Activists, Anarchists, Arson, Political Theatre And Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson’s Peter Principle…

Gregor Robertson- If only it were as easy as building bike lanes!

Gregor Robertson- If only it were as easy as building bike lanes!

Yesterday Vancouver’s Gastown Gazette published a story calling on Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson to “Take Action Before Arson”. The article was in reference to the alleged violence and mayhem being caused by the city’s anti gentrification extremists. They’ve been harassing business owners (and their customers), vandalizing, and marching down the streets with lit torches- yet, the response from the city has been weak. It was only after an East Vancouver house got burned down that it seemed mayor Robertson was ready to take any real action.

On Friday, a group of protesters gathered in front of the Cuchillo restaurant, some were wearing masks. Protesters chanted about matches, torches and burning-down condos. The Gastown Gazette has called on the mayor to take action before this happens. It’s a noble thought, but it’s equally totally misguided- Gregor Robertson’s handling of the anarchists has been a massive fail.

Mayor Robertson’s first test at dealing with the anarchists came during the 2011 hockey riots. The day after they occurred he and police chief Jim Chu went public talking about anarchists and indicating the riots were purposefully orchestrated. There’s a great quote from Robertson in the Vancouver Sun:

“Definitely there are citizens responsible for inflaming the situation. But there were purposeful vandals who instigated this and very cleverly whipped many others into a frenzy by attacking cars and storefronts and moving throughout the downtown to create more hot spots.”

The anarchists immediately chimed-in through social media throwing ridicule and insults towards the mayor and police chief. Harsha Walia, the violent anarchist’s most visible role model, began doing interviews outwardly denying the radical’s involvement. Ultimately Robertson withdrew from making such statements- the official story now is that the riots were an organic occurrence. The mayor’s gaffe weakened the city’s future ability to deal with anarchist violence.

Robertson’s next big test with the anarchists came during Occupy Vancouver. At first, he was the only mayor in the world who stated that an Occupation should be allowed to run indefinitely. But as time wore on, and he was bitterly attacked by his support by Suzanne Anton (who he was running against at the time), he quickly lost his resolve.

The first real indication that Occupy Vancouver would be shut-down came after a man overdosed on heroin inside of the camp. Robertson sent the fire chief into the camp to make some changes- one of which was to remove the tarps that were placed over groups of tents. The fire chief was told this could result in a fatal overdose- the person who overdosed was sitting the tarps, if they weren’t there he’d probably have died alone in a tent.

At this point mayor Robertson was contacted and warned about the dangerous situation- but he ignored (or lost) messages sent my phone, email and Twitter. The Insite needle exchange program was contacted, they agreed to send someone to the camp to do outreach. They brought needles and paraphernalia, but no outreach. Later that evening a young girl died in her tent. It was only then that Robertson took action- the camp was quickly shut down.

It was right at the same time that the anti-gentrification ruckus began to heat up. Members of the DTES protest community organized a march and occupied a condo. The protest was billed as being about the Sequel 138 project but this was a diversion. Outsmarting the police, they marched towards a condo project next to Save-On-Meats and quickly occupying the building. Harsha Walia was the featured speaker- Herb Varley, who was not so well back then, was one of the occupiers inside of the building. The protest ended peacefully after the occupiers agreed to leave.

A few days later was the first big protest against Sequel 138. Speeches were given by Harsha Walia and superstar Naomi Klein. Herb Varley was also given the mike, a fresh new face whose now become a major player. The protest stayed peaceful and only blocked traffic for a short while. But, with heavy hitters like Klein and Wallia present- there was no mistaking this rally was a big shot over mayor Robertson’s bow.

Jump forward to the Pidgin restaurant protests this year where a group of thugs have decided that they’re going to shut down Brandon Grossutti’s new restaurant. Despite their stated intent to destroy Pidgin the city and police did virtually nothing to stop them.

Publications like the Gazette began pointing out that many of the people behind the protests were part of government (and NGO) funded organizations- the Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP) was the primary focus. Two CCAP executives resigned after complaints were sent to Vancity credit union (who provided funding to CCAP). 

On May 1st a group of anarchists assembled for the city’s May Day march, handed out lit torches and marched towards the Pidgin restaurant. The police left the anarchists to march with their torches, the only action taken by the police was to block-off Pidgin’s entrance. No arrests were made or what was, unquestionably, an illegal and dangerous assembly.

Then, only two weeks later, someone burned down a house to protest gentrification.

