Letters, week of March 26

 Writer’s “facts” show why sex-ed needed

Sir:  In his letter “Personal opinions or facts?” (03/12/15) is Keith Patrick confusing his “facts” with his religious beliefs on homosexuality?

When he states that the Bible is “very clear” that homosexuality is not normal he must know that Biblical scholars have asserted that Jesus made no such claim.

When he states that science has proved that homosexuality does not occur in other species he is ignoring the mountain of evidence that shows that it is in fact very common, having been observed in 470 animal species (New Scientist, 8/7/99).

When he states that science is “very clear” that nobody is born a homosexual he is inaccurate. Recently, researcher Dr. Michael Bailey has “found evidence for two sets (of genes) that affect whether a man is gay or straight.” And UK scientist, Richard Lane, of Stonewall, said “studies into the origins of homosexuality point to a biological root” (Telegraph 02/13/14).

When he states that “everyone who chooses the path of same-sex relationships does so by personal choice” he is wrong.  According to Bailey, “Sexual orientation has nothing to do with choice” while Lane says that sexual orientation is NOT “the lifestyle choice some opponents of equality repeatedly suggest.”  This view is shared by the American Psychological Association, which asserts, “most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.”

In a world of amazing biological diversity it would be hard for an inquiring mind to believe that sexuality is so “one dimensional.” Patrick’s letter provides a compelling reason why our schools need to educate students about sexuality. Both healthy sexuality and informed decision making can only occur when the facts are taught, discussed and understood.

Unitarians have long promoted the teaching of healthy sexuality at all ages. The OWL (Our Whole Lives) program is widely recognized as being a leader in the field.  It is good to see the Ontario government updating the educational curriculum on sexual health to enable the children and youth of today to grow into adulthood with the knowledge and understanding they need while protecting them from harm.

Ann Steadman

President, Unitarian Fellowship of Sarnia and Port Huron

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Sifton responds to critical editorial

Sir: We are writing in response to your editorial: Developer plows on with plan, published March 17.

Planning great communities today is not the same as it was two or three decades ago. People have different wants and desires, and Sifton wants to be able to offer a mixed variety of uses so people choosing to build in northeast Sarnia have options that suit their way of living.

Yes, Sifton is different, and they do expect the communities they invest in to evolve with them. Perhaps this is just one of many reasons why they have achieved so many high honours in the Building and Development Industry, province-wide.

Should Sarnia not strive to be a pioneering community with development that supports healthier and more active lifestyles? Why plan developments that require residents to solely rely on the automobile to get to and from work, shopping and home.

Further, people today have opportunities to age in their neighbourhood. They should not be forced to move across town once they hit a certain stage in life to get the amenities they deserve within walking distance.

A community with integrated parks and a trail network – for biking, running or walking – supporting a healthier lifestyle where safe roadways and less traffic inside the neighbourhood is important to all.

Unfortunately, this vision of modern planning, and the basic intent of the City’s new Official Plan, stop short of being a reality in the single largest development area in the City.

The new Official Plan is a wonderful document for Sarnia’s future, with the unfortunate exception of Secondary Plan Area One.

Due to legacy planning intentions, this entire area is proposed by the City to remain stagnant in a plan created almost a generation ago – a plan that no longer makes good “planning” sense.

Yet one proposal could create jobs and economic investment – a plan that brings a modern touch to all of Sarnia.

The bonus is growth and jobs that bring prosperity to Sarnia families, and in turn fills City coffers with tax revenue.

Who wouldn’t want this kind of success in the city they love?

 Jamie Sloan

Public Relations Consultant for Sifton Properties

Sarnia

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McNaughton right to oppose sex-ed curriculum

Sir: I read Tara Jeffrey’s column in the March 5th edition and was disgusted with her disparaging comments regarding Monte McNaughton.

She described him as being “out of touch.”  Well, perhaps he is with people who, like Tara, consider homosexuality “normal.” Does that mean that heterosexual people are “abnormal”?

Sorry – homosexuality has become acceptable and even fashionable but certainly is not “normal.”

People have the right in today’s society to choose their own lifestyle and I respect that right, whether or not I agree with them.

McNaughton is the only MPP who had the courage to speak out against Wynne’s curriculum. I admire and commend him for doing that.

Wynne and her cronies pounced on him, calling him homophobic.  Does he not, as an elected representative, have the right to express his viewpoints and those of his constituents without being vilified by those whose views differ?  Even Tara Jeffrey’s?

Tax dollars spent on education are meant to teach children to read, write, spell, do math, etc.  It is the role of parents to determine when and how to teach them what they need to know about sexual practices. They do not need to be taught things that could be confusing and might arouse their curiosity to experiment.

The former deputy to Wynne, when she was education minister, was recently convicted of child pornography.  If I am not mistaken they put forward this curriculum, which was rejected by former premier McGuinty, after much public protest.

It is not Wynne’s job to indoctrinate little children with the lifestyles and practices she deems important.  However, I have no doubt she will sacrifice them in order to further her own political agenda.

Bernice Rade

Forest

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Writer defends position on homosexuality

Sir: Re: Ignorance Masquerading as Opinion

I think the headline above exemplifies the letter from Jack Mallon.

