Letters to the Editor for the week of March 5th 

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Climate change must be faced

It is unfortunately too easy to establish just who is to blame for the weather — or more accurately the perceived change in climate — which has made for a disappointing winter in our mountain community.

The scientific community has overwhelmingly told us that it is our collective selves who are to blame. The alarms started more than 50 years ago, with an increase in amplitude starting 25 years ago; sadly most governments and the media insisted on listening to counter emotional opinions.

How unfortunate it is then that there has been so little climate leadership from our central government, and particularly unfortunate that we put up with the insane retreat from climate action that was led by Stephen Harper.

This began first with Harper's belief that climate change was a hoax, and his intention to downplay science and scientists in anything to do with the environment.

It followed later with Harper's withdrawal from the Kyoto Accord, and his calculation that Canada was such a small contributor to greenhouse gas emissions that we should not act.

In the last dozen years we, as Canadians, have fallen from being respected as leaders in practically all things environmental to a country that has done its utmost to disrupt each and every climate conference and assure that no positive agreements were reached.

A thoughtful Canadian could only cringe at the number of "dinosaur awards" given by the international NGO climate community to Canada for its attacks on science.

Instead of leading years ago, Harper promised to follow the Republicans of the U.S. who were just as determined as he that any action on climate change was an attack on industry. When the U.S. belatedly started to act just this fall, Harper claimed that only idiots would act when the price of oil was down. Following others out of self interest is not the sort of leadership one hopes for from Ottawa, nor is the propensity of our government to listen to the small number of advisors who are paid by industry to prove that continuing as we are will not cause problems, rather than the overwhelming number of researchers who show by using all the tools of science that there is lots of trouble ahead.

It is debatable if we would be having different weather today if we had got started at mitigating our emissions earlier. We all get that the weather is not the climate, but also see that climate is easier to predict than weather. But if we had acted years ago, we most certainly would be better prepared to make improvements in whatever approaches we should have taken then, and be looking for more solutions yet, and hey, maybe even leading the world.

Not incidental to that notion, we might possibly be less exposed to the economics of oil extraction, and world price, and just possibly be in a scene with a strong alternative energy industry.

And, of course, we might just be in a position to be a little more optimistic about the future climate here in Whistler.

A probably unnecessary disclosure; I will not be voting for the Conservative party.

Al Whitney
Whistler

Pitching in

I would like to thank all the volunteers that cleaned up along the highway.

You took some time from your day off to make Whistler beautiful and clean.

Thank you.

A special thanks to the parents that decided to bring their kids along and teach them how important it is to care about our planet. Good work, guys.

Stephan Lapointe
Whistler

Want your vote to count? Vote Green

On Feb. 19, I sat down with a group of Whistler residents who were concerned about the state of Canada's democracy, an issue for many folks I have met recently.

In the 2011 federal election, the number of people who didn't vote exceeded the number who voted for a Conservative candidate. Yet Stephen Harper's Tories won a comfortable majority with just 39.6 per cent of the vote.

That's not a majority! It's only 24 per cent of Canadians.

And that's just one of our ailing democracy's symptoms. Canada's parliamentary democracy has been taken over by partisan politics. Our first-past-the-post electoral system has contributed to our "democratic deficit" — falling voter turnout, an increasingly powerful Prime Minister's Office (PMO) that muzzles government scientists, and a Question Period that's scripted by party insiders.

It doesn't have to be this way. As the Green Party MP Candidate for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, I'm committed to re-engaging citizens.

I promise that I'll represent my constituents, not a party leader. Elizabeth May will never tell Green MPs how to vote, and that sets me apart from the other candidates, who are controlled by their party leaders and backroom directors.

I joined the Green Party because we work to represent our constituents. We must save democracy from politics. Local riding associations must be free to choose candidates, and authoritarian party control must end in favour of open and informed dialogue.

We Greens believe that the key issue in the 2015 election is getting our country back on track. We can do this together, but not until we rescue the sorry state of our democracy. That's why I'm committed to holding a national discussion about electoral reforms.

We deserve a Parliament that reflects the real intentions of voters and motivates non-voters to participate. That starts with making political discourse less partisan and more relevant.

Ken Melamed
Green Party Candidate
West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky

Thank a groomer

As an avid skier, I think, that I speak on behalf of many locals and global guests, in expressing my thanks and theirs to the Whistler Blackcomb grooming and snowmaking staff.

To suggest that this season has been an extraordinary challenge for our professional grooming staff is an understatement. Yet day after day, week after week, a good portion of trails have really been very well maintained given the lack of snow and cold weather.

