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Letters July 6: Bike lanes are up with the best; realities of Victoria's homeless population

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Cyclists pedal across the Johnson Street Bridge using the Pandora bike lanes. A letter-writer says Victoria’s bike lanes are among the best he has ever used. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

High praise for Victoria’s network of bike lanes

I was recently visiting friends in Victoria and spent some time on my bike. In the past, I have enjoyed using the Galloping Goose and Lochside trails.

This time, I decided to stay within the city. I was greatly impressed with the network of bike lanes that crisscrossed the downtown streets. I’ve cycled in several Canadian cities and Victoria is certainly up there with the best.

Even when I was temporarily lost, there was always a path ahead or around the corner to explore. Great work, Victoria!

Don Orloff
Winnipeg

Show more respect for those lacking homes

Re: “We need to stop calling people ‘bums’ or ‘undesirables,’ ” column, July 3.

I applaud Trevor Hancock for educating the majority of us about the plight of the homeless population.

As a resident of Victoria, I am fully aware of the people living on the streets and loitering outside shops hoping for some compassion. I have never felt bothered or threatened by any of them, and in fact, on the occasions that I have shared something from my grocery bag, I have always received gratitude and felt a sense of what it is to be human.

I moved here from California’s Bay Area a few years ago, and I was there for about 20 years. There, the homeless population is more varied.

Specifically, in the areas around San Francisco and Oakland, the people there tended to be more verbally abusive and threatening to the public. Perhaps it says something about the cultures of the two countries but for me, the difference is astounding.

Like I often tell my American friends or people here, the first time I offered food to someone outside London Drugs, he said, “God bless you darlin’.”

We should definitely feel more compassion and understanding that no one chooses to live on the streets.

Nancy Chiao
Victoria

Behaviours a factor in the words we use

Re: “We need to stop calling people ‘bums’ or ‘undesirables,’” column, July 3.

Trevor Hancock says that describing certain “street people” in such terrible, nasty, evil, abhorrent terms as “bums” is dehumanizing — in fact it’s an attempt to arouse hatred — and “may indeed be hate speech.”

Really!

He fails to acknowledge what might be an underlying cause for using such descriptive terms, by those who perhaps have had it with the likes of those (individuals, agencies, etc.) bent on enabling the behaviours of Hancock’s defendants.

We live in a society where we each have some basic expectations of one another, expectations that foster respect, and even empathy, for our fellow human beings, for each other.

However, when a certain cohort abuses our public parks, leaves their discarded trash for the public to pick up, endangers the public (including children) with their discarded needles and drug paraphernalia, panhandles aggressively, blocks downtown sidewalks, relieves themselves in public, intimidates pedestrians, vandalizes public and private property (etc., etc.), has not that cohort transgressed the threshold of basic societal expectations?

Does Hancock allow that perhaps, just perhaps, such behaviours are a factor in the choice of vocabulary used by certain letter-writers (and others) to describe certain street people and their undesirable behaviours?

Yet he wishes to silence the letter-writers? Uh-huh.

Gordon Zawaski
Parksville

We’ve come a long way, thanks to the Charter

Re: “Individual rights have come to supersede communal needs,” column, July 3.

It is important that the TC publishes different perspectives of the travails in our society. Individual rights versus “societal rights” has become the issue du jour for many commentators who wail at the transgressions of so many protesters. Lawrie McFarlane is a case in point.

I was struck by his comment: “The point is that in many of these incidents, law-enforcement authorities stood by and did nothing.”

This armchair quarterbacking is not only disrespectful of officers involved and police chiefs but is also not mindful of how police were used in the past to beat and subjugate protesters and trade unionists at the behest of the elite and wealthy.

The progress made as a result of the Charter of Rights cannot be cast aside as the result of the mewling of the entitled, inconvenienced by the upset to their perfect lives by protesters of any kind, including those involved in labour disputes.

Law enforcement is not the purview of critics and remains in the hands of trained and knowledgeable officers and their leaders. No more busted heads and tragedies of misuse of power by police is a direct result of the Charter. Improvements can be made.

We’ve come a long way, and that must be remembered before any commentary suggesting that cops are to blame.

Max Miller
Saanich

Charter has not helped individual Canadians

Re: “Individual rights have come to supersede communal needs,” column, July 3.

Lawrie McFarlane makes a number of assertions that warrant scrutiny.

He claims in reference to the Charter that “nowhere in the original Constitution Act — our founding document — were those freedoms explicitly laid out.”

This is somewhat misleading. They are in fact contained in two pillars set forth in the British North America Act preamble, the phrase that Canada is founded on the principles of British Parliamentary democracy and the POGG (Peace, Order and Good Government) power.

These two pillars are the bedrock of the case law, conventions and doctrines that have made us a haven of democracy with millennial safeguards dating back to the Magna Carta and the envy of the world.

McFarlane’s description of the Charter as a temple of individual entitlement begs the further question: Has the Charter of Rights actually expanded individual rights as he claims? Let’s try a three-part litmus test of the individual rights we enjoy as citizens:

Are Canadian citizens free to draw and publish a cartoon depicting Mohammed?

Am I free as a Canadian citizen to publicly assert that gender is biological?

Could I safely mount a citizen’s campaign to restore Matthew Begbie’s statue in front of the New Westminster courts as a Tsilhqot’in speaker (which he was) and defender of the law?

And, to examine the other side of the conundrum, has our much-vaunted Charter of Rights and Freedoms protected individuals against government?

How is it that since we were informed that in 1982, Canada was entering a brave new world of increasing emancipation, that we have seen our land increasingly ruled by decree and fiat, ultra vires acts, proroguing of Parliament, the sapping of our national institutions, the creation of a cultural/political monopoly through the CBC and Canada Council to asphyxiate freedom of speech through the subtle workings of the “woke” doctrine to which we are expected to voluntarily kowtow?

David Joseph MacKinnon
B.A., L.L.L., LL.B., M es L. ­(Paris-Sorbonne)
Barrister and Solicitor, Avocat ­(à la retraite)

A double standard when it comes to tolerance

Re: “Individual rights have come to supersede communal needs,” column, July 3.

The woke in Canada and around the world have embraced the idea of “repressive tolerance,” from a book by Herbert ­Marcuse.

The woke are politically allowed to endorse bad behaviour as long as it supports their own views. This applies to tearing down statues, blocking roads and damaging pipelines.

On the other side, when it came to the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa, this bad behaviour was condemned. No tolerance for bad behaviour when the “woke” did not agree with the Freedom Convoy messaging.

Someone suggested to me that this double standard of “repressive tolerance” is actually a pseudonym for “oppressive intolerance.”

Wayne Martineau
Fraser Lake

Singer George Michael could give advice

Among all the revellers, I noted the photo of the Freedom sign participants and wondered how much longer we would have to see them celebrating their freedom to be selfish and irresponsible.

Then I realized they could be die-hard superfans of George Michael and his 1990 hit of the same name. Next holiday, we could see other banners like “Careless Whisper” or “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.”

Heather Siddon
Saanichton

Hey Jack Knox, you are a treasure

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Jack Knox is an absolute treasure and the No. 1 reason I subscribe to the Times Colonist.

How can you not love a man who coins the phrase “boutique municipalities” to describe the chaotic governance here in Dysfunction-by-the-Sea?

Thank you, Jack.

Paul Cunnington
Victoria

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