Letters to the editor

Focus Readers, May 2015

Petrostate clampdown

Activist Ruth Miller is not too far off the mark when, in Judith Lavoie’s April article, she compares Harper and the Conservative government’s behaviour to Hitler’s and his Nazis.

Bill C-51, combined with C-13, C-44 and C-639, will allow the Conservatives, and successive governments, to ignore the Canadian Constitution and Charter rights, and they will have the right to bypass the courts on all surveillance decisions. The passage of these bills effectively legalizes a totalitarian dictatorship not unlike that found in East Germany before reunification and in Germany under Hitler.

If Harper is allowed to continue with his plan to disrupt and criminalize dissent, democracy in Canada will cease to exist. Voting will become more of a sham than it already is.

However, comparing Harper to Hitler is problematic. Today, Harper would never get away with an overt eco-class pogrom or sending those interfering with his goal of turning Canada into a petro-super power off to prison camps and gas chambers.

The truth is there’s no need to do that; those measures are already in place. Conservative austerity measures are prison camps without guards and razor wire fences. Continuous cutbacks to healthcare, education, childcare and all of the social services that a prosperous and healthy society requires effectively enslaves and imprisons the working poor.

There’s also no need for gas chambers. Air pollution, most of which comes from burning fossil fuels, kills about 7 million people worldwide every year. And as long as tar sands output continues to increase, the number of deaths directly attributable to fossil fuels can only increase.

The quandary facing voters isn’t as simple as strategic voting to ensure there is not another Harper majority government; the problem is voting to ensure we see an end to business as usual in a carbon-based economy. 

Ken Dwernychuk


I am writing in response to Judith Lavoie’s  “Petrostate clampdown”(Focus, April 2015). I would like to suggest that a positive and proactive approach to the Harper agenda, which is fascist at its core, is to expose it through litigation as an intentional deception. That Dr Judy Wood could file a Qui Tam lawsuit against the US National Institute of Standards and Technology for science fraud, because she is a scientist, is the empirical evidence required to establish in court that the war on terror is, by association, also void ab initio (lacked validity from the start).

Canadian lawyers could, in a Qui Tam lawsuit, collectively represent the approximately 15 million Canadian voters who are unwilling to support the Harper agenda. Such a lawsuit could expose the various intentional deceptions of the Harrper Conservatives and restore the inherently honest nature and conduct of our parliamentary democracy to what it was always meant to be. 

John C. H. Rykert


The fox and the chickens

Damn fine journalism, David! Your coverage of the Johnson Street Bridge Replacement Project has been dogged, incisive and revelatory. I encourage you or your Focus colleagues on your behalf to seek recognition, of which you are most worthy, via the Jack Webster Awards and/or the Western Magazine Awards. I’m pretty sure regular readers of Focus would heartily support such a step.

Patrick Wolfe


Portraying race on stage

After reading Monica Prendergast’s diplomatic article regarding portraying race on stage, I felt compelled to write and offer some additional comments. 

Playwright August Wilson’s position is as weak as the argument for continuing to fly the rebel “stars and bars” in the southern United States. Playwrights should not be compelled to comply with historical accuracy that ensures that “white culture” is not denied its own history. If this were a valid position Germany would still be flying the swastika. What regulatory body would be established to administer such folly? 

Alternatively, we could continue to question the validity of material that demeans others. If we do not, we run the risk of more of the ching, chang cutesy depictions of oriental people that we see in Gilbert and Sullivan. This is and always will be offensive.

What harm is done by using the “colour-blind casting” method described by Ms Prendergast? 

Society should continue to look askance at the practice of changing the skin colour of actors, whatever the intended objective. Readers may remember the era of the “Polish joke.” I certainly do. Bias is always hurtful whatever its guise.

Tom Marcinkiewicz, MA, CHRM 


Mayor/Chair Jensen, sewage & deer

Was it just me or did other Focus readers see a pattern of dominance or even arrogance in both “At a Glance” stories in the April issue? In the March issue about the Oak Bay deer cull, the stubbornness of Mayor Jensen was fairly evident. His way or the highway when it came to options on the cull. Reading between the lines of the April edition about the CRD and the sewage treatment issue it seems once again that dominance by Chair Jensen reared its ugly head. It is truly unfortunate when a chair (or mayor) thinks he is above everyone else and can hijack a meeting just to prove a point—or in the case of the deer cull, massage his ego. This is not the sort of democracy that residents in the CRD want. 

But a storm was a-brewin—and yesterday it hit when Jensen stepped down as chair of the sewage committee. This begs the question of whether he did it voluntarily or was persuaded. There was obvious dissension in the ranks. The discussion about gasification, as described in Focus, was seemingly unethical. Of course Mayor Jensen commented on it like any lawyer would, making himself the real motivator—having done all the heavy work—but leaving the minor items to Mayor Lisa Helps. All that heavy work gleaned out of the few sewage committee meetings he attended!

Peter Austin


Your “Processing sewage treatment in the CRD” piece in the April issue of Focus regarding the shenanigans of the chair of the CRD sewage project must have raised the ire of more than just the CRD directors. After believing that he was the only person capable of leading this project he appointed himself chair of the sewage committee. Quite a feat when one considers that having attended so few meetings on this topic he would consider himself expert enough to take the helm.

Now, and not because he was pressured to do so (he claims), he suddenly steps down and hands the reins to Mayor Helps, stating that he completed the bulk of the work on this project—again pretty impressive considering his attendance record—and can leave the tidying up to one of his underlings. Was he forced to step down? Good question, but one which we may never truly know. It will be interesting to see if he will be re-elected as chair of the CRD. I don’t think it will take the CRD directors long to answer that one.

