To the editor:
This letter is in response to the news article "Native elder on fifth day of hunger strike jailed for Muskrat Falls protest" that appeared on the April 10, 2013 edition of the Daily Herald. According to the news article James Learning, a 74-year-old elder, has been arrested for slowing traffic on a highway near the $7.7 billion Muskrat Falls Hydro Project.
Elder James Learning is a member of the NunaktuKavut Community Council representing the Inuit-Métis of southern Labrador. On the fifth day of a hunger strike, his family and friends fear for his life because he is also battling prostate and bone cancer. He has told his children that he is prepared to die trying to defend his Aboriginal rights.
Elder Learning is defending Aboriginal rights to be consulted and to be engaged in negotiations with the province regarding the hydro development project. The province is refusing to negotiate with the Muskrat Falls group and Inuit-Métis peoples of southern Labrador. The federal government has taken the position that the Muskrat Falls Group has no land claim in the area.
I believe the Newfoundland and Labrador and federal governments have greatly underestimated the implications of their decision to incarcerate an elder who is sick and dying for standing up and defending constitutionally protected Aboriginal rights. And although many Canadians do not fully understand the wisdom and spiritual significance of Aboriginal elders, it is the Canadian and provincial government’s responsibility to recognize the rights of all Canadians of freedom of speech and the right to protest.
This is a democratic country or so it is said. Jailing a sick elder who is only defending his Aboriginal rights appears to be less than democratic. Would this be happening to an old and dying non-Aboriginal man standing up for his constitutional rights to protect the lands and resources for his children and grandchildren?
Is this backlash against the recent Idle-no-more movement in which Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples across Canada are speaking out against unilateral decision making by federal and provincial governments? Someone needs to ask these questions? Where is democracy and the ideology it clings to - “for the people by the people”?
By jailing a sick elder who is only defending Aboriginal rights, all Canadians should take note... mis- management and exploitation of Aboriginal rights under the guise of economic development is a shadowy trickster. Canadians may think this is an “Indian problem” but look a little closer – could it be your backyard next? Your home town, your sleepy little village that may have the next surveyed resources the government’s plan to harvest in the name of prosperity?
The Aboriginal peoples of this country take their responsibilities very seriously to nurture the lands and resources and to protect these from exploitation. Do we not share the same vision for a healthy Canada for all the future generations?
All of Canada should take notice of what is really happening when governments put our elders in jail for standing up for what they believe in ... and they are willing to die for it!! Can you say you have that strength of conviction and courage to do what is right for your children and grandchildren?
To the editor:
The just completed 2012-13 Western Hockey League season was one of the most exciting in the history of your Prince Albert Raiders and the community owned organization is thankful for the incredible support that reached an all-time high this season!
On the ice, the team improved 33 points in the standings and moved from 22nd to 10th overall in the WHL. Leon Draisaitl is a nominee for the WHL Rookie of the Year, Mark McNeill represented Canada at the World Junior Championships, Josh Morrissey is nominated for the WHL Scholastic Player of the Year and is a highly touted prospect for this June’s NHL entry draft, and Luke Siemens re-wrote the Raider record book for goaltenders!
Off the ice, the Raiders averaged a franchise high 2,677 fans per game, 21 times exceeding the seating capacity of 2,580 at the Art Hauser Centre during the 36 game regular season. The Raiders had an increase of 14.5% in their attendance this season, 4th best in the WHL.
These results are thanks to the efforts of many people including our volunteers, business partners, sponsors, season ticket holders and all fans! In a year-end meeting with Mr. Ron Robison, Commissioner of the WHL, he was very pleased with the direction the organization is heading and was very complimentary.
The Raider organization now will use the 2012-13 season as a starting point as we begin planning 2013-14. We are looking to improve in all areas of our organization on and off the ice!
To conclude 2012-13 we are pleased to announce a Raider Side Walk Sale Thursday, April 11th from Noon – 7 PM in the Johnny Bower Lobby! Besides incredible savings on all remaining store merchandise, hockey equipment including hockey bags, gloves, pants, sticks, etc. will all be on sale! We need to make room for 2013-14 inventory, so come to the AHC Thursday, April 11 from Noon – 7 PM.
Once again, THANK YOU for your support….and very soon we will be launching our new season campaign which we guarantee will grab your attention! Looking forward to something new & exciting for all Raider fans!
To the editor:
At a recent Saskatchewan Party dinner in Prince Albert, I made a reference to the uranium industry and specifically, the positive First Nations and Metis employment record of one of Saskatchewan's very best corporate citizens, Cameco. Surprisingly, this comment has since caused some controversy.
Over the last number of years, our government has worked with the federal government to encourage access for Saskatchewan uranium into the Chinese and Indian civilian nuclear power markets – two of the most robust economies in the world. Prime Minister Harper has taken a direct interest in these matters and now, with agreements concluded in both countries, these markets could well mean billions of dollars worth of more Saskatchewan uranium mined here.
