Letters to the Editor

Letters: Federal Clarity Act could come into play

Ms. Marois and Pierre Peladeau recently waxed eloquently to rattle sabers about a referendum to make Quebec a sovereign state. It makes one wonder what past pundits such as Rene Levesque and Pierre Trudeau might think.

Let’s look at a case scenario regarding the establishment of a sovereign state.  First, there is Bill C-20, the Clarity Act, accepted by the House of Parliament 14 years ago this March. The Senate passed the bill in June of 2000 as well.

The Clarity Act was created in response to the 1995 Quebec referendum and ongoing independence movement in that province. The content of the Clarity Act was based on the 1998 secession reference to the Supreme Court of Canada made by the federal government of prime minister Jean Chrétien.

The motivation behind the Clarity Act was largely based on the near separation vote of the 1995 Quebec referendum, in which the people of Quebec voted against the sovereignty option by a small margin (50.6 per cent to 49.4 per cent). Controversy surrounded the ambiguity and wording of the ballot question. In English the question read, “Do you agree that Quebec should become sovereign after having made a formal offer to Canada for a new economic and political partnership within the scope of the bill respecting the future of Quebec and of the agreement signed on June 12, 1995?” This was as clear as mud. In essence, Quebec wanted sovereignty while maintaining the status quo of Canada’s benefits.

Stéphane Dion asked three questions regarding separation from Canada. On Sept. 30, 1996, Dion submitted three questions to the Supreme Court of Canada constituting the Supreme Court Reference re: Secession of Quebec. He wanted to know if, under Canada’s Constitution, the government of Quebec could secede from Canada unilaterally. He also asked if international law gave Quebec the right to secede from Canada unilaterally. His third question was if  domestic law and  international law are in conflict to effect Quebec’s secession unilaterally, which would take precedence?

In the final analysis, the scenario might be as follows: defining what a clear majority is with reference to voter turnout and rules under which the vote was conducted; the House of Commons must assess and tell Quebec as whether or not there is clear question approval before proceeding further; and allowance of unbiased, international observers to scrutinize vote proceedings.

There are other mitigating factors as well before any secession action takes place.  As Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over till it’s over!” Stay tuned folks?

Ron Barillaro

Penticton

*****

Tune-agers mark spring

Songs from across Canada will be the theme of the Tune-agers’ Spring Concert to be held at the Penticton United Church on Sunday, April 6 at 7 pm.

You will be tapping your toes and singing along to this highly enjoyable concert, featuring the Tune-agers’ choir and orchestra under the direction of Gordon Dawson.

Tickets for this community event can be purchased at Dragon’s Den on Front Street, Penticton United Church office weekday mornings, members of the Tune-agers or at the door.

Peggy Nicholson

Choir Member

Penticton

*****

Nothing fair about Election Act changes

I attended a mini rally in Keremeos on Tuesday afternoon concerning the new Fair Elections Act proposed by the Harper Conservative government.

We talked about how few people seem aware of the danger of this new attack on democracy. The Globe and Mail gave a summary of why we should be very worried.

Our federal Conservative government is changing the rules and moving the goalposts around to give them an even greater advantage in the next election.

They started by already eliminating funding for all political parties according to the number of votes they get.  That funding was meant to level the playing field somewhat.

With this bill the limit on the amount a party or candidate can receive to spend on the election will be raised.

This obviously benefits the Conservatives considering the deep pockets backing them and gives them unlimited spending power.

Elections Canada will be gutted of its power and will no longer be allowed to encourage people to vote.

The chief electoral officer will be limited in what he will be able to say publicly.  In an interview the chief electoral officer said he will no longer be able to talk publicly about elections. He can only let people know where and when to vote. How weird is that?

The commissioner of canada elections, responsible for investigating election irregularities, will be removed from his office to become director of public prosecutions and report to the minister of justice, and will not be able to investigate complaints from the last election or compel witnesses to give information.

It’s no wonder Harper is scared and imposed closure on discussion of the act. I was surprised to read on the Canada Elections website that if a political party, its agent or an officer is convicted of an offence by the courts the chief electoral officer has the power (so far) to de-register the party and liquidate its assets.

I would love to see a dialogue opened up on this issue.  It’s too important to let lie.

Donna Stocker

Cawston

*****

FortisBC imposing double standard

FortisBC is not being truthful about the interim rate increase that took effect January 1, 2014.  Fortis is telling us the increase is 3.3 per cent, but have neglected to inform us that tier two has actually been increased by 4.6 per cent.

I wrote  the BCUC to ask them to make Fortis tell us the truth, and received a letter of reply that may be helpful in fighting the two-tier conservation rate being forced upon us.  In my letter I said Fortis being allowed to charge, those of us who live where there is no alternative to electricity, a higher rate for heating our homes is unfair and discriminatory.

The BCUC replied, “The commission is responsible for ensuring that customers  receive safe, reliable and non-discriminatory energy services at fair rates.”

They also enclosed a copy of the electric tariff that outlines the new rates.  It says, “The block 2 rate is increased by an amount sufficient to recover the remaining required revenue.”

This, in my opinion, gives Fortis the right to increase tier 2 whatever they deem necessary to make up for any lost revenue because of conservation.

I wrote back to the BCUC stating the two-tier rates are not fair, and are discriminatory.  FortisBC’s decision to have those who are unable to conserve because of where we live subsidize those who can, is by definition, discrimination, and it appears the BCUC is not upholding its responsibility as is clearly stated in their letter of response to me.

If you are concerned about the two-tier rates I would ask that you file a complaint with the BCUC at complaints@bcuc.com.

Bill Copeland

Cawston

*****

Job well done Greyback

With all of the initial debate around the upgrades at Okanagan Lake one would almost not notice that the project has been substantially completed.

It is impossible to make everyone happy we all know that (for example I have always thought Lakeshore should be one lane May-September)

But what about the job done by one of our own local companies?

From my perspective I found both Greyback and the city to be communicative of what this project would entail. They worked around the tourist season, provided temporary access routes to the lake, and completed the job in sections to be as least disruptive as possible

Greyback has quietly become a leader in concrete building applications. I for one was happy when they were awarded the tender. Their employees live here and have a vested interest in the new walkway.

Speaking of which, I was out for a walk with my wife on the weekend and appreciated the new overall width.

The old brick path certainly did have character, but for me the memory of weaving around people and trees will be sufficient.

Nice job, Greyback

Troy Schalm

Penticton

 

 

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