Letters to the Editor for June 23

This week's Letters to the Editor discuss trade partnerships, the Rural Enhancement Fund and the use of pesticide in rural areas.

Letter to the Editor re: Fair Trade versus Free Trade

Bill Bennett’s virulent attack (The Free Press June 9, 2016) on his own constituent for being concerned about the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal is par for the LiberalCon course. While some of the minor virtues extolled by Bennett regarding benefits of the TPP may be somewhat true, you can be sure the majority of any benefit will go to B.C. Liberal campaign donors, not workers.

While Bennett claims increased market share through lowering tariffs and other financial barriers to trade, he fails to mention that in exchange for gaining foreign markets we can end up destroying our domestic markets with inferior products from jurisdictions with lower standards.

While Bennett supports the TPP in the same way he supported the now failed Harper backed Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program, it turns out the TPP is the TFW program on steroids. The TPP creates corporate islands that can allow the transfer of employees anywhere within their own corporate borders, regardless of national boundaries or immigration policies of host nations.

This means mining companies like Teck could transfer employees from their operations in Chile over hiring and training Elk Valley residents. Unions already fought for more domestic apprenticeships over the importation of foreign trades into the Valley. Then we fought Bennett over a Chinese company extracting coal in Tumbler Ridge exclusively with TFW’s. The TTP will expand the influx of desperate workers in search of prosperity and who could blame them? After all they are simply workers just like us.

There is nothing wrong with trading with other nations. But that trade should be fair trade. The “free” trade Bennett espouses is really just freedom for his campaign donors to control our resources and extract them for fabulous profit with low wage corporate slaves – all while leaving British Columbia workers and their communities to fend for themselves.

Alex HansonFernie, B.C.


Letter to the Editor re: TPP rebuttal

Dear Mr. Bennett,

I’m pleased that you found my letters (The Free Press, May 5 and 26) “provocative”. After all, what would politics be without a little provocation?

Naturally, you have gone beyond provocation and have exhibited the distortion of fact and the groundless accusation which colour any and all of your political correspondence (Free Press, June 9.)

For instance, I challenge you to quote from my two letters that I stated, implied or otherwise expressed the idea that. “Canada and B.C. can go it alone…without trade agreements”? Or that I stated, implied or otherwise expressed a burning desire to “…punish business”?

See, Bill, these accusations of yours are misleading – deliberately so, I suspect – and no doubt you are aware that this is the sort of thing for which Donald Trump’s tweets have become justly infamous. You should also be aware that there is a vast difference between arguing against free trade and being against trade agreements in general.

And where are the hundreds of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in tax revenues from free trade that you write about? Certainly not in Canada, where the NAFTA has been blamed for the loss of 200,000 manufacturing jobs over the last decade.

Nor have you shown any desire or ability to challenge  criticisms levelled at the TPP (letter, The Free Press, May 5.)

Let me re-reference four of these for you: transnational corporations successfully overriding our democratic institutions; exerting control over Canada’s environmental and labour laws, and health care; creating vast wealth inequality; being able to sue the duly-elected Canadian government if its environmental or resource legislation interferes with their profit-taking.

Indeed, under Chapter 11 of the NAFTA the Canadian government has already been sued by corporations 35 times since 1995, paying out $170 million in ‘compensation.’

Given that the tariff reductions you mention in your letter will take 10-15 years to implement, and that the TPP is the biggest-ever sellout of Canadian democracy, your argument in favour of the TPP is batting .000.

However, I see from your letter that you refer to me as your “socialist friend.” That’s nice Bill, but even on that one you’re only batting .500.

I remain,

Yours most sincerely,

JC VallanceFernie, B.C.

Letter to the Editor re: Looking for leaders

On June 18, I had the opportunity to attend the launch of “100 Per Cent Renewable Kootenays” – a project of the West Kootenay Eco-Society.  This event was indeed part of a bigger picture. When I considered other groups such as: Eco-Justice, Blue Dot, Leadnow, Council of Canadians and Citizens’ Climate Lobby, the obvious question must be asked.  Are these “radical” groups supported by “radical” science, or are they citizen collectives supported by the most current science of the day?

Each of these groups has their champions; but it seems what they are all looking for is that our elected representatives will step up, look at the real data and become real visionary leaders.  British Columbia and Saskatchewan are prime examples of where the needed leadership has yet to arrive.

The task is daunting but the consequences of in-action even more so.

Applications for the position of Real Leader are still being accepted

Ron RobinsonNelson, B.C.


Letter to the Editor re: Rural Enhancement Fund

As a parent proud to call rural B.C. home, my family understands the unique opportunities and some of the challenges that come with living in a rural area.

We’ve just launched a new program that recognizes these challenges –  the Rural Education Enhancement Fund. When a school closes, it impacts more than K-12 education – it negatively affects the local community and economy.

The Rural Education Enhancement Fund is ongoing and is ready today so  districts can get the funding needed to keep eligible schools open this September. Districts will receive the amount equal to the expected savings from closing their school if the application is successful.