C.J. Wilson


BC’s expensive fish farms

After reading with great interest in the April edition eight letters to the editor, especially those praising Leslie Campbell’s wonderful editorial against the Oak Bay deer cull (March 2015), I was astounded to read James D. Anderson’s letter in defence of salmon fish farms. 

The premise seems to be since we can’t possibly live without eating fish, and because of his perceived terrific economic value of fish farms, instead of criticizing the industry, we should praise and accept it, hallelujah. 

Mr Anderson is the author of British Columbia’s Magnificent Parks: The First 100 Years, which I believe is used as a text in many schools throughout the province. 

As someone who appreciates the natural beauty of BC, how can Mr Anderson then ignore the immense destruction of every ecosystem and habitat where fish farms exist, the health risks to everyone—on land and in the ocean—who eats them, and the terrible impact on wild salmon stocks: all overruled, to his way of thinking, by the almighty dollar? 

Perhaps it is related to a more colonial, patriarchal, and archaic point of view, which is: Provincial parks are Crown, not First Nations’ land; therefore, fish farms, wherever they’re built, are merely a part of the extraction of BC resources for economic purposes, which ultimately enrich the Province, Canada, and the Crown.

I can’t remember the last time a restaurant where I dined offered farmed fish on their menu. Hundreds of restaurants, supermarkets and groceries across North America participate in Ocean Wise and similar programs which support locally-caught, wild and sustainable fish and their suppliers. 

In recent years, millions of people around the world, out of need or by choice, are changing their diets. 

We seek real food which is local, sustainable, organic and non-GMO. No pesticides, chemicals, or preservatives. Through the exchange of ideas and information, we are discovering alternative and truly healthy sources of protein, vitamins and minerals. As the global supply of wild fish dwindle, it is our duty to protect them and allow them to re-establish themselves, not as stock for human consumption, but as fellow creatures with roles to play within an ecosystem.

For more information about the ISO virus and sea lice killing our wild salmon, and the toxic feed, drugs and chemicals fed to farmed fish, as well as the impact they are having on the BC coastal rainforest and First Nations people, please check out mercola.com (Dr Joseph Mercola) and the websites of Alexandra Morton, the David Suzuki Foundation, and Ocean Wise. 

The State of Alaska allows only the farming of mussels, oysters, clams and shrimp. Alaska and Washington State are against BC farmed fish. Norway, who created the industry with all of its problems, is in the process of ending its own fish farms as the fishing industry catches fish which are sick and deformed.

Mr Anderson is correct when he writes “salmon farming…has achieved remarkable results in just three decades…” It certainly is remarkable. Just ask anyone who’s caught wild salmon near a fish farm. Have you seen wild salmon with tumours, lice, viruses, and deformities? It is sad, terrible, unforgettable and unforgivable.  

Helene Harrison


Policing costs untouchable?

I find it interesting that there is no debate in the media regarding police costs and the lack of transparency with the City’s budget. I participated in the Victoria online feedback on the budget and was amazed that the $40-odd million police budget was exempt from comment. There was a short explanation that really didn’t make any sense to me.

Why is everything else up for discussion on a line-by-line basis but we don’t get to comment on the police cost and their capital budgets?

Policing seems to have its own rules and only insiders get to participate.

Paul Best 


Open letter to BC’s MLAs

A very important study has been completed replicating one done some years ago, confirming that exposure to low, even very low, levels of radiofrequency radiation (RFR) can promote cancer tumours. What is especially significant is that this study was done by Dr Alex Lerchl who for years supported the view that there was no evidence of harm unless there was heating of the cells—the same belief that Health Canada holds and [just retired] BC Provincial Health Officer Dr Perry Kendall supported.

Please read about this amazing study and turnaround in Microwave News, Dr Louis Slesin’s well-respected journal.

The evidence has been mounting and independent scientists for years have been warning that the increasing RFR pollution can potentially cause harm that is irreversible. DNA can be altered, serious biological/health effects can result, with children and those with impaired immune systems being especially vulnerable.

Despite this, our government and bureaucrats continue to allow, even mandate, increased exposure in our homes by wireless smart meters and in our schools with wifi. There is no justification for use of wireless technology (except corporate profit) because wired technology, in addition to being safer, is faster, carries more data, is more secure from hacking, and, in the long run, is cheaper because constant upgrades are not required and it requires less maintenance.

I ask each of you to read the article in Microwave News, review the study, and consider the question: Why is this unsafe, unnecessary technology being forced upon British Columbians? Then, please, support the health of your constituents by demanding that precautionary actions be taken by replacement of wireless devices with wired ones. 

Sharon Noble


Orca recovery plan needed

Researchers tell us that endangered resident orcas are expending more energy searching for less salmon that are of poorer quality. They tell us that noise pollution from commercial shipping and navy vessels is causing the whales stress. Meanwhile, the orcas are no longer able to move freely within the inshore waters without the near constant stalking of the whale watching paparazzi.

These convoys of high speed, noisy, ‘chaser boats’ are emerging from ports throughout the Salish Sea to become the orcas’ constant companions. This activity can completely disrupt the ability of both resident and transient orcas to rest and/or coordinate and execute their feeding strategies, and no doubt causes them a great deal of stress. 

Though operators may have the highest level of integrity and respect for the welfare of these magnificent creatures, the cumulative effects of their industry is not improving the habitat or the wellbeing of an endangered species. Nor has nearly a century of industrial fishing of herring within Georgia Strait.

We humans, who claim to love the whales, have diminished the vitality of their inshore marine environment and habitat in ways we can’t quantify or even imagine. We are way past need for an effective orca recovery strategy.  

Allan Crow