This fact, combined with more competitive royalties we announced in the new balanced budget bode well for the industry, for the City of Prince Albert, for northern Saskatchewan and for northerners, including First Nations and Metis. My point was that this industry, and specifically Cameco with its excellent track record of employing First Nations and Metis, is better than any government program in terms of reducing the Aboriginal/non-Aboriginal employment gap.
So yes, I did say Cameco's record of ensuring over 40 per cent of their mining work force is First Nation and Metis is better than any government program.
In fact, let me go one step farther. Over the years, governments of all stripes have used taxpayers’ money to pay for well-intentioned programs that pay out a lot of mileage expenses, produce studies and schedule meetings with no discernible decrease in the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aborginal employment. Our government is moving away from this failed approach.
If those who are misinterpreting my remarks as anything but a results-based comparison between government programs and real private sector jobs want us to return to the failed practices of the past, then they will not like the approach of our government. We are simply not to continue using tax dollars to prove that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
Far better than "a program" is focused training like our partnership with Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology (SIIT) or competitive taxes for industries that go out of their way to train and employ First Nations and Metis people, like the uranium industry.
That was my point that evening. I stand by it. Incidentally, our government believes that a strong economy and good-paying employment opportunities are the most desirable outcomes for everyone in Saskatchewan, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal. In fact, we are going to continue with our growth plan whose aim it is to replace government programs with high quality jobs every chance we get.
To the editor:
Since my first election in 2008, I have had a chance to meet with veterans from across our community and I am simply in awe of their stories. In each of their stories exists one key fact - our veterans are some of the best trained, most determined and hardest working people of our society.
Our veterans have experience that is unmatched, having been trained with some of the most leading technologies available in our military. They have proven their dedication to completing the mission, and are recognized throughout the world as a force who lifts well beyond their weight.
That’s why I am calling on the businesses in our community to not only recognize our veterans’ service to our country but to hire a veteran the next time they need to grow their business. And I look forward to announcing businesses right here in the federal riding of Prince Albert.
I have made this a priority, and have welcomed several new initiatives aimed at finding career opportunities for our veterans. I have listed them below for your readers’ reference.
Help me match our veterans world-leading experience with employment opportunities right here in our riding. I encourage all companies to contact my office at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how they can get involved.
Helmets to Hardhats Canada: This innovative partnership, which complements the department’s existing programs to help Veterans transition to civilian life, brings union, private- and public-sector resources together to match veterans with employment and training opportunities in the building, construction and trade industries.
Priority access to the public service: It is intended that the eligibility period for veterans to exercise their priority access to the federal public service will be extended. This will allow veterans more time to seek employment opportunities with the federal government following their military service. In addition, Veterans Affairs Canada has enhanced employment opportunities for veterans to start new careers in the epartment. The changes implemented are eliminating the barriers which can make it difficult for still-serving Canadian Armed Forces personnel to qualify for positions at Veterans Affairs Canada.
Jobs-Emplois: A specially designated VAC e-mail address has been created to let corporations and organizations alert the Department about new employment opportunities. Sent through email@example.com, the job openings are then shared with front-line staff working with transitioning Canadian Armed Forces personnel and veterans, as well as the Canadian Armed Forces and national contractors offering vocational services.
To the editor:
I want to point out that there is another side to this story. My nephew has his first year school for electrical and is enrolled in the apprentice program.
He has only his first years schooling and has amassed almost enough apprenticeship hours to complete his third year of schooling but can't even get in in Prince Albert for his second year.
It really doesn't matter how many students are enrolled, if they can't get the schooling they will never be journeymen. No wonder there is a shortage.
I know from this incident that the shortage may well be that those enrolled in the trades apprenticeship programs can't get into school for those trades. What's with that? They don't necessarily need more students, they need a more streamlined trade school system, that is where the program is bottlenecked.
To the editor:
About 7 or 8 months ago it was stated we should put in a toll booth to pay for bridge repairs. What do you taxpayers think now?
At the time there were lots of negative remarks about the suggestion and perhaps many of those that made negative remarks were not taxpayers of our city.
The provincial report that came out stated that the bridge will be serviceable for 25 or more years to come. That’s great, but what about the future and who is responsible for repairs and maintenance, the City of Prince Albert?
Remember there will be ongoing repairs throughout those next 25 or so years and will we have to foot that bill. I suggest to you the city taxpayer that we look at the long range use of this bridge and the costs to the city, “US". Every year our taxes go higher, is this one of the bottomless holes that we the city taxpayers have to put our hard earned money into for the sake of all those that use the bridge?
If the provincial government is not prepared to pay for a second bridge and pay for repairs than we the city need to consider the toll booth option.
The cost of a toll booth will pay for itself within a year. After that than the money made can go towards maintenance and repairs and a portion towards replacement of the bridge when the time comes.
Remember we have a voice and know how to use it.
Mayor Dionne and counsel let this suggestion be strongly considered.
