MLA Mayencourt gets another (political) black eye Print
Justice News
Thursday, 10 March 2005 07:23

MLA Mayencourt gets another (political) black eye

This is not the first confrontation between Mayencourt and a beggar. According to The Westender, Mayencourt was chased and ended up locking himself in his car to avoid a man who pursued the MLA after Mayencourt flashed some bills in front of him.

MLA gets political black eye

By Allen Garr

The truth is finally out about Vancouver-Burrard Liberal MLA Lorne Mayencourt, not that rumours haven't been swirling about ever since the incident. Ten days ago the Safe Streets Act crusader got popped in the chops when he tried to "apprehend" an allegedly aggressive panhandler.

Not long after, Mayencourt turned up on the evening news on quite another matter sporting a nasty cut under his right eye. That's when the rumours started. There was the suggestion that Mayencourt actually pursued the beggar with the solid left hook for several blocks through the West End before the man turned around and decked him.

Explanations from the Vancouver police this week confirmed at least a portion of the story. Mayencourt told one reporter he dialed 911 four times-imagine what that did for the cops' abysmal response time-then went ahead and tried to nab the guy on his own.

I'm trying to imagine that happening. Mayencourt does not have what you would call a commanding physical presence. I don't know how big the other guy was or how much the MLA was in his face at the time. There are rumours that Mayencourt was less than diplomatic in expressing his displeasure at the beggar's alleged conduct. And it was when they were toe to toe if not exactly chin to chin that Mayencourt got slugged and his glasses broken.

Police warned the public not to engage in this kind of vigilante action. "It doesn't make sense to be confronting these individuals. If you're fearful of them or they are making threatening remarks or gestures, just walk away," Const. Howard Chow told the Province.

That could be good advice to the panhandler involved, too. He was probably thinking that what we really need is legislation to protect people from aggressive MLAs.

This is not the first confrontation between Mayencourt and a beggar. According to The Westender, Mayencourt was chased and ended up locking himself in his car to avoid a man who pursued the MLA after Mayencourt flashed some bills in front of him.

What we know is that a good chunk of the people on the streets who are homeless are also mentally ill and frequently drug addicts. They've been turned out of institutions or simply never had the social supports to keep them warm, fed and out of trouble.

Among them, according to cops and city staff I've talked with, are those who could be described as "aggressive panhandlers." And there are no more than a handful in the whole city who exhibit this behaviour.

Mayencourt disputes all this. A couple of years ago, he spent a few nights living rough and getting attacked and robbed while he was at it. Now he considers himself an expert.

Last November, he was flogging his bill to penalize beggars and squeegee kids at a meeting organized by the Fraser Institute. He insisted then that homeless people and those who are mentally ill do not panhandle. Panhandlers all have homes, "somewhere to sleep," according to our one-person clean-up squad.

And get this: he told the Fraser Institute crowd he knows just what the government can do if these people refuse to pay the fines that will be levied against them for their aggressive behavior. Withhold their driver's license. Don't issue them medical cards. That should stop them.

Aside from making a fool of himself and turning himself into a target, Mayencourt may believe he is diverting attention from his government's policies that have contributed to doubling the numbers of homeless and increasing the panhandling in the city. Thanks, Lorne.

More than likely, the intolerance he is promoting is creating problems for him in his own riding. He would find more support if, rather than aggressively pursuing beggars through the streets, he just turned the other cheek.

http://www.vancourier.com/issues05/032205/opinion/032205op1.html

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 March 2005 07:23