Former Vancouver NPA mayoral candidate condemns NPA director’s anti-homeless comments as ‘disgusting’ and ‘out of touch’
One of the board members of a right-wing Vancouver municipal party is under fire after encouraging residents to harass homeless people struggling with addiction.
Last month, local magazine Scout Vancouver spotted Non-Partisan Association board director Christopher Wilson in a private Facebook group, which is reportedly filming and shaming homeless people in downtown Vancouver, encouraging others to “start harassing” the homeless to give them the message that “they aren’t welcome to degrade our neighbourhoods.”
In response to a photo purporting to show homeless drug users on the streets of downtown Vancouver, Wilson wrote: “Let’s start harassing these low-lifes.”
“Honestly,” the NPA director continued, “they wanna deteriorate the quality of life in my neighbourhood, let’s ruin their fun.”
Another user asked: “How do you propose we harass them?”
“Speak up, say something,” Wilson replied. “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.”
Officials with Vancouver’s NPA party did not respond to multiple requests for comment from PressProgress about their board member’s remarks.
Shortly after PressProgress contacted the NPA, Wilson deactivated his Facebook account. Wilson also did not respond to requests for comment from PressProgress.
Ken Sim, who ran for mayor under the NPA banner in 2018, said he was disgusted by the former Rebel Media commentator turned NPA director’s statements about homeless drug users.
“I found them completely disgusting, out of touch, not empathetic at all,” Sim said. “These people aren’t low-lifes, they’re sons and daughters of people.”
— NPA Vancouver (@NPAVancouver) June 4, 2018
The NPA has faced internal turmoil in recent months following the election of a slate of far-right social conservatives to its board of directors, prompting public criticism and several resignations from within the municipal party’s own ranks.
Other new NPA board directors included candidates who ran in the 2018 municipal election with a party that railed against SOGI 123, an initiative designed to counter anti-LGBTQ bullying in BC schools.
A number of NPA councillors and former NPA candidates criticized the party’s new board last year, including Sim, 2018 council candidate Justin P. Goodrich, ex-councillor George Affleck and sitting councillor Sarah Kirkby-Yung.
Councillor Rebecca Bligh resigned from the NPA caucus last December shortly after the new board appointments.
As a result of what he sees as the party’s new direction, Sim recently told local press he plans to run in future municipal elections with a new party.
“I left the NPA for a few reasons, including the hard turn they made towards the far right,” Sim told PressProgress.
Despite some voices within the NPA attempting to distance themselves from the far-right elements that have taken over the party’s agenda, the recent shift follows a long record of opposing measures designed to support homeless people and tackle the city’s opioid crisis, including:
- Voting against a tax designed to help curb the city’s opioid crisis in 2016.
- Ousting sitting NPA mayor Philip Owen in 2002 because he pursued a harm-reduction strategy to tackle the city’s overdose crisis.
- Voting against the introduction of Vancouver’s Empty Homes Tax and regulations on short-term rentals.
Wilson, who left Rebel Media in December 2017, made national headlines following a heated exchange with federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, who questioned him for demeaning her with the sexist nickname “climate Barbie.”
Last year, the NPA director told Canadaland he had no regrets about his work for the far-right outlet: “I stand by everything I said. It’s all public record.”
Update: Following publication of this story, the NPA’s elected caucus released a statement signed by several city councillors and other municipal officials indicating that they “categorically denounce the statements made by Mr. Wilson.”
Statement from NPA Elected Caucus pic.twitter.com/TgyjwGRXaz
— Sarah Kirby-Yung 楊瑞蘭 (@sarahkirby_yung) September 3, 2020