Pivot Legal Society - Equality Lifts Everyone

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Libby Davies on the Pivot Podcast

For more than two years now, Pivot has been releasing a podcast on Rabble and on our own website. Most of the time, these weekly updates cover recent Pivot actions or news related to our organization. Recently, though, we had the idea to branch out with our podcasts a bit -- to speak to people outside of Pivot about their perspective on our work and how it intersects with our own. We came up with a short list of activists, politicians and academics who would fit the bill.

One of the first people to respond, and someone we though would be ideal for the podcast, was Vancouver East MP Libby Davies. The riding encompasses all of the Downtown Eastside has been represented by Ms. Davies since 1997, so she is well-versed in the issues facing the residents. Moreover, many of Pivot's campaign issues -- drug policy, housing and sex work, to name a few -- are regulated at the federal level in some way.

Ms. Davies agreed to take some time out of her schedule to chat with us on Wednesday, so I headed down to her constituency office. We had a fairly candid discussion on Parliament, human rights, housing and sex work, some of the highlights of which are below.

On adding "social condition" as a grounds for discrimination to the Canadian Human Rights Code and the Criminal Code:

"The reality in our society is that, and this is something we're familiar with in the Downtown Eastside is that your "social condition" mostly derived from living in poverty can be a source of enormous discrimination...it's very important to realize people are facing that reality on a daily basis, on a survival basis, so to have those legislative changes would be a great improvement."

On having a national housing strategy:

"I've been involved in housing issues for many, many years and never have I seen a coalition where the Real Estate board was teamed up with the co-operative housing federation and the tenant's rights coalition for a metro alliance on affordable housing. That's something new, and it should tell us something about how big this issue is. We will make it a priority to bring the bill forward and have it debated again."

On decriminalizing sex work:

"There's a real battle on this issue. It's one of the most contentious issues in Parliament, even within my own caucus. It's one of those things where you're seen to be way out there, and sometimes it's a bit uncomfortable, but I believe, as much as I believe anything, that at the end of the day we're on the right side of this issue and that decriminalization is the way to go."

If there's someone you'd like to see featured on the Pivot podcast, feel free to send your ideas to me at laura.drake.pivot [at] gmail.com