Matthew Burrows, November 7, 2011
The mayoral candidate with Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver had one word when asked whether or not he would serve an eviction notice to the Occupy Vancouver protesters if he were mayor.
“No,” Randy Helten told the Straight by phone today (November 7).
Asked if his position on Occupy Vancouver, now in its fourth week, differed from those of Mayor Gregor Robertson or NPA mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton, Helten added, “Yes.”
“I believe that the story goes back to the ancient Zen story of the master who was pointing at the moon, and the poor students only looked at his finger and not the moon,” Helten added. “Our [NSV] concern is very close, in a sense, to the global Occupy Wall Street or Occupy movement, which is about corporate influence on political decision–making processes. And if Robertson and Anton were to really listen to the message of the Occupy movement, they would be rejecting money from developers, who they are supposed to regulate. But they are only talking about the location of the [new] venue of this protest.”
Helten did not dismiss the need for safety following the death on Saturday (November 5) of Ashlie Gough, 23, from Victoria.
“And if I were the mayor, I would have a good discussion with the organizers and talk about how they could ensure safety on the site—on a site — and probably have a smaller footprint, so that they could have a 24-hour presence,” Helten said. “It could still be there, but it doesn’t have to have that many tents and take up the entire space on the north side of the Art Gallery.”
Helten stressed that he would focus on consulting “in person” with those at the site.
“I addressed them on Sunday for about an hour from stage, and we did talk about the issues of the Metro Vancouver regional growth strategy, TransLink, campaign contributions to city hall, and so on,” Helten said. “I refer to Vision and NPA as the Vision-NPA axis now, because on many important policies they are almost identical.”
Today (November 7), the city posted a sign, written by city manager Penny Ballem, asking the campers to pack up their belongings and vacate the site. No deadline was given.