Thursday, December 25, 2008

Has Jim Sinclair been Naughty or Nice?

On Christmas Eve at 5 p.m. labour unions hosted their annual Christmas dinner at the Martime Labour Hall in East Vancouver. The dinner was advertised on a poster at Carnegie Center as being for the "less fortunate", but everybody who showed up was welcomed.

The hall was full, and a special City bus repeatedly circled back to the Downtown Eastside to transport more people to the dinner.

The dinner consisted of turkey, dressing, gravy, a mixture of corn and carrots, cranberries, mashed potatoes, and a bun. People donating their Christmas Eve time to dish up food from the steam trays were warm and friendly, exuding Christmas spirit -- not a grouch among them. Volunteers were walking around the tables in the hall offering people pumpkin or apple pie for dessert, and coffee, pop or juice to drink.

A few people brought plastic containers to take an extra dinner home. The servers willingly filled them up. The first thing they ran out of was dressing.

Santa turned up too, with gifts for children. And there was live music too, although one guy eating dinner thought the singer ruined John Lennon's Christmas song. "He should give silence a chance."

There was also a clothing room with donated clothing.

The line-up into the dinner wasn't as long as last year, which according to Downtown Eastsiders was the case with other free Christmas dinners on the Downtown Eastside. That could be the reason many adults leaving the Maritime Hall after dinner were given whole pumpkin or apple pies to take home, along with the usual bag of groceries containing a couple of large potatoes, two large carrots, and a can of baked beans.

Jim Sinclair, President of the BC Federation of Labour, was there as he is every year, wearing a Santa hat. Sinclair looked thinner than last year, less paunchy. He was enthusiastically serving food from a steam tray along with union elves. (He is fourth from the left in the top photo.) He later walked around the hall and chatted up the volunteers. Sinclair didn't chat Santa up though, so he never got asked whether he's been naughty or nice. You be the judge: Evidence-tampering in CUPE police complaint


Anonymous said...

I wonder why the decrease... Could it be due to snow? I cannot imagine the demand is actually less since given the economy, there is greater demand at the food bank and less donation too.

Dag said...

It could be that more people are working this year than last and prefer to eat with closer companions than those who get bussed in for an hour. Or, hate to think, it could be there are more crack-addicts, those who won't take a free meal because it takes away from the time they could be smoking up in door-ways. Then again, it could be many were simply snowed in, the street clearing being at a minimum, perhaps due to the city facing some enormous payments to cover the recent and further upcoming CUPE increases.

Regardless, it's nice to read of the genuine decency of those who volunteered their time on Christmas eve to feed those who can't manage to feed themselves. That must come from some innate decency on the part of the volunteers.

reliable sources said...

In an earlier version of this post, I wrote, "There are never tv cameras at the Labour Christmas dinner, as there are at the free Christmas dinners at the Salvation Army and the Union Gospel Mission (although I heard last year that Union Gospel now gives people a choice as to whether they wish to sit at a table where they will be filmed.)"

I've deleted that claim since Audrey Laferriere, who ran for Vancouver City Council this year on the homelessness issue, refuted it. Audrey left a comment on my Salvation Army post saying that she saw a CTV camera at the Maritime Labour Hall dinner on Christmas Eve and that she saw a man tell the cameraman that he wanted to be on television.