Kim Hearty, an executive for COPE Vancouver (a completing political party) was arrested and charged with theft, assault and mischief after a heated protest at the Pidgin Restaurant. The protests seemed to be a magnet for COPE, Nicolas Ellan of their Communications Committee was also photographed in front of the restaurant.

This week Ellan took a shot over the bow of a new restaraunt named Cuchillo- writing a story in the Mainlander comparing its opening to white supremacy movements and Canada’s internment of the Japanese during WWII. Protesters came out to the Cuchillo on Friday night and began chanting an ominous rant:

“Get the torches! Get the matches! Burn the condos! Burn the condos! F…ing a,,,holes! Get the matches! Get the torches! Burn the condos! Get the matches! Get the torches!”

CCAP leaders Wendy Pedersen and Jean Swanson were at the protests, alondside a group of masked anarchists who did the chanting. According to the Gazette’s report Pedersen & Swanson explained that there’s no association between them and the masked protesters- while this is technically true, it’s not the whole story.

Back before the 2010 Olympics, people in the DTES activist community agreed to operate under a flawed doctrine called “Diversity of Tactics”. What this means is that protesters are forced to accept that others may use violence, and that it’s totally unacceptable to speak out against those who do. People who agree to the diversity of tactics approach may not be burning down buildings, but they’re certainly enabling those who do.

Anarchist Tami Starlight (left) and Harsha Walia(?)

Anarchist Tami Starlight (left) and Harsha Walia(?)

In the above picture was taken at the Chuchillo restaraunt on Friday. On the left, is Tami Starlight- a well known anarchist and a key organizer behind the Pidgin protests. The person on the right appears to be Harsha Walia, the number one advocate of diversity of tactics in the country. These two people are no strangers to Pedersen and Swanson- so why have they refused to speak out? The true test of their position is if they will.

Besides being fellow activists Tami Starlight, Wendy Pedersen, Herb Varley and Harsha Walia have one big thing in common. They’re all members of the Local Area Plan (LAP) committee- an group that officially represents the needs of the DTES community and makes recommendations on city planning. The LAP is funded and run by the City of Vancouver- Gregor Robertson’s government has handed this sensitive task to the very same people wearing masks and chanting about setting fires.

Knowing it’s come to this, and understanding Robertson’s previous mishandling of anarchist issues, it’s laughable to think that he has the skills and resolve to actually solve the problem. When it comes to dealing with radicals and anarchists, Robertson has obviously reached his Peter Principle. If the Gastown Gazette holds their breath waiting for Gregor Robertson to do something there’s a great danger they’ll die of asphyxiation…

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    • Tim on July 8, 2013 at 02:54
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    According to Gena Thompson, nominal President of the Board at Carnegie, “The Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP) is a project of the board of the Carnegie Community Centre Association.”

    When Vancity threatened to pull its funding of CCAP because of their Pidgin picket, CCAP organizer Wendy Pedersen quit CCAP to become an “independent organizer”.

    But on June 6, the same Pedersen got herself elected to the Board of Carnegie. She did this in cahoots with Dave Hamm, the President of VANDU, and the notorious bully Ivan Drury.

    Pedersen now runs the Board that controls CCAP — the group she supposedly quit. And now, with the Pidgin picket a failure, she’s busy using her Carnegie network to run a picket at Cuchillo restaurant. The VPD will shortly issue Pedersen another letter of Criminal Warning.

    This one might go south real quick. Some of the legitimate businessmen who ride Harleys are friends with some of the people who work at Cuchillo. Fun times ahead!

      • Poverty Pimp Watch on July 8, 2013 at 17:09
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      This is very telling, a CBC report this week stated that Wendy Pederson is spokesperson for CCAP I wondered how that was possible. Time for a welfare review of protesters. Thanks for the information.

        • Tim on July 8, 2013 at 21:10
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        This was posted on the Gastown Gazette website. It has pretty similar information, but draws a different conclusion. See what you think. Pedersen and her Carnegie collaborators are getting more and more unhinged.


        The Carnegie people have always sought to maintain plausible deniability.

        Even though Ivan Drury, Jean Swanson, and Wendy Pedersen, paid employees of the Carnegie Community Action Project, were filmed and interviewed on TV news, marching at and defending the Pidgin picket, they pretended otherwise.

        “Someone else is doing it!” they insisted. “And they wear masks!”

        When Vancity threatened to pull its funding from CCAP, Wendy Pedersen supposedly quit. But guess what? In June, she got herself elected to the Board of Directors at Carnegie.

        Why does this matter? According to their own website, “The Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP) is a project of the board of the Carnegie Community Centre Association.”