To be eligible, a district must be located in a rural community or sub-community outside of Greater Victoria, the Lower Mainland and Kelowna. As well, the closure would eliminate education for specific grades from a community. Finally, the funds must be used to keep the school open.

In addition to the fund, the Province has launched the Rural Education Strategy to find solutions to those unique challenges rural school district face. Linda Larson, my new parliamentary secretary for Rural Education, along with Donna Barnett, the parliamentary secretary for Rural Development, will lead the study.

As an MLA and as a minister I have seen that our current funding model may create challenges for rural districts. We are going to find a solution for students, teachers, and parents from rural B.C.

Ensuring stability for schools in rural B.C. is a foundation to making sure communities can continue to attract new opportunities in Canada’s strongest provincial economy.

Mike BernierB.C. Education Minister


Letter to the Editor re: Assault by pesticide

The cities of Kimberly, Invermere, and Fernie as well as most of Canada and many other cities and municipalities in B.C have banned the use of “Cosmetic Lawn Pesticides”. When local authorities of these areas are asked why, they generally say. “ human health and safety of our children is more important than a dandelion free lawn”. This however is not the case in the Regional District of East Kootenay(RDEK) especially the village of Jaffray, where we live. My family’s rude awakening to this fact began from an “Assault by Pesticide”.

On May 2, 2012 a local neighbour drove his quad equipped commercial sprayer onto my front boulevard and sprayed an unknown herbicide. Originally a neighbour told us that the pesticide was from the Quad Sprayer’s brother in Saskatchewan and that it was harmless. Later however the story was changed and we were told that the spray was the 2-4-D based Killex.

Directly on the other side of the fence were my twin sons, not yet three, and my then five-year-old. Also sitting on the front lawn was my then 21-year-old daughter who didn’t really understand what was happening. I however, once I smelled the spray, ran out of my house as the quad completed the spraying. I yelled for my family to get into the house and close all the windows, but, by then it was too late.

While several neighbours stood by and watched on an adjacent property four more large lots beside the Jaffray school were sprayed. They spray property that is not their own. They also spray Round-up on public property and apparently the quad owner has allegedly trespassed with his wand sprayer and likely caused the neurological demise of another neighbour’s cat. They spray around our well heads and near the Jaffray school. The toxic spraying is done without warning to all other neighbours and without following safe use practices. There is a total lack of concern and negligence for our children. As I attempted to inform a group of neighbours about my children’s continued and worsening allergic reactions to the spraying, they laughed at me, taunted me and told me that I should grow up and go back to diapers and stop whining. I’ve been called a “troublemaker” and it has even been suggested that my family should just move if we can not agree to what they are doing.

On May 1 2016, Quad Sprayer Man came to my driveway and told me he was going to spray that day. I told him I did not agree to what he was doing and that it was really affecting my children. He got angry with me and said that I was exaggerating and that his lawyer said he could spray, then stormed off. Later that day the neighbours gathered and began to spray and then stopped. They huddled for a few moments, put everything away and disappeared. However, the next day at 7:30 a.m.m, Quadman sprayed his neighbours lot and then his own. He then passed the quad over to the neighbour to our right who then sprayed his lot and then Quad sprayer three took over and finished.

My twin boys played in our front yard for a couple of hours before they went to bed. While my wife was tucking one boy in he said “Mommy, I can’t breathe”. To make a long story short he suffered a “Severe Upper Respiratory Allergic Reaction” to the spray and came very close to death.

One of my neighbours has said, “Well it’s not possible that you can get a reaction several hours after a spraying because it’s gone within a couple of hours after it dries.” Comments like these are nonsense and the effects of these poisons are systemic and linger for months. New research and evidence proves this. In fact I received an email from Anthony Samsel a leading research scientist who says, “2-4-D is a patented antibiotic just like Glyphosate and it destroys the gut immune function as well as enzymes.  It is a structural analogue of the plant phytohormone auxin, indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) which is derived from the aromatic amino acid Tryptophan.

It’s not just the contaminants associated with these herbicides, it’s the chemical itself functioning and disrupting biology at a fundamental level.

Dicamba and Picloram herbicides are also related to 2,4-D as they are also synthetic auxins.

These chemicals like all herbicides are antibiotics.  Many people exposed to these herbicides develop multiple chemical sensitivity…they will be afflicted for the rest of their lives.”

In conclusion, the willful ignorance concerning the toxicity of Cosmetic Spraying in my area is unacceptable and must stop. We are calling upon all residents of the RDEK, Jaffray and the surrounding cities to help us put an end to this barbaric practice of spraying these toxins in our neighbourhoods at the expense of our children’s health and wellbeing. Please help us stop this “Assault by Pesticide” and go to Change.Org and sign the petition “Ban Cosmetic Pesticide Spraying in Rural District of East Kootenay”and go to Shelley Wesman Facebook for more detailed information and videos on this subject.Lastly, if you have any experience in this type of activity or have knowledge to share please do.

Thank you,Shelley and Robin WesmanJaffray, B.C.


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