Letters July 20: Deer and cars, MLAs’ duties, Victoria councillors, Quebec’s Bill 21

Deer always lose when they meet cars

What these politically correct politicians trying to vaccinate deer with birth control fail to take into account is deer simply don’t co-exist with cars, and the deer always loses. Hundreds of deer die in the capital region every year because they get hit by cars.

The lucky ones die immediately, the rest drag themselves off the road to die in agony from broken legs and internal injury.

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But while the hand-wringing humans are so concerned about the obvious solution — shoot the deer — we have a wolf taking up residence in the Blenkinsop Valley.

That’s the “natural” solution, with no cost to the taxpayers.

Peter M. Clarke

Full-time work would push MLA pay higher

Re: “When MLAs don’t sit, what are they doing?” editorial, July 19.

The editorial argues that as provincial administration has become more complex over the years, we might need our MLAs on the job full-time.

That might well be the case, but I think it is worth recalling that as most of our provincial legislatures sit part-time it was assumed that our MLAs would work, and be compensated on a part-time basis as well.

This might still be valid in a province such as Prince Edward Island, but less so perhaps in Ontario or British Columbia where the burden on provinces is indeed higher than it was when the current arrangements were established.

If the work load is such that our back-bench MLAs should and need to work on a full-time basis, thereby restricting their ability to hold a day job, we will probably need to increase the MLA salary, currently at $111,000.

Of course, ministers and other office holders in the legislature would receive higher emoluments based on their level of responsibility.

David Collins

Three councillors had strong support

Re: "Councillors should work for everyone,” letter, July 19.

The letter states that the Together Victoria candidates “won 6.96 per cent, 6.5 per cent, 5.74 per cent, respectively, of the votes.” This is an extremely misleading statement.

The numbers were calculated based on the total votes cast, but because voters were allowed to vote for up to eight councillors, the total votes cast was more than six times the actual number of voters.

In fact, votes cast for the Together Victoria candidates represented 43.2 per cent, 40.3 per cent, and 35.6 per cent of the voters, strong support given the large field of 29 candidates.

Steven Murray

Little difference with a ward system

Several recent letter writers have suggested that using a ward system in Victoria would have prevented Ben Isitt, Jeremy Loveday, and the three Together Victoria candidates from forming a progressing majority on council.

In the 2018 election, there were 12 polling stations throughout the city.

Isitt received the most votes in nine of those polling stations, Laurel Collins of Together Victoria received the most votes in one, and Geoff Young received the most votes in two.

Those results would seem to indicate that if Victoria had used a ward system in the last election, there would probably still be a progressive majority on council, and it might even be an increased majority compared with the at-large system.

Rob Maxwell

Quebec’s Bill 21 would hurt people from Victoria

Re: “Victoria joins voices opposing Quebec ban on religious symbols,” July 12.

I applaud Victoria city council in opposing Quebec’s Bill 21, as a local resident affected by it.

I just got back from a teaching exchange in a Quebec school. Many young people from all over Canada take part in this long-standing federal program, where they are placed in a Quebec school board and are employed for a year to teach English through cultural activities.

I greatly enjoyed having the experience to live in another province while sharing my love for my hometown with my students.

However, with the adoption of Bill 21, I and other people who wear open signs of our faith will no longer be able to take part in these exchanges.

Laws such as this do not only affect the provinces in question, but also have real consequences for anyone who wishes to benefit from opportunities such as this. It is not fair that we will not all have equal access to this amazing program.

So, I thank my council for standing up for its community members.

Sara Maya Kaur Bhandar

Freedom for service without religious bias

Re: “Victoria joins voices opposing Quebec ban on religious symbols,” July 12.

The public and political commentators have largely got it wrong, as has Victoria’s council in opposing Quebec’s Bill 21, which prohibits public servants from wearing religious symbols such as turbans, hijabs and kippahs.

Victoria councillors unanimously supported a motion by Coun. Sharmarke Dubow calling on the city to support a legal challenge against the Quebec bill.

But the crucial issue is not the freedom of public servants to practise their religion. Rather, the overriding issue is whether the public’s right not to have to face a religion-biased public servant is threatened.

If Jake, a secular humanist, seeks government assistance, and is directed to meet with public servant Ali, a devout Muslim wearing a hijab, Jake might doubt that he will be treated impartially.

If Jake were a Jew, he might well have greater doubt.

The overriding duty of government is to provide bias-free service to members of the public, not to reinforce freedom of religion for public servants.

Public education of children free from teachers’ overt religious bias is particularly important.

Robert H. Barrigar
Oak Bay

Protect our forests, not just our trees

As a conservation group based in Prince George, we are concerned that B.C.’s “Big Tree Policy” is a cynical calculation to avoid the protection of old growth at a scale that is necessary to avoid ecological collapse.

Protecting individual trees does little to protect the values that exist in our Interior old-growth forests. A few big trees do not a forest make.

In our backyard, the boreal rainforest contains slow-growing 400-year-old spruce that are being razed under the pretext of beetle salvage.

The Big Tree Policy does nothing to protect them from the juggernaut of industrial forestry.

The plantations that replace these forests will not support our iconic mountain caribou, lichens, bull trout or the myriad other species that are reliant on old growth.

The one-hectare buffer zone around each of the 54 “big trees” will protect a patchwork of fragmented areas subject to “edge effects,” a phenomenon that divides natural, functioning ecosystems into unnatural and non-functioning ones.

Contrary to government claims, 55 per cent of old-growth forests have not been protected.

Here in north-central B.C., most of the remaining intact inland and boreal rainforest exists within timber licences, not in protected areas.

The Big Tree Policy will make people feel good and it might bring in some tourists. Meanwhile, we are losing the awe-inspiring beauty and function of intact forests.

B.C. needs a system of legally protected, connected and large reserves for old-growth forests, not a policy for 54 individual trees.

Michelle Connolly
Conservation North
Prince George

Government Street has all the features

Re: “Delay urged on Government St. car closings,” July 16.

If any local street is a “natural” for such a welcoming change, I am not aware of it.

Learn from Copenhagen, Denmark, where the winding “Stroget” from City Hall to the inner harbour is a pedestrian “feast” of small shops, streetside food and drink outlets, or indoor restaurants, small squares and street musicians.

Delivery vehicles are allowed early in the day, cross traffic is allowed and life is slow and enjoyable — all this after vigorous protest by merchants, residents and taxis — until the change was clearly preferred.

Government Street has all those features: narrow, lined by small and local businesses offering a wide mix of goods and services, capable of street fairs, music events and genuine civility.

A walkable street so close to the harbour and hotels will be a real welcome to the thousands of visitors selecting Victoria for its “old world” atmosphere and slow pace.

Victorians: “slow up and live.”

Mike Meagher

Cyclists, do not put yourselves in danger

The video of the cyclist on Blanshard Street getting knocked over by a car mirror has received much attention on air and in the Times Colonist.

The video shows the cyclist jumping the light, putting himself in potential jeopardy.

Cycling in this, and all cities, is not for those of “all ages and all abilities,” but for those possessing skills, awareness and respect for the rules of the road, and demonstrating appropriate behaviour.

This principle is forwarded by John Forester, author of Effective Cycling and Bicycle Transportation, and recognized as an authority, continent-wide, on the subject.

For the cycling community to be taken seriously, it must first take itself seriously!

Brian Kendrick

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