Letters to the Editor: Thank you; Refugees; Signs of the time

Letters from readers from the Sept. 17, 2015 edition of The Free Press.

Letter to the Editor re: Thank you from Garth McLeod

On behalf of myself and family, I would like to thank all those involved in the recent search and rescue efforts for me this past Friday and Saturday.

I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to my family, friends, other hunters, and the Search and Rescue volunteers from Fernie, Sparwood, Elkford, Cranbrook and Casara who unselfishly spent the night looking for me and putting themselves at risk. Although I thought I was prepared for such an emergency by carrying survival equipment, which did serve me well, I was missing the key ingredient. A GPS tool such as ‘SPOT’ would have had me found very quickly and with limited risk and worry to others.

Thank you to Jonathan and Tyana from the U of A Department of Renewable Resources for their care and consideration at my time of need and for the ride home (the best birthday present ever).

Again, my most sincere gratitude to all those involved.

Garth McLeod,Fernie BC

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Letter to the Editor re: Refugees

Canada’s refugee sponsorship program has been decimated by the Conservative government.

What was once an effective, responsive and compassionate system is broken.

Ironically, it was a Progressive Conservative government that established Canada’s unique Private Sponsorship of Refugees program in response to the Boat People crisis of 1979.

The result? Canadians sponsored 35,000 refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in just the first two years of the program. In 1986 the United Nations awarded the Nansen Medal to “the people of Canada” for their service to refugees – the only time the award has gone to an entire country.

There are many other examples of quick and decisive action by previous federal governments.

In 1999, for instance, Canada took extraordinary measures to evacuate 5,500 Kosovar refugees from the former Yugoslavia.

Here in the Kootenays, people have responded with exceptional generosity over the past 30 years, sponsoring and resettling well over 200 refugees in Kimberley, Cranbrook, Wasa,

Invermere, Fairmont, Fernie, Sparwood, Golden, Creston, Nelson, Rossland, Trail and Castlegar.

The Syrian crisis has reminded us there are millions of refugees around the world waiting for our help. Many have been languishing in refugee camps for decades – the average stay is 17 years!

Some of these people could be living here as our neighbours, contributing to our economy, and sharing the life we are so privileged to enjoy.

So, for the benefit of whichever political party forms our next government – and in the sincere hope that Canada will restore its former place in the world – we suggest the following very do-able changes to current Conservative policy and regulation.

Eliminate barriers to private sponsorship, including immediate removal of all caps and limits to the Private Sponsorship of Refugees program; waive the refugee documentation requirement for Groups of Five sponsorships; fast-track Syrian refugees who have family in Canada; restore full Interim Federal Health coverage for refugees resettled in Canada; maintain priority for refugees who have been in camps for more than 10 years.

Susan Bond,Kimberley, BC

Shauna JimenezEast Kootenay Friends of BurmaWasa, BC

Arné SahlenCambodia Support GroupKimberley, BC

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Letter to the Editor re: Signs of the times

During the 1945 British general election, in a fit of political bravado, I peeled a poster for Conservative candidate, mine owner John C. George, from the brick wall of a disused air-raid shelter.

I was seven years old at the time, and having told my parents about the deed, got such a lecture that I’ve never touched an opposition poster since, though occasionally provocation by the Other Side has sorely tempted me.

Obviously some people have not yet had the lecture because in the current federal election, the trashing of signs started approximately two weeks ago.

The NDP sign at the prime location on the railroad crossing corner of Pine and Ridgemont Avenues disappeared during the night of Sept. 4. On Sept. 5, a Conservative sign appeared across Pine Avenue; a cosmic coincidence, no doubt.

(It should be noted at this point that there are cretins out there who actually believe that the NDP trashes its own signs in order to accuse the opposition of doing so.)

To destroy or remove an election sign, a criminal offence punishable by a fine of many dollars, requires a profound persecution complex, a lack of respect for the democratic process, and an ability to move about in the dead of night.

Should the police enquire into the disappearance of the Pine Avenue NDP sign, they could narrow their range of suspects by identifying paranoid Conservatives who have the political bravado of a seven-year-old and whose mothers do not allow them out on the street during daylight hours.

It was to be hoped that the days when a North End window showing Social Credit sign was smashed, or an NDP organiser’s vehicle was tipped over in the Legion parking lot were long gone, but it seems that the yahoos are still out there in the darkness.

JC Vallance,Fernie, BC