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Poverty Olympics pinpoints social problems

The eyes of the world will be on Vancouver in 52 weeks for the 2010 Winter Olympics and Poverty Olympics.

Downtown Eastsiders staged the second annual tongue-in-cheek protest against “world class poverty in a world class city” at the Japanese Hall in Vancouver on Sunday. They threatened to do it again in a year if housing and living conditions for the province’s poorest don’t improve.

“Our governments say that B.C. is the best place on earth, well for those of you out there in the world who think Canada is a rich country, look again,” said co-organizer Wendy Pedersen of the Carnegie Community Action Project. “This is not the best place on earth. People in B.C. live in shocking poverty.”

The event began with a torch relay and ceremonial lighting of the poverty cauldron. Mascots Itchy the Bedbug, Creepy the Cockroach and Chew the Rat hosted competitions like “skating around poverty” with actors portraying Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Premier Gordon Campbell and “sweeping poverty aside” between mock VANOC and DTES curling teams.

“If governments made poverty and homelessness a priority like they make the Olympics a priority, they would end poverty and homelessness,” Pedersen said.

Bob Mackin writes for 24 hours and appears regularly on the Hook.

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