Straight Talk

The Georgia Straight - - Contents -

STEVEN­SON HELPED FUND B.C. HIV PRO­GRAM

Van­cou­ver city coun­cil­lor Tim Steven­son will be in the spot­light on Wed­nes­day (May 23) when the City of Van­cou­ver raises flags at Van­cou­ver City Hall to des­ig­nate this as the Year of the Queer. (For more in­for­ma­tion, see page 9.) As the first openly gay church min­is­ter and cab­i­net min­is­ter (pro­vin­cial or fed­eral) in Canada, Steven­son has been a pi­o­neer in ad­vanc­ing the in­ter­ests of the LGBT com­mu­nity.

But some­times this has taken place be­hind the scenes. An ex­am­ple oc­curred af­ter he was nom­i­nated as the NDP pro­vin­cial can­di­date in Van­cou­ver-bur­rard in 1996. Steven­son told the Straight by phone that the party leader and premier, Glen Clark, phoned him up to say he would like to meet him for break­fast. Steven­son had never met Clark be­fore.

“He said ‘What do we need to get the gay vote? What would re­ally help us against [Gor­don] Camp­bell? It’s go­ing to be very close,’ ” Steven­son re­called.

He replied that gay men were spend­ing $10,000 per year on an an­tiretro­vi­ral treat­ment called AZT be­cause it wasn’t cov­ered by Phar­ma­care. Steven­son said he told Clark that this would be “huge”.

“He looked at me and said: ‘It’s that sim­ple?’ I said that’s a very big deal in our com­mu­nity,” Steven­son con­tin­ued. “He said, ‘Okay, if we win, we will put that on Phar­ma­care.’ ”

Clark fol­lowed up by hold­ing a news con­fer­ence with Steven­son at St. Paul’s Hos­pi­tal with the par­ents of Dr. Peter Jep­son-young, who had died of AIDS in 1992. Clark won the elec­tion and since then the B.C. gov­ern­ment has been fund­ing an­tiretro­vi­ral drugs and in­vest­ing mas­sive amounts of money into re­search, which has led to HIV be­ing con­verted into a chronic dis­ease.

“That’s where I re­ally learned a huge po­lit­i­cal les­son for my­self,” Steven­son said. “You make deals that firm things up. So I’ve op­er­ated like that, try­ing to work be­hind the scenes in or­der to make things hap­pen.”

At the 25th-an­niver­sary din­ner for Pos­i­tive Liv­ing B.C. in 2011, famed HIV doc­tor and re­searcher Julio Mon­taner gave credit to the city and the prov­ince for their sup­port.

“With­out them step­ping in and say­ing, ‘Yes, we’re go­ing to com­mit to this fight,’ there would have been no

St. Paul’s [B.C. Cen­tre for Ex­cel­lence in HIV/AIDS],” Mon­taner said. “There would have been no AIDS pro­gram. We would have been just like VGH or the UBC hos­pi­tal at the time. ‘You are on your own and God save you.’ Thanks to them, we stepped up to the plate.”

B.C. was the first prov­ince in Canada that vir­tu­ally elim­i­nated the trans­mis­sion of HIV from moth­ers to their chil­dren. B.C. drove down Hiv-trans­mis­sion rates through the B.C. cen­tre’s in­no­va­tive treat­men­tas-preven­tion ap­proach, which was later adopted by the gov­ern­ments of China, France, the United States, and Brazil. Count­less lives have been saved as a re­sult.

Steven­son said he never went run­ning around mak­ing a big is­sue about how he man­aged to get an­tiretro­vi­ral drugs funded by the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment—and what flowed from that ini­tial an­nounce­ment. “Peo­ple don’t know about these things,” he said.

> CHAR­LIE SMITH

BOARD MEM­BERS, COUN­CIL HOPE­FULS BOLT NPA

De­ser­tions have struck the board of Van­cou­ver’s old­est mu­nic­i­pal party.

The res­ig­na­tions fol­lowed the con­tro­ver­sial May 7 de­ci­sion of the Non­par­ti­san As­so­ci­a­tion’s board deny­ing NPA city coun­cil­lor Hec­tor Brem­ner the chance to stand for nom­i­na­tion as the party’s can­di­date for mayor.

NPA pres­i­dent Gre­gory Baker con­firmed that Sarah Wed­dell, Natasha Westover, and Krissy Van Loon have left the board.

Baker didn’t seem too con­cerned about the de­par­tures.

“It’s dis­ap­point­ing, I have to say, but at the same time, our board is 15 peo­ple right now, so it’s a big board,” Baker told the Straight in a phone in­ter­view. “We have…a lot of peo­ple that bring…valu­able skills to the or­ga­ni­za­tion. So…i’m con­fi­dent we still have good peo­ple here.”

Mean­while, two in­di­vid­u­als who pre­vi­ously ex­pressed in­ter­est in seek­ing NPA city-coun­cil nom­i­na­tions have with­drawn their ap­pli­ca­tions.

One is Adrian Crook, video-game con­sul­tant and au­thor of the 5 Kids 1 Condo par­ent­ing blog. Crook, who is a Brem­ner sup­porter, an­nounced through so­cial me­dia that he will still pur­sue run­ning for coun­cil but not with the NPA.

Scott de Lange Boom, a hous­ing ad­vo­cate, also de­clared through so­cial me­dia that he is no longer in­ter­ested in an NPA nom­i­na­tion and will look at op­tions.

The NPA board has ap­proved the ap­pli­ca­tions of park-board com­mis­sioner John Coupar, busi­ness­man Ken Sim, and fi­nan­cial an­a­lyst Glen Ch­er­nen to seek the party’s nom­i­na­tion for may­oral can­di­date on May 29.

Brem­ner pre­vi­ously in­di­cated to the Straight that he is not rul­ing out the pos­si­bil­ity of form­ing his own slate that may run out­side the NPA in the Oc­to­ber 20, 2018, civic elec­tion.

Brem­ner claimed that he had signed up more than 2,000 peo­ple for his now failed bid for the nom­i­na­tion. He said that they rep­re­sent more than half of the NPA’S mem­ber­ship.

Baker re­fused to say whether or not he wants Brem­ner and his sup­port­ers to stay with the NPA.

> CARLITO PABLO

Much of Van­cou­ver city coun­cil­lor Tim Steven­son’s work ad­vanc­ing the in­ter­ests of the LGBT com­mu­nity has taken place be­hind the scenes. Craig Takeuchi photo.

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