LETTERS: Unknown Soldier revealed

Penticton Western News letters to the editor for the Oct. 29 issue.

Unknown Soldier revealed

The context and the intent of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is in itself a symbolic gesture made to Canadian service men and women, along with their families, and a device by which our country pays tribute to all of those who have lost their lives in service for Canada.

By removing the soldier’s identity, race, religion and gender, it has become a symbol of unity and respect by all Canadians.

Once the tomb was in place, Canadians of all ages embraced these ideas, and paid tribute to what we feel are truly Canadian virtues, and it became a place of national reflection.

The public’s spontaneous laying of poppies upon the tomb each year on Remembrance Day was a heart-warming surprise to even the most hardened veterans.

On Canada Day, again without prompting or ceremony, Canadians began laying small flags on the tomb in a gesture that can best be described as a collective and stereotypical, Canadian thank you.

At its heart the anonymity of the soldier is the true power of the tribute, and allows all Canadians to put the face of their loved one upon the gesture.

It is a quiet and modest tribute, void of bravado or ginned up patriotism. It speaks to silent toughness and sacrifice, and of charity, inclusion and unity.

These virtues draw people from around the world to Canada, and garner admiration for our nation’s short but glorious journey.

On Oct 22, as the tragic fate of our treasured young soldier became realized, the magnitude of the attack began to take on a personal and human element.

To happen in this place, this place of honour and respect, this place of unity, this place of gathering for all Canadians, was both gut wrenching and transformable.

I will never look upon the tomb in the same way again.

No longer will I imagine soldiers in Europe or the Pacific, no longer will I think of my long lost great uncles and their ultimate sacrifices, or have to look through faded photographs, or black and white newsreels, and try to imagine what they went through.

As we pass, so do our memories.

We all know a Nathan Cirillo, a son, a dad, a friend, or a neighbour, there is an honour guard in all of our lives, and we just have to look for them.

As Nathan was being taken from us, he was in fact being given back to us.

The Unknown Soldier broke our deal.

The Unknown Soldier lifted the veil and invited us in, gave us a glimpse at the treasure of youth and the life that he surrendered for Canada a century ago.

The soldier is known, he is home, and he is with us forever.

Laurence Morgan


Slump supporter

I was at The Lakeside and I shook hands with Elvena Slump, local hero, speaker of truth-to-power.

There was a lineup, so I kept it brief.  I told her she was an inspiration to many.  She said, “I’m trying as hard as I can.”  She might seem fragile, but her smile was strong and true.

That was weeks ago. Is Elvena right?  They are going to ignore her until after the election?  The city has since dropped the impending lawsuit on this very intelligent, articulate woman who shares her considered experience and civic insight on behalf of the greater community.

The questions surrounding why the city went after her should top the list for candidates who would take the helm Nov. 15.

The City of Penticton is a monopoly of products and services to which concerned citizens should expect accountability. Is transparency just another election buzz-word now?

Are all unelected government officials who are paid, handsomely beyond doubt or reproach, now?

Did the job description say something about easy-money, no questions asked?

There’s a slippery slope, here, that trickles from the PMO to the mayors.

To claim that Elvena Slump is a bully is to trivialize the seriousness of physical or emotional violence perpetrated anywhere, for any reason. This is not the case, here.

Letters to the editors are not sticks-and-stones. They are an appropriate forum for civic discussion and criticism. History shows.

So, yes, more Elvena’s please.  More informative letters to editors thank-you because without informed criticism we’d only have the semi-gloss pamphlet enclosed with our utility bill.

But to not read informed criticism because it is “not positive,” to accuse the critic of simply being unhappy with nothing better to do than find fault is an ad hominem attack, groundless and unhelpful. This is city council, not Alcoholics Anonymous.  Kith and kin might be forgiven such inane argument; but no other. I’m sure Mr. Litke is a wonderful guy, but he won’t be missed as mayor, for this alone.

Thanks to the management and staff at The Barking Parrot. I wondered if a fundraiser for Mrs. Slump’s accusers would draw such a crowd.  Who would play host?  Thanks also to MC, Gord McLaren, for his Wonder Where the Lawyers Are rendering.  Good to see John Vassilaki there.  He knows it’s wrong.

Some would call it gamesmanship.  Tax dollars funding a lawsuit like this is repugnant to a free society.

Question authority.  “Free Elvena.”

Geoff Burton



Small business is frustrated

Main Street 200 block property owners welcomed the news in early 2013 that an upgrading plan was finally being initiated.

Meetings were held in which the plans were explained. The process continued but with property owners excluded from the planning and design phase.

Although concerns were raised, the consultations became a sales pitch only.  Rather than provide time to settle these various unresolved issues the City chose to ignore requests for a short delay.

Doing so would likely have the concerns expressed by property owners resulting in a consensus therefore not requiring the grossly flawed, undemocratic negative petition process.

We can presume that the planner relayed the level of concern and dissatisfaction to city council yet these seem to have ignored.

It is disappointing that the city has such low-confidence in the level of support for the project that they choose to impose it by way of a negative petition process.

This process ensures that even if 80 per cent or more of the 200 block property owners are opposed the weight of only a few high value properties such as the Valley First building in the 100 block with an assessed value at $7.9 million along with other bank properties, (as they are likely to abstain) will override the majority of small properties and easily weight results of the petition in favour of the city.

As a result, a no vote which would provide for a short delay allowing the property owners to address concerns will not happen and it is most frustrating to see the voice of small business essentially ruled by a few large properties.