        Pedersen quit CCAP — in order to run the Carnegie Board that controls it!

        The so-called radicals of the DTES operate a series of inter-locking directorates, making it appear they represent many factions down there. In truth, this is a small group of 27 people that shows up to everything, usually paid a “stipend” from VANDU or similar group in order to do so. Others are… just plain lucky they can get so much time off work at Portland, Atira and Coastal Health.

        The Pidgin picket failed. It was denounced by the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council, an elected community group that got fed up with Pedersen and Pals and threw them out.

        The Pidgin protest has failed, and so they have moved on to Cuchillo. They will have the same “success”. Only this time, they are more desperate, more extreme, and more hostile. And now, people like Tami “Decolonizer” aka “Starlight” dba “Cosmic” start wearing masks.

        Are the maskers today taking precautions for tomorrow?

    • harry lawson on July 8, 2013 at 14:59
    • Reply

    great post.

    mr robertson has quite a dilemma on his hands, he has lap members using intimidation to try to force change.

    so why are these people still sitting on a city funded committee mr gregor ?

    they either stop the behavior or you stop the funding to the lap and do an audit. not to take action is obviously condoning the action.

    one has to wonder if we are watching a civil war in the poverty industry. or just an easy cause to hijack

      • Standing Water on July 9, 2013 at 13:06
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      If OV is any indication, the Mayor and Co. won’t do _anything_, even if someone diesn (remember that OD?), until they receive a strongly-worded opinion invoking the Vancouver Charter’s mayoral duty:

      “208. The Mayor shall

      (a) be vigilant and active at all times in causing the law for the government of the city to be duly enforced and obeyed”

      So, 208(a) clearly indicates that “optics” don’t matter, that some hypothetical “right to protest” unbacked by substantive caselaw does not matter, that the desire of the police to not get their hands dirty does not matter. The whole point to city-states is that they administer justice. Indeed, the mayor is not merely to be reactive, but “active.”

      Really, read clearly, the mayor is in breach of a statutory duty if he fails to quell breaches of the peace. The proper procedure when purported “protesters” are breaching the peace is to arrest them, restore the peace. Then, if they have been wronged, they have redress through the courts.

      What all of this indicates is a breakdown of our public education system. The children no longer learn that “peace” and “quiet” are, essentially, the same thing. Or, if you don’t have quiet, you certainly don’t have peace. Thus, attempt to disquiet people while they dine are breaches of the peace, things prohibited by “the law for the government of the city.”

      I think I have a good handle on why the situation is governed by optics. Canadians are nice people, and they have a sense that things cannot go wrong here—and this is naive. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance, yadda yadda, but seriously, every day these children are allowed to breach the peace emboldens them. If they do not accept basic, bedrock norms about peace and quiet, what other norms are they willing to transgress?

      And I know this may seem extreme, but I would rather have an extremely peaceful city than an extremely disquieted one, wouldn’t you?

    1. Harry,

      I called the city’s media liaison and asked how it was possible for so many radicals to have been allowed onto the LAP. Their response was concerning, saying that the people on the list were recommended by the organizations they represent- the very same groups that are promoting this sort of bad behaviour.

      It seems to me that the DTES is captive to the radicals now. It’s a shame Gregor Robertson doesn’t take action and fix this- personally, I think he’s too afraid of getting them upset. Mayor Moonbeam at his best (or, worst)…

    • Poverty Pimp Watch on July 8, 2013 at 17:06
    • Reply

    It is a civil war, Vision has slowly been developing their own poverty industry team, under the guise of philanthropy. Those of us that watch closely have seen the movement for some time now.

    The Mayor is showing no concern for the tax paying business owners. The question is why? It’s a power struggle, unfortunately the change of guard is no better than the last.

    1. Civil war is a great way to put it- looks to me like the war is between Vision and COPE. Or, perhaps, they’re working together creating theatre for us?

    • Miguel on July 9, 2013 at 18:38
    • Reply

    The damage to this fine city that is being done by Robertson and his merry band of marxist radicals will be felt for decades to come.


    The political front for the Real IRA, look at the Canadian contact under links

    1. I believe that’s connected to Julian Ichim- one of the more dangerous/unstable seeming people in the local activist community:

  1. […] they can ask for a hand up too? This article is frustrating to me on multiple levels. This one: Activists, Anarchists, Arson, Political Theatre And Mayor Gregor Robertson's Peter Principle… | ge… Interesting look at how the hell we have gotten here and how these same core group of protesters […]

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