June 2012 edition

Drawing a line in the sand

Thank you for the excellent editorial about Enbridge. You listed all the sad details so well—the suspicious Federal Government accusing those concerned with being “radicals” and “extremists” (as a pensioner, I don’t think I fall into that category); the dangerous channel the tankers will travel down; the sincere concerns of the First Nations; the rush to send our resources overseas; the fact that Enbridge apparently contributed a $32,000 donation to the BC Liberals; and the insulting impression that the Prime Minister has already decided that the pipeline and tankers will happen regardless of thousands of Canada’s citizens giving testimony at the hearings.

Maureen Applewhaite


Re: Forced drugging of seniors still increasing

I was very surprised to learn in Rob Wipond’s recent column that I am a “dogged campaigner against civil rights.”

I assume Mr Wipond has come to this conclusion because of my advocacy efforts on behalf of my daughter, who lives with a schizoaffective disorder, and others like her who live with psychotic illnesses.

I wonder if Mr Wipond knows any of the many people who actually have schizophrenia and have been released from the horrors of psychosis through the use of antipsychotic medications. Since many people experiencing psychosis have a neurobiologically-based inability to understand that they are ill, they have no reason to seek or even agree to treatment. This is the factor that leads so many people with psychotic illnesses to experience homelessness, victimization, and incarceration.

Our daughter has a very healthy acceptance of her quirky brain and although she’s enjoyed great stability for a long time, she knows her illness could again plunge her into psychosis. Like her many friends who live with these illnesses, she remembers the horrors of these experiences; they all count on their families to do everything possible to ensure that they are never left to deteriorate in an untreated psychosis. Mr Wipond wants to ensure that, if my daughter becomes psychotic again, the legal system protects her right “to choose” to remain tormented by delusions, hallucinations, and an inability to function.

I’m always happy when the public wants to genuinely understand the situation of the one percent of the population who live with schizophrenia and the two percent of the population who live with bipolar disorder and the families who support them. However, Mr Wipond’s ideas about help for this population lead to greater human misery.

I’m sorry that Mr Wipond linked the situation of people like my daughter to that of senior citizens who are inappropriately and dangerously medicated for the convenience of care staff.


Susan Inman



Rob Wipond replies: 

I must admit I’m somewhat mystified by Ms Inman’s complaint that I described her as being against civil rights protections for people diagnosed with mental illnesses, when in the same letter she criticizes me for implying her daughter’s civil rights should be protected.

In any case, yes, I’ve personally known many people who’ve been labelled “schizophrenic,” including people close to me. I, however, do not presume that this experience automatically defers upon me sufficient authority to dictate their fates through force of law.

And there is no factual evidence to support the claim that such people have a “neurobiologically-based inability to understand that they are ill.” As the Research Agenda for the upcoming Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders clearly states, “Despite many proposed candidates, not one laboratory marker has been found to be specific in identifying any of the DSM-defined syndromes...” Although, in light of this, perhaps it’s not surprising that sometimes patients don’t detect a neurological disease that their psychiatrist is simply intuiting is there.

Meanwhile, if antipsychotics actually “released” most people from lives of “horror,” of course, we would only ever need to forcibly treat most people once. However, even after we’ve saved them in this fashion repeatedly, curiously, many people try again and again to get as far away as possible from these drugs.

And unfortunately it is not I, but the BC Mental Health Act itself which fails to provide any distinctions whatsoever as to when or for whom forced treatment with these chemical restraints is appropriate or inappropriate.


Truth and reconciliation a long road

Thank you to Focus and Craig Spence for this great overview. I too was honoured to attend the two days at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Victoria. It was a very humbling experience. It was also uplifting in the hope of moving forward and where do we go from here? I am a non-Aboriginal person of British heritage. Since the conference, I am constantly reminded of things I need to heal in myself, as I found myself judging people today for the sins of the past. I very much want to be part of the healing process.

