Letters Nov. 6: $57,000 for staff appreciation, Indigenous Peoples and litgation

Why $57,000 for staff appreciation?

Re: “Legislature’s granddad lashes out,” Les Leyne, Nov. 2.

Kudos to our hardworking auditor general for bringing the Liquor Distribution Branch’s directly awarded contracts to light.

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One example Les Leyne gave caught my attention: $57,000 for promotional swag for staff appreciation day — $57,000 for a bunch of novelty pens and ballcaps, maybe a key chain or two? You have got to be kidding me.

And what’s this about a staff appreciation day? They get shown their appreciation every two weeks, the 15th and 30th, whichever is payday.

And apparently this goes on every year.

Nobody seemed to notice this flagrant waste of taxpayers’ money. Not even the auditor, whose job it is to catch these things.

I am sure some government type is going to come back and tell me that $57,000 is but a drop in the bucket in the overall picture. But let’s look at this in a different light.

On average, a provincial taxpayer pays $3,000 or $4,000 in provincial income taxes in a year. So about 10 to 15 taxpayers in this province, and that includes those same Liquor Distribution Branch employees, worked hard all year to pay their taxes, just to have it thrown up against the wall, or flushed down the toilet.

No doubt our current government is going to blame it on the previous Liberal government. But come on guys — you have been in power for almost 21Ú2 years. Time to buck up and start taking responsibility for your own screwups.

Bryan Loveless

Log splitters not included

Re: “Human rights commissioner’s budget faces hardball queries,” Les Leyne, Oct. 31.

Twelve managers and eight executive assistants? Six-million-dollar budget? Do they all get log splitters?

W.K. Fletcher

Bill will result in endless litigation

Re: “Indigenous Peoples bill has good goals but overpromises,” editorial, Nov. 3

The Times Colonist editorial should provide cause for concern for all British Columbians. As highlighted in your editorial, enshrining into provincial legislation what is fundamentally the all-encompassing United Nations declaration on Indigenous rights will apply broadly across all areas of government.

Premier John Horgan should know that you can’t please all the people all the time, but attempts to do so with this vague bill will result in untold future litigation, challenging the capacity of the courts, which ultimately will decide on innumerable potential challenges.

Ironically, doesn’t this therefore diminish the role of the same legislative body that enacted the legislation in the first place?

Of note, the federal NDP is demanding that the federal government adopt the same UN declaration.

As it relates directly to this bill, Canadians, including British Columbians, should also be concerned by Jody Wilson-Raybould’s Directive on Civil Litigation involving Indigenous Peoples.

This directive basically compels Crown lawyers to develop approaches to avoid litigating (Guideline #3), but where litigation ensues, “the litigation team … must debrief … on ways of preventing similar litigation from re-occurring” (Guideline #20).

She issued this impactful directive a few days prior to being kicked out of cabinet. That there was no information apprising the citizenry of this far-reaching broad directive is just wrong — if not shameful.

Compound the above examples with the likelihood of the federal Liberal government adopting the UN declaration.

Oh, Canada!

Gordon Zawaski

A few signs of true reconciliation

Re: “Knowing when reconciliation is done,” letter, Oct. 31.

The letter-writer poses an important question: “How will we know when we are reconciled?”

I am a member of an immigrant family who, from the day we arrived in Canada in the early 1950s, enjoyed the benefits of safe housing, easy access to good health care, safe drinking water and good education, and were never prevented from maintaining our language and our culture.

I believe that when all Indigenous people have access to these same benefits, it will be one of the indicators that reconciliation between the Indigenous people and non-Indigenous has been achieved.

Minna Aitken

Five things the Grumpies would do with CRD

Re: “What would Grumpies do differently?” letter, Nov. 3.

David Screech, View Royal mayor and CRD director, posed the above question in relation to our concerns over the proposed 6.2 per cent increase in CRD taxes for 2020.

We all realize that taking the same approach budget cycle after budget cycle is unlikely to yield a different result each year, just a different number for the proposed tax increase. So we have suggested taking a different approach:

1. Recognize the taxpayer’s ability to afford any increase, using the Consumer Price Index as a guide.

2. Implement a rigorous zero-based budgeting approach as a fundamental shift, choosing one CRD department per year in a regular cycle.

3. As the CRD looks forward to 2020, 54 years since it was created, conduct an independent operational and regulatory review. It would suggest organizational and legislative changes to strengthen governance and improve cost-effective service delivery to the 415,000 residents of the region.

4. Begin the above process by tabling and implementing the provincially funded Capital Integrated Services and Governance Initiative (CISGI), buried by the previous government but released after the election in 2017. Its aim was to explore opportunities to better integrate services and governance in the region.

5. Act as if we are what we are, one of Canada’s largest cities — Join the Big City Mayors’ Caucus at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. It matters to taxpayers.

There is only one taxpayer and one regional economy. The CRD is not the only hand out for money and the taxpayer is not an ATM machine.

Thanks for asking.

John Treleaven
Vice-Chair, Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria

Should we pay for union’s tradeoff?

In commenting on the current strike of non-teaching staff (supported by teachers not showing up to work, either) in Saanich School District, little attention has been paid to the reasons for the disparity in wages that is causing this labour dispute.

A discrepancy in workers’ compensation between adjacent jurisdictions operating under the same provincial regime seems unusual, but it has been reported that this discrepancy resulted from a decision made by the workers’ union a few years ago to forego an offered wage increase in favour of an improvement in other benefits.

If this is the case, the wage discrepancy was a matter of union choice, and the public taxpayer should not have to pay extra because CUPE 441 now wants to “eat its cake,” too.

Robin Farquhar

Cleve Dheensaw deserves to be in Hall of Fame

Re: “Times Colonist’s Dheensaw to enter B.C. Sports Hall of Fame,” Oct. 30.

Congratulations to Cleve Dheensaw for being awarded a spot in the B.C. Sports Hall Fame. Cleve is very deserving of this award.

For many years, he has covered all sporting events on our island and through this has helped many young athletes in reaching their goals. Our young athletes work very hard during their quest for success, and one of the things that is a great inspiration to them is recognition in print.

In sports, it is a motivator when you see your name in the newspaper.

During my time in sports, I went to seven Commonwealth Games, either as a competitor or coach. On most of those trips, Cleve was there, checking to see how we were doing and helping by cheering us on. If he had not made the trip, he would phone, never letting us forget why we were there.

A true professional sports writer. Thanks, Cleve.

Sandy Peden

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