Iain Hyslop



Questions to ask your candidates for city council

1. Do you support the concept of downtown revitalization and how do you propose it be paid for?

2. What are your thoughts about public transit in Penticton?

3. Please comment on the statement  “staff have too much power.”

4. For some years we have urgently required a first class convention hotel to accommodate large numbers of attendees. Would you favour development of any kind on our waterfront?

These are among the questions we must pose in conversations with our neighbours and during the political debates. Please think about doing so. There is no way the politics can be removed from politics. The dictionary told me so.

Bonnie Ross



Fletcher wrong about CUPE

Recently you ran a column by Tom Fletcher suggesting that the Canadian Union of Public Employees was running city halls in British Columbia.

Mr. Fletcher’s column was based on a shoddy report done by the provincial government about pay for municipal employees. Both Mr. Fletcher’s column and the provincial report shared something in common.

Despite the fact the report focussed on local governments, neither Mr. Fletcher nor the authors of the report bothered to talk to local government representatives.

And this is not surprising, because Mr. Fletcher and others are dealing with a solution in search of a problem.

The solution is to force a provincial-government controlled bargaining model on locally-elected city councils. The problem? Well, that’s what Mr. Fletcher and others are working on creating.

If Mr. Fletcher had spoken to Rona Martin, president of the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), or even read the UBCM statement, he would have found that the provincial report acknowledges 26 times there are limitations in the data to support analysis of municipal pay.

The report goes on to reach grand conclusions anyway. Ms. Martin also notes that compensation for police and fire fighters, and even BC Ferries and TransLink, is lumped in even though local governments have no control over compensation for these groups.

Kamloops Mayor Walter Gray echoed the UBCM concerns and noted flawed data from what he called some taxpayer groups like the Fraser Institute, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

It is true that the cost of local government has gone up.

Andy Shadrack, a director for the Regional District of Central Kootenay said that he had spent the last nine years trying to prevent provincial and federal governments from implementing more and more expensive regulations, rules and required services for local government to provide.

The bill for this downloading of costs by senior government onto local governments has been huge according to a recent report from the B.C.-based Columbia Institute.

Between 2001 and 2010 local spending on sewer services went up by 173 per cent, on policing by 134 per cent, and on water services by 130 per cent.

All of these increases were driven either by provincial or federal regulations or provincial control.

Finally, let’s look at Mr. Fletcher’s key target, CUPE’s wage settlements, the only actual cost he identifies. Over the last decade CUPE’s wage settlements with local governments have tended to mirror settlements negotiated in the private sector.

If you check with B.C.’s statistics agency, you will find both CUPE and private sector agreements have been lower than the growth in the province’s wealth (the provincial gross domestic product) and lower than the increase in average weekly wages for the province as a whole.

As Derek Corrigan, mayor of Burnaby, described by Maclean’s magazine as Canada’s best run city, put it, “I’ll put the fiscal responsibility of our cities against the provincial government any day of the week.”

It would have been helpful if the authors of the provincial government report had actually talked to local governments and examined any of these issues.

As a journalist, it would have been responsible for Mr. Fletcher to do the same. Instead, his column serves as a free plug for the Christy Clark government’s ham-fisted solution in search of a non-existent problem.

Mark Hancock

CUPE B.C., president


Oliver Casa Rio on the rocks

Strata council have wasted money on a rock garden on town property.

We have HVAC air conditioning units, also called swamp coolers. Council does not qualify to operate  swamp coolers. They have flooded the place once. Council have obstructed the use of the swamp cooler air conditioning units. In July and August, we had 35 days of 80 degrees and higher in the hallway. Every day, the swamp cooler is shut down completely for nine hours. This leaves us with health hazards, bad odours and no fresh air.

Our lives are at  risk because hallways are not pressurized and carbon monoxide and gas smells could come up from the parkade below.

Mike Kuzek


Halloween haunts

Halloween has changed in the last several decades.

I remember huge bonfires to burn the leaves and grand firework displays and trick or treating.

To get a treat, it was, “Halloween handouts” or “Trick-or-Treat.” I enjoyed the houses that were decorated and where the residents wore costumes.

That was Halloween. Now after several decades, I have enjoyed decorating for Halloween. From flying bats and ghosts gliding across our lawns, to witches, zombies and werewolves. This year I started setting up before Thanksgiving.

It’s quite the show when it’s dark.  Come see us, if you dare at 172 MacCleave Crt.

Alison Hunter



Conspiracy theory a waste of time

Mr. Proteau and Ms. Lightfoot are conspiracy theorists and both grandstanding on this fictitious quest.

Regardless of his impeccable source from Princeton University, I, and tens of thousands like me, are proud to have had the opportunity to be union municipal employees, department heads in a municipality, councillors and then mayors.

Municipal employees and politicians, with very few exceptions, are dedicated and honest people whole are exposed weekly to customer complaints and abuse but very few thank-you’s. Proteau and Ms. Lightfoot express concern about compromise and hacking then in the same breath agree with Coun. Judy Sentes’ suggestion of using youth volunteers by stating; “You had a great suggestion etc” “You could have combined youth and the old etc ….  to have these manual vote counts.”

So who guarantees that these youth and old people are honest and up-right enough to satisfy Mr. Proteau and Ms. Lightfoot?

These two are wasting the valuable time of many ministries and organizations and possibly costing thousands of dollars in defense costs for which we as tax-payers are financially responsible.

Pat Hampson


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