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Letters, week of May 5

RiverWalk depicts what Sarnia’s all about Sir: Kudos to architect David Lavender on his proposal for Canada's 150th, an elevated pier and pavilion on the St. Clair River that depicts what Sarnia is all about - industry and beautiful water.
Letters to the editor
RiverWalk depicts what Sarnia’s all about Sir: Kudos to architect David Lavender on his proposal for Canada's 150th, an elevated pier and pavilion on the St. Clair River that depicts what Sarnia is all about - industry and beautiful water. What a great idea! Come on Mayor Bradley and Council, don't miss this opportunity to showcase Sarnia and make up (somewhat) for the lost Legacy Project in Centennial Park. Lori Cadieux Corunna
Chairperson’s actions disgraceful

Sir: Today I write about the April 26 Lambton Kent District School Board meeting. It was the final night for public presentations on the amalgamation of SCITS & St. Clair.  It was a packed house and extra chairs had to be brought in to seat everyone.   As the meeting began, a gentleman in the front row spoke up and said he could not hear.  The volume was set low and many others in the crowd could not hear any better.

 Board Chair Jane Bryce slammed her gavel down multiple times and berated the audience for speaking out of turn and continued on with the meeting.  It was  disgraceful performance. To his credit, LKDSB Director Jim Costello later reached in front of her and turned up the volume so that the audience could hear what was being discussed.    

 I was speaker number 12.  During the first 11 speakers I watched Jane Bryce gleefully watch the clock for her chance to cut the speaker off at the 10 minute limit.  She seemed to not pay attention to even the first half of a presentation. Once the 5 minute mark hit, her entire focus was on her designated timekeeper across the room.  She cut off one presenter during her detailed speech on student scholarships and LKDSB numbers. In her haste, she cut off one speaker at the 8 minute mark, on a mistaken signal from her timekeeper.  A few weeks ago she even interrupted a presentation by the City of Sarnia to say their time was almost up.  

 I have talked to many in the audience at the April 26 meeting that have experience with public board meetings.  All were astonished at how our Head Trustee ran this important meeting. 

 It has been sad to see the head of our public representatives on the LKDSB so eager to dismiss the opinions of the public.  Many people have just recently turned their attention to LKDSB decisions and been amazed at the behaviour of Board Chair Jane Bryce.  This behaviour, along with some questionable comments to the media, damages the credibility of the board for this big decision and the tough ones that will certainly follow.  

