Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What's wrong with downtown? Good Quest Inn

That was a play on words... get it? Quest Inn... question.

Sorry. I couldn't resist. The temptation was simply more than I could... never mind.

It seems Air Canada, or someone there, decided to make an election issue of the condition of things downtown. I don't really believe that there is any merit to their claim, but the real reasons A/C is leaving the Radisson has nothing to do with the realities of Winnipeg's downtown.
It really doesn't matter how much Stefano Grande tells you it's safe, nor how often Mayor Sam tells you the A/C decision is "wrong", going downtown is an adventure... and not always a good one. I won't even get into Selinger's lame assed response. Like a collective group of ostrich's...reminds me of a Foghorn Leghorn episode http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDDQaii0mzQ.
Instead of talking about the issues, they denied them. Tom Broadbeck stole a lot of my intended post by focusing correctly on the total lack of leadership. Seems no one really wants to "say" what the problem is.
Parking aside, it's tough not to get approached by someone looking for a smoke, or some "spare change". Those people I understand I'm gonna run into. I've seen them in other places, but no where as aggressive as here. LA, Rome, Venice, most of the people looking for "alms for the poor" are sitting in front of a very large ostentatious religious edifice, and are often prostrate with their eyes downcast. (well, maybe not in LA, where there is very little glamour in some areas). Not here in Winnipeg.
Here we have people who figure that a bus shelter is "theirs", that they are somehow entitled to whatever change I might have, and ask more than a few times.
Are they all from a particular identifiable group? Can't say. I can't say, because saying so would make me a racist, so I really can't say, because I can't be seen by my family and friends as a racist. That type of moniker is one that's hard to shake.
I can say that my wife, who works down town, has been afraid of some of the other "females" in Portage Place, seemingly picking fights over things like the sound of her high heels clicking, all the while talking far too loud, using the F bomb as if it was a necessary interjection to emphasize their superior intelligence, and walking four abreast, taking up as much of the walking area as possible.
Are they part of an identifiable group? Can't say... that'd be racist.
A guy who works for me off and on got mugged in Central Park a few days ago. They stole his tool bag, phone, and so on. Not happy with just taking his stuff, they laid a bit of a beating on him too. Can I tell you what identifiable group they belonged to? Nope... racist again. Doesn't matter that the victim is  PART of the identifiable group, if I say it, it's racist... cause I'm snow white. Even those called "apples" can't say, because they're also racist. (Apples are red on the outside, but white on the inside).
Does it matter that some people from an identifiable group refer to the St. Regis, Marlborough, The Quest Inn, and The Louis Riel (by them) as... wait for it... "Indian Palaces"?
Now I've done it. I've said it. It doesn't matter that it was told to me by a member of the identifiable group... they can say it, but I can't.
Now let's be clear, I have no issue with the members of the identifiable group, until one of them urinates in public. I'd have an issue with a turban wearing Sikh pissing against a mailbox too, but I've never actually witnessed a turban wearing Sikh pissing against a mail box. I'd have an issue with an Asian, (of any specific background... let's just lump them all together), verbally threatening people waiting for a bus, looking for "spare change", but it hasn't happened to me. Maybe it goes on all the time... I'm willing to be educated on the amount of aggressive Asian panhandlers there are downtown. I'd have a problem with Filipino's stumbling around publicly drunk, passing out in a dumpster, but again, if they are consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, they seem to be hiding it, 'cause I haven't actually seen them doing that.
Now that we know I'd have an issue with ANYBODY doing the sort of things listed, I don't think saying "I saw a (insert specific ethnic group here) being very inappropriate by (insert revolting actions here). I really think that person has some self respect issues, as well as a lack of realization of what being a part of society means.", is racist.
I am sympathetic. I try to be understanding of the many years of dysfunctional families, systemic substance abuse, and a complete lack of leadership from within their own "circle". That understanding doesn't negate the problems, nor does it excuse the personal choices made by the people in question. While I try to imagine the struggles from my "white bread" point of view, none of that changes the realities of Winnipeg's downtown.
I was in Calgary a few years ago, and while walking through an area of some "questionable repute", a man  rolled over onto his side, unzipped, and urinated on the grass next to where he was laying.
WRONG. That's BAD behaviour... the kind of thing your dog would get a rolled up newspaper across the nose for.
Why would we expect more from our dog than from other people?
This is not a post about "us" and "them"... it's a post about "us"... all of us... together as a big unit living in the same city, calling the same area downtown. As long as a few people, whatever their ethnicity, make others uncomfortable downtown, we can build whatever offices downtown, encourage condo development, build arenas and sports bars, but the EXPERIENCE of going there will be forever sullied if any one makes someone else feel unsafe. No we're not talking about just "being there" rather acting aggressively, asking for money and/or being publicly intoxicated
Without getting onto my own ideas on how to curb these problems, can we STOP calling people racist because we are unhappy with their actions?
I had said once before that we live next to a church that caters to a particular group. After a wake, there was a man who clearly had too much beer before the wake, and too much coffee at the wake. He came out and was talking far too loudly with his friends in front of our home. Without warning, he began to urinate on our boulevard as I watched incredulously.
"I'm taking a piss!" he yelled at me.
"I can see that" I said, "I'm just curious why you wouldn't use the washroom inside the church".
Does thinking this is inappropriate by this member of an identifiable group make me a racist?
If that's the way the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs defines a racist, I'd better get used to it... and those family members who happen to be a part of that identifiable group... I guess they'll just have to put up with the racist white guy at the Thanksgiving table this year... maybe I'll change for next year.


  1. Excellent post and the play on words made my day.

  2. Are you paying over $5 per pack of cigs? I'm buying my cigarettes over at Duty Free Depot and I save over 50% from cigarettes.