Letters April 17: Drug decriminalization is already here; COVID and the arts

Minister is late to decriminalization idea

I have read with interest Mental Health and Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson’s “initiative” to seek support from the federal government to decriminalize simple possession of narcotics in B.C.

The minister should be aware that it has been some years since simple possession of drugs has been actively investigated and charged, let alone prosecuted, anywhere in Canada. Simple possession of drugs, therefore, has in effect been decriminalized.

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The toxic drug supply that is tragically killing our citizens, however, requires government’s urgent attention.

Roxanne P. Helme, Q.C.

Green & Helme
Victoria

COVID-19 is hurting the performing arts

COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the performing arts. There are many news reports about how the restaurant industry has been struggling to work at half capacity, and more so now with only takeout and patios open.

I can sympathize. However, speaking as a professional musician, I feel it’s important for people to understand how difficult the pandemic has been on the performing arts. Almost all of my work has ceased since March 2020. There are no government programs targeted to help us — we are invisible.

There is no employer, there is no paycheque, even a reduced one, and there is no EI. Most musicians are hired as freelance workers in a gig economy.

We only work when we have a gig, and most gigs are one-offs. Like everyone else, we have rent and bills to pay.

With the continuing rise in COVID cases, lack of work will continue to be a crisis for us. At this rate, the professional arts are facing a mass extinction due to artists being forced to find other work or moving away because they can’t afford to make a living.

Professional music, theatre, dance — these are at risk of disappearing, and the arts are a vital part of any cultural and social fabric.

It’s important for people to be informed and understanding about the plight of the performing arts. We need help and support too.

Anita Bonkowski
Vice-president, Island Musicians, Local 247
Victoria

Doggone mad about her dog?

“I’m doggone mad about her dog,” an incensed reader writes about Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin’s lovely dog Macduff. What piffle.

I smiled at the way that exuberant little fellow bounded up the stairs at the opening of the legislature this week.

Heaven knows it gave a touch of levity and humanity to what was otherwise a predictable and disappointing series of announcements.

Dogs are doing a splendid job of keeping so many people sane at this time, getting us outside for walks, cheering us up when you are sick and tired of the word “COVID” with all its mind-numbing restrictions.

Madam Austin, please continue to take Macduff, Vice-Regal Consort dog, out and about among the weary masses where a huge majority of us can smile and enjoy his presence and the joy that a cheerful little dog can bring.

Pamela Jackson
Sidney

Along with the dog, try a mink stole

I see that a Times Colonist reader views Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin’s decision to take her dog to important public functions as disrespectful.

I see it more as a common fashion faux pas known as “incomplete accessorization.” If Her Excellency adds a mink stole, horn rimmed sunglasses and open-toed shoes to her ensemble, the presentation would be beyond reproach.

Brian Jones
Oak Bay

Metchosin needs better emergency responses

Hundreds of petitioners in Metchosin continue to support a strong, solid case to reinstate our former emergency services’ call-out status.

That status was arbitrarily weakened by B.C. Health Services and the B.C. Ambulance Service three years ago. This is not a complicated request.

In incidents of medical or fire emergency, everyone knows that in saving lives, minutes matter.

Despite that obvious fact, since mid-2018 centralized B.C. Ambulance dispatch has refused to notify Metchosin’s first responders of 911 call-outs until some remote, bureaucratic decision-makers rate the urgency of the call.

Average response time to my neighbours from B.C. Ambulance is 18 minutes or longer. Metchosin’s team takes about four minutes to respond.

We welcome and honour the B.C. Ambulance Service for their advanced medical care, treatment capabilities and transport at critical times.

We all know, however, that Metchosin’s and Beecher Bay’s rural, wilderness, backroads and trails often require local knowledge. Technical medical professionalism is not enough.

When they are in trouble, our friends, neighbours and relatives must not be left hurt and alone. More than 1,000 of us are over the age of 65.

This municipality has invested for 37 years in our local Metchosin Emergency Medical Response services.

We again urgently ask the Ministry of Health and the B.C. Ambulance Service to correct this ridiculous bureaucratic policy and reinstate our former call-out status before a preventable tragedy occurs.

Carol Carman
Metchosin

Stop all of that non-essential travel

Please do not tell me that more lockdowns and restrictions are coming when I followed a Texas licence plate on Cook Street.

I demand the federal and provincial governments do their job: Shut down all unnecessary travel.

The fellow on the news who recently stated openly that he just “didn’t know” he wasn’t supposed to travel, needs to be fined.

Am I the only one who, while following the rules, is sick and tired of other people travelling for fun?

Whistler, Tofino and Victoria are just polluted by licence plates that do not belong here right now.

It’s simple, fine the travellers/ vacationers/road trippers the same fine you levy against “party hosts.”

It really is that simple.

Dewane Ollech
Victoria

‘Snail mail’ is just a rhyming term

With sincere respect and concern to the writer representing thousands of Canada Post employees, the term “snail mail” is an informal term to rhyme with email.

It does not imply that you, or any employee is like a slow-moving mollusc.

Though, a Times Colonist compromise could be made by changing “snail mail” to Old-Fashioned Mail or A-Buck-a-Stamp Mail. Perhaps more reality based names such as Rarely-a-Letter Mail, or Nothing-But-Bills and Flyers Mail.

So we don’t have to relent and go postal, perhaps it should be Escargot Mail.

Much more appetizing for everyone.

Mur Meadows
Victoria

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