Kevin Forbes


Trump appealing to our base instincts Sir: Re: the April 21 letter, ‘It’s all about free speech’ Not a lot of ‘mental gymnastics’ are required to equate the ‘defence of free speech’ in the Donald Trump case with ‘bigotry and sexism,’ not when Trump’s speeches are repeatedly littered with bigoted and sexist commentary. This sort of commentary is designed to attract certain political support, and human history shows where that road can lead; appealing to the worst instincts in people can only end badly. It is a bit of a gymnastic stretch, however, to make the declaration that some people find free speech ‘offensive’ when actually it is a non-issue whether Trump or our MP has the freedom to say what they want. Yet there is a difference between promoting free speech, and, in Trump’s case, exploiting it for political gain. It would have been more appropriate - perhaps not politically so - for our MP to have commented on, instead of Trump’s ‘right to free speech,’ about how much of his speech content actually openly denigrates the U.S. First Amendment principles of freedom of liberty and religion, etc. The irony is not lost on me. Freedom of speech is vital to democracy and is sacrosanct in our society, and while people might want to be politically incorrect, I’m convinced the best route forward these days is to tone down racial, ethnic and sexist intolerance, not jack it up and draw further attention to it. Pressure put on those opposed to, and who speak out against, various forms of intolerance as displayed in Trump’s speeches as well as against any unnecessary after-the-fact attention drawn to it by conflating it with opposing free speech itself - only causes bigotry, racism and associated violence to increase further. Stanton Earle Sarnia
Visitor impressed by SCITS and theatre Sir: I am not a SCITS alumnus, however I had it from a good source I would not be disappointed if I went to the recent SCITS Alumni Review. I attended both shows and was blown away by the number, quality and variety of the performances. My heartiest congratulations to director and producer Dan White and everyone else involved in putting the shows together. It was one of the most memorable evenings I have ever had at the theatre. I had only been in the school a couple of times before and my memory of it wasn't that great. On entering, I was immediately impressed by the size, layout and quality construction of the building. It gives the building "character," which is deficient in most buildings today. I was stopped dead in my tracks by the enormity of the theatre itself, which appeared to have the equipment and sound system of a professional theatre. The cast was amazing; with too many to single out for special credits, but some of my favourites were "over the top." Both shows were almost full and the audiences were very appreciative, with much laughter and clapping. After this "experience of a life time" at SCITS I cannot understand how anyone could contemplate closing this school (and probably have it destroyed down the road). That school is a piece of Sarnia's history and culture and should be retained. North Americans spend lots of money to go to Europe to participate in the culture and see historic buildings, yet on this side of the pond want to destroy what bit of history and culture we have. I just don't get it! How can a few bureaucrats, who probably don't know anything about Sarnia, destroy this school for the sake of a relative few dollars in the big picture? I hope someone will wave a magic wand and there will be many more SCITS Alumni reviews in future. Tom Hughes Corunna
  Is SCITS a done deal? Sir: After reading the April 21 article, “Board chair gives SCITS thumbs down,” I couldn’t help thinking the school board has had its mind made up from the start, and the open meetings were just for show. All sorts of studies have been done on both schools, but what about any of the viable alternatives suggested at the various meetings? Instead of snap judgements, shouldn’t long-term plans be created that will consolidate the schools in a way that will provide economy of scale, while at the same time increase the educational experience? If indeed, “the information favours closure of SCITS,” why doesn’t the board present ALL that information in a clear and public format that would help us better understand its position? Each of the city’s high schools has its own culture.   SCITS has developed the reputation as a school where music, art, and drama flourishes. School board chair Jane Bryce states, “We don’t close schools. We close buildings.” If she closes SCITS but doesn’t add amenities like the theater to St. Clair, than not only has she closed a school, she will not be, in her own words, “giving every student in the system a good educational experience.” I also take exception to her statement, “… I wish parents could model good acceptance of change for their children ... When parents become extremely upset with change, their children will see that.” How can parents not be upset when decisions are made for their kids that only look at financial reasons? I am proud of those who stood up to fight for SCITS’ survival. Our kids need to be shown, not just taught, what it means to stand up for something you believe in. For far too long, our Canadian culture has been to roll over and take it, rather than fight for what is right. One last point; it seems both local school boards are always ready to change names when consolidating schools. In this case, I heard what I thought was one of the best compromises you could ever have: SCITS (St. Clair Institute and Technical School). Dwayne Joleun Sarnia
Native plants create a healthy garden Sir: Now that the weather is warming up, many gardeners are planning their gardens. Unfortunately, most people are planning to plant the same old plants they plant every year, and in doing so they are doing the environment a serious injustice. Because foreign plants from all over the world are planted, the vast majority of plants, shrubs, and trees in Ontario are not native. As a result, the vegetation cannot support insects, and the entire ecosystem is highly stressed. I am currently working to return my yard to the natural landscape that was in Ontario centuries ago. If you ask at your local nurseries, many of them have a native plant area. The variety and beauty of these plants will impress you. I encourage gardeners everywhere to help reclaim our natural habitat for a healthier world. David J. Nichols Sarnia
Slow justice in email scandal Sir: It took the OPP close to two years to investigate the deleted emails with respect to the Liberal government’s $1.1-billion gas plant scandal. At LONG last, criminal charges against a Liberal party fundraiser, Gerry Lougheed, Jr. and deputy chief of staff Laura Miller were laid. Since then, the only article I’ve come across relating to one of the accused was that Laura Miller was getting a position with the Liberals in B.C.  Could it be because she took the “rap?” Surely, nobody is so naive as to believe the two accused did this without direction from certain politicians who managed to stay clear of charges. The public has the right to know the status of the case against these two Liberals and what the charges against them stated. The abnormally long investigation done by the Ontario Provincial Police would seem to be a conflict of interest since they sponsored an ad for the Liberals in the last provincial election. An impartial body ought to have conducted the investigation. This may have resulted in a more timely and appropriate outcome. As with other Liberal scandals, it will be dragged on and on, hoping people will forget and it will go away. Bernice Rade Forest
City should fly the Franco-Ontarien flag Sir: Sarnia is a city that is alive with history. However, the founding of Sarnia, and its first permanent inhabitants, French-Canadian habitants, are stories that receive little attention or recognition. I believe that it is time for this to be rectified. The legacy of our French-Canadian past warrants recognition. After all, virtually every facet of the development of French-Canada, and Nouvelle-France, would shape the City of Sarnia. French exploration would lead to trade and settlement. Their diplomacy would lead to a fruitful relationship and alliance with the first nations of the region, the Ojibwa, Odawa, and Potowatami, today serving as a powerful reminder of the importance of dialogue with our first peoples. It was the habitants of Lower Canada (Bas Canada) that would permanently settle Sarnia. Settling along the banks of the St. Clair River, voyageurs working from companies in Montréal founded a settlement called Les Rapides, named for the strong current at the mouth of the St. Clair River. Indeed, during the war of 1812, it was French-Canadian Voltigeurs, or irregular militias, that would defend the banks of the St. Clair River against American aggression. Today, French-language schools, cultural groups and businesses function in Sarnia. They represent Sarnia’s founding, and the vibrancy and diversity of its future.  These original French-Canadian settlers of Sarnia, their descendants, and the thousands of Sarnians who live, study and work in French today all deserve recognition in the civic life of the city that they helped found. The green and white flag of Franco-Ontariens, adopted by the provincial government in 1975, proudly flies over cities like Pain Court in Chatham-Kent, and Stoney Point (Pointe-aux-Roches) in Windsor-Essex. We would therefore ask that the City of Sarnia fly the Franco-Ontarien flag alongside the others presently adorning city hall, to celebrate the founding of this city, nearly four centuries of continued Francophone presence in Sarnia, and the future of the Franco-Ontarien community in the region. Given the contributions of French-Canadians to Sarnia, I would say this flag is more than warranted. Merci,     Christopher Ralph Danielle Silverthorne Natalie Therrien-Normand Sarnia                      

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