Letters July 23: Subs a waste of money; we ignore the bravery of police officers

Naval nonsense beneath the surface

Re: “Navy launches push to replace sub fleet,” July 15.

One wonders into whose dumpster will the Canadian government dive next to obtain more subs for our navy.

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Back in 1998, instead of paying us to haul away their trash, the Brits charged a small fortune, more than $700 million, to dump their sometimes submersible scrap metal in our navy’s lap. Our naval brass, having spent billions of dollars to keep those afloat, now want to spend more to replace them.

Back then the Navy’s answer as to why we needed submarines was that they were required to protect our shores and to stop drug smugglers. Seriously, who is going to attack us? The United States? China? Russia? We couldn’t stop them even with functioning subs. Smugglers?

If the British con cans were reliable enough to go out to sea, how would a 15-knot sub catch a 30-knot speedboat?

A submarine is only a weapon if it is “invisible.” Nuclear subs qualify as they can stay submerged until their food supply runs out — could be months. Our “tin cans” if they can get away from the dock, have to surface for a breath of air every few hours.

The ability to stay totally submerged is even more important when operating in the Arctic. The “enemy” subs can travel beneath the ice while ours can only watch them disappear. At a cost of not much more than a certain senator’s expense account, Canada could develop our own submersible and, just like the Avro Arrow was in the air, it would be better than anything on or beneath the waves.

The British discards have only one redeeming feature. When ordered silent, they are. Nuclear subs are not. Their reactors leak noise regardless of orders.

I was told by a retired U.S. skipper that their navy needs silent “enemies” for their nuclear subs to practise locating targets during their war games. Our diesel-electric submarines, if they can ever be trusted to submerge, fit that requirement.

We’ve paid dearly to be U.S. navy targets.

Al Vitols

Make the submarines a tourist attraction

The topic of the Maritime Museum has recently been discussed by several readers. I would like to add another idea to this discussion.

First, it is evident that the Maritime Museum should be easily accessible to tourists and near the water. Therefore, ideally that would be in the area of the Inner Harbour/Government Street/Wharf Street.

In addition, as observed in other countries, former ships of the Canadian Navy might be useful as an attraction. In this context, the Canadian Navy has recently remarked that new submarines might be necessary.

If and when these materialize, could the museum and the city ask for the donation of an old submarine so that it can be permanently moored and installed near the new Maritime Museum?

As a museum piece for visits and tourism it would, I am sure, be a splendid attraction both for its technology as well as for its living conditions inside.

This may well add to the invigoration of tourism of the inner city.

Hermann Helmuth

Police deserve praise, not criticism

The job of a police officer in our society is increasingly difficult, yet the vast majority of them leave for work with the purpose of making our lives safe, and the knowledge that they may not be returning to their own family that night.

The number of times police have risked their lives (diving into waters to save drowning victims, running into burning buildings, racing to the scene of horrific accidents and tragedies, and yes, apprehending dangerous and violent individuals) are too numerous to adequately describe.

All of the time realizing that if in these critical moments their actions are deemed too aggressive or not rapid enough, they will be blamed.

I have known several police officers (the earliest being a high school classmate who joined the RCMP soon after finishing high school) and they have all been highly motivated individuals with earnest desires to help people. Fortunately, the exceptions to this are rare in Canada and hopefully will remain so.

Recently, the RCMP have been criticized for their role in the death of a man in Campbell River. It is understandable that family and friends of someone who has died will be grieving, but if news reports are accurate, the individual who died was hardly innocent of blame himself.

There is an ongoing investigation, as there should be, but what has been revealed is that this was a 38-year-old man with previous weapons offences (including restricted firearms) who had breached his sentence provisions, and evaded police attempts to arrest him not once, but twice that fateful day.

In the final encounter he was armed with a knife with which he attacked and killed a police service dog, and injured its police handler. This is a shocking level of violence, which goes unmentioned by family and friends.

