Michael Barnholden, author of Reading the Riot Act: A Brief History of Rioting in Vancouver (Anvil Press 2005), is associate director of Humanities 101 at the University of British Columbia, member of the board of the Kootenay School of Writing, and managing editor of the literary magazine West Coast LINE.
I have to admit I was taken by surprise. When asked if there would be a riot after game 7 of the Stanley Cup final I said: “No, conditions just aren’t right, there’s not enough anger out there.” The anger I was referring to would be the anger directed at the police and the government, in short, the authorities. I was wrong. It seems there was no shortage of anger. But then, I also thought the Canucks would win the cup.
For me the question that remains is what is the source of the anger? I don’t buy the theory that losing a game results in such rage. The bad apple theory doesn’t hold water nor does mob mentality. Too many bad apples not enough mob. So where does the rage come from? Here’s my theory.
BC has just come through the most vicious ten year cycle of class warfare waged by the BC Liberal government under Gordon Campbell and the election of a new leader in the person of Christy Clark promises more of the same in a new style. What is the evidence?
100,000 children living in poverty
$7,800 for one scalped ticket to game 7 Stanley Cup Final
$7320 = annual income for single “employable” welfare recipient
2 billion dollars transferred from business to consumers through HST
$197.25 plus “handling charges” = face value of 1 playoff ticket for round four
$235 monthly support rate for single “employable” welfare recipient
$10,000,000 = Roberto Luongo’s annual salary
$1,000,000 = average house price in Vancouver
$375 shelter component for single “employable” welfare recipient
$18.17 an hour = estimated living wage in Vancouver
$8.75 = minimum wage in BC
Between 1989 and 2008, the richest 10% of BC’s families with children saw an average gain in their annual income of $84,713 or an astonishing increase of about 52%. Meanwhile the bottom 40% saw their average annual income drop by more than 4%, or an average loss of $6,909.
Further commentary from Michael Barnholden can be found in this week’s Megaphone.