Letters to the Editor: February 24

The pipes of winter; Slashed jobs; Mend a broken promise; Interim funding for School District staffing

The Pipes of Winter

There is one possible problem with the suggestion to leave a tap running to avoid freezing of water and drain lines.

Years ago (1968-1979) I lived in a small house in the Toronto Island community. These houses were former summer cottages with minimal insulation. Water and drain lines were run in the unheated crawl spaces. When it got very cold, we too would leave a tap running a little.

A friend went away for a week, leaving his tap running. When he returned, he found his kitchen full of ice! His furnace had gone off and the drain line had frozen. But the water kept flowing.

So, if you’re not staying home, either shut the water off and cross your fingers, or have someone check your house frequently.

A permanent solution will have to wait until summer. The typical solution is to bury the water line more deeply — it is unlikely that the drain line can be. A

An easier solution would be to excavate above the water line down a couple of feet and place two inches of closed cell polystyrene insulation, four feet wide, over the line to give the necessary frost protection. Then reinstall the soil. One inch of the polystyrene is approximetely equal to one foot of soil cover.

Ain’t winter fun?

John Allen/Kimberley

Slashed Jobs

Reading through the Letters to the Editor section of the Friday edition (Feb. 17), I was quite moved by MLA Bill Bennett’s “Wildlife Management” letter.

By endorsing the earlier letter (Feb. 15) written by Barry Vandaelle, Bennett acknowledges that the wild ungulate populations have been badly mismanaged by his Liberal Government. Although Bennett would have us believe that wolves, bears, and cougars are responsible; coincidentally and ironically the more likely cause is discussed in J.C. Vallance’s letter, in the very next column. There Vallance states “between May 2001 and May 2005, Ms. Clark supported legislation which slashed 8,700 public service jobs”!

I know from experience that many of those jobs were cut from the Wildlife Branch, yet Bennett will be the first to boast about how his Liberal Government has managed budget surpluses through the subsequent years. Bennett and his Liberal Government made clear choices to give big tax cuts to corporations as well as their rich friends rather than maintain jobs in the Wildlife Branch and it has taken a dozen or so years for that policy to show up in our ungulate populations.

In the upcoming Provincial election, this May, voters will have the opportunity to correct this mismanagement of the BC Liberals by voting for a Party that will, once again, put the environment and ordinary people first.

Gary Werk/Cranbrook

Mend a Broken Promise

No doubt many readers will recall that during the 2015 federal election, the current Prime Minister promised us we were enduring the last election conducted under the plurality, or first-past-the-post (FPTP) system and that the next federal election would be conducted under a new and more representative system.

That, I knew, would strengthen our electoral democracy and bring new politics and political voices into the House of Commons. (I rely on scholarly sources for my claims. I’m a political scientist and have been concerned with electoral reform and democratic representation for many years now.) I know many Canadians who relied on that promise and voted Liberal in the last election exclusively because of Mr. Trudeau’s promise to terminate the unrepresentative plurality electoral system and give us a more democratic and representative system.

But the Prime Minister has reversed himself on this, first by flirting with the Conservatives’ proposal for a national referendum (referenda generally fail when people don’t understand the material well; the Charlottetown Accord and the Brexit are just two examples of this); second, by failing to provide good public education on the subject; third, by setting up a laughable ‘push-poll’ posing as democratic consultation; fourth, by dallying around with an incompetent Minister and an infinitely elastic time line; fifth, by ignoring the scholarship on the matter – including the important multi-state, multi-year study of Harvard scholar Pippa Norris (https://www.hks.harvard.edu/about/faculty-staff-directory/pippa-norris); and finally, by offering us the facile and unbelievable excuse that, by abandoning electoral reform,he was saving Canadians from extremist voices in politics. In our political context, those voices would include the NDP and the Green Party and other movements that Canadians wanted to see in politics.

With his reversal on electoral reform Mr. Trudeau has demonstrated a degree of political opportunism that is disappointing. The current FPTP system suits the Liberals (and the Conservatives), not because it produces good democratic representation (it doesn’t) but because it has historically often produced majority governments from minority shares of the popular vote.

The new Prime Minister has impaired his political integrity in the eyes of many, many Canadians who were preparing for a better electoral system and a stronger democratic quotient, and who relied on his promise when casting their 2015 ballots. Canadians, however, can always raise their voices in dissent. It is not too late to write the Prime Minister, the laughably-named Minister for Democratic Institutions, and their counterparts in the opposition parties (Tom Mulcair, NDP; Rona Ambrose, Conservative Party; Elizabeth May, Green Party; Rhéal Fortin, Bloc Québécois; and our MP, Wayne Stetski) and demand that this broken promise be mended. We could even have a new system for the next election if we selected proportional representation, which is simple to administer and simple in its outcomes: parties get seats in the same proportion as their vote shares, no more and no less.

Joyce Green/Cranbrook

Interim Funding for/School District Staffing

The increased funding to SD5 for new teaching positions is good news, but as CDTA president Shelley Balfour stated, “…it is a small step in the process to start repairing the damage to the public school system over the past 15 years.”

Indeed, one of the Liberal government’s legal arguments to the various courts that heard this case, was that it would be very costly to reinstate the stripped language and services and support that had been lost as a result of this government’s actions in 2002.

Christy Clark was the Minister of Education who “proudly” brought forward the legislation that stripped local contracts of class size and composition language province-wide. Since that time, the Liberals have consistently increased funding to private education while gradually starving the public system. Let no one mistake the reason for this sudden beneficence of additional funding; the premier lost this battle when it reached the Supreme Court of Canada and she has no choice but to reinstate those services to children, or be held in contempt of our highest court’s ruling.

This is the result of an unconstitutional and illegal act committed by the B.C .Liberal government, not just a simple feud with B.C. teachers. As a teacher, I had to sit in staff meetings where we were asked to choose which students (primary or intermediate) would receive the bulk of our much reduced learning assistance and student service time as a result of this Liberal legislation. I watched its eroding effect on colleagues, particularly student service teachers, as they tried to serve their students needs with ever decreasing time and resources. The burnout rates jumped in direct proportion with the anxiety caused by these government cuts to public schools.

As we head to the polls this May, please remember that in October of this same school year the premier announced a large increase to private school funding for student services, paid for with public tax dollars. This not only discriminated against students requiring those same services in the public system, but it was paid for from the public purse. The Liberal plan to privatize education by diverting funding in this manner was, and still is, a very real threat.

The Supreme Court of Canada reinstated all stripped language across the province, which is non-negotiable. All future changes to our language will need to be negotiated at both local and provincial bargaining tables. It really is a very simple matter of complying with the ruling of our highest court and putting the funding back into the public system which educates the majority of our children and grandchildren. I do not want to see the reintroduction of an upper and lower class system in our society, which begins with a two-tier education system being provided to the children of B.C.

Wendy Turner/Cranbrook