Letters Jan. 9: Victoria councillor’s travel; a kindness as 2020 ended

More questions about absences

There are many questions for the three Greater Victoria councillors who travelled internationally in December despite government directives advising against non-essential travel.

When did the Victoria councillor travel to East Africa? Were committee or council duties carried out? How were his North Park liaison responsibilities handled?

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Is the federal taxpayer paying for the hotel costs, food and incidents while he’s holed up in a Vancouver hotel in quarantine for two weeks? What does the civic political party Together Party says about the issue?

How does the Metchosin councillor justify abandoning her post during the most serious crisis in generations while residents and businesses are under extreme pressure? How were residents able to contact her during this period of time? Does she think her council job is unimportant?

Why hasn’t the North Saanich councillor told the media when exactly she spent a week in Seattle, departing prior to the non-essential travel request from the premier and provincial health officer?

B.C. legislation speaks only to the issue of chronic absences on councils. Why is there no broader municipal policy — such as in North Cowichan — giving council an ability to censure colleagues?

What moral and leadership authority do these entitled councillors now have to govern? Is there a remedy short of the next election?

Stan Bartlett
Past Chair
Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria

Too many do not think of others

Thursday’s Comment page was filled with letters criticizing local politicians for having travelled outside Canada over the holiday period.

However, they miss the point that the unnecessary trips weren’t just by elected officials and they weren’t just outside Canada.

It is unimportant whether the travel was to another continent, another country, or just the Lower Mainland. All trips risk spreading the virus, either by carrying the infection to people at the destination, or by bringing it back home.

There wasn’t a specific law. Such legislation would take time to prepare and would be difficult to enforce.

But in a provincial state of emergency, the provincial health officer can make orders as needed. We — and that means all of us — were told via a travel advisory that “all non-essential travel should be avoided.”

There were two specific examples: “Do not travel for a vacation” and “Do not travel to visit friends or family outside of your household or core bubble.”

That seems fairly clear to me. Premier John Horgan was reported to have checked his personal situation and concluded he must stay home.

We were expected to behave as responsible adults and, dare I say it, Canadians. But I think we all know of relatives, friends or neighbours who decided their wants were more important then the welfare of others.

Too many do not consider others, whether it is with regard to travel, vaccinations, gatherings, or masks. I fear it makes no difference to them whether or not there is a pandemic.

Could we not trust that our ­leaders, including health officers and other officials, are making decisions that they believe are best for the majority?

Alanne Gibson

We cannot trust Dubow on council

Victoria deserves better.

Together Victoria Coun. Sharmarke Dubow, who for years has chastised his fellow citizens from a high moral ground, has been shown to be a hypocrite and a liar.

He travelled to Africa despite advisories created for the common good. His “apology” was worthless, since his justification of a once-in-30-years trip to see family was shown to be a lie from his own Facebook posts from East Africa in January and December 2019.

His trip seems to be an annual event that he wouldn’t forego, not even to show leadership to his constituents in these trying times.

He claims to have tested frequently for COVID-19 and is quarantining. Why should we believe him after the other lies?

Is he taking the $500 weekly quarantine payment to support his non-essential travel? How would we know?

The trust has been broken irrevocably. The only option is for Dubow to resign.

Barbara Wiggins

Councillors should be role models

Leaders at all levels of government have broken the COVID-19 travel restrictions but none disappointed me more than Victoria Coun. Sharmarke Dubow.

A man who escaped tragedy and violence, came to Canada as a refugee and was elected by the people of Victoria to serve in civic leadership chose to ignore the regulations set to safeguard society, especially the most vulnerable.

Dubow has played an important role on council as a spokesperson for justice and compassion. I have been grateful for his work. He’s the last person I would have thought of who would think it was OK for him to travel at this time.

2021 is a new beginning. I hope Dubow, and all elected officials, will understand how much society needs them to be role models, especially at this time of global crisis.

Sheila Moss

Flout the rules, and then say sorry

B.C. declared a “state of emergency” in March, which included implementing restrictions to deal with the pandemic and which have now been extended to Jan. 19.

Among the restrictions was the advisory to curtail all but essential travel.

Did these scofflaws who are flouting the rules and putting everyone else at risk not see or hear Premier John Horgan, Health Minister Adrian Dix and Dr. Bonnie Henry advising against international travel almost on a daily basis?

Or as politicians, did they just feel entitled to ignore the rules and treat themselves to a nice holiday, and to heck with the rest of us?

This cavalier attitude is exemplified by the Metchosin councillor who proclaimed “travelling is not illegal it is discouraged” as if that made her trip to Cabo San Lucas acceptable during a major health emergency.

The mayor of Metchosin then stood behind her, stating “it is hypocritical for politicians to tell people not to travel while jetting off to warm destinations, the councillor did not do that.”

Yes, she did. As a councillor she should have known and followed the rules put out by the province.

Same for the Victoria councillor who travelled to East Africa and apologized after he got back from his holiday.

We are tired of those “heartfelt” apologies so readily given after the culprits return home.

So new travel rules are now being implemented and it is up to all of us, including politicians, to comply with these rules to get us through the tough times ahead.

Dorothy Mullen

No exemption for politicians

Metchosin Mayor John Ranns said Coun. Kyara Kahakauwila “has never set herself up as an example that should be followed.”

Ranns suggests that our elected politicians who implement policy, rules and regulations are exempt from setting an appropriate standard of compliance that the rest of us minions are expected to undertake.

This absurd comment speaks volumes about the character, ethics and values of some of those that we elect to public office!

While thousands are shuttered-up in their homes, doing their best to “bend the curve,” Ranns asserts quite the opposite. Shameful.

John Stevenson

Dubow does not have a sense of duty

I am outraged at Victoria Coun. Sharmarke Dubow’s wilful disregard of the strong and repeated recommendations against non-essential travel.

I sadly refrained from travelling to visit my 90-plus-year-old parents, my seven-year-old granddaughter and lifelong friends because I believe we must all do our part to contain the COVID-19 crisis.

Apparently Dubow does not have the same sense of duty as most of us. This was not just a lack of judgement.

I suggest he do some soul searching about his political future.

Kathy Hunt

Sensible decisions needed at city hall

Victoria Coun. Sharmarke Dubow travels to Somalia in December while the rest of us stay home as recommended by Dr. Bonnie Henry.

In Dubow’s words, it was a “poor choice.”

I would suggest this shows a more serious concern: The capability to make sensible and proper decisions in regards to the city of Victoria.

Sorry just does not cut it. Dubow should resign.

Paul Baldwin

A kindness to close out 2020

Thank you very much to the four “30 something” gentlemen who picked up our dinner tab at Nautical Nellies on Dec. 30. Your kindness has been passed on by way of a like donation to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund.

My wife Norma and I were having a lovely dinner experience at Nautical Nellies last Wednesday evening; an experience made even more pleasant by the four young men who were dining at a nearby table.

They were very engaged in friendly, boisterous chat which both of us were occasionally over-hearing.

As the evening was winding down, one of the men turned to us and said he hoped that they had not been too loud. My wife assured that was not the case and we chatted briefly with them before they said good night and we exchanged Happy New Year wishes and a few thumbs-up for a great evening.

We were also ready to leave but were waiting for the bill from our server. She approached our table, bill in hand.

But it was not our bill — it was a receipt for the payment of our lovely meal (wine and cocktails included).

Our newly found friends had ­quietly paid our server for, as she put it, “whatever the old couple owe for their meal”!

Thank you so much.

Michael Lawrence


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