Appeared in the North Shore News – July 20, 2012
WITHOUT hard figures, I suspect my readership among sharks (the animal variety) is sharply limited.
But, for any sharks poring over these words, be assured: My revulsion, earlier expressed, at the cruelty of slicing fins off sharks – to make a tasteless soup served mostly at Chinese celebrations like weddings – and dumping their helpless bodies back into the ocean was no idle spacefiller.
Not of municipal concern? That’s what North Vancouver City Coun. Pam Bookham, supported by Guy Heywood, snapped last month when Craig Keating moved a bylaw that would effectively ban shark fin soup in the city. Not a rare dispute: North Van City councils have a possibly proud tradition of vicious personal feuds and factional infighting. We in West Vancouver just shake our handsome heads and pour another martini, very dry.
Coquitlam and Port Moody would disagree with Bookham and Heywood. They’ve banned the soup.
The ban movement – driven, to their great credit, largely by ethnic, mostly young Chinese, like Claudia Li of Shark Truth – clearly troubles Metro politicians like Malcolm Brodie. He’s mayor of Richmond, Canada’s most ethnic Chinese city. Brodie “needs more information.”
Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang says Vancouver, Burnaby, and Richmond are currently discussing a regional ban. More effective, yes, but also more politically expedient: Share the pain. Resistance, probably quiet and at high economic and social levels (one photo shows a large jar of fins marked $750), is certain.
Here’s a fine irony: China itself, world’s largest market for shark fins, is “an emerging leader in shark conservation,” Humane Society International applauds, crediting the leadership of legislator Ding Liguo. Within three years, China’s State Council will stop serving the soup at all government functions. The Communist state clearly is kinder to sharks than to its human dissidents.
. . .
In my July 6 opus, subverted by haste to take an unforgivable holiday (which no journalist should ever, ever do) and by imperfect communications with aggrieved West Vancouver Police Department dispatcher “Whistle Blower,” I concluded the dispatchers’ impending move to E-Comm, the regional emergency communications centre, was initiated by the West Vancouver Police Board – probably squeezed from above by incrementalists sneaking toward a single Metro-wide police board.
To continue with this seamless web of logic, WVPD Chief Const. Peter Lepine had no choice; what manager of a bureaucracy willingly shrinks his fiefdom? Ever?
Perfect logic. Impeccable logic. Too bad it was wrong.
Another police officer, “Donny Brook”, said my logic failed because he believes that Chief Lepine’s 30 years with the RCMP – and his fewer than three with the WVPD – suggests his stronger allegiance is with the Mounties. He points out that Lepine’s wife and daughter are RCMP officers – well known at the station, sometimes mentioned by the chief himself, and arguably beside the point.
I asked the chief if he attributed the anger to just a small group’s sour grapes – 15 dispatchers, apparently all of them, signed a protest letter. He didn’t respond. (Note that dispatchers, members of the West Vancouver Municipal Employees’ Association, won’t lose pay, seniority or benefits when they join E-Comm, WVMEA business manager Bruce Scott verified. So it’s not a disguised union protest.)
Donny Brook admits to not being a happy camper at the cop shop, but he says he’s not alone.
Mayor and police board chair Michael Smith – who, complicating matters, was also away, boating to Haida Gwaii, when I wrote – verifies that the WVPD had mulled three options: Keeping the status quo, joining the RCMP in North Van in a North Shore Dispatch Centre, or joining E-Comm “as most other police and fire departments in the region have done.”
Lepine and his senior staff recommended option three. The board agreed. Cheapest but also best, Smith stated, because “we have two people on duty in our station, one on phones and one dispatching. Obviously, they can be overwhelmed in the event of a lot of calls.
“E-Comm has the capability to handle multiple calls and multiple situations as they have a large staff on duty at all times.”
Donny Brook is unconvinced blending West Van dispatchers into E-Comm’s will be much cheaper. Furthermore: “Let’s be honest, (West Van) is a bit of a unique community. I think it safe to say that citizens calling about their neighbour playing the piano too loudly, or (reporting) that their neighbour’s sprinklers are watering their lawn, will no longer be accepted as police calls. They will not receive a police response.
“Granted, these types of calls are not police-related,” he concedes. “However, it has been the expectation of West Vancouver residents for many years. It is one of the reasons people choose to live in West Vancouver. I can tell you first hand it is the reason some police officers choose to be police officers in West Vancouver.”
Another small chipping away of “quaint” West Van.
© Trevor Lautens, 2012