January 2012 edition

Re: Hunter, Luton and Lucas booted off council, Dec 2011

Thank you for the article by David Broadland writing about Victoria City council electoral changes. Almost all of my friends and acquaintances here in Fairfield were unusually concerned with this last election. Nearly all wanted much more clarity and transparency from the City, particularly with respect to financial issues. Many of us want a Council that knows the difference between needs and wants. Canada’s rough times are far from over, so we must deal only with essential issues for the near future. 

Ron and Alexandra Stewart


One of the major bricks in the City’s platform to sell a new Johnson Street Bridge was that it needed to be seismically safe. But if Victorians were asked to vote tomorrow on which project is more pressing as far as the safety of the city goes, would it be a new bridge, or would it be a seismically safe Number One Fire Hall?

If the Blue Bridge collapses in a major quake as the City fears, or if the Bay Street Bridge—with its water and gas mains—suffers major damage, what would be the consequence if the fire hall is buried in rubble? Unfortunately, the question was not asked leading up to the bridge referendum.

I trust that the City will live up to its pledge to move the decommissioned rail bridge to Rock Bay, to become part of the waterfront walkway.

Dennis Robinson


Re: Breaking news on the yellow brick road to calamity, Dec 2011

What do I think? Journalism and activism go well together at a time of community, national, and global crisis. Particularly so when the activism is well considered versus off-the-cuff and for its own sake. I appreciate Rob Wipond for taking the time to send City council six pages of discussions and detailed suggestions for the City of Victoria’s Economic Development Strategy. His writing is always relevant and clear, and—in my opinion—it is always respectful and fair. I read his articles in Focus every issue and I read every issue of Focus cover to cover. I am grateful to the business people who advertise in the magazine and I will go out of my way to be their patron if/when possible. Public conversation in this city would be the poorer without Rob and the other Focus writers.

Julie Graham


Rob Wipond asks his readers to respond to the question: “Are we satisfied with the news media that we have?” That question is easy to answer: No. Using a detached, “objective” style of reporting, readers are led to believe that the truth is being represented without bias. But most readers are sophisticated enough to know that no reporting is without bias when media need corporate sponsorship in order to survive. The most honest reporting is done by publications that openly acknowledge their bias, and like-minded readers seek them out.

Rob Wipond is a reporter whose commitment to investigative reporting is at least locally recognized and appreciated. It is refreshing to read about the workings of local policy makers with some insight into the motivations that make them take the decisions they do. Rob has done this at the city council level, school board level, environmental advocacy level…And his voice makes a difference to the decisions that citizens make when choosing whether or not to vote for particular politicians or support particular environmental groups, or to be sceptical about mental illness treatments, or care protocols for the elderly, to name a few of the topics he has covered recently.

Rob doesn’t pretend “objectivity” but does a thorough job of interviewing a range of people in the know and researching documents to substantiate his claims. This kind of journalism motivates readers to want to learn more and to do our own investigations to come to our own conclusions. This is the ideal kind of reporting required in a truly functioning democracy and I applaud him for it. It is the kind of journalism that can be found in the Washington Post, the Manchester Guardian, and even occasionally in the Globe and Mail. I just hope we don’t lose Rob to one of these well-financed papers that can afford to print the complexities of truth once in a while.

Starla Anderson


We moved here from Edmonton 10 years ago. I used to work in the oilsands industry, where I tried to lend my expertise to green the industry from within. The fact that I’m here suggests how successful that initiative was. But you see, in Alberta, “left-necks” act versus talk.

Being a long-term supporter of the David Suzuki Foundation, I expected to find the environment, climate crisis and related issues to be the dominant concern or focus in Victoria. How wrong that assumption was!

Much of what I’ve heard from politicians at all levels of government sounds like regurgitated Kleinisms which are basically re-hashed Bush/Cheneyisms.

Yes, Mr Wipond, we definitely need activist-journalists like you. We also need to “work” from the inside, because standing outside with signs doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.

Garry Pigeon


Re: The poppy and the dove, Nov 2011

Thank you Trudy Duivenvoorden Mitic, for your comments about the militaristic aspects of Remembrance Day events in Canada. I haven’t worn a poppy for many years; instead I wear a small button that says, “Honour veterans...no more war.” As each Remembrance Day goes by, the celebrations seem to focus more on military routines and the “heroes” of war, which I find alarming. I usually attend the November 11 assembly at our local school, and although there is some acknowledgement of the importance of peace, most of the event centres around the speeches and marching-in of veterans and people from local military detachments.

For the past 15 years, during the week of November 11, I have spent several days reading stories about peace to all of the children in our elementary school. I keep thinking that as the years go by, maybe we will stop worshipping the uniforms, authority, and power of past wars, and instead focus on events that specifically promote peace. So far, that is just a dream—this year saw the biggest assembly yet at the military cairn in my community, with enough medals on uniforms to stock a war museum.

Susan Yates