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Letters Sept. 16: Crossing the floor a great political move; physician assistants can help, just let them

Prince Philip signs the guest book at the B.C. legislature on Oct. 27, 1969, with Premier W.A.C. Bennett sitting next to him. ­Bennett found greater political success when he switched parties. TIMES COLONIST FILE

To get ahead in politics, try crossing the floor

Re: “BC United loses MLA for Abbotsford South to Conservatives,” Sept. 14.

The story quotes BC United leader Kevin Falcon as saying, “I reminded Bruce to look at the history of the MLAs that have done this in the past in B.C. It’s in every single case ended up to be political ­suicide.”

Falcon is too young to have a personal knowledge of B.C. politics of the past, but a bit of research would have been in order.

Let’s see. W.A.C. Bennett was elected as a Conservative MLA in 1941. He tried to become leader of the party twice, and when that didn’t work he became a ­member of the Social Credit party, which had spread from England to Alberta to B.C. No need to recount how that turned out.

In 1962, Pat McGeer was elected Point Grey MLA as a member of the Liberal party. In 1975 he became a Socred, and held posts as minister of education, ­science and technology, and advanced education, not to mention head of ICBC and the B.C. Research Council.

Then there was Garde Gardom, McGeer’s Liberal seat mate in Point Grey (two seats in the riding in those days, Mr. Falcon) who became a Socred member in 1974 and served as attorney general and minister of intergovernmental relations, and was the longest-serving government house leader in B.C. to that date.

In 1987, he was appointed the agent-general for British Columbia in London, and served until 1992. In 1995, he was appointed lieutenant governor.

Which brings me to Hugh Curtis, who was elected as a Conservative MLA in Saanich and the Islands in 1972 and became a Socred in 1974. Curtis held several cabinet portfolios, most notably that of finance minister up to 1985.

And then there was Gordon Wilson, and …

In fact, crossing the floor has been a great career move in B.C.

Sorry, Mr. Falcon.

Ian Cameron

Brentwood Bay

Municipalities not to blame for housing delays

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is reported as blaming municipalities for being slow to move on the multi-million-dollar federal housing accelerator fund.

I must refute that strongly, as the facts are completely otherwise when it comes to the many Vancouver Island municipalities, starting with the City of Victoria, who are tireless in pursuing every means and opportunity for housing development.

I am a researcher with Yellow Sheet Construction Data and one only needs to review regional district and municipal agendas over the past six years for proof positive of the constant drive to increase housing supply, and access every nickel and dime of funding available from senior levels of government to enable that.

Yes, we have a few municipalities that aren’t doing their fair share, but an apology from Trudeau is due to the vast majority of our municipalities that he has unfairly maligned.

Joanne Thibault


Physician assistants can help with health care

Re: “Emergency departments cope with the ‘new normal’,” commentary, Sept. 13.

I am a Canadian-trained physician assistant with nine years of experience, living in the Comox Valley.

PAs like me can be part of the solution for Dr. Chris Rumball and the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, but we are not allowed to work in B.C.

In other provinces, and globally, PAs are respected allied health-care providers who work closely with physicians and health-care teams. In the case of Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, PAs could work with hospitalist and emergency room doctors, expanding the care these doctors provide to patients; this is how they work in other provinces.

B.C.’s Ministry of Health has yet to move forward on using PAs. Instead, Health Minister Adrian Dix embraces the “new normal.”

PAs can take histories, conduct physician exams, order and interpret tests, diagnose and treat illnesses, prescribe medications, and assist in surgeries.

PAs have been working in Canada in the Armed Forces for 40 years, and started working in civilian practice in Manitoba 24 years ago. This profession has seen huge growth, particularly in the past 10 years.

In Canada we have three PA schools with two (possibly three or four) new ones starting next year. Alberta is opening 40 PA spots at the University of Calgary faculty of medicine in a new physician assistant master’s program.

Other provinces are navigating the health-care crisis too, and are incorporating the PA profession as a piece of the solution to fill the gaps in health-care workforce.

