Sharp Edges

Jim Taylor is an Okanagan Centre author and freelance journalist. His "Sharp Edges" column appears every Saturday in the print edition of The Penticton Herald.

500,000,000 Jim Taylor fans can’t be wrong

Dear Editor:

Jim Taylor’s weekly columns help readers to more fully understand the complex issues faced by Canadians.

Jim, thank you and praise.

There are a number of serious adverse societal conditions that apparently the best minds cannot resolve.

It is so exasperating.

The failed war on drugs, persistent opioid overdosing, COVID-19, unresolved causes of homelessness, of crime, the cultural shocks, the reversing roles of men and women and other major humanitarian conditions.

Jim in your future articles, perhaps some thoughts to alleviate exasperations and stress would be welcome.

Thank you.

Bruce Alton McGillis


Spreading love through full bellies

Dear Editor:

After five years, I am stepping away from the Monday Night Dinners at Nanaimo Square for personal and health reasons.

We are looking for someone, or a group, to take over cooking the dinners. Please let me know if you are interested by emailing me at:

My heart is very full from the beautiful support we have received over the past five years and hope we can find someone to continue our mission of spreading love through full bellies

Kristine Shepherd


Personal freedoms are being threatened

Dear Editor:

I wonder how many people believe their personal freedoms and liberty are being threatened. I do. It only takes a moment of crisis, leaders who are able to capitalize on the fear from that crisis, the ability to shift blame away from government and a lack of true exchange of opinions in the media that can open the door and give totalitarianism a foothold.

Think not?

Recently a reporter, in talking about masks, discredited a petition against the use of masks by minimizing their democratic right to oppose. His opinion is that the masks serve as a reminder that “the COVID -19 pandemic is still with us and we should follow the protocols in place.”

Really? That’s his right, but aren’t those opposed entitled to their opinion, too? His statistics are off as well. He states eight percent who have contracted COVID have died. There is no mention of the percentage of the population that have contracted COVID compared to the total population of Canada. Or, the world for that matter.

His decimal point would be out by three spots to the negative for Canada alone.

What if this is just the beginning of governments, at all levels, using this opportunity to change all our legal, social and political traditions. COVID protocols have already placed limited or complicated access to town meetings, municipal halls, businesses, and medical personnel. Government has also invoked travel restrictions and regulations, random inspections, and now fines for large gatherings. What’s next?

We need to be reminded that freedom and democracy are not guaranteed. Safe guarding against the loss of our freedom lies in critical independent thinking and not blindly following our leaders into an abyss. Democracy is fragile and should not be taken for granted. Defending it is important

Mary-Anne MacDonald


Good governance in question in Summerland

Dear Editor:

Does good governance mean charging Summerland property owners a $4,100 (since reduced to $3,500) infrastructure fee because they were left out of a grant-funded water meter installation program over ten years ago? The District of Summerland thinks so.

In 2009/2010, Summerland embarked on a district-wide water metering program. Unfortunately, with little time for planning due to a tight timeframe from receiving their grant award to commencing installation, the district’s metering program made significant errors, which resulted in a number of properties that have separate irrigation water lines being left out of the program.

The District of Summerland has spent over 10 years vacillating on the issue and then, without any public consultation, came up with an ultimatum: pay $3,500 for a meter and installation or have their irrigation water line removed.

The District of Summerland is trying to justify this charge by stating that “good governance” means “fair payment, for

district provided services, by all residents and to ensure that district funds are used appropriately and not to fund infrastructure that is the responsibility of the customer.” I beg to differ.

Good governance is about adhering to the principles of openness, inclusivity, participation, accountability, effectiveness and coherence.

Good governance does not imply that the District of Summerland should arbitrarily charge a $3,500 infrastructure fee to the “customer” for a problem that was caused by district oversight.

Good governance is not about the District of Summerland taking more than 10 years to come up with a solution to a problem of their own making.

Good governance is not about making a decision affecting Summerland property owners without any form of public engagement.

I suggest that the District of Summerland take a step back, look at the overall issues regarding water metering and water usage in our community and then come up with a fair solution that actually engages in the best practices of good governance by:

• Being inclusive by encouraging public participation in a dialogue about this issue

• Developing an effective, coherent and fair solution that works for all of those who are impacted

• Being open and accountable by acknowledging responsibility for the errors and lack of action of previous administrations.

Only after these steps are taken can we say that the District of Summerland is engaging in good governance practices.

