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Letters Jan. 14: Police, courts must act on illegal protests; dealing with an unvaccinated loved one

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Victoria police arrest Save Old Growth protesters at Douglas Street and Burnside Road on Monday. A letter-writer suggests police and the courts have a duty to act when faced with illegal protests. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Maximum damage and little sanction

Re: “Control blockades, or get more of them,” editorial, Jan. 12.

I write in full support of the editorial calling for a law-and-order response to the extremists who have blocked a major thoroughfare and have announced plans to do more of the same.

My only disagreement is with the editorial’s suggestion that the police would be accused of “harassment” if they arrived on scene, formally detained the blockaders and promptly escorted them to the safety of the sidewalk.

No serious person would make such a silly accusation.

If only all criminals were so helpful as to publicly announce the precise crimes they will soon commit, the approximate times and places they will commit them, and the overall intentions behind their plans.

Given that these blockades will sooner or later cause motor vehicle accidents — to say nothing of the cumulative societal toll of highway blockades — what will the justice ­system do about it?

Shall we wait until after innocent people are injured or killed, or after massive social and economic tolls have been extracted from us all (not something Victoria needs at the best of times, let alone current times), before bringing down the gavel?

I trust that the police will unblock the highways and perform quick arrests at future blockades, and pass along the evidence needed to obtain convictions for offences that carry maximum sentences in the multi-year range.

Will the Crown pursue convictions and sentences that will truly prevent or deter these dedicated extremists from carrying out their long-term plans? Will our judges impose those sentences?

Or will there be a de facto acquiescence, a series of ineffectual bail or probation terms that, even when methodically breached, will only result in yet more conditions, to be breached repeatedly as the ­law-abiding pay the price?

The blockaders expect the latter, and why shouldn’t they? They have done their homework. They have strategized the best ways to cause the most damage to society, for the ­longest possible time, with the least criminal sanction. They are steps ahead already.

To my friends at the Crown, and to the judiciary, with the utmost respect: It’s your move now. Victoria has your back.

Jared S.C. Faber, lawyer
Victoria

Political, business elites have failed us all

Re: “Control blockades, or get more of them,” editorial, Jan. 12.

Please don’t confound the issues; it is deceptive to throw in the anti-maskers. The reasons for a protest are important, despite the editorial’s assertion to the contrary.

The failure of government to protect the last few remaining ancient trees in the province has drawn protests from all over British Columbia. British Columbians overwhelmingly support a full moratorium.

The provincial government has shown zero leadership on this key public policy issue.

Its response has been to delay and then to deflect to the police, or the courts, or the First Peoples, or even the company doing the logging, but not to accept responsibility as the authority that issues the tree licences, collects royalties and manages the whole process.

The 1,100 arrested in the woods at Fairy Creek are among the most peaceful, yet committed protesters on Earth. The editorial slanders all of them.

The violence unleashed by ­militarized police in pursuit of ­corporate objectives ­compromising our futures is an absolute stain on all Canada. There needs to be a full ­public inquiry into the RCMP activities at Fairy Creek and in Wet’suwet’en ­territory.

The editorial is right: “These protesters are sure to be back, again and again….” And the reason is that our political institutions are failing us. We are in what the UN calls a Code Red Climate Emergency.

We have only a few short years to wean ourselves off fossil fuels. It may be too late. After the “heat dome,” wildfires and atmospheric rivers, many, particularly young people, are worried about “ecocide.”

So it would indeed be reasonable to expect more protests as political and business elites continue to fail us by pushing pipelines for bitumen and fracked natural gas.

I’ll be wearing my mask to the ­protests.

Terry Cormier
Victoria

Unleash sprinklers, if that’s what it takes

Re: “Control blockades, or get more of them,” editorial, Jan. 12.

Do not blame protesters for blocking roads, the blame lies squarely on ourselves for allowing their “industry” (for that’s what it is) to be completely unregulated. They dictate to everybody else what they deem legitimate.

Protesting is legal, just as walking your dog is, but you can’t just let your dog defecate on a public pathway or run off leash where ever you please; you have to respect other people’s rights.

