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If the shoe fits

Dear Premier Campbell, Liberal MLA's and Creditors:

Please accept this letter as official notification that effective immediately I will no longer be paying any taxes to the province of BC, nor will I be paying any of my bills. After conducting a "core review" of my financial situation, I have had to make some difficult choices.

Today I have introduced a new bill, Bill 29 (f), The Personal Flexibility, Choice and Improvement Act. Under this bill, I am no longer responsible for paying any monies owed to the BC Government or any other creditors. I choose to serve my needs over rigid government contracts.

I realize that this represents a break from my commitment to honor the agreements I signed with government and creditors, but I had to give myself some flexibility so that I could continue to balance my budget. While the steps I am taking through this legislation may not be consistent with my stated intent to respect all our agreements, I choose to restore personal choice, flexibility and cost-effective accountability to myself.

I included an article in the Bill that prevents you from seeking any damages or compensation from me. If any of my nifty moves anger you I would just like to remind you that I am not to blame for my actions. I have learned from the stellar example provided by your leadership.

Here is what I have learned from you: be arrogant and bold, ignore the concerns of others, say one thing and do the opposite, blame others for your choices and actions, don't honor commitments and contracts, and perhaps most importantly, when you don't like something, legislate it away (be sure to create protection from legal action).

Arthur Tinney
Black Creek BC

Campsite Closures

Dear Editor;

In a recent speech to the New Westminster Chamber of Commerce, Minister of Water, Land and Air Protection Joyce Murray said that government could improve if it were run more like a business. I regret that I was not in the audience, and was thus unable to ask her how closing hundreds of campgrounds in British Columbia fits into Premier Campbell's business plan.

That's right, hundreds. There have been press reports about plans to close 40 or 50 campgrounds in provincial parks, but the Liberal government also plans to close ALL of the campgrounds run by the Ministry of Forests. When the Liberals were in opposition, they criticized the NDP for charging user fees for these campgrounds.

Tourism is one of B.C.'s most important products. Most businesses that have a product to sell have a marketing strategy. Any good marketing strategy identifies the target market for the product, and what makes the product preferable to the competition's product.

Do the Liberals have a marketing strategy for tourism? If so, who is the target market? Apparently, people who want to spend a holiday enjoying B.C.'s forests, rivers, wildlife, and mountains are no longer important. Does the strategy involve turning B.C. into some combination of Las Vegas and Disneyland, with vast expanses of clearcuts, and some game farms for trophy hunters? If so, it's a foolish strategy.

Hon. Murray also told the Chamber that "a government's primary job is to provide value for all its citizens." Well, B.C.'s provincial parks and crown land represent value that already belongs to us. Being able to set up a tent in a provincial park or a Ministry of Forests campsite may not be legally defined as a right of British Columbians, but it should be. The Ministry of WLAP is also considering creating more concessions in provincial parks, along the lines of what's in Cypress Provincial Park. Wherever this is done, it would interfere with the right to camp, fish, or just enjoy the natural beauty of B.C., and this infringement on our rights cannot be tolerated.

Closing emergency rooms and courthouses will create problems for thousands of British Columbians. So will cutbacks in adult education, taking welfare away from single parents, and reducing the minimum wage. Closing campgrounds goes beyond picking on the ill and impoverished among us. It doesn't affect just the fresh- air fanatics; it affects every family in B.C. that is accustomed to spending their annual holiday enjoying the things that make B.C. different from Ontario or Mississippi. It also hurts the small town owners and employees of the grocery stores and restaurants where tourists buy food. It will hurt businesses of all types in rural areas of B.C. For example, people travelling to Bella Coola are dependent on the Ministry of Forests campsites along route 20.

This proposal from the Minister of WLAP has convinced me that words like "uncaring", "short-sighted", and "mean spirited" do not go far enough when describing Gordon Campbell's government. "Destructive" is appropriate. We managed to survive governments headed by Vander Zalm and Clark, and we will survive this one, too. However, the sooner this government is replaced by a less destructive one, the better. We need to get rid of this bunch before they hand our provincial parks over to foreign multinational giants like Weyerhaeuser.

