For the past few years I have ended my day with a neighbourhood walk. During last night’s walk I noticed a handwritten sign in someone’s window, the same window that five years earlier had a sign chastising Vancouver Canuck forward Todd Bertuzzi for suckering punching Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Moore during a hockey game at GM Place. Last night’s sign read: FREE SPEECH ZONE.
The referent, of course, is the recent attempt by British Columbia’s provincial government to allow municipal officials from Vancouver, Richmond and Whistler the right to enter homes and businesses on short notice and remove unauthorized or anti-Olympic signage. Those displaying such signs could be fined as much as $10,000 and jailed for six months.
As I continued my walk I recalled an earlier controversy regarding the Squamish Nation and their attempt to place billboards at the approaches of the Lions Gate, the Ironworkers Memorial and the Burrard Street Bridges, something they are legally permitted to do. That’s when the light went on – because the issue was not a native band placing billboards beside bridges but a native band having the right to licence that space to the Vancouver Olympic Committee, who would then sub-licence that space to Olympic sponsors. Or, if the British Columbia government continues to drag its feet on the treaty process, the Squamish Nation using that space as a site of protestation. Or, if indeed they intend to use that space as a site of protestation, the Vancouver Olympic Committee offering the Squamish Nation an obscene amount of money to prevent them from doing so.
Not sure whether the British Columbia government’s attempt to invade people’s homes and businesses is related to signage negotiations between the Squamish Nation and the Vancouver Olympic Committee, but given our province’s history, I would not be surprised. All of which is fodder for my own Olympic sign, a project I will continue to work on until the games open in February. So far the best I’ve come up is Vancouver 2012.