I have no idea how the staff has managed to work this magic but no matter... we are indebted to them.

As a volunteer lodge host at Glacier Creek Lodge, I have heard time and time again about the excellent level of customer service on the mountains and in the village, and especially on the trails. If you have an opportunity, thank a groomer or snowmaker for a job well done.

Deborah Eaton-Kent
Whistler

International students a boon for B.C.

The provincial government has just introduced new bureaucratic regulations that may impact B.C.'s International ESL Education industry and affect the industry's ability to contribute to the provincial economy.

International language instruction in B.C. is directly responsible for $1 billion in economic activity every year and is the province's fourth largest export industry.

It directly employs 24,000 British Columbians.

When you add in the economic activity generated by international students who eat in B.C. restaurants and travel as tourists all over our province, as well as the "Home Stay" income that helps thousands of B.C. families pay their mortgages and put food on the table, that $1 billion dollar figure balloons to more than $3 billion in annual economic activity for B.C. — and the relationships that grow from Home Stays make our world a little smaller.

The thousands of students who study in B.C., and then return to their home countries, are also walking, talking advertisements for "Super Natural British Columbia" — effectively mini ambassadors we send all over the world.

Their experiences entice their families, friends and relatives, and many other international students, to visit our great province.

At a time of economic uncertainty, B.C. should be growing this $3 billion educational tourism industry rather than introducing regulatory changes that may cause it to stagnate.

B.C.'s new Minister of Advanced Education, Andrew Wilkinson, the B.C. government, and every British Columbian, need to understand how significant the international education industry is to the B.C. economy.

The provincial government needs to take steps to allow the international education industry to flourish, innovate and continue contributing to B.C.'s economy.

Jonathan Kolber
Executive Director,International Language Academy of Canada

Some fresh views on treaty negotiations

Given concerns such as those expressed in the recent Squamish Chief article "Nation Councillors still refusing to step down" (Jan. 29 2015), I've been thinking about the bigger-picture relationship between Aboriginal people and other Canadians.

As a lawyer who has worked closely with Aboriginal leaders on treaties, and with the governments of B.C. and Quebec in repatriating the Constitution to Canada, my belief with respect to legislation is that only one set of laws should govern all Canadians.

This stems from my strong embrace of equality and individual rights for all Canadians, shaping my position on treaty issues.

It surprises people that, in the end, I did not support the Sliammon Treaty between Canada, B.C., and the Sliammon people in the Powell River part of our riding.

I support the treaty process and worked hard with the Sliammon and the people of Powell River to bring about this treaty. But ultimately, I could not support it.

The treaty contained a clause that says that in areas of law-making, if Sliammon law conflicts with Canadian or provincial law, Sliammon law prevails.

This opens up the potential for inequality and fragmentation among all, especially among "Status Indians" under the Indian Act, who compose four per cent of the Canadian population. Treaties must be negotiated in the context of values of self-sufficiency, certainty, accountability, transparency, equality and reconciliation. The ability of a small group to transcend Canadian law represents a threat to the nation's sovereignty.

In this vein, I also worked as a lawyer for certain Nisga'a people who regard themselves as proud Canadians and value Canadian citizenship and law.

They challenged a clause in this treaty that, similar to the Sliammon Treaty, would allow Nisga'a law to prevail over Canadian law in the event of a conflict. Regrettably, these elders lost their challenge in the courts.

On a more optimistic note, I am proud of Prime Minister Harper's efforts via legislation, such as the First Nations Financial Transparency Act, designed to ensure accountability and equality within Status Indian bands.

The prime minister has also issued the residential schools apology, a big step towards reconciliation with the Aboriginal population.

He has also proposed large-scale increases in equality in education for Aboriginal people that would include $2 billion in new funding. The Assembly of First Nations has opposed this legislation but it remains on the table.

The recent Supreme Court of Canada Tsilqot'in decision stunned me. One element of concern with this decision is the impact on the so-called invisible investor — the person or enterprise that may have previously intended to invest in B.C., but in light of this decision, changed course.

My constituents say there's a need to increase certainty, build trust and promote reconciliation, and create specific legislation that clarifies when business can operate on land that may be governed by Aboriginal claims.

Meanwhile, when treaties are made, they must be built on strong principles such as equality and the strength of the individual so that Canada continues to be the best place in the world in which to live.

John Weston
Member of Parliament for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea-to-Sky Country

MP Weston needs to clarify stance

Well put, Drago Arh (Pique, Feb. 26, 2015). If there is one thing we have learned to expect from our favourite public-sponsored fitness champion (in a riding that has no particular fitness problem) it is a never-flinching endorsement of whatever his dear leader Stephen Harper can dream up next!

