Prominent B.C. NDP member has no regrets about 'f*** the police' artwork
VANCOUVER -- Longtime B.C. NDP member Morgane Oger, who’s served as a vice-president of the party and had hoped to run in the snap election, has “no regrets” in buying and posing with a photo of graffiti reading “f*** the police.”
She’s prompted sharp criticism from the BC Police Union as a result.
Oger, who narrowly lost the riding of Vancouver-False Creek when she ran in the last provincial election and had tried to run again, posted a selfie on Instagram on Monday as she stood in front of a framed photograph of graffiti reading “f*** the” with the rest of the text cropped out. CTV News has obtained a photo of Oger posing with the entire photograph: it shows a stone wall where the phrase “f*** the police” is fully legible.
Her Instagram post has the caption, “Art is a window into society’s soul.”
“That photo really frames the sentiment of people who are on the receiving end of policing, not because police officers themselves are discriminatory, but because society actually still tolerates discrimination through its enforcement,” Oger told CTV News in an interview Wednesday morning.
“To me, it’s a snapshot into the voice of the dispossessed, people who feel law enforcement isn’t on their side -- and I hate to have to say it, but when I call police in Vancouver and they don’t know I’m Morgane Oger, the dreaded human rights activist, I don’t get any help. But when they know who I am, they come calling immediately and that’s not OK and that’s a major problem in our society."
Sources who saw a social media post of Oger with the entire photo tell CTV News they saved the image before it was deleted by artist Rob Lamoureux. On his Instagram account, Lamoureux posted an image June 20 of what appears to be the original photograph, which was then framed in the photo with Oger.
The president of the Vancouver and BC police unions had harsh words for the aspiring politician.
“It’s an offensive comment and it goes to being offensive to all the men and women that are working as police officers in this province in all the communities we serve,” said Ralph Kaisers. “The comment’s not going to be taken well by our members….there’s lots of good examples of the hard work our men and women do day in and day out in this province and for this to be coming from someone who wants to see election and potentially be in government is quite concerning.”
He says Vancouver police officers often send him anti-police vandalism, which they find upsetting.
“We work in a very stressful world during stressful times and this does not help and from a prominent person who wants to be in politics, and again it is particularly offensive because this someone you’d think would want to have positive dialogue,” said Kaisers. “If there’s concerns or issues that need to be addressed and getting to a better solution or a better way of how we do things, that’s got to come from dialogue and it should be positive dialogue and if your’e already starting with the mindset of ‘eff the police’, we’re quite certain there isn’t going to be much positive dialogue.”
Oger says she bought the photograph, which she believes was taken on the seawall, at an art auction put on by the Dr. Peter Foundation from a local, gay Metis artist and that it spoke to her, particularly in terms of the changes she thinks are necessary in policing.
“I’m firmly on the side of having law enforcement, I’m firmly on the side of having law enforcement doing what we ask them to do, which includes the difficult and dangerous business of dealing with people who cause us harm and I’ve personally dealt with police protection, I’ve personally been a recipient of police protection,” said Oger. “Individuals in the police forces overall are fantastic, wonderful people — but that one per cent, or half a per cent, or 10 per cent, whatever that number is, who act instinctively in a discriminatory way or refuse to act in the way we all understand should be done at that moment, it’s easy to say ‘they’re just people and people make mistakes.' As an institution, us, the taxpayers, the people who are protected and who give them an excuse to exist or reason to live as an organization, expect better of them as an institution.”
Oger has tried to hold political office federally as well, but was unsuccessful in winning the NDP’s nomination to run against long-time Liberal MP Hedy Fry in Vancouver-Centre in last year’s election.
Her website seeking the party’s nomination for Vancouver-False Creek includes pictures of the Oger with John Horgan, who distanced himself when asked about the message in the artwork.
“It’s certainly not my position,” said the NDP leader. “I know Morgane, I know her to be a passionate woman who’s focussed on increasing the well-being if people in vulnerable situations. She’s certainly entitled to her opinion, she’s not our candidate in Vancouver-False Creek.”
Oger’s biography describes her as a successful tech entrepreneur who builds software for robotics and has owned a business for 30 years, touts her experience as vice-president of the B.C. NDP until fall of 2019 and her role as a community advocate, notably as chair of Vancouver DPAC and Trans Alliance Society.
“A lot of us remember when the RCMP or municipal police departments kept down the LGBTQ2 community. It was illegal to be gay or transgender in Canada for a number of years and the people that enforced that were the Vancouver police or the RCMP or municipal police,” she said, pointing out that although things have improved, there is still much fear and distrust of police as a result.
“I have no regrets at all, this is nothing to be regretted and in fact, the reality is when there is a sentiment that exists in our society, it’s good to talk about it.”