Skip to content
Join our Newsletter
Join our Newsletter

Letters Dec. 17: A slap in the face to farmers; vaccination in the 1800s a lifesaver

A farm is surrounded by floodwater as seen from a flyover of the flood damage in Abbotsford in November. JONATHAN HAYWARD, THE CANADIAN PRESS

A cruel slap in the face after a lifetime of work

My heart goes out to the farmers who lost everything in the Lower Mainland floods. The horror and grief over trapped and drowned animals cannot be quantified.

Forgive me for noticing that, when people lose their homes from wildfires, tornadoes or floods, they receive deserved sympathy and help from society.

When hardworking farmers and other honest people lose their homes due to the insane real estate situation, however, they are subject only to scorn and opprobrium.

The assumption is that we must be lazy and dysfunctional, and are not trusted with a kettle with which to boil our tea lest we burn the building down. We are regarded as the dregs of society.

At the end of a life of gruelling hard work, this is a cruel slap in the face.

Willi Boepple

Vaccination helped on the Prairies in 1837

Re: “How bad can it get? Our history tells us,” letter, Dec. 14.

In his letter, Hamar Foster tells us about how the smallpox epidemic of the early 1780s decimated the Indigenous populations on the west coast. I’ve just read an account of how that same wave hit the Canadian plains, and how another epidemic, 50 years later, was partly thwarted through vaccination.

Historian John Milloy in The Plains Cree: Trade, Diplomacy and War, 1790 to 1870 writes that smallpox epidemics in 1737 and in the early 1780s were devastating for the Cree of the Canadian Prairies. A subsequent plague, however, caused fewer fatalities, as Milloy explains:

The Cree were much more fortunate in the one epidemic that fell in the period between 1810 and 1850. By then the traders were no longer completely helpless, since they had some medical aid to offer.

In 1837 smallpox returned … . William Todd, master of Fort Pelly, was forewarned of its approach from the Missouri and worked hard to vaccinate all the Cree of that area. He even taught the procedure to some Indians and reported that one man “vaccinated his own family and about 20 of his connexions.”

Although there are no post journal references to programs of vaccination in other areas of the plains, J. Rae, the Arctic explorer, stated that “a gentleman at the Saskatchewan vaccinated all the Cree Indians that came in; and there was scarcely a single case occured [sic] among the tribe.”

In this manner the plague was confined to the Blackfoot and “principally the Assiniboine.”

The Cree seemed to have escaped with relatively few losses.

Brenda Robson

Love the trees, but skip the plastic

Re: “Let’s write to the trees to show we love them,” letter, Dec. 15.

The writer has a good and original idea, but “put the letters in a plastic bag”? The last thing we want is more plastic in the environment.

Just write the letters on unbleached paper and secure them in the tree the best you can. They won’t last very long, but nothing lasts forever (except plastic, maybe).

J.G. Miranda

With the trees, it’s the thought that counts

Re: “Let’s write to the trees to show we love them,” letter, Dec. 15.

Starting a movement to write love letters to trees is a novel idea, but I wonder if the trees would appreciate that some of them would have to give up their life in the papermaking process. The letters “placed inside a plastic bag and then tied around the trunk” would require fossil fuels to create the plastic bags.

Oh well, it’s the thought that counts!

Wayne Cox

So the idea is to love the trees to death?

Re: “Let’s write to the trees to show we love them,” letter, Dec. 15.

The writer credits Jack Knox with giving her the idea to write letters to the trees to express our love for them. Is this truly an act of love or a Machiavellian plot to destroy our forests?

In order to write a letter, we must first have a piece of paper. Paper is made from wood fibre. Wood fibre comes from trees. Therefore, in order to tell the trees how much we love them, we must, it seems, first kill them.

I never did completely trust Jack Knox!

Ron McAfee

Canada is first in the citizenship oath

Canadians in waiting learn this from page one of “Discover Canada,” the only official study guide for the citizenship test:

“In Canada we profess our loyalty to a person who represents all Canadians and not to a document such as a constitution, a banner such as a flag, or a geopolitical entity such as a country. In our constitutional monarchy, these elements are encompassed by the Sovereign. It is a remarkably simple yet powerful principle: Canada is personified by the Sovereign just as the Sovereign is personified by Canada.”

