May 2012 edition

Re: Digging for copper in the Sistine Chapel, March 2012

Environmental gobbledegook continues to run about as often as the logging trucks up and down the Sooke Road.

In the review of Wade Davis’ The Sacred Headwaters, we read that it’s not “just another photo essay” about a landscape “about to be pulverised;” we hear about communities being “ripped apart” by globalization; about a narrative being not about “mines or no mines,” but rather about “how many, where, and to whose benefit;” that we should be standing as one in a chorus of “These places are too valuable to destroy.”

Locations and causes have varied, but the invective and affected outrage remain as endless and ineffective as ever. It’s time for someone in the province to start an annual publication of images: No accompanying essays or moralizing, and none needed—just an archive of photos and identified locations of industrial wastelands, out there every year for the world to see. The title? Wrecked BC.

Brian Nimeroski


Re: The bridge money hole gets deeper, April 2012

Maybe it’s an old-fashioned idea, but wouldn’t you think that in exchange for the scale of our commitment to pay some 100 million dollars for a bridge, the least we could expect from our council is a vote approaching unanimity, rather than a polarity of 5:4. We have to rise above those politics.

Roger W. Smeeth


Re: Robocalls and the petrostate, April 2012

I have no idea how long it took for Briony Penn to locate sources, compile and verify her data, but who could possibly fail to be grateful for such insight into the disaster our federal political system has become? It’s always a pleasure to see real investigative journalism. To my old eyes, it looks like Briony Penn hit one out of the park. 

Avery Moore


After his 2006 Tory victory, PM Stephen Harper met key Republican strategist and “Moral Majority” term creator Paul Weyrich in Washington. This is the man who stated in 1980: “They want everybody to vote [meaning the Democratic Party and their allied organizations]. I don’t want everybody to vote…As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections, quite candidly, goes up as the voting populace goes down.” Google “I don’t want everybody to vote (Goo Goo).” 

“Goo Goo” to Weyrich meant “The good governance syndrome”—something that had to be aborted. A US religious right leader, Weyrich instructed his disciples not to speak with Canadian journalists. He didn’t want us to know how deeply Harper was involved in their movement. 

President Obama knew precisely how to respond to the Weyrich forces. Search “How to win an election: Go knock on doors.” That doesn’t mean President Obama has to knock. That means us. By the tens of thousands. Freedom rides to Conservative ridings. And please support the Council of Canadians’ “Democracy 24-7” campaign to launch robocall-fraud lawsuits to overturn election results in seven ridings.

Larry Wartel


Re: A crisis of youthful poverty, April 2012

I have just been appointed to the Coalition to End Homelessness, and the article on homeless youth really hit a nerve with me.

Some years ago, as part of the homeless count, I interviewed a group of young people at a drop-in centre in a downtown church basement, and found a mixed bag of circumstances in their stories.

Many had fled a violent or sexual situation at home, some had been thrown out for drug use, and some, sadly, had been told that they were worthless and weren’t wanted anymore. Imagine what hearing that does for your confidence and self worth?

Remarkably, I found an intelligent group of young people who had a selection of survival techniques, and most importantly, looked after and supported one another. They shared friendly “couch surfing” addresses, camped together in our parks, shared food and drink, and had a drop-in centre to go to that was a welcome refuge from the streets. One thing everyone agreed on: shelters were a last resort, and everyone had a bad experience to recount. We really need supportive housing for all of our homeless population; shelters are just a band-aid solution and only suitable for a segment of our homeless.

One interview I had still haunts me. A lovely 13-year-old girl was prostituting herself for food and safe shelter after escaping a sexually abusive home life and was scared of going to a shelter. She did not know anywhere to go for help.

These kids are slipping through our bureaucratic agencies and are very vulnerable existing on the streets. We need to find adequate resources to help them before they become hardened veterans of the street and beyond our reach.

Paul Gerrard, Saanich councillor


Re: Forced drugging of seniors still increasing, April 2012

Thanks to Rob Wipond and Focus for this article on the drugging of seniors in care facilities. I remember only too well some incidents of using the Mental Health Act to circumvent more humane options. Thanks also to Jane Sterk for a strong stand on this issue.

Joanna Wilkinson


Re: The re-colonization of Canada

A hundred years ago, Lenin famously predicted that the capitalists would sell him the rope with which he would hang them. Of course, he couldn’t make his prediction come true.

Fast forward 100 years. Today China is making most of the stuff we buy, while Canadian jobs are disappearing. Yet Canada is perfectly willing to ship the Chinese the energy they need to undermine our manufacturing sector, even at the risk of major marine disasters in our waters. In fact, we actually hand the Chinese control of our resources.

Somewhere, Lenin’s ghost must be having a good laugh.

Helmut Beierbeck


Re: April edition…

By page 19 of your recent issue, I was feeling severely challenged. Though not religious, I could only stare out the kitchen window at spring burgeoning forth and whisper, “God help us all, because we are certainly incapable of helping ourselves, or one another.” 

Starting with Richard’s journey, to the bridge fiasco, followed by hundreds of youths living on the streets, to robocalls and the petrostate, it seems that being an incarcerated, doped-up-on-antipsychotic-drugs senior isn’t such a bad alternative. And, being just one heart attack away from breaking through to the other side, seems almost preferable to witnessing landslide, conservative policies eroding everything once valued and respected as Canadian. 

Even Trudy’s column, generally a pleasant reprieve, couldn’t save me. Now even die-hard optimists are seeing what the rest of us have been predicting and resisting for years. Thank you Focus, for your vigilance. 

Jana Kalina


Focus’ investigative reporting earns subscribers

I’d like to express my long overdue appreciation and gratitude for the good work you and your staff have been doing. Specifically, I am more than impressed by your in-depth investigative reporting on many important issues, many of which are either glossed over, “balanced” to the point of meaninglessness, or totally ignored by other media outlets in Victoria. I have wasted much time grumbling about the paucity of substantive journalism coming out of the TC, Monday Mag, and even the poor old budget-crippled CBC, but here you are, right under my nose, doing the real and necessary work. Thanks for doggedly sticking with vital stories over time rather than letting them sink onto oblivion to be replaced with the latest ephemeral scandal of the day. Herewith my subscription cheque…

Marty Hykin


Keep up the good work on reporting on the Johnson Street bridge “comedy.” Sadly, our tax dollars are being paid (wasted) for this fiasco.

Why didn’t they just rebuild the bridge with new material? The old design seemed to be adequate, even though it was never looked after.

 Here is my subscription...

Adrian & Joyce Harrison


It is with many many thanks that we support Focus magazine with a subscription and we challenge every person who picks up this magazine to also put their support behind this vital community resource.

The quality of local, community-based investigative journalism that Focus has been providing over the years has been outstanding. Every month we look forward to reading the new issue to catch up on community events, in-depth stories and amusing editorials.

Nothing in the world is free, and it’s time that we all start realizing the true value of everything that we consume, including media, and start being responsible consumers.

In supporting Focus, we also hope that the magazine can continue to be made available at no cost for members of our community who cannot afford a subscription and for those new readers who may become future subscribers.

Kate & Josh Craig