Letters July 20: Benefits of cruise ships; correcting the past; shellfish survival

Don’t discount the benefits of cruise ships

The writer of the recent letter critical of cruise ships might want to consider taking a walk up Government and Douglas Streets and counting the number of businesses that have failed due to COVID and the collapse of Victoria’s tourism industry.

Cruise lines and cruise passengers dump more than $100 million into our economy annually. The Victoria Harbour Authority alone estimates a loss of $65 million to $70 million this year.

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The loss of revenue from the cruise industry to shops and restaurants dominoes all of the way back up the chain to the suppliers of food and goods. This is a secondary unintended consequence that costs jobs, and the associated salaries disappeared.

I have worked at sea for three of the largest cruise ship lines, and have seen bits and pieces of 60 countries. I can vouch for the dollars left behind by crew in every port city visited. In my years away I certainly spent as much money on shore in foreign ports as I brought home.

People often mention the string of buses that travel back and forth to Butchart Gardens from the port full of cruise passengers on ship days. This year, that didn’t happen. Butchart Gardens carries a staff of about 600 people in peak season, and their paycheques circulate through our economy at every level. This year, they didn’t.

Finally, that cruise ships can return after November is a bit of a red herring. By November the season here on our coast is over. By then all of the ships on this side are sailing to ports in California, Mexico and Hawaii. The bulk of the remaining ships are delivering tourist dollars to the Caribbean Islands.

John Simpson
Victoria

Give land back to Indigenous peoples

Re: “Reparation, land and justice for Indigenous Peoples is overdue,” commentary, July 16.

David Suzuki’s commentary is fine, except that the reparations he speaks of are all monetary.

What Indigenous peoples had was access to land; we took that away. Just as we currently aim to preserve 30 per cent of Canada’s natural landscapes, we should return 30 per cent of Canada’s landmass and adjacent seas to Indigenous control.

We might then have a fair country, in both meanings of the word.

Doug Porteous
Victoria

Shame in our past must be corrected

Speaking as a non-Indigenous person, I feel that the fundamental problem with the Indigenous children travesty is not that they died and were buried away from their families, but rather that they were taken away from their families in the first place.

What arrogance our ruling fathers (yes, fathers, not mothers, because our society was still male-dominated) demonstrated in thinking, and believing, that they knew better what was good for the Indigenous peoples nationwide than they did themselves; that one day those First Nations would be thankful for being helped along that better path.

Madness! Arrogance!

If that is the fundamental problem, then is there a fundamental solution? Unfortunately not! What is done is done.

There can only be reconciliation because those disrupted families can never be made whole. How do we reconcile when there is such a gap in values between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people? We need to identify the parameters of that gap and narrow the gap so that we can one day live in harmony whilst retaining the beauty of the Indigenous culture that our ruling fathers tried to take away.

We cannot, and must not, simply look the other way and say that the faults of our ruling fathers were not ours. We have shame in our past that must be corrected, corrected properly, in order for us to one day be able to hold our heads up high and be proud that we, all of us, are Canadians.

Right now, we cannot do that.

Leonard Sherwood
Victoria

Many reasons to call a state of emergency

Why is Premier John Horgan really rejecting calling a state of emergency while more than 300 fires burn in the province?

Horgan claims that calling a state of emergency only brings more people together, but the people responsible for fighting fires and protecting communities say a state of emergency would allow them to:

• ask for more out-of-province/international help

• call on private companies to assist

• close areas that are high risk to human-started fires

• call on organizations to help co-ordinate efforts to assist those affected

• be better prepared for the residents on evacuation orders

One of the criticisms that came out of Lytton burning to the ground was that the provincial government was ill-prepared to provide essential help, so the residents were left on their own.

During this heat wave the criticism was that the provincial government did not have a plan and was not prepared to respond to reduce the loss of life.

We are dealing with floods, fires, plagues, and it seems like our elected just keeping doing business as usual. Perhaps the real reason is we can’t afford the “water” to put these fires out!

Yet the elected at every level of government keep building to attract more people; more industry; more modes of travel to build the economy.

Declaring a state of emergency wouldn’t attract thousands of vacationers to B.C., would it? Once again, the economy trumps people who call B.C. home.

Jo-Anne Berezanski
North Saanich

Shellfish story defied common sense

Re: “Dead shellfish story generated ­overheated headlines,” Monique Keiran, July 18.

The recent commentary on the overheated shellfish story was a much welcome example of responsible journalism.

Monique Keiran’s column was an attempt to provide balance to a story sensation that should never have gotten off the ground in the first place.

Anyone who lives on the coast and has a shred of common sense would have understood the underwhelming reality of the reported event.

The vast range of species who live in inter-tidal areas are among the hardiest, most adaptable creatures on the face of the Earth.

Not only do they have to deal with occasional warm temperatures, but the twice daily coming in and going out of the tides, not to mention storms, disease, predation, variable salinity and acidification.

These phenomena have affected them to one degree or another since the beginning of their time on Earth a billion years and more before this summer’s heatwave.

Thank you, Monique.

Tom Masters
Chemainus

Let statues stand, and teach us a lesson

It is easy to understand the anger behind destruction, however obliteration of the shameful symbols of our past does not erase the fact that these things ever happened.

Some years ago, on a summer day, I stood on the edge of a peaceful meadow outside Krakow, Poland, once home to my family before they left.

Had it not been for the old railroad tracks and imposing building facades there I would never have known this was the site of Birkenau concentration camp, just one of many sites of immense evil, cruelty and destruction of innocent human lives.

The world would have understood if, after the war, the government had bulldozed it, and every other reminder of the atrocities committed on Polish soil.

Instead it decided to allow these monstrous symbols to stand, provoking the world to remember forever the evil of which we humans are capable.

Note that as the Nazis realized they were losing the war, they destroyed most of the site themselves — in an effort to erase forever the evidence of their evil and avoid exposure to the world.

The moral of this story is that it is only by preserving the stark evidence of wrongdoing that humans are able to remember things as they really were as generations pass and memories fade.

So please, let the statues and institutions stand, accompanied by a proper acknowledgment of all the truths behind them. Otherwise we are doomed to repeat them, if not immediately, then somewhere down the line.

“Lest we forget.”

Kathleen Worth
Saanich

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