Where does he get the figure of 10% of the population being homosexual? The latest statistics from Statistics Canada published in 2012 stated that 1.3% of the population was homosexual or lesbian and a further 1.1% bi-sexual.

The Williams Institute in the USA in its 2011 survey said that 3.8% of American adults identified themselves as in the LGBT community. The figures for Australia are 1.8% of men and 0.8% of women, giving a total of 1.2% of the adult population; 1.5% of the UK adults identify as gay and bisexual.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines ‘normal’ as conforming to ‘standard, usual, or typical.’ I think a figure of 1.3% of the population in Canada is not the usual or typical of the population as a whole.

Jack’s statement that his generation born in the 1990’s is the most educated in history is also incorrect. The US SAT examinations have been degraded over the years to try and keep scores up (see the ‘1995 re-centering controversy’); most state examination syllabi in the UK have dropped by over 30% in contents since 1965; education professionals in Canada confirm that attainment equivalents here have also declined.

Fraser Williams suggests that science is not clear on the subject. I disagree because there is no research data that links sexual orientation to biological or hereditary factors. Therefore, choice can be the only answer. One could propose many factors that might promote such orientation, but until such a link is proved, such factors must be pure speculation.

We are all entitled to an opinion on matters of public debate, and that was stated very clearly in my letter of March 19th. I stand by my statement then that personal choice is the key in the whole area of sexual orientation. I don’t have any personal problems with someone making that choice; they have free will to do so. However, such orientation is not normal; that was my original contention.

Keith Patrick

Sarnia  

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Evolution explains complexity of life, not universe

Sir: Re: Evolution doesn’t explain origin of the universe.

I find it interesting how some people invoke a creator of the universe, when this notion only poses more questions than it answers.

Evolution is the unifying theme of modern biology. To deny the fact of evolution is as ignorant as saying that gravity does not exist. Try jumping out of a window to test that theory (not actually recommended).

Evolution explains the beautiful complexity of life on this planet more simply than does a theory of a creator. The simplest explanation is often the correct one (see Occam’s razor).

Concrete findings showcase the vast and expansive history of this planet and the life on it. There are thousands of proposed “creators” and religions to go along with them, not one of which can explain a history billions of years in the making. Why must it be “someone” that pushed the so-called start button?

Physics is the arena of knowledge used to explain the origin of the universe, not evolution. New and exciting discoveries are made in this discipline on a consistent basis. Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physicist, wrote a book called, A Universe From Nothing, which explains why there is something rather than nothing and how it originated from “nothing”.

The moment schools and universities start turning their back on scientific facts and embrace outdated fiction written 4,000 years ago by desert-roaming, credulous men, is the day we decline as a nation and intelligent community.

Keeping creation “science” from being taught to our current and future generations is of utmost importance if we are to succeed as a species.

Letter writer Cory Van Veller is entitled to his opinions, however embarrassing. Nonetheless, backwards thinking belongs back in the desert.

Physics, evolution and any scientific school of thought is always open to review and revision. It is the mark of intelligent beings to remain open to new perspectives and discoveries, and not hold steadfast to unsupported stories.

Braden Manderson,

Heather Hannigan

Sarnia

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City breaking promise on hospital lands

Sir: I was pleased to see that city council has tabled the rezoning of the former Sarnia General Hospital site.

This decision was arrived at after the public presented compelling arguments, during a re-zoning meeting, that the city follow the advice of the Clearwater Land Inquiry of 1998 to:

1- Work cooperatively with the other public body (the Hospital).

2 – Get two independent appraisals of the land’s actual value. (I suspect it’s worth more than $1,000).

3) Follow their own legal advice.

It concerns me greatly that this is only a pause.  And what astounds me is the idea this public property has no value, an idea apparently floated by the Mayor and others, because the old hospital building on the site needs to be decommissioned.

Surprising, too, that the media and others have bought into this myth.

On the other hand, there has been a lot in the media about the confrontation between the hospital and the city about who is responsible for the decommissioning.

Another interesting fact: there has been no estimate done as to the actual cost of decommissioning/demolishing the building.

What was the solution? The city found a group of business people willing to take the 7.5 acres, with an assessed value of about $17.7 million, off the city’s hands for $1,000.

The city is also prepared to rezone the land commercial, despite an unhealthy amount of vacant commercial property in Sarnia, wave some development fees, and forgo some of the rules applicable to other developments of this nature.

To add insult to injury, the city is prepared to break an agreement made with the residents of Sarnia, following extensive public consultations, that the hospital lands revert back to residential use once the new hospital was opened.

This is contained in Sarnia’s official plan of 2001 and the one of 2014.

I hope that the city will change its plan, work with the hospital to resolve the decommissioning issue, get market value for this public property and keep it residential, as promised.

Caroline Di Cocco

Sarnia

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Handicapped parking problem update

Sir: Concerning the handicapped parking spaces at the Point Edward casino, as reported by Allan Mitchell, I have been told the casino parking lot is owned by the same developer that owns the land between the Blue Water Bridge and the casino.

I am not sure what legally can be done to people who violate these parking rules, but it must be a province-wide problem.

After you printed a similar letter of mine two months ago, I was told that casino workers had been seen checking on cars that did not display disabled stickers.

Jim Clarkson

Sarnia