Jan 23/08: Governor General Michaelle Jean Dogged by Anti-Poverty Protestors at Vancouver Downtown East Side Tour ...
Governor General Michaelle Jean faced heckling and swearing
Wednesday from anti-poverty protesters who dogged her walk through
Vancouver's troubled Downtown Eastside neighbourhood.
Most of the angry words were directed at city councillor Elizabeth
Ball, who accompanied Jean, but some of the taunting and at least one
obscene swear word appeared directed at her.
The Queen's Canadian representative, who was closely surrounded by her
own security and a city police escort, smiled stiffly through the
two-block walk to a private meeting with Mayor Sam Sullivan.
Many residents of the downtrodden neighbourhood and activists are
angry at Sullivan and his governing party, who they say are focusing
on the 2010 Olympics while ignoring the poverty, drugs, violence and
lack of affordable housing in Canada's poorest postal code.
Jean, on a tour of British Columbia this week, knocked her schedule
off the rails with a 90-minute closed-door meeting inside the Downtown
Eastside Women's Centre, one of the few havens for female drug addicts
and prostitutes on the neighbourhood's Dickensian streets.
She emerged to say she found what she heard "very moving."
Men are normally barred from the centre - though Jean's husband and
some aides were allowed in. Sullivan was expected and protesters had
been waiting for him but he was instead meeting across town with his
counterparts from other major cities to discuss homelessness.
So they vented their anger on Ball as she led Jean on a brief walk
into neighbouring Chinatown.
Hecklers, some of them from the militant Anti-Poverty Committee,
taunted the civic politician and asked Jean whether she thought she
was getting an "unsanitized" view of the Downtown Eastside.
"Way to help out," shouted one man.
One welcomed Jean as "your f**king highness," and others chanted
"homes, not Games."
"The Governor General wasn't the main target," said Aaron Muirhead,
one of the handful of young protesters who trailed her walkabout.
"She's irrelevant as far as we're concerned."
Jean visited the Dr. Sun Yat-sen memorial garden, a walled oasis of
calm in the bustling downtown, where she met privately with Sullivan.
Protesters guessed he was there and stayed around to heckle him as he
Jean was scheduled to speak to the visiting big-city mayors and meet
with B.C. Order of Canada members as she continued her B.C. tour.