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Letters June 8: Signing contracts without a price; stamping out smoking; free speech

Our strawberry fields: Berries at low prices

Our local strawberry treats, grown with labour imported from half way across the planet, are a testament to the miracle of free enterprise. I’m eagerly awaiting the Wilkinson Road stand to open and make jam with my home grown rhubarb.

If you enjoy conundrums with a heavy twist of irony, consider that the Wilkinson Road jail, almost next door, is full of able-bodied inmates enjoying enforced leisure in one of the most expensive accommodations on the planet.

I gave up trying to grow my own berries or understand economics and will happily pay the 35 cents per berry.

In spite of minefields of regulations, our free marketplace delivers many advantages.

So when savouring those tasty fruit, be thankful for the bounty we have inherited in this fertile land that is still comparatively free.

Russell Thompson

Victoria

Making Groundhog Day into a horror movie

Maybe it’s just me.

But does anyone else get that Groundhog Day movie feeling in reading about the auditor general’s findings regarding the feds’ dereliction of its own contracting requirements?

I mean how many times have we seen this “movie” during the Trudeau reign of error? The AG found that 90 per cent of the federal departments audited failed to follow their own rules! And 18 of 19 contracts were sole-sourced to the McKinsey consultant firm which was awarded more than $200 million.

And in a sampling of more than 30 contracts, 90% of them didn’t include what the actual cost would be!

Huh? Isn’t this the same government that hired about 100,000 civil servants since 2015? Apparently, not only did the bureaucracy apparently need these pricey consultants but it seems it needed them quickly — otherwise why did it ignore some very fundamental rules for contracting?

And no one noticed these dubious deals? Is anyone in charge?

As a former civil servant (with contracting experience), I truly wish it were the endearing romantic comedy Groundhog Day playing over and over again.

However, under the Liberal government, it has become a repeating horror movie. And a very costly one for the 91ԭ taxpayer.

But maybe it’s just me.

Gordon Zawaski

Parksville

Considering free speech and democracy

Free speech: Across the street from a schoolyard, a group of kids are gathered around a young man talking about the wonderful time he is having with drugs and the loads of money he is making by selling them. Nearby is a young dealer and gang recruiter waiting for his accomplice to finish his “free speech” before approaching potential enlistees.

Democracy: Two substitute teachers were vying for a Grade 4 fill-in position. Being equally qualified, the school principal decided to take this opportunity to demonstrate how democracy works; the class would vote for who they wanted.

In thirty words or less, the first applicant said, “If you vote for me, I’ll provide you with an excellent education and help you on your journey to becoming upstanding citizens in your community.”

The second said, “Vote for me and you will all get longer recess breaks and a chocolate bar.” After the election, and in keeping with her promise, recess breaks were extended by thirty seconds, and the one and only chocolate bar was divided among the 25 students.

The two examples above involve children, but gullibility does not end the minute we become adults. Free speech and democracy are certainly worthwhile pursuits, but should there not also be limits on how they are used (beyond hate and defamation)?

Who should determine these limits? Well, that’s the problem we face.

Jim Bisakowski

Langford

Public education is key to cutting cigarette sales

As a former smoker, I do applaud the notion of reducing smoking especially among young people.

However, I can’t imagine increasing age restrictions to eventual lifetime bans are going to work. You only need to look around our streets to see how effective substance bans are.

If people want it, they will always find a way. If stores stop selling tobacco, the internet will take over and supply and demand will run its course.

We then risk a situation where maybe more than tobacco is among the ingredients, and harms can are increased.

Prohibition doesn’t work. We need to accept this reality. Public education is working in regards to reducing tobacco use.

Barry Roberts

Victoria

Critical thinking is a key lesson

Re: “Free speech is indispensable to social justice and democracy,” ­commentary, June 6.­

Thanks to Calvin Sandborn for his shrewd analysis and a much-needed dose of common sense.

Universities have become progenitors of what is now known as “cancel culture” — but let’s give it its proper name of “censorship,” frequently accompanied by threats of violence and actual violence — because for at least a couple of decades, in their neoliberal fervour to plunk bums on seats and thus feather their own nests, their administrators have toadied to the half-baked and usually ephemeral ideologies of coddled adolescents.

In doing so and in abandoning their responsibility to teach critical thinking, they have betrayed their social mandate.

Hilary Knight

Victoria

Don’t vote for the switchers

Several writers have expressed extreme displeasure at so-called turncoat politicians who switch party affiliation in advance of an upcoming general election.

These politicians are described as opportunistic, self-serving and more interested in safeguarding their pension rights if they stay in the legislature.

It could be too that they want to join a party that might form office so that they can continue their “good work.”

Regardless, if any voter is displeased with these turncoats, all they have to do is vote for someone else on election day.

David Collins

Victoria

Sturko’s defection brings memories of Uphill

Elenore Sturko running as a Conservative is oddly reminiscent of Thomas Uphill doing the same more than a century ago.

Uphill was the popular mayor of Fernie, presenting himself as a champion of the working class. The governing Conservative party had become broadly unpopular and was regarded as an enemy of working people, particularly after its suppression of the 91ԭ Island miners’ strike. Uphill shocked everyone by accepting nomination as the Conservative candidate for Fernie in the 1916 election.

Questions of integrity arose immediately. Why would a labour man run for a party seen as the enemy of labour? On the other side of the coin, why would the Conservatives welcome such a candidate? The answer seemed simply to be a mutual desire for power and a willingness to avoid fundamental contradictions until after the election.

Whether or not these sharply clashing values could have been reconciled was not tested. The Conservative party lost the Fernie riding for the first time and Uphill lost a provincial election for the only time in his career.

My point is this: integrity matters. Sturko and today’s Conservatives have just thrown away a substantial portion of theirs. Political marriages based only on convenience leave a lingering smell surrounding both participants.

That odour will linger. Integrity matters to voters. Uphill soon joined a party that shared his working-class orientation and won 11 provincial elections in a row.

He remains British Columbia’s longest-serving MLA, but in 1916 he could not convince his own brother-in-law to vote for him.

Wayne Norton

Victoria

91ԭ Red Ensign was the flag in 1944

Not to disparage our flag of today, but the 91ԭ Red Ensign was the flag that flew as our brave soldiers march into battle on Juno Beach on that dreadful day, D-Day, bringing the beginning of the end of the Second World War.

On June 29, 1944, the red ensign was flown on the headquarters of the First 91ԭ Army in Normandy, to celebrate Dominion Day two days later. For the first time, 91ԭ soldiers were fighting under their own colours.

It was the chosen flag to fly for Canada until the maple leaf flag was adopted in 1965. It’s not too late. On June 29 this year there needs to be a ceremony to recognize this.

As my father participated in this great fight to save the world on the open seas, it would honour his memory and all others who sacrificed their safety, and their families who kept the “home fires burning “ under the identity of 91ԭs.

E.C. Jewsbury

Saanich

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