Jean Swanson has been one of Vancouver's most important social activists, working with End Legislated Poverty, serving as national chair of the National Organization of Poverty Organizations (NAPO) and once running for mayor of Vancouver. As a 25-year veteran of anti-poverty work, she examines 'poornography' in the language used by government, media and corporate clients in Poor-Bashing: The Politics of Exclusion (Between the Lines, 2000, $22.95), shortlisted for the VanCity Book Prize. The book charges that politicians such as Mike Harris of Ontario, Ralph Klein of Alberta and Prime Minister Jean Chretien did little to address the needs of Canada's poor. Swanson traces poor-bashing back to the French Poor Laws of the 1500s. She notes, according to Statistics Canada, the poorest 10% of the population own minus 0.4 of Canada's wealth (meaning they're collectively in debt) whereas the richest 10% own 17.5 of Canada's wealth.

[BCBW 2004]