Opinion

Letters: More meaningful required on Penticton budget

Mandela’s trials should free Khadr

The death of Nelson Mandela got me to thinking about people in prison for long stretches with no recourse to justice in their own country and so I sent this message to Justice Minister, Peter McKay about Omar Khadr.

Mr. Peter McKay: “Canadian Omar Khadr was picked up by U.S. troops in Afghanistan at age 15.

Canada has arranged his return here from the U.S. Guantanamo Bay Prison in Cuba.  He has been in jail here since.

As we all reflect upon the life of Nelson Mandela, I urge you to receive a new briefing from your staff concerning legal facts pertinent to the case of Mr. Khadr, and to then quickly affect his immediate release from prison.

Amiable political accommodations with foreign governments are not as important as human rights and citizen rights as with the case of this young man.

Please respond to this letter outlining new and positive moves in respect to justice in the case of Omar Khadr.

Thank you for your attention.”

A copy of this letter went by post to Mr. Khadr in prison, to my MP in Castelgar and the NDP Justice Critic in Quebec; also to Alberta Premier, Allison Redford who worked with Nelson Mandela in her earlier life.

Humbly  inspired people like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Mahatmas Ghandi  serve to better instruct our political leaders and ourselves in matters of compassion, justice and peace.

Dave Cursons

Cawston

*****

Shatford Centre benefits from support

As 2013 comes to a close, this seems an ideal time to appreciate the assistance, support and community spirit that makes the Shatford Centre so special.

This project continues to unfold with great opportunities to serve our creative community and region.

The Okanagan School of the Arts, Shatford Centre provides enriching programs and facilities that have been coming to fruition for many years, fueled by the enthusiasm, dedication, expertise and perseverance of OSA’s Board of Directors, volunteers, contributors and staff.

Special appreciation goes to the 2014 Board: Cheryl Galloway, Deb Tougas, Georgia Krebs, Jennifer Mlazgar, Jillian Dupont, Judi Ritcey, Milton Orris, Paul Crawford, Randy Manuel, Robin Robertson and Wes Hopkin.

There are a few events coming up that you might want to make a note of:

In partnership with the Naramata Scottish Country Dancers, the 2nd Annual Robbie Burns Night will be held on Saturday, Jan. 25th, 2014, at the Shatford Centre.

The Performing Arts B.C. Festival will be held in Penticton in June, 2014 and the Shatford Centre is pleased to provide its recital hall as one of its venues.

Community Learning Kitchen will be a great asset for these events and for the community over all.

As we meet with organizations and individuals, we envision uses for the kitchen that will live up to its slogan: a crown jewel in a community treasure of a building.

With this is mind we have a campaign to raise funds, with sapphire, emerald, ruby and diamond jewels expressing levels of contribution. We hope individuals, businesses and organizations will be inspired to participate in bringing this community resource into reality, one step at a time. Everyone is invited to contribute to this community resource.

Go to www.shatfordcentre.com for the information.   Penticton Rotary is partnering with the Okanagan School of the Arts to raise funds, which is a much appreciated boost.

This legacy project will be an enduring example of community spirit for all to enjoy.

We hope to see you at the Shatford and best wishes of the season.

Jane Shaak

Executive Director

*****

Reform Act is honourable

A few years ago I wrote a letter commending Conservative MP Michael Chong for his ethics and performance.  He is the MP that openly defied the will of his party when his conscience so dictated.

No matter what the party policy on major issues, he voted the way his constituents wished – thus representing true democracy.  An Honourable Member.

Mr. Chong has recently led a revolution of Conservative backbenchers and introduced a new bill to bring democracy back to this country.

Let’s see how many “honourable members” will support this change or vote to continually blindly support the party leaders.

The Reform Act 2013 proposes:

Party Leaders can continue only with the support of caucus; the Party Leaders, including the Prime Minister, could be removed by a majority vote in the caucus; the Party Leaders would no longer be able to veto riding nominations – the riding would decide who is to represent them; and Party Leaders could no longer expel MPs from caucus – only a majority vote by caucus could so decide.

This, in effect, would allow MPs to vote as their ridings wished and shed the fear of party whips.

This shift in balance of power to MPs is a great first step to restoring democracy in this great country and change how power is accountable.

I would hope that when this vote is cast the names of each MP and how they voted will be easily accessible to the public.

Only then can ridings determine if their MP is supporting the will of their ridings and take appropriate action.

Patrick MacDonald

Langley

*****

More budget info required

Penticton’s budget process needs to provide more meaningful information.

A couple of council members are asking questions in areas like tourism but all of council needs to start minding the store and the smoke and mirrors games being played in communications must stop.  There are at least three reasons why.

Each year municipalities in British Columbia are required to send information to the province (See www.cscd.gov.bc.ca/lgd/infra/statistics_index.htm).

Based on that information, Penticton’s budget process is anything but $0 based because data submitted by the City of Penticton shows it is spending about $2.4 million more in 2013 than it did in 2010 when all the layoffs occurred.

Just look at the data submitted on Total Taxes and Charges for all Property Classes from 2010 to 2013.

Second, Penticton’s 2013 taxes per capita reported by the city are $752 and are the highest of the municipalities in the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen that report the following:

Summerland reports $673 per capita

Princeton reports $515 per capita

Osoyoos reports $505 per capita

Keremeos reports $487 per capita

Oliver reports $300 per capita

Third, it is of concern the city reported 2012 long-term debt at $67,599,365, only down from $74,474,421 in 2011.

Council needs to adopt policies like only increasing operating budgets and capital expenditures after amortization of debt or in emergency situations.

Meaningful performance measures are needed in every area of operations in order to truly engage the community and better govern and manage the city.

Wayne Llewellyn

Penticton

 

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