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Letters Feb. 9: Selina Robinson; graffiti is the wrong approach; Land Act changes; James Bay village idiot

Selina Robinson speaks during a press conference in Vancouver last July. Ethan Cairns, The Canadian Press

She got facts wrong, so she lost her job

Selina Robinson said that Palestine in 1948 was “a crappy piece of land with nothing on it.”

That was not a matter of free speech or opinion. She simply got the facts wrong.

Palestine’s population in 1948 was 1.97 million (60 per cent Arabic, 33 per cent Jewish, seven per cent Christian) — more than twice as many people as Vancouver Island has today.

Palestine had an oil refinery, an electric company, railways and its own airline.

A market economy thrived along its coast, with factories, workshops and bakeries.

The port at Haifa, with 200,000 people, was an international gateway for passengers and cargo.

The agriculture in Palestine’s interior included a significant potash industry and large dairies; it produced higher individual incomes than surrounding Arab countries.

Robinson paid a high price for her lack of knowledge.

But all that said, Robinson got something else wrong: she also pushed Langara College into firing their faculty member Natalie Knight.

They fired Knight even though admitting that her remarks about Palestinians were “protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and do not constitute hate speech.”

Why must Knight pay an even higher price than Robinson has?

Bill Johnstone


Short term gain, long term pain for Eby

Selina Robinson’s remarks were unfortunate, if not untrue. She was referring to the impoverished land, not the people.

However, given the temperature and volatility of the Israeli/Palestinian debate, her cheeky remark was as a stick inserted into an anthill, which we kids used to do in order to see the ants roil.

She was naive in assuming her comment would not irritate and enrage. A brutal lesson in propriety. But to boot her out, after she apologized, twice?

Premier David Eby called her “an exceptional politician,” meaning, I suppose, she was committed and effective. There aren’t too many of those around.

I think this is a case of throwing out the baby with the bath water. Eby, reading the tea leaves, decided it was too risky spending political capital to stand up for her.

Perhaps, short term, he’s astute. Long term, not so much.

Scott Hylands


Vandalism is no way to win support

The graffiti at Selina Robinson’s office is disgraceful. If people want support from the public for Palestinians, this is the wrong approach.

Blocking roads, graffiti and disrupting the public only discourages support.

Eileen Cannon


More information needed on Land Act

Re: “Land Act amendments are small step on long path,” commentary, Feb. 6.

The commentary gives the impression these are minor changes of no consequence. I believe the proposed changes to the Land Act are a big deal and deserve scrutiny and debate.

The end result of granting First Nations “co-management” of all Crown land in B.C. is to give them decision-making power over 95 per cent of the province.

The province needs to take to take this initiative out of the shadows and provide information how this process will function.

Simply providing background information and potential wording of the changes would be a good start.

The province should solicit feedback from all municipal governments and regional districts, as many have critical infrastructure on Crown Land that could be at risk.

Thousands of jobs and billions in provincial revenue could also be vulnerable.

Land Minister Nathan Cullen should slow this process and make sure the ­British Columbians have the information they need to provide meaningful feedback.

Pat Cochrane


A better way to improve James Bay

Re: “James Bay doesn’t need a village square,” letter, Feb 6.

Instead of a car-free square, perhaps a village idiot would be more appropriate. I’m available Mondays.

Bill Newburg


‘Fossil fuels’ is not an accurate term

The term fossil fuels is a misnomer. Oil does not come from dinosaur remains, as many people would ascertain from the term.

You are not using dinosaur parts to fill up the gas tank.

Oil and gas come from algae, bacteria and plants.

For some reason, people that are opposed to drilling for oil seem to love pushing the term “fossil fuels.”

I suppose, to them, it just sounds a little more threatening.

Bob Beckwith


Older cruise ships could be the first step

Before older cruise ships are retired for salvage, could they be purchased or leased and repurposed as temporary homeless shelters and substance abuse recovery centres?

The ships could be tied up dockside or moored just offshore and with proper staffing, treat up to a thousand citizens of our less fortunate.

Would our community crime statistics significantly drop if this model could be implemented?

Just to be clear, these cruise ships would not be hotels, they would be treatments centres, accessing the client’s immediate needs, treat them as necessary and provide job training skills in select areas of the ship for a period of up to 12 months.

These job skills could include ­housekeeping, food preparation, first aid, security, maintenance (electrical and mechanical), stores and logistics, ­computer skills, tourism and hospitality, accounting, maritime safety, etc.

After a successful recovery and some job skills training, these individuals could move to short-term government funded social housing.

The social housing unit would provide an address for those seeking employment and independence. If the clients continue to stay healthy and stable, they could stay up to 18 months in supportive housing before a final transition to standing on their own two feet.

Current programs are not working, our provincial and federal leadership need to think about finding new ­treatment models, supplying clean needles and clean drugs is not the answer, more people than ever are dying on our streets and or ending up in tent encampments.

Homelessness is escalating, creative new solutions are needed.

Steve Hertling

Qualicum Beach

The power of letting go can change our lives

Our time on this Earth is short. Not only do we live in one of the most prosperous countries in the world, in of the most breathtaking areas with the highest quality of life due to the beautiful nature and weather that surrounds us.

Let’s make it a challenge this week to let something go. Whether it’s someone parking where we don’t like or an incremental change to bureaucratic politics, let’s all stop for a second and ask whether it’s worth our energy.

Politics are predictable and history repeats itself, so why should we give our precious time on this beautiful Earth to issues that we may have little influence over?

Next time this happens, stop and question the source of this agitation, and decide if it was placed there to provoke you. Others win when we are baited into giving up our energy.

It may be difficult, but no matter how visceral of a reaction this issue gives you, just let it go. Take the time to zoom out and consider how small and finite our lives are.

Just as we don’t have to tell our hearts and lungs how to do their job, we can let many things unfold the way they are going to. Once we realize how precious our time and energy is, we can choose our battles wisely.

Here’s to letting go and embracing gratitude.

Jake Gordon


Consider the economics of immigration

Re: “Immigrants will not find housing or adequate health care,” commentary, Jan. 31.

Allowing immigration to grow at rates far beyond Canada’s capacity has and continues to stress the fundamental needs of our society by placing housing, health care, and many of our basic services in crisis.

Housing and health care need to be fixed and until this is done immigration levels should be reduced to a level in keeping with our capacity, and restructured to be supportive of our standard of living.

Gwyn Morgan clearly is not against immigration, but he is against ­incompetent leadership, which frankly is the root cause of our current situation.

Simple economics confirms that unbridled demand creates shortages and inflationary pricing, and the facts are clear, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is accountable.

Further, Trudeau is opposed to reducing immigration, so perhaps it is time for the Liberals to initiate a leadership change.

This would be well received, ­especially by those who find it hard to warm to Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre.

Mark Appleton



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