John Weston is first and foremost, as Senator Marjory LeBreton would put it, a... oh, never mind. Her description is a bit too over the top for the sensitive pages of the Pique. Let's just call him a loyal backbencher.

Never mind the fact that the current total tally of terrorist-related carnage is less significant than a typical day of car accidents, or an hour's worth of effort by what accounts for 15 per cent of our gross domestic product (organized crime) without generating a cent of tax revenue.

What is important is to inflame as much fear, xenophobia and bigotry as possible over the actions of a minuscule number of misfits, tarring an entire religious minority in the process... all conveniently to subvert our civil liberties just before an election cycle.

Also important by John Weston standards is to make broad generalized assertions with absolutely no substantiation, clearly evident by his last entirely typical letter of endorsement for Bill C-51.

Typical, except for one quote of interest: 

"Like most Canadians, I (John Weston) believe in the protection of our freedoms and liberties, a belief that ties in to our common-law protections going back to the Magna Carta, and what motivated Canadians to fight in two World Wars. This belief motivated myself, with others, to create the Canadian Constitution Foundation, to stand up for individuals whose rights are menaced by overreaching governments."

I assume Mr. Weston included reference to the Canadian Constitution Foundation as a means of substantiating his beliefs and moral principles.

Considering how incongruous these beliefs are with Bill C-51, I also assume he figured no one would follow up on his Foundation which John Weston created with Ezra Levant, Brian Day, Professor Kenneth Hillborn, and a variety of other interesting characters.

If you do follow up you will curiously find that the Canadian Constitution Foundation is very much opposed to his great Leader's Bill C-51.

In fact it appears that if John Weston is a man of principles best espoused by CCF values as he plainly claims, Mr. Weston is entirely at odds with Stephen Harper on Bill C-51.

http://theccf.ca/articles/bill-c-51-think-inside-box/

So, John Weston, would you mind articulating — substantively that is, not mere assertion — exactly where your allegiances lie?

With Harper's PMO wonk tank of faceless unelected policy fabricators, or with the CCF as you claim: "To stand up for individuals whose rights are menaced by overreaching governments."

Bruce Kay
Squamish

Thanks, partners!

We had a rip-roarin' good ol' time at the 2015 Spring Creek Elementary Wild West Hoedown last Friday night.

A loud YEE HAW of thanks to the hundreds and hundreds of families that participated and helped to bring the barn roof down (well, almost!). The event was a fundraiser to support many exciting Spring Creek Community School Parent Advisory Committee initiatives.

All of that slidin' across the gym floor, lassoing, bingo calling and western-food feasting could not have happened without the tapping toes and kick-up-heels action of the Spring Creek Community School Parent Advisory Committee – Tanya Goertzen, Janis McKenzie, Andrea Legge, Tracy Higgs, Christine Zucht, Caralynn Hasan, Kerri Fletcher, Adele Ferguson, Tami Mitchell, as well as the amazing administrative and custodian staff at the school, Jennifer Oviatt (line dancer extraordinaire) and of course, Ira Pettle — most energized cowboy in the west!

The Spring Creek Community School Parent Advisory Committee would like to say a huge barrel-sized THANK YOU to our sponsors for their generous contributions in making the event extra special.

Cowboy hats off to Nesters Market, Foodease, Whistler Gymnastics, Whistler Splash, Dream Merchants, The Green Moustache, Samurai Sushi, Bricks4Kids, Whistler Dental, Kahuna PaddleBoards, SassDesigns, Great Glass Elevator Candy Shop, Yvonne's Spa, Lucia Gelato, Sachi Sushi, Rosie's House, Taylormaid, Whistler Chocolate, Dups Burritos, Pemberton Valley Soap Factory, Upper Village Market, Copper Cayuse Outfitters, Olives On Tap, Kristina Holst Designs, Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub, and Whistler Photoshack.

We would also like to give a big chili pot of thanks to the following of special huge-hearted individuals who volunteered their time to plan, supervise or assist the activities — Jeff Isert, Sara Leach, Susan Hammersley, Mardi Maynard, Deann Palmer, Julie Nash, Dan Wilson, Gwen Bruce, Martin White, Renae Mayo, Audra Williams and chili chef masters Tom and Jackie Jackson, Rod Goertzen, Neil Kearns and Shira Flann.

It was a huge (albeit overwhelming at times) success that brought together our school and community, and we enjoyed every WILD moment of Western Whistler fun!

Christine Zucht
Spring Creek PAC

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