First I want to know how the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations might want to approach this process? I’m sowing some seeds in the hope that some will be nurtured into fruition. I have booked The Church of Truth (Community of Conscious Living) at 111 Superior Street for “Oneness Wednesdays” in October. One of our members suggested we invite the First Nations to start the process by telling us about the property we are on. I would appreciate feedback.

Joanna Wilkinson

In virtually all the reporting on hearings by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into residential school survivors, scant mention has been made of those responsible. In what was an otherwise fact-packed article in your May issue, the only reference to the guilty was a brief allusion to a couple of priests.

The time is long past when we should have exposed those responsible for the literal rape and torture of children, namely the priesthood of various denominations who used their power, position and sexual degeneracy to inflict those sickening crimes.

Their collective behaviour also belies the old adage that, “Belief in Christianity makes you a better person,” since the perpetrators belonged to a segment of society that was regarded as holier than the rest. What happened to First Nations youth on Vancouver Island was repeated not only nation-wide but throughout the continent and probably everywhere else on the planet where the black-clad servants of God were allowed to rape, mutilate, flog and commit other heinous crimes against innocent, defenceless boys and girls.

There may have been some who did not participate in these activities, but if they ever voiced their protest, it was mostly ignored, and it was certainly not acted upon until generations of native people had suffered abominably.

Jim Skinner


The bridge project hits an iceberg

Now that Victoria’s landmark Blue Bridge has been so ignominiously denied its genuine heritage status and is, in fact, currently in the throes of its destruction, I propose a name for the new (yet unpriced) structure to go up in its place: “Fortin’s Folly” would seem apt. The narrows of the Gorge it spans should henceforth be known as Jackass Gulch.

Jeremy Hespeler-Boultbee


Open letter to Victoria City Councillors

Hopefully the Point Hope Shipyard land sale will not go through. I am against it, as are many others. If council decides otherwise, here are some thoughts:

When I was on the Parks advisory committee the policy was, when a waterfront lot came on the market, the City would try to buy it or negotiate to subdivide so that a linear park right-of-way was established on shore. The remaining lot could then be sold without the waterfront. The City should always retain the rights to waterfront land even if it means subdividing that strip.

Any sale consideration should be put on the open market. For instance, with the Ralmax unsolicited offer (if you decide to sell), the City should advertise and open the bidding to others to establish a market price. In this case there may even be a new landlord out there who would charge Ralmax higher, market-driven lease-rates.

When I read about the Ralmax offer I thought: So the City maxed out its credit, spent its savings, indebted itself with the Johnson Street Bridge replacement, overpaid its management (even though they are doing a lousy job by getting us into this financial mess and building an exorbitant infrastructure deficit), and now, to top it all off, it is selling off its assets to stay afloat. This appears to be an act of desperation.

Andrew Laks


Investigation wins subscribers

A long-time fan of Focus, I’ve often thought of putting pen to paper to praise your publication for its investigative reporting, thoughtful and entertaining perspectives, and interesting profiles of a wide range of creative and engaged local folk. Now, finally, I’ve been prompted to get off my duff by a number of your recent new subscribers. As Focus provides an invaluable service to Victoria and beyond, I am happy to enclose my subscription to help you keep on truckin’.

Patrick Wolfe


Thank you so much for giving us an independent media source. You cover the stories that are actually news and of us, the citizens of Victoria, BC and Canada. The articles are well researched and well written. We usually enjoy them all and become better informed because of it.

Marilyn and Murray Goode


Here’s my subscription and a little extra for your good work. What an array of splendid columnists you have! When Russ Francis left Monday Magazine in 2007, I felt Victoria had lost its only effective investigative journalist (and that in a magazine where journalists’ work was discredited because of the ads for ladies and gents in the sex trade). 

But along came Focus. Hooray! Its investigative work is excellent and all the more likely to be effective as you sustain it for a useful extent.

Noel Parker-Jervis


Thank you so much for being that voice of reason amidst the clamour. I truly enjoy your magazine and gladly subscribe.

Susan Schaefer