Robert Broughton
New Westminster, BC
http://broughton.ca/ Email: bob@broughton.ca

Sicko threats

Mr Premier,

I like all citizens of British Columbia am horrified to hear of the threats you have received in the past few days. Mr. Campbell maybe now you can look back at your own record and a threat that you made about 4 years ago to many lives. You told I think it was the Vancouver Board of Trade that one way that you felt we could get rid of the NDP government was to send the NDP caucus for a drive through the Fraser Canyon with a drunken driver, yes you thought that was funny. You may also remember that it took you at least a week of the media hounding you , before you offered a half assed apology. Mr. Campbell the members of the NDP caucus just like you and your caucus have families too. Yes, life is indeed very sacred. Threats to people's lives by anyone (including you) are not funny, they are THREATNING. When you were speaking to the media about the latest terrible threats, I hope that you took a few minutes to reflect back your own sick (but still threatening) words. I would like to receive a reply.

Jim Doyle, Former MLA ,
Golden, BC

No Kidding

Dear Editor:

Tom Sanborn's excellent article in the February 2002 issue on global warming -- "So, hot enough for you?" -- seems to overlook the main cause of global warming -- overpopulation of our planet.

Did you know that having a child is one of the worst actions you can take against the environment? It's much worse than owning a car, buying plastic items and throwing out garbage (Consumer Reports, November, 1992), because "virtually every child born into a middle-class American family can look forward to a lifetime of consuming resources and energy, and creating waste and pollution, on a scale unmatched in human history." And let's not forget that each baby in developed countries uses between 5,000 and 8,000 disposable diapers (Consumer Reports, August, 1998). That's a lot of, uh,...dirty diapers!

It is the observation and conclusion of every reputable environmental scientist and scientific environmentalist in the world that our burgeoning population (now at more than 6 billion!) is the greatest threat to the air we breathe, the water we drink and bathe in, and the food we eat, not to mention its effect on climate and weather incidents (such as hurricanes, floods, droughts, landslides, etc.). I am not condemning anyone for having had children, I'm simply saying that to do so in the future is to add to future environmental problems. Much as someone who smoked around others thirty years ago -- they simply didn't know any better. Someone who does so now is guilty of cavalier disregard for the health and well-being of others, now that the harmful effects of second-hand smoke are well known and documented.

If you had only two children, and they followed your example, you could be sharing the planet with fourteen other people (kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids) that you helped create; three kids, and you're competing with 39 other relatives for space; four could produce 84 descendents in your lifetime; and with five kids, you could be adding 155 humans to the planet's population while you're still here.

Twelve billion consuming polluters will have a much greater impact on the planet than do six billion. Your neighbors with double the number of residents than live in your home probably have double (or more) the garbage you produce every week. If you add to the population of the planet, you are adding to the present and future environmental degradation of our planet.

Natural resources, and habitable and arable land are finite. The population of the planet increases by 250,000 (net) every day -- that's three new babies to house and feed every second. Even if we could increase food production to accommodate all of these new hungry people, where will we find enough potable water to keep them alive and healthy? If you think overcrowding is not a problem, try sharing a phone booth with one other person, then two, then three, then...

Jerry Steinberg, "Founding Non-Father" of NO KIDDING!
(The international social club for childfree and childless couples and singles.)
Vancouver www.nokidding.net, Email: info@nokidding.net
(The opinions expressed herein are those of the writer, and are not necessarily shared by all NO KIDDING! members.)

United Church concerns

Dear Premier Campbell,

This letter contains deep concerns about the impact of recent government actions upon the poor of our province. Traditionally, a number of areas have been close to the heart and witness of the United Church of Canada in British Columbia.

