Letters June 21: Horse carriages, taxes, amalgamation, Melania Trump and oil

Candidate found for Victoria mayor

Re: “Victoria Chamber defends horse carriage industry,” June 15.

Here is a voice of reason, rooted in common sense, standing up against the disruptive tactics of Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt.

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Isitt’s populist and divisive ideas are behind recent controversies, such as the thought of banning horse carriages in Victoria’s important tourism industry and trying to pass the buck on paying for Remembrance Day ceremonies. I will not even try to get into the Christmas light issue.

Stop already.

These issues are polarizing people. That is not leadership. Leadership is about bringing people together, not pushing people apart.

While Isitt might be the extreme voice in city hall, with all due respect, there’s not a lot of common sense between our elected officials.

And that is why I am calling on the author of the article, Catherine Holt, to consider running for mayor. We need leaders to unite us, not divide us. We need voices of reason, not bullies of disruption for the sake of disruption.

I would assume others are already encouraging Holt to run for mayor in 2022. But if the public campaign to recruit her has not yet begun, let it begin now.

I would be happy to help Holt bring common sense to Victoria city hall.

As Holt said: “We need less drama and more results.”

Bill Currie

Victoria

Horse carriages past defending

Re: “Victoria Chamber defends horse carriage industry,” comment, June 15.

The unenlightened thinking of local officials regarding horse-drawn carriages make it apparent change is needed. These people need to go.

Paul Nursey, CEO of Destination Greater Victoria, defends horse carriage operators and has said: “We must strive to preserve and protect the important character of our community.”

Does he not realize Victoria is known as a progressive city, with leading infrastructure, social programs, community services and, most importantly, progressive thinking. If Nursey thinks the use of the horses in this way shows “important character,” then he needs to put a harness bit in his mouth for 12 hours and reconsider.

Has he not noticed the popularity of human-powered rickshaws in the city? It’s a booming business and tourists love them.

The writer of the article calls opponents of horse-drawn carriages “populists,” “extremists” and “dangerous.”

There was a time when human slavery was defended with rhetoric such as this.

Society is moving ahead. Awareness is growing, ignorance is dwindling and the future has no place for enslaved horses or antiquated “business leaders.”

Horse-drawn carriages are banned in Paris, London, Delhi, Beijing, Toronto, Montreal, Las Vegas and many other cities worldwide. It is a global recognition that the practice is wrong, flawed and inhumane.

Local leaders need to get educated, look forward and lead, rather than pander to small, self-interest groups that want to exploit animals to make a buck.

Scott Fletcher

Victoria

Fairness an issue in paying taxes

The claim that Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt was disrespecting veterans, when he suggested the military should help foot the bill for Remembrance Day celebrations, seems unfair. The real issue here isn’t respect, it’s tax fairness.

Federal income taxes are much fairer than municipal taxes. Income taxes are based on income and modified by number of dependants, health-care costs, charitable donations, savings for education and old age.

Municipal taxes are based on a guess of what your property is worth, modified by residency and age, neither of which directly relates to a person’s ability to pay. While income tax is based on your ability to pay, municipal taxes are not.

Therefore, municipal taxes should pay for the absolute minimum of local expenditures and fairer income taxes should pay for most government spending.

Our veterans fought for freedom and we are very grateful, but they also fought for fairness. I think most veterans would support having Remembrance Day costs paid for by the fairer taxation system.

S.I. Petersen

Nanaimo

Reconstruction is a key point

Re: “Province’s local-government systems need an overhaul,” June 16.

The call for reconstruction of our local government system is yet another call for amalgamation, but the use of the word reconstruction is novel and especially apt.

Much of the advocacy for regional amalgamation is shallow: Amalgamate and all that ails us will be resolved. But take away a real commitment to reconstruction and amalgamation will deliver little.

Reconstruction would involve changes to programs and services, consolidation of union bargaining units, and layoffs amongst municipal workers, including some working in hot-button areas such as policing.

Therein rests the chief challenge for amalgamation.

Few politicians or managers have the fortitude to really pursue reconstruction, and yet it seems likely future municipal leaders would be none other than a subset of today’s incumbents.

In health care, which the article references, reconstruction often required a change in senior leadership at the board level and in management.

The opinion piece is correct that without change, all we get are good intentions, but thus far that is all the amalgamation debate offers, too.

We need reconstruction, but we need to see a concrete plan. This is especially true if the task rests on the shoulders of incumbents who have thus far struggled to deliver less complex change.

James Murtagh

Oak Bay

Melania Trump has a cause: bullying

Re: “Bullying on various levels, even in political world,” June 18.

This was most interesting given the current state of politics to the south of us and, to some degree, here in Canada.

In the reference to Trump’s ongoing bullying behaviour, the writer should have also mentioned the comment that Melania Trump made when she was asked, “as First Lady, what cause would you like to connect with?”

Her answer: “Bullying.”

John Stevenson

Victoria

Oil flow a two-way street

It is paradoxical that B.C. Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby immediately launched legal challenges when the Alberta government recently threatened to restrict the energy flow from Alberta to B.C., but Horgan is now prepared to seek legal recourse to restrict energy flow from Alberta at the pleasure of the B.C.government.

Does the premier somehow believe that B.C. has a higher standing in Confederation than Alberta and can therefore control its economic destiny, or is he an unmitigated hypocrite who intends to have his cake and eat it too? I am disgusted at the very thought that more of my taxes are now going to support the agenda of Mr. Horgan and his NDP/Green coalition.

James P. Crowley

North Saanich

War of words on oil front

Re: “Alberta energy war room must avoid online morass, preaching to choir: experts,” June 16.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and oil-industry advocate Robbie Picard have singled out environmentalist Tzeporah Berman as the “enemy of the oilsands.”

Then they feign shock and disapproval as their supporters bombard Berman with insults and threats of violence.

Look at their own language. To promote their industry, they have set up a “war room.”

If these brave lads want war, let them make war on Saudi Arabia, which has cut world oil prices to the bone for their own advantage. Let them make war on reality itself, which is that there is no market for their expensive, low-grade gunk.

Martin Hykin

Victoria

No need to detail Ben Kilmer’s death

Re: “Wife seeks halt to releasing details of death,” June 15.

I am outraged at chief coroner Lisa Lapointe’s point of view.

She felt it necessary to release details concerning the death of Ben Kilmer even though police ruled out foul play. She claims because his death ignited widespread speculation and concern about what might have happened to him, the public has a right to know the details.

Is this to satisfy people’s curiosity? All the public needs to know is that foul play was not involved.

In cases like this, we need to respect the privacy and wishes of the family. Did this family not suffer enough?

Gary Weib

Victoria

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