February 2 – Letters to the editor

Opinions and ideas from around the area, emailed to us and shared with you.

Thank you

As Operations Manager for the Archdiocese of Toronto’s Office for Refugees I want to thank you for your recent article entitled “Insight into the life of a Liberian refugee”.  You ought to be commended for your effort to underscore the plight of refugees and the generosity of Canadians who are responding to meet this need.

I know that these sentiments are echoed by the Director of ORAT, Dr. Martin Mark. ORAT was privileged to assist Edith and her family through our mission trip to Ghana where we began the sponsorship process with her.  We were also pleased to assist by finding a resettlement group that had the capacity to accommodate a large family like Edith’s. The resettlement group in Fernie was willing and able to undertake this important work to sponsor Edith and her family.

As Edith correctly pointed out in the article, the sponsorship process can oftentimes be quite slow. For example, the current average processing time for sponsorship applications by the Government of Canada’s visa office in Accra, Ghana is 52 months.

Thank you again for covering such an important story.

Rudy Ovcjak

Toronto, ON


Pop-Up Constituency Offices

Happy New Year! 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation, and I am looking forward to serving you in the busy year ahead. I campaigned on the promise that I would be a strong voice for Kootenay-Columbia in Ottawa and my priority remains visiting communities across the riding to hear from you.

Earlier in January, I had the opportunity to host open houses at my Cranbrook and Nelson constituency offices. I was also able to host Coffee with the MP in Field and Revelstoke, and in Golden, residents joined me for an evening of pints and politics. From these public events and the many reply cards my office has received by mail, I have heard from constituents about priorities ranging from democratic reform, to concerns about the environment, to health care, to support for our small businesses and making life more affordable.

Though it will be a busy upcoming session in Ottawa, I look forward to making the most out of the break weeks back in our riding. One of the most important resources I am able to offer in my role as your Member of Parliament is to support constituents on federal matters. I know that accessing your nearest Service Canada office or even my constituency offices can be a challenge across an area as big as Kootenay-Columbia – especially during these winter months. That is why I am excited to announce that throughout 2017 I will be bringing my constituency offices to communities across the riding in a series of pop-up offices.

My staff will be on hand to help you to navigate and resolve issues with federal government departments, programs and services. Whenever it is possible, I look forward to being able to stop in at the pop-up office to hear your concerns.  I know how challenging it is to access updates and information from federal government agencies – especially if your only point of contact is a busy phone line. As your MP, I am able to inquire on your behalf and assist you in updating your case file with additional required information.

Please contact my office if you are interested in making an appointment at a pop-up office. I will also be accepting walk-ins on a first come, first serve basis. Please make sure to bring your Social Insurance Number and a piece of identification. Please note that, in order to assist you, I am required to have you sign a parliamentarian consent form before looking into your file.  This means that the person requiring assistance must attend the meeting in person; third-party requests cannot be accepted.

Aside from my constituency pop-up offices, I am also looking forward to continuing to hear from our local businesses by hosting more small business forums in 2017. After the success of my first forum in Fernie last October, I am excited to hear from the Columbia Valley next, at a forum in Invermere in early March.

Also in March, I will be hosting a telephone town hall meeting with residents of the riding.  You will have the opportunity to listen to, and join in a discussion with a panel of stakeholders on the government’s plans to legalize marijuana. Please check my website or contact my office for more information on these upcoming events.

I hope to see you in my travels around the riding this year.

Wayne Stetski

Member of Parliament

Kootenay – Columbia


Is John Horgan a True NDP’er?

The NDP party of Canada is a united party both federally and provincially, with a united policy system.  I emailed a news item, “N.S. election, polls are strongly in Liberal’s favour” to John Horgan for his information.  His reply back to me was “Joe, I am not your MLA and the information you are sending is of no interest to me.  Maybe you could find someone else to play with.”

I have to conclude that John Horgan is not a true NDP’er.

Joe Sawchuk

Duncan, BC


Answer to the Muslim Question

The recent Quebec mosque attack is no doubt an alarming event for everyone.  However thanks to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s unwavering stance on equality, freedom and justice for all, Canada still remains the best country in the World to be in for a Muslim right now.  In fact the very purpose of establishing a Muslim state was to secure a territory where justice to all would be served  and where freedom to choose, change and practice religion was a basic human right guaranteed to everyone regardless of their race, color or religion. Such states were unheard of in those times and are still relatively rare.  Being a firm believer myself, I would not want to live anywhere else in the World but Canada right now.

This attack is a symptom of a much serious underlying global phenomenon though.  This growing paranoia or Islamophobia is a result of many factors.  There is no doubt that fear in people’s heart has been exaggerated for political reasons but Muslims around the globe also are equally blameworthy. In order to properly understand this everyone must understand Islam by reading or listening to Quran for themselves.  Only through understanding we can hope to rebuild the trust and diffuse this situation. Here is the basic concept:  Quran claims to be the last “notice/message” sent to all mankind from the one and only invisible Creator (God) who claims to be the same God who had sent all the previous such messages to mankind including Gospel, Torah and Book of Psalms etc.  Earth is a “training and testing” facility for humans’ “decision making processor” or Artificial Intelligence (AI).  Creator through different tests is screening for just, humble, charitable and courageous people who would never compromise their decisions in any situation. Everyone is asked to pass his/her own test only using Quran alone. Life is an individual test, so no need to worry if everyone else seems to be failing it. Following someone else is highly discouraged which is evident by statements like “if you obey most of those upon the Earth, they will mislead you from the way of God.” Quran 6:116.

Islam and Muslims are two completely separate entities. Islam is like a “map” of a territory which represents reality/truth and Muslims are the travelers. Unfortunately most Muslims are not paying attention to the map itself in my opinion and hence are lost.  For example Sunni Muslims (90% of Muslims) believe in punishing apostasy.  However Quran gives full freedom to everyone to choose or change their religion anytime. As I see it if one can join a faith based group freely but then can never leave, it is an oppressive cult not a religion. Primary victims of such oppressive cults are their uninformed members themselves.  Islam is a religion of justice and freedom and that is how it brings peace. Unfortunately these basic rules have been overlooked by many Muslims and this is the main reason for the chaos in which Muslim World is in right now. Unless people understand Quran, the situation is bound to get worse for all.


Muhammad Faisal Jhandir MD FRCPC

Fernie, BC

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