Friday, December 18, 2009

UBC President Stephen Toope Snubs Million Dollar Poor at Christmas

Photo: Christmas Party takes place in background at UBC Learning Exchange on Downtown Eastside while reception staff continue to work

If Stephen Toope drops into the Learning Exchange when there is no media around, does anybody hear?

Probably not. So why bother dropping in.

UBC President Stephen Toope didn't show up at the Christmas party yesterday for the poor at the UBC Learning Exchange on the Downtown Eastside. And neither did the Director of the Learning Exchange, Margo Fryer, whose office is upstairs from the lobby where the party was held. And neither did most of the other 20 people employed full time by the Learning Exchange, a UBC storefront set up on Main St. to grab a share of the lucrative poverty industry.

When journalists from the major newspapers are invited to a Learning Exchange event that could come to the attention of current and prospective funders, Toope and Fryer show up. Last year Toope, who collects $576,000 annually in salary and perks, showed up to give a speech to a sea of camera flashes at the Anniversary of the opening of the Learning Exchange. And last month Fryer was yet again featured in a Vancouver Sun article about this enterprise which has a $2 million annual budget, an enterprise about which she says, "I got drawn in. I couldn't walk away." Priceless.

The Christmas Party was held the day after Welfare Wednesday, a day when Fryer and her staff would, like all povertarians, be aware that most of the poor would be out spending their welfare cheques and wouldn't show up.

P.S. Thanks to Downtown Eastsiders who sent photos.