Citizenship applicants aged 18 to 54 are required of getting 15 correct answers out of 20 questions to be approved to attend a citizenship ceremony and be sworn as a citizen.

The oath is similar to the Oath of Allegiance sworn by the governor general, and lieutenant governors, federal, provincial, and municipal politicians, judges, members of the Canadian Forces and peace officers, so for some it is just the first time they will recite the oath.

Gerald W. Pash
Former citizenship judge

A lump of coal for Saanich taxpayers

Saanich taxpayers will pay about $600,000 in severance pay following the dismissal of the municipality’s chief administrative officer on Nov. 29.

The CAO salary in 2021 was $289,880. The premier of B.C. is currently paid $210,945.

Although the severance payout has not been finalized, the contract allows for two years of severance for dismissal without cause. The CAO is now eligible for severance of $579,760, according to a freedom of information request filed by Grumpy Taxpayer$.

Within the salary portion of the three-page contract, a so-called “exempt special allowance” of 10 days is granted for working extra hours. The allowance amounts to about $10,000 and is credited on Jan. 1 annually. Mayor Fred Haynes has said it was the collective will of council to go in a new direction, so again, what is the new direction that required a dismissal without cause of a senior executive?

More than two weeks after the dismissal, Haynes and council have yet to explain why there was this expensive “parting of ways.”

With 12 other neighbourhood municipalities on the South Island, our fractured governance is costing us a pretty penny for what benefit?

Stan Bartlett, vice-chair
Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria

Understand the role of the monarchy

Re: “Canada’s link to the monarchy might be tested,” editorial, Dec. 10.

The headline is somewhat inaccurate in describing Canada as simply having a “link” to the monarchy.

Canada’s identity as a constitutional monarchy is so much more than that: it is a fundamental part of our governmental system and our identity, and not something “other,” with which Canada has a mere link.

The editorial states that people (who, by the way? How many people were surveyed?) don’t support Charles as they do the Queen.

This is largely down to people’s ignorance of what Charles has done in his role as Prince of Wales, and an inability to look past events, such as Diana’s death, that have no bearing on his ability to be king.

This editorial could have been an opportunity to take a more hopeful and edifying stance on the succession, but instead merely speculated upon what Canada might want to see happen in the future.

The editorial does acknowledge the difficulty of changing the structure of Canada’s government, but seems too willing to entertain the idea of Canada becoming a republic.

Just because Charles is less popular than our current monarch does not in any way mean that the entire system of constitutional monarchy in Canada needs overhauling. We should encourage a better understanding among the public about the role our monarchy plays in Canada’s government.

Emily Hansen

Empathy training should be mandatory

Re: “Kids need empathy training in school so they don’t turn into ‘me first’ adults,” column, Dec. 5.

So very timely as the statistics are out and in bold print referring to the tragedy of domestic homicide and violence in general. Lawrie McFarlane’s pointed analogy of Margaret Mead’s theory of “helping others through difficulty” and “a civilized person is at his or her best when serving others” is historically undisputable.

No room there for “me first.”

He also informs that since 2000, 165,000 kids in BC, K-7 have participated in a Danish-based ideological empathy training program, through a project called Roots of Empathy, with proven results.

Let’s have this training mandatory in all our schools, K-12. Tax dollars be darned. They would, however, reduce over time as the need for health and social services would decrease.

This would result in happier, healthier productive citizens. What in the world must happen to see violence put to rest. Let’s be responsible, caring adults and support proven programming like this one.

Why not here? Indeed, why not here.

Maureen Marsh

Traffic problems on our side streets

Re: “Keep traffic on main thoroughfares,” letter, Dec. 14.

Hit the nail on the head, exactly. Why is this city creating far more traffic problems than there ever were before?

Good question.

Colleen Rhymer


• Email letters to:

• Mail: Letters to the editor, Times Colonist, 201-655 Tyee Rd., Victoria, B.C. V9A 6X5

• Submissions should be no more than 250 words; subject to editing for length and clarity. Provide your contact information; it will not be published. Avoid sending your letter as an email attachment.