  • the resolution of the land question involving First Nations
  • the state of the poor in our province, particularly those on welfare
  • the well-being of children
  • the condition of refugees
  • support offered those who battle addictions and
  • care for prisoners and the health of the legal system.

The wide-ranging changes brought by your government impact all of these areas. The purpose of this letter is not to debate ideology or faith regarding various economic strategies. This letter focuses primarily upon the effect of your cuts upon the daily lives of those receiving social assistance. Several of the changes instituted by your government will dramatically impact the quality of life for many on welfare, providing relatively little financial savings while significantly harming their spirit, health and safety. It will diminish the quality of our social fabric.

Eliminating the $100 exemptions to single parents receiving family maintenance payments reduces their standard of living and increases the prospect of adversarial relations within an already troubled family situation. The cut of the Flat Rate Earnings Exemption ($100 to single people, $200 for those with partner or children) dramatically reduces incentive. The Flat Rate Earnings Exemption allows many who are seeking a way into the job market to upgrade their skills and improve their life. Surely this direction deserves support! We need to support paths of hope not deepen cynicism.

We are extremely concerned with the impact of recent actions upon children. The cut of $70/month to single parent families is estimated to touch the lives of 60,000 children. Even if these figures are only half right the hardship this will visit upon children cannot be denied.

Moreover, the shock upon the larger social culture also cannot be ignored. It is widely recognized that welfare does nothing more than allow a family to barely survive. These cuts will, in effect, force people to commit fraud simply to survive. Your government has reduced the benefit rates for "employable" welfare recipients between age 55 and 64 by between $47 and $98 per month. Mr. Premier what are these people to do?

For most receiving welfare, there are no jobs!

A similar situation exists for refugee claimants who are not currently allowed to work. What are they to do when they are no longer eligible for assistance?

The economic impact of your leap of faith in cutting taxes on your first day in office is not yet bearing any fruit. Apparently the Ministry of Human Resources "service plan" claims there will be new initiatives on training and employment assistance. How will this be possible in a ministry whose operating budget has been cut by 30%, its staff cut by 15% and 36 of its offices across the province closed. At the same time, training programs, including those designed for low-income people, students, and apprenticeship programs are slated for elimination.

The changes to the Legal Aid system also cause us concern because of the fall-out on low-income people. We understand that aid for civil cases and so-called poverty law will no longer be available. In practical terms, low-income people needing assistance with a welfare or WCB complaint or a dispute with landlords will no longer have equal access to the justice system.

Mr. Premier, we are well aware that the current state of the province needs improvement. However, these measures are making the lives of low-income people worse.

Given our long involvement in these issues and the extent of our membership throughout the province, we request a meeting with you and/or Minister Coell to discuss these concerns.

Tanis van Drimmelen, President
British Columbia Conference
The United Church of Canada

Organ-donor candidate

Dear editor,

Life is so full of ironies; but it's the bitter ones that worry me: After having overcome years of procrastination and some baseless paranoia over being prematurely pronounced deceased by an overzealous organ-donor-seeking surgeon, I finally decided lately to register myself as an organ-donor candidate (though with the meds I'm taking, I'm not sure if my organs are of any donor use).

Just my observation: I've come to realize that, with the exception of organ-donor disqualifying disease sufferers and certain religious/philosophical constraints, there's no real excuse for anyone to not donate life-saving organs when they are of no more use

to the original (dead) beholder.

So, not really knowing where to start, I phoned the local hospital switchboard; understandably, I was told, "I don't know ... But maybe they'll know at Records."

Having been transferred to that department, I again was met with bewilderment: "I don't know; but let me ask [another employee]." I then was told, quite confidently, that a certain pharmacy (though I'll bet she meant any pharmacy), "... will have the registration forms."

When I phoned the pharmacy, I was basically given another I-don't-know; though, "I'll have a look around and call you back." And I'm still waiting ...

... And here I thought that organ-donors are in short supply and are being eagerly sought.

Frank G. Sterle, Jr.

The Columbia Journal
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