Barbara Thorburn


Hoping the meek will inherit this earth

Dear Editor:

Can you imagine what we could do with all this money that we did not have before COVID, and now could reach $500 billion before this child leaves office? Can you imagine a PET/Cat scan not requiring donations and place one, two or three in all hospitals across Canada? What would that cost, $100 million peanuts in these days of spending?

Most important, can you imagine lives we could have saved protecting women and children and providing housing or care for homelessness? Can you imagine?

To me, this is most important, but people feel that COVID is more important. Wait until all stats are in; we all are going to be very embarrassed for our greed or self interest, and the hell with everyone else. I hope the meek will inherit this earth.

Mike Polvere


COVID solution is to do more testing

Dear Editor:

In the military, I learned that the term “crisis management” is an oxymoron. If a situation is manageable, it wouldn’t be a crisis. As we’ve seen with COVID, crises can also be exploited for money and power.

There’s universal agreement that Dr. Bonnie Henry has done a commendable job helping B.C. cope with the COVID-19 situation. Her calm persona and advice have been a source of comfort and re-assurance for many.

But are we getting the full story?

Testing is a key feature of the COVID response, but does B.C. have adequate testing capacity to gauge the extent of COVID infection? B.C. testing rates are the lowest among the provinces at 42,608 per million. We have a daily capacity for 8000 tests, and only test those with symptoms. Alberta has a testing rate of 125,315 per million.

To this point, the economic and social consequences of COVID may have outweighed the impact of the infection itself. B.C. has experienced 213 COVID fatalities in a population of 5 million, many of whom were in poorly run elder care facilities.

Now people are bracing for a second wave following school and business re-openings.

We deserve to know just how big the COVID beast is before being told to keep surrendering to it with economic shutdowns. That’s been the primary strategy of political leadership to this point.

We need to increase testing to gauge the extent of COVID among us. People can be carriers without showing symptoms. Children are back in school, and they and their teachers are an available and measurable test population. Testing a selected range of the school population across the Province could be a useful indicator of where we are with COVID.

Social distancing, personal hygiene and masks are all to the good, but there’s no vaccine on the horizon. Dr. Henry has speculated that this situation may continue for months, if not years.

The status quo isn’t acceptable.

Let’s do more testing to better grasp the extent of the problem. More testing leads to more quarantine of infected people, which is a good thing.

We should ask why we don’t have a better testing capacity. All the carbon taxes we’ve paid over the past 12 years have done

diddly-squat to improve the climate. We would have been further ahead directing that money to healthcare instead of playing a ridiculous shell game of tax collection and rebates with it.

John Thompson


Humanity didn’t stop smallpox

Dear Editor:

I wear a mask. I keep my distance. I sanitize. But I still have questions. As a child, I received a vaccine for smallpox. This was a deadly, contagious disease. It killed 30% of people who got it and debilitated others.

It is a fact that the vast majority of people recover from COVID-19. I have never come across accounts of the economy being shut down to contain smallpox before a vaccine was developed. Can anyone answer why COVID-19 is so different?

Richard Knight


Private health care is legal in B.C.

Dear Editor:

Re: “B.C. judge rules against private health care,” (Herald, Sept. 11).

Headlines would suggest that private health are is illegal in B.C. In fact private health-care is perfectly legal in B.C. and if Dr. Brian Day, or any other medical practitioner, wished to open a purely private practice they are free to do so. What they are not allowed to do is work in both the public system and a private system at the same time.

What the proponents of “private health-care” are proposing is that they should be allowed to take patients from the public system but offer them the option to jump the public health-care queue if they are willing to pay for that. If you can’t pay, well then you wait.

Would we run a police system on the same basis? Would it be acceptable if, when you phoned the police, you were told that they would look into your concern in about an hour unless you were willing to pay a fee, in which case they would look into it immediately? Like health-care, there is a perfectly legal private system for security (private security services), and just like health-care, it would be unacceptable if those working in the public police system were allowed to offer faster service for those willing to pay for it.

Robert Lewis


Improve the gaps in public health care

Dear Editor:

As a medical student who is soon to enter practice and care for Canadian patients, I am delighted to learn that the B.C. Supreme Court has shot down Dr. Brian Day’s constitutional challenge of publicly funded healthcare.

While our healthcare system isn’t perfect, a two-tier system would only intensify class discrimination where the best research, technologies, and clinical care would go to those with the most resources, thereby weakening care for those who have less means.

Further, paying a fee to jump the queue places value on money rather than people. Instead, we must focus on improving gaps in our existing universal health care, starting with better care for rural, Indigenous, racialized, and socioeconomically disadvantaged Canadians, so we can ensure that all of us truly have access to the same great healthcare.

Anser Daud