebel Media, is seen having an exchange with Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna during a news conference after a Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment meeting in Vancouver on Friday, November 3, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Summary

NPA Director Christopher Wilson's comments on the homeless are raising some eyebrows

Post written by Wilson says people should start 'harassing these low lifes,' referring to a group of homeless drug users

Former NPA mayoral candidate says Wilson's comments are 'incredibly disturbing'

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The NPA — the political party that ruled Vancouver for decades — is in hot water once again after one of its own was caught disparaging the homeless.

NPA Director Christopher Wilson, who is a former Rebel Media employee, is at the centre of the latest controversy.

Replying to a post that refers to a group as a “Meth pipe crew” in a private Facebook called the Downtown Community Safety Watch (DCSW), Wilson encouraged residents to harass people like those snapped in the photograph.

“Lets (sic) start harassing these low lifes. Honestly they wanna (sic) deteriorate the quality of life in my neighbourhood lets (sic) ruin their fun,” Wilson’s post, screenshotted by Scout Magazine, reads.

In its description, the DCSW says it “focuses on collaborating with residents, government officials, stakeholders and law enforcement to ensure the well being and safety of our family safety with a focus on children in the area.”

When asked by another Facebook user how Wilson proposes people “harass” the homeless, Wilson writes, “Speak up, say something, tell them to leave, tell them they aren’t welcome to degrade our neighbourhoods. Obviously not everyone will want to provoke a conflict, but saying nothing and just biting our tongues makes it worse.”

Former NPA mayoral candidate Ken Sim calls the comments “incredibly disturbing.”

While he says he understands why people are frustrated with the city’s homeless situation and opioid crisis, Sim adds the comments lack empathy.

“He mentioned people as if they’re low lifes. Where’s the humanist in all that? We’re human beings so we should treat people as such,” he tells NEWS 1130. “And every single person in the Downtown Eastside is someone’s son or daughter.”

Sim calls the situation the city finds itself in a “complex issue,” adding there are people who have suffered trauma and many who struggle with mental health and addiction issues.

“I think everyone has a right to be in the city of Vancouver. It doesn’t mean we don’t have challenges, but I don’t think you solve a challenge by separating people, by harassing people. We need to be empathetic and get a way deeper understanding of how complex this issue is and work to make this situation better,” Sim says.

Overdose deaths in B.C. neared a record high in July at 175, surpassing murders, car crashes, suicides, and COVID-19 deaths — combined.

Sim says the drug crisis can only be solved by working together, and that ostracizing or chasing them out of the city isn’t going to solve anything.

The 2018 mayoral candidate says he left the party because the NPA took a turn to the far right.

A number of NPA members have left in recent months following the election of social conservatives to its board of directors.

This is not the first time Wilson has come under fire for his comments. In 2017, Wilson was criticized for calling then-federal environment minister Catherine McKenna “climate Barbie.”

NEWS 1130 has reached out to the party for comment. The NPA does not appear to have publicly addressed Wilson’s posts about the homeless.

-With files from Tarnjit Parmar and Mike Hall