To the editor:
The Saskatchewan government has done the math and determined that 950 hours of instructional time is better than 197 days. Their math appears based on the linear equation y = mx where “y” equals hours of schooling, “m” instructional time, and “x” number of students.
In the shift to 950 hours, Saskatchewan Rivers School Division (SRSD) estimates it must add 40 instructional hours to the school year. As SRSD has x = 9000 students, schooling will increase from y = 910x = 8,190,000 hours to y = 950x = 8,550,000.
As the government does not address the issue of where teachers are to find the additional instructional time, I suggest these hours come from time wasted sleeping or rejuvenating family time or that ridiculously long summer holiday. I recommend teachers avoid using productive hours currently spent preparing student-centered learning experiences after the school day has ended or the countless hours involved in extracurricular activities with students building trust and relationships.
The government must be confident every student has a positive learning experience so no student would ever consider the equation shifted from -910x to -950x. Why, if x = 379 students in SRSD found school negative, it would wipe out the total increase.
Please remind your MLA (http://www.legassembly.sk.ca/mlas/) there is a distinction between schooling and learning—schooling can be measured by counting the bodies in attendance while learning requires minds at attention. Better yet, suggest they study the book Finnish Lessons and learn how less schooling can mean more learning.
To the editor:
When is legislation “successful”? MP Randy Hoback’s article “Message received on Parliament Hill” declared that the Canadian Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR) “is the only regime of its kind worldwide to have been used to successfully export lower-cost generic drugs to a developing country.” Does exporting to one country count as successful? Does exporting one drug count? Does splitting the one drug into two shipments count?
CAMR is critically ill. Voted in unanimously in 2004, it was heralded as keeping Canada’s humanitarian promise to the international community. Hoback’s article states CAMR reform would not “result in greater exports” because we are not a low cost generic producer. His article also mentions Apotex, the billion dollar Canadian generic drug company. It obtained the one CAMR license issued and would eagerly export more if, and only if, CAMR were streamlined (see the Apotex press release http://tinyurl.com/bsukqe2). How many more exports would it take for “greater exports”? Even counting the two separate shipments of one drug to Rwanda as two exports, Apotex could easily double our appalling record.
The efforts to reform CAMR now outnumber the shipments by one. In Canada, we can count the hours lost in CAMR reform but how do we count the lives lost in developing countries; lives of children, sisters, brothers, mothers, and fathers? How did your MP vote (http://tinyurl.com/cflqk7u)? Every life lost or health compromised for lack of access to affordable generic drugs needs to be imported into the conscience of every MP who killed Bill C-398.
To the editor:
Did you know that Tommy Douglas envisioned two phases of Medicare? He said the first, removing financial barriers to health care, would be easy compared to the second, a shift to preventative care. He believed the necessary shift to prevention not only made moral but financial sense because the maxim “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is true not only for our health but our economy.
It is ironic then that Parks Canada announced it would be cutting the budget for grooming cross-country ski trails during Diabetes Awareness Month. Diabetes is a global avalanche with lack of physical exercise identified as a contributing factor for Type 2. Physical exercise can help prevent diabetes and cross-country skiing is ranked as a top cardiovascular fitness activities.
Stopping track setting transfers a burden to our health care system because it reduces access to a valuable winter activity for present and all future generations. Prince Albert National Park is willing to work with volunteers but that is another transfer. Yes, you can belong to a ski club that grooms its trails but that is still a transfer and not affordable for everyone.
Cutting grooming the trails means we all go downhill faster. Really it isn’t just downhill faster but a snowball effect. Things like the budget for grooming trails are the “petite ounces” of prevention we need to avoid tipping towards “gross pounds”. Please contact your MP. For wax to smooth your contact, review the closed petition. To view the petition, click here.
To the editor:
Twice this week in the legislature I asked the Sask. Party minister of highways why he won’t commit to build a second bridge in Prince Albert and do much-needed repairs to the Diefenbaker bridge.
Minister McMorris provided no leadership on either front. He told the media on Tuesday: “the traffic count on that bridge has been fairly consistent over the last number of years. We are hearing that the count hasn’t changed that much on this report.”
There are two things I can take from that. First, it appears there is no commitment from the Sask. Party government for a second bridge.
Secondly, this government is now officially broke, since they are shortchanging Prince Albert on the amount of money it takes to do the proper repairs that are desperately needed on the existing bridge. This is bad for the economy, dangerous for people who need to access health care services and it compromises public safety.
If the premier or highways minister had to sit in traffic for hours to get to work or operate a business in and around Prince Albert, and if they were forced to spend extra money on gasoline, I think they’d realize very quickly the extreme frustration of the residents of Prince Albert and area.
The Sask. Party gets a failing grade when it comes to this issue. I can report that the Sask. Party MLAs for Prince Albert and area are very quiet in the legislature when it comes to this significant issue for their constituents -- they say nothing and do nothing.
Keep in touch with me and the NDP MLAs and we’ll continue to fight on your behalf.