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Week of Jan. 5

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Targeting false speech will solve City Hall’s problems

In your Dec. 22nd editorial you call changes to City Hall’s code of conduct a “knee-jerk reaction” to the fallout from Bradleygate.

You go on further to say it’s a “gag order” that will take away from the vitality of City Hall as “a marketplace for ideas where anyone can participate and good councillors make their impact through free and transparent discourse.”

Throughout the piece you use phrases like “Draconian amendment,” “dreadful decision” and intimate that this change targets free speech. You state, “In the new era of sunshine and lollipops, where everyone smiles and says only positive words, the truth has become a dangerous thing.”

On the contrary, I believe these amendments completely support free speech and the truth. What councillors cannot do anymore is personally attack each other and lie, misrepresent or spin the facts beyond recognition. In my two years on council, there has been too much of this, particularly the personal attacks on staff and hired professionals. I haven’t seen a lot of direct attacks on each other by identified members of council, although there have been some.

Here forward, councillors will have to stick to facts; debate positions, policies, statements, reports, motions, opinions and actions of staffers and each other leaving the personal and professional aspects out. No more attacking the people involved, just discussing and addressing the issues, policies, etc. and their problems or merits.

Before I got on council, I never thought having council’s conduct spelled out with an Integrity Commissioner to investigate and police us was needed, but, unfortunately, it is.

We need to communicate the city’s business, policies and ideas accurately and argue why we are, or aren’t, in favour of them, not engage in petty squabbling amongst ourselves and character assassination to score cheap political points.

No more false speech, feeding fake news, it’s time to start working together like adults and we now have clear guidelines to follow.

Free speech doesn’t need to be nasty; it needs to be clear, focused and factual. That is the definition of free and transparent discourse in Sarnia 2017 onward.

Matt Mitro

Sarnia City Councillor


That flushing sound you hear is coming from our wallets

Sir:  Allow me to correct a glaring error in your otherwise impeccable publication.

So, The Journal staff informs us that it will cost us more in 2017 to water our lawns but not to flush our toilets. (“Council approves 2.3% property tax increase”, Thursday, Dec. 15).

“Wrong!” to borrow a phrase from Donald J. Trump.

Some two to three gallons of water is used to flush a toilet; the cost of water will be 2.8% higher in 2017. So even with the sewer charges remaining the same, it will cost us more to flush in 2017.

But we should not complain — all of us with indexed pensions were recently notified that our monthly cheques will be eight to 10 cents higher next year.

Steve Souwand



Real-life Grinch took girl’s special Christmas decoration


Sir: As a senior, it is not easy putting up Christmas lights and I often ask, “Why bother?”

But I did it again this year for my grandchildren’s enjoyment. It’s fun to see their faces.

In December, we took our eight-year-old granddaughter out for supper one Friday night and turned our lights on before leaving. On the way home we looked at all the beautiful decorations and lights in the neighborhood. But when we pulled into the driveway we noticed Frosty was missing.

Frosty is made of wire mesh with tinsel covering, stands nearly five feet tall, and he lights up. My granddaughter won him a year earlier guessing the number of candies in a jar. She had been so excited and proud to set him up at Grandma’s house.

Whoever took Frosty apparently wasn’t interested in the “Keep Christ is Christmas” sign that was also in the garden.

I’ve heard of several other decorations that disappeared in the Sherwood Village area. How sad.

It’s a shame that Destiny, at age 8, had to learn The Grinch isn’t only in the movies, but could be living down the street.

If whoever is responsible would like to bring Frosty home and restore her faith in people, thank you. Otherwise, she hopes whoever took him has kids of their own to enjoy Frosty, because her heart is three sizes too big.

Pat Kraemer




Hats off to Marilyn Gladu’s private Member’s bill

Sir: The vision in MP Marilyn Gladu’s private Member’s bill C-277 is outstanding.

The Bill has drawn national support from the Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Nurses Association, Quality end-of-life coalition, and thousands of Canadians across the country.

