In an open letter to Vancouver Mayor and Council, a citizen has documented in detail what he says was hate speech perpetrated by two speakers against the elderly in the Public Hearing on June 23, 2016, which was for a proposed rezoning at 3365 Commercial Avenue (approved by Council on June 28). As Chair of the meeting, Mayor Gregor Robertson upheld the statements by the speakers and failed to stop or reprimand them.
Joseph Jones concludes his open letter to Mayor and Council, dated June 30, with a request for the following actions.
Actions Requested as Remedy
1. That public hearing chair Gregor Robertson issue a formal statement recognizing the serious nature and implications of this instance of failure to reprimand immediately the use of ageist language in Council proceedings.
2. That Council as part of the same formal statement offer specific assurance that its meeting chairs will exercise full vigilance in monitoring for ageist language in the future.
3. That Council initiate a standard brief protocol to announce, at the outset of every public hearing and at the outset of every potentially contentious public-speaker item at ordinary meetings, that speech disparaging persons under ANY of the hate speech categories — age, color, disability mental or physical, ethnic origin or ancestry, family status, marital status, national origin or place of origin, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation — will not be tolerated in any degree whatsoever.
Below are the opening lines of a post by Mr. Jones. Please see the full text on Eye on Norquay.
Gregor Robertson Upholds Hate Speaker
On 23 June 2016, while acting as chair of the public hearing on REZONING: 3365 Commercial Drive and 1695-1775 East 18th Avenue, Gregor Robertson upheld and validated a speaker who (1) uttered repeated descriptions of “elderly” persons with contempt (2) advocated discrimination against those persons as a class.
The first public hearing on REZONING: 3365 Commercial Drive and 1695-1775 East 18th Avenue, held on 24 May 2016, was “voided” due to unprecedented irregularities. At the 23 June 2016 second public hearing Mayor Gregor Robertson, while acting as chair, upheld a speaker who was demeaning the “elderly” as a group. Subsequent investigation and analysis of both the mainstream and the social media context reveal that what that speaker expressed was not incidental, nor was it an isolated attitude. About an hour after being validated by Robertson, the offending speaker declared on Twitter that older people “need to die off.” Subsequent Twitter comment included instances of applause for the offender, and aggressive personal challenges to and dismissals of my two at-the-time Twitter comments on the use of hate speech. Those two Twitter observations were not addressed to any individual other than Gregor Robertson. Two CBC interviews with the offending individual (of which there are written, video, and audio records), both before and after the public hearing incident, served to propagate the speaker’s use of ageist invective.