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Letters to the Editor: August 28, 2013

Texada coal – Bruce Thurston, Gillies Bay Should this plan materialize, Texada Island would be laughed at and loathed by not only its neighbours on the south coast and Lower Mainlanders, but by concerned citizens worldwide [“Coal export expansion pro

Texada coal Bruce Thurston, Gillies Bay

Should this plan materialize, Texada Island would be laughed at and loathed by not only its neighbours on the south coast and Lower Mainlanders, but by concerned citizens worldwide [“Coal export expansion proposal kicks up dust,” August 28].

The proposed coal dump would rival Roberts Bank in size, which I believe is the largest enabler of coal exporters in North America. For jobs? Surely sacrificing our island and becoming a major player in the climate change end game is not worth a couple of dozen jobs.

There are reasons American ports are not interested. Coal mines devastate. Coal transport is messy, toxic and wasteful. Coal storage will result in air, water and soil contamination from leaching and airborne toxic particles. Burning coal causes global warming. Historically, coal was king, but this is the 21st century and the globe is under threat.

We should get off the coal train, refuse bitumen exporting and ban fracking. We must realize that our strength is in our natural resourcefulness, not just our natural resources. Canadians should become powerful not just power exporters. We should husband our resources wisely and make quality products instead of abusing our home to enable others to provide us with a sea of inferior products and unstoppable climate change.

Prorogation explained – John Weston, MP – West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on August 19 that he would prorogue Parliament. The House is expected to resume sitting by mid-October. I acknowledge and am eager to address some of the concerns and myths surrounding prorogation [“Weston back boss,” June 12].

Prorogation is common in our parliamentary system, having been used by many governments, of various parties. Our government is coming off a productive last sitting of Parliament, having managed to attain the majority of its electoral promises before the summer recess. Harper recently mentioned that the Conservative government has already fulfilled 84 of the more than 100 campaign pledges from 2011.

Prorogation will enable the government to orient fresh commitments around the current needs of Canadians, another theme which we can anticipate in the Throne Speech, an event which necessarily follows the prorogation of Parliament. Jobs and growth are bound to remain a key priority.

Prorogation does not equate to “time off” for Parliamentarians. In fact, many MPs work even harder in their ridings than in Ottawa, meeting with constituents, attending events, and, in my case, covering the large territory of the riding. Having just undergone a series of unexpected eye surgeries, I relish the chance to connect with people here, as well as a chance to interact with ministers and officials key to important developments in our riding.

Constituents have brought many important initiatives to my attention over the summer that relate to priorities, such as the economy, the environment, fisheries and health and fitness. I am eager to work on these and welcome people’s input, in terms of energy, volunteer effort and ideas.

Coal threatJef Keighley, Halfmoon Bay

Lafarge Canada Ltd.’s application to significantly increase the transshipment of coal from its Texada Island facilities is a threat to our health and the environment [“Coal export expansion proposal kicks up dust,” August 28]. It currently handles Quinsam’s moderate output. The push to expand coal transshipment comes from US coal mines. Coastal communities and residents in Oregon and Washington oppose the transshipment so now they want to ship their dirty coal from Canadian ports. They plan to ship the dusty thermal coal in uncovered rail cars from the US to Surrey to be loaded onto uncovered barges, which will be towed to Texada, past our homes and beaches, and held in uncovered stockpiles, shipping out via the Straight of Juan de Fuca. There are substantive health and environmental risks moving coal in open containers which disperse a coal dust plume as they move and await shipping. The shippers say it is too expensive to cover the cars and barges, hoping Canadians will accept the risks to bolster their profits.

The burning of the coal increases carbon emissions thus accelerating global warming and increasing sea levels on our coast. The people of Surrey are opposed to transshipping. The mayor has expressed concerns over safety. Opposition to the proposal is growing on Texada Island. To date a single “information only” meeting was held by Lafarge last week on Texada Island. This is not good enough. The Alliance 4 Democracy is asking for public hearings on the Sunshine Coast to allow our citizens input into this questionable proposal.


Evil movementCora and Adrian Sterrenburg, Tyler Road, Texada Island

We live on Tyler Road, Texada Island, close to Lafarge Canada Ltd.’s quarry. With a southeast wind we will get the coal dust right in our lungs [“Coal export expansion proposal kicks up dust,” August 28].

The August 19 meeting was a clever public relations meeting on Lafarge’s behalf, but what we need is a public meeting so we can voice our opinion.

The longer I live in Canada, the more I believe I live in a third world country. The provincial and federal governments don’t care about the air we breathe, the water we drink or the effects on climate change. The environment can go to hell. All is permitted, because it is good for the economy.

Developing countries probably don’t care if their people get sick or die from exposure to products imported from Canada like asbestos or coal. Canada for sure doesn’t give a damn if their people get sick or die from products they want to export. It’s all for a good cause. Make the rich richer and the poor poorer. 

Shame on Lafarge for being part of this evil movement.


Agreement issuesMaureen Simmonds, Fernwood Avenue

Very little information has been released about the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed “trade agreement,” currently being negotiated by 12 countries, including Canada, and led by the United States [“Trade agreements limit local government powers,” June 5]. From what we do know, this proposed agreement sounds more like a corporate rights deal with only two of the 26 chapters under negotiation dealing with trade. The other 24 chapters include:  how a government regulates corporate activity; what Crown corporations can and can not do; the length of pharmaceutical patents or copyright terms; how the Internet is governed; the sharing of personal information across borders; banking and taxation rules; and when a company or investor should be compensated if environmental or public health policies interfere with profits.

The inclusion in the TPP of an investor rights chapter and investor-state dispute process would allow companies to sue governments in secret tribunals when public policy hinders profit-making. We have already seen a number of these challenges under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Leaked information reveals that the US is pushing for excessive patent protections for medicines that would guarantee making medications more expensive and even inaccessible to the poorest countries involved in negotiations.

The government must make public the full terms of this agreement thereby allowing Canadians to voice their opinions.