Not so the protester who sets up shop with impunity — having a speakers’ corner, hanging a banner off an overhead or even wearing a sandwich board gets their message out (because that’s what they claim is their motive)

They have proved self-regulation doesn’t work, therefore it is society’s obligation to lay out clearly where and when they can exercise their legal rights — just like walking their dog.

But if a vehicle broke down, ­disrupting the morning commute, keeping the traffic moving is a priority and a tow truck would be dispatched immediately. The same principle should apply to protesters blocking the roads.

No fuss, no negotiating, not even arresting them (and tying up the police and courts imposing fines that might never be paid).

Just do like W.A.C. Bennett did 50 years ago when the Sons of ­Freedom pitched their wall tents on the legislative lawn. He ordered the sprinklers be turned on. Simple, ­non-violent and very effective. It worked then and it can work now.

Peter M. Clarke
Victoria

Don’t let a minority ruin it for the rest

Why are we allowing 15 per cent of the population to dictate how we are dealing with vaccinations and trying to get ahead of this virus?

Those people are preventing the rest of the population from trying to get on with their lives in some form of normalcy.

If we require proof of ­vaccination in restaurants, then why are we ­allowing non-vaccinated people to board the ferries?

At the airport, we need to show proof of vaccinations to board a flight, but why are they not preventing non-vaccinated people from entering the airports?

Shouldn’t we be checking the ­vaccination status of people entering the terminal instead of letting them possibly infect others because of their non-vaxxed status?

We require people to show proof of vaccination at public events, so why not check before people go into shopping malls and other indoor venues? We should be making it difficult for non-vaxxed people so that we can finally move on from this pandemic.

It is their right not to get vaccinated, but it is not their right to endanger everyone else.

In the same vein, why are we allowing a handful or people to close our roads and prevent people that have jobs and livelihoods and other commitments they need to do?

Protesters claim it is their right to protest, but why can’t they ­protest at the side of the roads and let the ­people driving by read their ­messages on their signs?

Surely, they can’t think that by enraging the public that their ­message will be heard and accepted and acted upon.

Let’s not let the small minority dictate to the majority. We all have rights.

Let’s try to move forward and get back to a new normal.

Ernie Kuemmel
Oak Bay

Why an ultimatum will not work

Re: “Waiting for leaders to lead on COVID,” letter, Jan. 12.

That’s not how leadership works. An ultimatum is the absolute last course of action for a leader.

And ultimatums only work when those you lead trust and respect you.

It doesn’t matter what the issue is, when leaders lie, take ownership of nothing, blame others for all their mistakes, result to petty name-calling, bully, and ooze sanctimony, well, it’s pretty tough to trust and respect them.

An ultimatum will only make things worse.

John Herlaar
Saanich

How best to deal with the unvaccinated?

Living with an unvaccinated family member has created a heartbreaking and fearful dynamic. I wonder how many families are dealing with this?

To be clear, I love my family member with all my heart. However, even simple discussion turns to rage within seconds and with verbal attacks, I walk away.

I have not asked this person to get vaccinated as I know that is futile. I did ask, however, that if any of us develop symptoms, that we wear masks in common areas, use gloves to handle food prep and distance as much as possible.

Here is the response I got:

Media and newspapers are creating a population of people with “COVID psychosis” made worse by the jab. I have severe covid psychosis, according to this person, and masking or handwashing is helpful, but not really effective. It is false media and science wanting to control us and I should listen to the true ­science and informed doctors on the internet — not local news, the Times Colonist or Dr. Bonnie Henry.

How do other people cope with their unvaccinated loved ones and try to maintain the relationship? I keep focusing on love and then fear comes along for the ride.

If getting vaccinated, frequent hand washing, physical ­distancing and using hand sanitizer is ­“psychosis,” I guess I have it. Help me understand.

Holly Westlund
Duncan

Even Dr. Bonnie Henry has to blow off steam

Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, ­British Columbians have been fortunate to have the calm, rational and deliberate leadership of Dr. Bonnie Henry.

My question though, after almost two years of constant pressure, is this: Does she ever get freaky, knock back a few tequilas and air-guitar the heck out of Foreigner’s Hot Blooded?

If ever there was anyone who deserved to blow off some steam with a great trashy tune and some Jose Cuervo, it is our beloved Dr. B! Just saying.

Len Dafoe
Nanoose Bay

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