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Week of March 10

Councillors who failed diversity training shouldn’t run city Sir: I was quite shocked to read in The Journal (Feb. 24) that some Sarnia city councillors drove away a diversity trainer from Toronto due to their hostile behaviour.
Letters to the editor

Councillors who failed diversity training shouldn’t run city

Sir: I was quite shocked to read in The Journal (Feb. 24) that some Sarnia city councillors drove away a diversity trainer from Toronto due to their hostile behaviour.

After a two-hour training session on Zoom the trainer refused to work any further with the city.

The Kojo Institute has worked with various sized organizations since 1999 to educate them on our diverse culture and implement policies and procedures to ensure they meet the needs of the people they serve.

These organizations include the Province of Ontario, the Toronto District School Board and the Center for Addiction and Mental Health. Yet our city leaders couldn't handle a two-hour workshop.

Diversity training in all its forms is extremely difficult. I have experienced it on a few levels. It makes us feel uncomfortable because it makes us think about ourselves, and what is so ingrained in our thoughts and behaviours that we often don’t realize they’re there. It can make us angry, sad and embarrassed, but if we’re mature enough to listen and open our minds, it will make a huge difference in the way we live our lives.

I am most concerned that the Kojo Institute quit and refuses to come back. The councillors’ reaction must have been over the top to make the consultant, an experienced trainer used to dealing with negative reactions, feel emotionally unsafe in that environment,

Perhaps we should be much more careful as to who we elect. I cannot imagine how Sarnia councillors think they can run a diverse city when they can't respectfully sit through a training session without rudeness and disrespect.

I respect Mayor Mike Bradley for initiating the training, which was the right thing to do, but how embarrassed he must be for this fiasco.

Jan Lancaster


Councillors’ behaviour at training session shameful

Sir: I couldn’t believe it when I read in the online edition of The Journal (Feb 22nd) that some unnamed city councillors had harassed a social justice and equity facilitator to the point of quitting.

This particular company has successfully worked on very complex issues with a lot more participants, but our small council had enough vitriolic members to harass its facilitator enough to quit?

What this says to our community is that the only people who are welcome and safe here are white, Christian, cisgendered, homophobic racists.

To those who may agree with the councillors’ behaviour and discount my comments because they think I’m “one of those people,” you should know that I’m very white, cisgendered and Christian.

Kelly O’Connor-Beausoleil


Actions of hostile councillors have embarrassed city

Sir: I read the Feb. 22 online story, “Hostile councillors bring abrupt end to Sarnia’s diversity and equity training.”

I was absolutely horrified, and the story got worse with every sentence I read.

This incident occurred in November, so the unnamed councillors have continued representing the people of our city with impunity for months.

It appears City Hall lacks any form of leadership and accountability. Standing up to racism, misogyny, and harassment happens in real time, not just when the information is published in the newspaper.

This is shameful and embarrassing for our city. The citizens of Sarnia have a right to know who was involved in the mistreatment of Ms. Ojo-Thompson, a highly regarded trainer in equity, human rights, and social justice, and they need to face the court of public opinion come October.

Shame on them.

Marley Prescott


Warwick mayor displays double standard on trucker blockades

Sir: The Mayor of Warwick Township, Jackie Rombouts, gave a Feb. 14 the radio interview that gave the impression she successfully got the truckers to end their protest and blockade on Highway 402 at the Watford turnoff.

She said it was just a matter of listening to their concerns and saying she was in agreement with them. And then, by simply telling them they were inconveniencing and endangering local citizens by re-routing traffic through other roads in Warwick Township, she got them to agree to end the blockade.

(She did not mention that the Ontario government announced that day it was ending the vaccine passport requirement and indoor capacity limits - she implied it was all because of her communication skills.)

In the same interview, she described how she supported the protest in Ottawa and even travelled there to speak with participants. She said they have legitimate concerns and need to be listened to.

But she did not talk about the inconvenience and endangerment those protesters made for Ottawa citizens through weeks of honking horns, blocked traffic and closing down businesses.

So it seems she would agree that it is OK to protest, blockade and cause problems for others, but don't do it in her Township (aka NIMBY).

A good example of a politician speaking out of both sides of her mouth.

Peter Westfall


Trampling of rights is what’s upset demonstrators

Sir: We’re all aware of the Trucker Protest movement that has fuelled people’s passions across Canada, even here in Sarnia.

Many people disturbed by the sight of these protestors are, in my opinion, lacking one thing: the truth about why they are protesting.

I’ve heard many assumptions these past weeks. Our own Prime Minister suggested these people were a fringe minority with racist, misogynist and unacceptable views.

Based on my own experience with the hundreds of people I’ve interacted with during these peaceful demonstrations, that is the furthest thing from the truth. These are the most loving, friendly and caring individuals I have ever met.

So, if they aren’t trying to overthrow the government, what is their agenda? It’s simple: the measures government has used to “handle” this pandemic were a violation of our Constitution.

There are exceptions to override people’s rights and freedoms, when in an emergency of war or insurrection. The wording in our Charter demands the state must “demonstrably justify” that overriding, which has not been done.

Brian Peckford, the last living architect of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, has described the criteria needed to override our rights. Government must:

* Demonstrably justify its actions, which it hasn’t. COVID-19 has a less than 1% fatality rate.

* Enact new laws, which it hasn’t.

* Set reasonable limits, which it hasn’t (mandates and lockdowns have changed like the weather).

* Finally, three of those criteria must be done in the context of a “free and democratic society.” With no open Parliamentary discussions and committees, this was not done freely or democratically.

The bottom line: the mandates and lockdowns were government overreach. They did not have the authority or justification to override the rights of Canadian citizens.

This isn't about vaxxed or unvaxxed. People should hold a flag and hug someone. It’ll make them feel better, I promise."

Brandon McCaskill


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