Letters Oct. 9: Green Party's new leader; COVID-19 and Snowbirds

Let’s celebrate our differences

Re: “Not Black or Jewish, a human being,” letter, Oct. 7.

While it would be nice to think that public figures are looked upon for their humanity and character, the truth is we do not live in that perfect world yet.

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We need to value the cultures our leaders come from and raise them up, not pretend that gender, religion or ethnicity doesn’t exist.

What’s wrong with being proud of Rosemary Brown, Dave Barrett, Sharmarke Dubow, or Lidia Thorpe and giving us the chance to celebrate differences?

Until we can honestly say that skin colour doesn’t matter, let’s not fool ourselves.

Let’s support people of non-white Protestant backgrounds who represent the full spectrum of our communities.

Janna Ginsberg Bleviss
Oak Bay

Annamie Paul needs to earn her job as MP

Congratulations to new federal Green leader Annamie Paul on her election to the leadership of her party. You earned it.

Now for Toronto Centre. Votes there too are earned, not gifted. Suggesting that other parties step aside to allow you a free ride into the House of Commons demonstrates that you have already forgotten that lesson.

Those votes belong to voters themselves, not to parties or their leaders. Remember that, party leader or not, the next MP there will first represent constituents, a theme Greens have often been at pains to remind the rest of us.

I’m reminded of those among supporters of your party who run, hopelessly enough sometimes, because they want to offer voters in some ridings a chance to vote their conscience. How quickly you forget that Toronto Centre voters deserve no less.

When Greens offered the “courtesy” of standing aside in Burnaby South when Jagmeet Singh ran in a byelection, they were coming off a spectacular run in 2015 that saw their candidate secure a stunning 2.85 percent of the vote. The only courtesy here was to save a Green candidate from the embarrassment of competing to outrun the number of spoiled ballots.

You have a long way to go from the 7% you earned in the last election in Toronto. You could start by accepting that election to the House of Commons is a privilege, not an entitlement granted by virtue of your status in your party. Let voters decide who should represent them, and allow them the right of real choices.

Good luck – and don’t give up your day job.

John Luton

‘Leader’s courtesy’ being misused

Re: “Greens slam other parties for refusing to show Annamie Paul ‘leader’s courtesy,’” Oct. 6.

The Green Party is misusing the term “leader’s courtesy.”

“Leader’s courtesy” occurs when a political party chooses not to run a candidate in a particular riding during a byelection. It usually looks like this:

1) A new leader is elected. One of the party’s MLAs/MPs steps down so that new leader can run in their seat (for example, Kennedy ­Stuart stepping down in Burnaby and ­Jagmeet Singh running in his seat).

2) The leader of a political party wins an election, but loses their own seat. One of the party’s MLAs or MPs steps down so the leader can run in the seat (for example, Christy Clark winning the 2013 election, but losing her own seat in Vancouver). An MLA in Kelowna stepped down for her to run there.

The key factor here is that an incumbent from the same party steps down so the leader can run in that seat.

This is not the case in Toronto Centre, where Annamie Paul, the new leader of the Green Party, is running in an upcoming byelection. The Liberals won more than 50% of the vote in the last election, the Greens 7%.

What would actually be a case of “leader’s courtesy”?

If one of the three incumbent Green MPs stepped down for Paul to run.

That is not happening here, and it is highly disingenuous and entitled of the Greens to demand their new leader be granted a seat for no reason other than a new leader was elected.

Do Elizabeth May and the Green Party think leader’s courtesy should be extended to Maxime Bernier?

Edward Pullman

Those snowbirds could bring the virus

Re: “Snowbirds unable to go south flock to island instead,” Oct. 8.

We shall likely have many snowbird visitors from COVID-19 hotspots in Ontario and Quebec, who usually visit Florida – expected, primarily, in the demographic most vulnerable to COVID.

Courtesy of Transport Canada, these people might not be able to self-isolate in their vehicles on the ferries, although they might wear masks. Then, they will not be required to self-isolate for 14 days after disembarking (nor if they fly here, for that matter – although we see reports of infected passengers every day, it seems).

Is this sound public and health policy? If we are to retain our Island’s low incidence rate, surely we should be proactive and require and actively monitor self-isolation (at Tsawwassen and on the open upper ferry deck, in vehicles) and 14-day self-isolation after arrival on the island by whatever mode.

Roger Love

Monitor snowbirds to prevent COVID

Re: “Snowbirds unable to go south flock to island instead,” Oct. 8.

With the influx of snowbirds vacationing here this year, what are their COVID guidelines or regulations?

Eastern Canada has much higher rates of COVID than we do here. How will they be monitored?

Sue Hyslop

Western screech owl threatened by plans

Mount Work Park is home to 16 species at risk that live within one kilometre of Hartland landfill and might not survive the Capital Regional District’s disruptive landfill plans.

The western screech owl is one endangered species facing extinction which is living in Mount Work Park. Habitat Acquisition Trust says numbers of western screech owl fell by 90 per cent in the past 10 years. The B.C. government is obligated to prepare strategies to recover this species under federal agreements.

To ensure their survival, the B.C. government must reinstate the ban on spreading biosolids (dried sewage) planned for January 2021 at Hartland.

Biosolids contain more than 300 chemicals, some surviving the drying process; any traces of toxic chemical is unacceptable and will likely eradicate the species living in the park, including the western painted turtle. Biosolids soak into ground water and wetlands which will be digested by these species.

Second, the Ministry of Environment must halt the planned expansion and deforestation of 73 acres backing onto Mount Work Park that provides habitat for the owl and other species.

Third, Hartland’s diversion of 150 commercial dump trucks per day to Willis Point Road next to Mount Work Park will destroy even more habitat. Dump trucks will climb a grade of one or two kilometres, engines roaring, to the southern tip of Durrance Lake to the new proposed entrance.

The western screech owl and the other species will not recover and thrive under these raucous conditions. The CRD must find alternatives to landfilling waste.

Elaine Klimke

Spectrum students set a fine example

I regularly take the No. 50 bus from downtown to the West Shore and we always stop to pick up Spectrum School kids at the McKenzie/Highway 1 bus stop around 3 p.m.

Every day I am impressed by them: they all are wearing masks and they social distance even at the bus stop. These teenagers are role models for all of us, wearing masks to protect both themselves and their friends. The adults on the bus who don’t feel the need to wear a mask could learn more than one lesson from these kids.

Kudos to Spectrum teens!

Jennifer Davison

Flu vaccine should be free for everyone

With the bantering of political candidates over the campaign offers of free availability of COVID-19 vaccines when and if available, and the urging to obtain the flu shot in anticipation of the coming flu season, why is universal eligibility for the vaccine available in all provinces except for B.C. and Quebec? It should be a no-brainer that the annual flu vaccine be freely available to all B.C. citizens, especially during the pandemic.

Liz Macdonald
James Bay

Seniors driving test is degrading

I find it extremely insulting and degrading to have to have a senior’s driver medical which is age-related.

Driver statistics clearly indicate that drivers between the ages of 19 and 45 cause the greatest numbers of accidents. These accidents have three major causes: speeding, substance abuse, and distracted driving.

Profiling seniors is questionable under the Canadian Rights and Freedoms Act, Section 15. This section makes it clear that every individual in Canada is to be treated with the same respect, dignity, and consideration, i.e. the government must not discriminate on any grounds in its laws or programs.

To add insult to injury, seniors are expected to pay the fee ($200-$250) in order to qualify for a continuing drivers licence. If this is a government requirement, the government must be responsible for paying this fee or eliminating the fee entirely.

Gail Mackay
Oak Bay

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