Its purpose is to introduce parameters for the development of palliative care (and a subset of services such as acute care, hospice care, home care, crisis care, and spiritual and psychological counselling).

Palliative care would have a budget line like other health-care services. The idea is not entirely new but the strands have yet to come together to provide a level of holistic care that includes provision for dignified end of life care. The model celebrates life in an environment surrounded by compassionate care and freedom from pain.

Her Bill stands in sharp contrast to the practice of physician-assisted suicide and the refusal of the gift of life that we find in Carter vs. Canada SCC5, 2015.

Bill C-277 points out the importance of palliative care in the context of providing an informed alternative to medically-assisted dying, but more than this, I think it weakens the case for the provision of physician aid-in-dying by alleviating end-of-life suffering, as well as addressing life sustaining conditions such as depression, mental anguish, and suicide.

The deliberate death of a terminally ill person stands medicine and the health-care system on its head. In fact, forcing a non-compliant physician to provide a referral to a compliant physician is inconsistent with the current law against ‘aiding and abetting’ suicide.

While suicide is not against the law, the act of helping someone commit suicide is criminal. How then can a physician legally (and ethically) directly or indirectly provide aid-in-dying?

The claim that assisted suicide is only for the terminally ill in a ‘grievous and irremediable condition’ does not justify assisted death as the right means to end suffering. Providing aid in dying sets sail on an ethical slippery slope where governments use one-sided standards to determine the quality of human life.

The world’s population will reach nine billion by 2050; what next —euthanasia for seniors?

Thanks Marilyn, you make my aging and the exaggerated comments about my good health more palatable.

Ken A. Bryson



Operation Christmas Tree says thanks

Sir: Operation Christmas Tree completed another successful Christmas hamper program in 2016.

Our thanks to the many people directly and indirectly involved, and a special thanks to all the folks in our great community for their support and donations.

Requests for hampers were down slightly. We delivered 108 hampers serving the needs of 144 adults and 88 children. I am sure these families enjoyed a much better Christmas season as a result.

It takes many hours of dedicated volunteer help to keep the program going, but by the end of each year there are always little things that made it very worthwhile and rewarding.

Thanks so very much.

Lorne Powell,

Operation Christmas Tree Committee


Seniors treated with respect in Eduador


Sir: The reports of seniors suffering because of the Liberal electricity fiasco caused me to reflect on how we are treated in other countries, especially those “Third World” places such as Panama and, in my case, Ecuador.

In Ecuador, seniors are respected and recognized for their maturity in years. A Pensioner Visa can be obtained with retirement documents showing a stable income of at least $800 U.S. monthly, certified to be correct by the party responsible for the source of the funds, and authenticated by the Ecuadorian Consul in your country of origin plus, plus an additional $100 for each dependent.

That’s just the beginning. What does this visa get you? The country’s constitution guarantees foreign residents the same rights as citizens. You can enjoy the same benefits as locals.

Ecuador’s over-65 discount program provides: 50% off public and private transportation within the country (including the Galapagos), 50% off tickets for all cultural and sporting events, including movies, 50% off electric and water bills (below certain usage levels), free domestic landline phone service (does not include long distance and other services), and reductions in a variety of taxes.

Although not officially part of the government’s program, one of the most popular discounts for foreign residents is the 50% airfare reduction for international travel offered by airlines such as Taca, Copa Airlines, and Ecuador’s AeroGal. All three offer flights to the U.S. The discount applies to round-trip tickets purchased in Ecuador for flights originating within the country. The discount is available to all citizens and residents over the age of 65.

The cherry on top of retiring to Ecuador is that citizens and residents over 65 never have to stand in line. If you’re a senior citizen, when you make a bank deposit or pay your utility bill, it’s the law that you go directly to the front of the line, so you’ll have more time to relax and enjoy your retirement in Ecuador.

And this is called a third world country? I can’t wait to kiss Premier Kate Wynne goodbye.

Don Ballantyne




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