Letters to the editor Feb. 2

Reader gives top reasons why MLA should be recalled

Canvassers and counter canvassers are scouring the Oak Bay-Gordon Head riding and the debate rages as to whether MLA Ida Chong deserves to be recalled.

Her supporters say her opponents are taking advantage of this “hard-working MLA.” The real issue is, who does she represent in a democratic society when she betrays the public interest?

1. Who did she represent when she presided over the government’s initiative to sell off the TimberWest tree farm licence lands in 2007?

2. Who did she represent as Minister responsible for Women when she oversaw the closure of 43 women’s centres across the province?

3. As Minister responsible for Seniors Affairs Chong oversaw deep cuts to funding for seniors’ care. The Oak Bay Lodge board – not radicals, but regular community members – were so concerned that they resigned.

4. Ms. Chong was a leading member of the province’s Finance Committee. Who did she represent when she failed to manage government finances, refused to disclose the Olympics’ costs to the Auditor General and sunk us deeper into debt?

5. As Minister of Healthy Living and Sports who did she represent when the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) began talks with the Baptist Housing Society and the Lark Group (developers) to sell Oak Bay Lodge and Mt. Tolmie Hospital properties?

6. Both properties are still at risk of being sold. Ms. Chong’s inaction does not represent our seniors who wish to stay in Oak Bay-Gordon Head. Now that Ms. Chong is Minister of Universities and Sciences, who does she represent when she ignores the shocking debt load of students?

7. Who does she represent when she uses the recession as an excuse, even though she knows cuts to student funding were deepest during the height of the boom when recession had nothing to do with it?

8. As a member of cabinet and the Liberal caucus who did she represent when BC Lottery Corporation expanded gambling including internet gambling throughout B.C.?

9. Finally, Ms. Chong staunchly defended the HST, even though the Liberals promised not to bring it in during the election. Her election flyers actually said, “No new taxes on families.”

10. When Ida Chong ran on one set of promises and within days of her election turned around and championed the exact opposite, who was she representing?

If we let these betrayals go by, how are we serving democracy?

Dale Perkins

Saanich

Referendum on suites

a better idea

Oak Bay has had illegal suites for decades. Council has never implemented an effective process to administer suites – and now some members of council want to approve secondary suites by the end of March. Why the rush?

It is true that council has had secondary suite approval on its to-do list for several years – yet there is still no apparent game plan to have effective administration in place.

The reality is that illegal suites may just have a name change. There is no evidence to suggest that council will even attempt to establish an effective suite administration process, let alone attempt to restrict them to owner-occupied single-family homes.

Council is supposed to represent all Oak Bay residents – or failing that – to reflect the views of the majority. What would approval do to benefit all or most residents? Ten to 15 per cent of our single family homes currently have suites and an approval vote by no more than four council members is all that is needed to effectively rezone every single family home to multi-family (effectively a duplex).

Why the rush? Why not wait until the next election and let all residents vote with a simple yes or no. This would also give council plenty of time to actually organize a plan and let us know exactly what the impact of suite approval would be. Council may well be guilty of benign neglect for its on-going lack of control on suites, but to simply approve them would be negligent.

I question why as few as four council members should be allowed to alter the Official Community Plan and change the fundamental character of Oak Bay. We need governance that is both responsible and accountable.

Dennis, Roberta McCarthy

Oak Bay

Too-rosy conclusion

for circuitous piece

Re: NDP’s problems go much deeper (B.C. Views, Jan. 26)

Tom Fletcher jumps from one unrelated, illogical fact to another and somehow ends up at the HST as his conclusion.

I won’t argue with his premise that the NDP’s problems are deeper, if this is the message he is trying to get across. This is obvious from the way Carole James was forced from her leadership role for relatively minor indiscretions, especially when the NDP had the next election virtually wrapped up. What couldn’t wait?

Fletcher’s hypothesis that the NDP will “nationalize” everything in sight is ridiculous. They didn’t do it when they were in power and had the opportunity, so there is no reason to doubt they would follow the same philosophy. One could easily make the argument that the B.C. Liberals have “privatized” everything – their record of privatizing far outweighs any of the NDP’s social ownership performances.

Fletcher ignores major factors that must be corrected, like how many of our public utility laws have been eliminated by amalgamation and deregulation, and how corporate monopolies are the order of the day. His “beware the Socialists” position parallels the very successful campaigns the Socreds and Liberals used to remain in power for so long.

He makes all kinds of assumptions and uses unrelated events to prove his beliefs, such as his inventive linking of an NDP leadership candidate’s valid, altruistic statement to a serious Liberal MLA scandal.

My main disagreement with Fletcher’s column is although he recognizes the growth of poverty – “some people have lots of money and others don’t” – he somehow misses that private enterprise with its “innovation and efficiency” isn’t supposed to be contributing to the inequitable wealth distribution problem. Entrepreneurial systems are supposed to be good for the public and, are promoted as such.

The HST, on the other hand, is another matter altogether. Fletcher, in other writings, and our present Liberal government have constantly promoted it as a fair tax – what they don’t get and hopefully the public will is it’s “another” tax, on top of all the other taxes, hidden and otherwise, that we now pay.

From my understanding, the HST mainly benefits government and business. I realize government needs money for lunches, chauffeur-driven cars and lucrative pensions and business for profits. But let’s not kid ourselves or have Fletcher tell us we will eventually get a trickle-down effect. We’ve heard it many times before.

Anthony Mears

Oak Bay

Ulterior motives prompt

teacher complaints

There is really just one reason for the ongoing controversy over the Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA). It is that the teachers’ union is opposed to the use – by any organization or individual – of any school-level student assessment results to publicly rate schools.

My reading of the 13-year history of the FSA tests and the public statements and actions of union officials during this period supports this suggestion.

Why does the union object to this use of student assessment results? It does so because such ratings enable anyone to compare schools on a student performance measure that might be construed to reflect on the effectiveness of its union members.

There is, therefore, one critical question that should be asked and debated before any action is taken regarding the FSA: As a society, do we believe that the public should be able to compare schools that are funded in whole or in part by taxpayers on the basis of student performance data of any kind?

I believe the teachers’ union would answer in the negative. But if, the union were to surprise me and respond in the positive, then we need a thorough public discussion of this question.

Peter Cowley

Director of School

Performance Studies

The Fraser Institute

Predators at UVic

mysteriously appear

Re: UVic looks to go rabbit-free (News online, Jan. 25)

This story was linked to me by friends at the university.

Somehow the numbers do not add up: 1,600 rabbits, some 800 moved to sanctuaries and another 100 euthanized. That leaves at least 700 rabbits taken by owls and hawks.

Where were these owls and hawks over the years? So suddenly a mass of predators descends upon UVic to decimate these rabbits. Shades of Hichcock’s “Birds” I would presume.

If there are so many hawks/owls on campus why was there so much concern about trapping and killing? It seems that according to UVic, the birds are doing the job. Or were they?

Clayton Moore

White Rock