People experiencing homelessness were given a burger and allegedly $50 cash for attending a protest organized by a Kelowna City Council candidate.
According to Daniel Joseph, on Sept. 12, he went to Kelowna’s popular “Tent City” located along the Rail Trail, to rally a group of people to protest housing affordability.
“We’re going to go down to city hall and raise hell,” said Joseph.
Joseph told Capital News that he did promise burgers at the protest. He maintains that he did not promise money, while at the tent city, in an effort to entice people to protest.
However, he said that perhaps, those helping him recruit residents of Kelowna’s “Tent City” to be protesters, were saying that participants would be given a cash “donation” for their attendance.
Joseph did confirm that at the protest he did in fact hand out $50 in cash to participants who he deemed in need of the money, he did not say the total amount that was given out. He claimed to have handed out about 70 burgers to people who walked down to city hall, from the encampment, to protest.
He said that he was not coercing people experiencing homelessness with money and food, but was instead giving to those in need.
He also said that he did not give burgers or money to those who were not a part of the protest.
Community advocate Heather Friesen spoke to Capital News after visiting the Tent City on Sept. 13.
“They totally exploited people for the purpose of winning an election,” said Friesen. “It’s shady as f**k.”
Following the interview, Joseph submitted a written statement to Capital News.
“The fact that you may believe - like some do - that you can simply throw money at people and they’ll do what you want, is also wrong. I encourage you, or any of the other candidates, to go and just offer people that are experiencing homelessness anywhere in Kelowna money and see what your response is. As someone who has been, and engages constantly with people experiencing homelessness, I not only am afforded a certain level of respect from people that are suffering but have a certain duty to speak up for them. This demonstration was not wrong at all, this demonstration was the least we could do for our most vulnerable. Spinning it into anything else is just an easy way to turn a blind eye to the plight of the people living in homelessness, and the neighbours and businesses that have to deal with it.”
Capital News is actively seeking comments from the residents of the encampment that were a part of the protest.