Many PAs like me are from B.C. and want to return home to work here; instead we watch and wait on the sidelines.

It disturbs me every time I see comments from physicians who are shouting out for help that I could be providing.

Lisa Stewart, CCPA, MPAS

Director, British Columbia

Canadian Association of ­Physician ­Assistants

Don’t ignore concerns raised by residents

Former Calgary city councillor Jeff ­Davison stated that councils have “employed the catchphrase ‘crisis’ to grant inner-city developers the authority to increase the density of your community regardless of your preferences … compromising the quality of life for many Calgarians who moved to these areas without expecting such drastic change.”

He continued that although “Calgarians have the right to engage in these decisions and express their desire or concerns for their communities … this right has been largely disregarded.”

Saanich citizens face the same issues, with council dismissing their concerns as trivial or self-serving.

However, densification has many undesirable consequences, including increased life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, noise, mental health problems and crime along with decreased parking, urban forest cover, biodiversity and recreation options.

In Saanich, the latter includes decreased space for off-leash dog walking.

At multiple Saanich council meetings, citizens have pleaded for modifications to proposals that produce significant unintended consequences.

Without exception, suggested solutions have been ignored and the community disempowered. Nowhere is this more obvious than council’s proposed bylaw empowering the head of the parks department to stop dog access to parks without specifying criteria or appeal options and setting the maximum fine for walking dogs off-leash at $50,000. Threatening citizens this way really does threaten democracy.

There are solutions to these problems but they will not be found by ignoring the concerns of people at both ends of a sharp stick. Society faces many threats, and successfully solving them requires solidarity, understanding and a commitment to justice and democracy.

Aidan Byrne


Parks for everyone, not just dog owners

Once again the loud, aggressive, dog lobby has shut down long overdue change, stopping Saanich’s much-needed People, Pets and Parks strategy, despite the fact that law was overwhelming pro-dog, providing no dog-free space.

They are calling for more “consultation” and a “conversation.” Well, let’s start with two simple questions: “How many people should be driven out of parks just so dog owners can exercise their pets?” and “How many species should be driven extinct in our parks so dog owners can exercise their pets?”

No waffling: just give numbers.

Assume a policy of a reasonable number of fenced dog parks, similar to other activities (like tennis) that monopolize space. And no, banning dogs does not ban the dog owner. You can go for a walk in a park without your dog, so a dog ban does not count as making a dog owner unable to use the park.

Obviously, my answer is zero people should be unable to use parks because of dogs, and zero species should be wiped out because of dogs.

Because this is what all the pro-dog (on or off leash) advocates are advocating for: driving people out of parks and wiping out natural plant and animal life so parks can be for dogs instead of people.

It’s time council followed through on their promise, passed strong dog control bylaws, and made parks for everyone, not just dog owners.

Garrett Therrien


Your dog isn’t my friend, keep it under control

Re: “Saanich presses pause on plan to restrict off-leash dogs in park,” Sept. 13.

It ceases to amaze me, and I am sure countless others, that unleashed dogs appear to garner more rights than human beings.

Dogs are valued pets and companions but they are not human beings, even though many owners frequently ­anthropomorphize them. They are ­animals.

My right is not to have an unleashed dog run up to me and growl, bark, snarl or get into a fight with another dog, leading to even more potential for collateral danger for me or others enjoying a stroll or bike ride in our parks and on our trails.

The too-frequent refrain from owners; is “he/she doesn’t bite” or “he/she is just being friendly.”

No disrespect, but the last thing I want is to be a friend of an unknown dog. Enjoy your pet, but please keep it under control with a leash unless it is in an approved free-leash area. There it can run, play and growl with others of the same ilk.

John Stevenson


Saanich councillors should find ways to cut

Another eight per cent raise in Saanich taxes after the 7.9 per cent raise last year?

This is an intolerable burden and I’m calling for the resignation of all council members if they are unable to act within the global economic stringencies and make budgetary cuts, not increase the budget.

There are plenty of ways to cut the budget and I suggest they get off their high horses and get on with it.

Diana Atkin



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