This is the same police force that lost Const. Sarah Beckett to a drunk driver in 2016, and Const. Heidi Stevenson to the Nova Scotia mass killer last year, and four members to a shooter near Mayerthorpe, Alta., in 2005, and on and on.

And my high school friend, Bill Green? He was killed in the line of duty in his third year of service as an RCMP constable in 1970. Let us be a little quicker to praise the police for their unsung heroic efforts.

Tim Relf

RCMP reform needs to be an election issue

After each RCMP killing, we are reassured that it is being “investigated.” But no one is accountable.

There is no deeply felt apology or regret for the unnecessary loss of life — more for a dog’s. Nothing changes. The undeclared war on Indigenous people and others rages on at an increasing rate.

Our police are supposedly trained in de-escalation. But we see exceedingly little evidence.

In the U.K., Iceland, Norway, New Zealand and many other countries, police are not routinely armed. All have armed units when situations require them.

Those nations use de-escalation on a daily basis. And it works. Why don’t we hire trainers from these countries? Why not overhaul the system? Something is seriously, fatally wrong with it.

There is a growing divide between police and normal people. I know good citizens who are scared to death of police.

Citizens are increasingly seen as criminals deserving of injury or death. We hear of no consequences for officers who kill; no changes in protocols, no talk of reform within the RCMP.

So-called “wellness checks” have become infamous. It is well past time for big change. What kind of person would be attracted to careers in “law enforcement” these days?

One survey of British police found 82 per cent preferred not to be armed on duty. They felt carrying guns would make them less approachable, and therefore negatively affect their ability to do their jobs.

Deep reform of the RCMP should be an election issue. There’s been too much killing of innocent people. Enough!

Grace Golightly

Shopping around for a doctor

For a second week, patients in Sidney without a family doctor must “shop around” in other districts, or go to the emergency ward at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital, for a simple prescription renewal. This is one symptom of a failed public health system.

Around 18 per cent, or 900,000 people in British Columbia, have no access to primary health care. How could this happen in a G8 country?

A simple study of B.C. demographics would illustrate that “baby-boomers,” along with their doctors, are retiring. This leads to a higher demand on shrinking medical assets.

If we had true public servants with integrity and foresight, proactive policy reaching beyond the next election cycle would ensure continuity of care for all.

Unfortunately this is not the case, and we are forced to play catch-up, which will be far more expensive in the long run.

Graeme Gardiner

Consider access with new library location

I am heartened to see that Victoria city council is looking into updating the central branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library.

I think one of the most important considerations should be nearness to a bus stop. The present location is within a few blocks of many downtown bus routes, but those few blocks might as well be a few kilometres for anyone with mobility issues.

Even with ramps, the courtyard surrounding the central branch is too far for people coping with fatigue, pain, weakness or other disabilities.

A new location is needed, with easy and frequent bus access. (Also lots of covered bicycle parking! Looking at you sxʷeŋxʷəŋ təŋəxʷ James Bay Branch!)

Sandra Doherty

West Saanich Road needs another light

Daily, a thousand drivers and myself create a stream of traffic on curvy West Saanich Road. Between the traffic light at Interurban Road and the light at Keating Cross Road, many kilometres away, there are no traffic lights.

Therefore no break in the flow of cars and trucks. It’s a very dangerous stretch!

Especially so where cars on Spartan Road and on Cedar Lake Road, with its grammar school, attempt to cross or turn on West Saanich. I’ve witnessed many near-accidents and a few crashes at the site.

Rattled drivers nervously wait for a break — some miss. A traffic light at that corner would be a simple overdue answer.

Beck Peacock

Better terminology needed to be cool

So let me get this straight: After years of being ridiculed for my collection of fanny packs I could have, instead, been a cool trendsetter if I had simply called them a mini cross-body shoulder sling everywhere bag.

Bill Carere

Can’t be selective about free speech

Re: “Residential schools letter was racist and derisive,” letter, July 23.

Protecting free speech is important.

What the letter-writer forgets, in her effort to stifle opinion, is that free speech only for people who share your point of view isn’t free speech at all.

Thomas Ambler


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