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Letters to the editor

Remember the little guys


I am writing to ask the citizens of Whistler to give a gift back to a small independent business this Christmas season. Nothing could mean more to a small Whistler business than to know you made a special effort to buy local and to buy at least one item from an independent business. Small businesses in Whistler have given so much to our community for so long and for the most part, it goes unnoticed.

Small businesses are truly the cornerstone of British Columbia’s communities. Ninety-eight per cent of all businesses in B.C. are small businesses and 83 per cent have fewer than five employees. That's what small businesses do best: employ our friends, relatives, neighbours, children, parents and even grandparents. Have you ever thought about it? Small businesses in Whistler account for 56 per cent of all private sector employment and they hire over 60 per cent of all new employees. Independent businesses are the most likely to try and hold onto their staff in slow economic times. Small business owners are the first to forgo a paycheque themselves at the end of the month in order to first pay their number one resource and asset, their loyal employees.

In addition to the economic and employment benefits they provide, small business owners lead the way when it comes to giving back to our community in which we live, work and play. A recent survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business shows a staggering 96 per cent of small businesses give back through cash donations to non-profits, donations of in-kind goods and services and even donations of their own time by volunteering for local non-profit groups. The next time you see a sports field full of children, remember that their uniforms were most likely donated in whole or in part by a small Whistler business owner. The coach is also more than likely a small business owner, or works for one. CFIB found that 22 per cent of small business owners are also likely to be donating their employees’ work time back to the community in one form or another.

Many small business owners work over 60 hours a week and spend their nights and weekends doing government paperwork and remittances to keep their businesses going. We often don't think about this time commitment or the risk they take when they finance their small business with a mortgage against their home.

After the bustling holiday season, many small businesses in Whistler will struggle. If you are lured by flashy advertising, bright lights and big parking lots, take a moment to think of our local small business owner and what they do for us. Give back to our small business community by supporting them through the purchase of at least one item this season. Small businesses are truly B.C.'s economic engine and they will be the first to lead us out of this economic downturn. Let's help them survive so they stay afloat and continue to give, donate, volunteer and hire our citizens.

During these troubling economic times let’s support the backbone of our community. Over the next month, especially after Christmas, let’s give back! Let’s say thank you, by supporting them as they have supported our community for so long. You won't be disappointed! You will be pleasantly surprised with the quality and availability of goods and the "above and beyond" service. A hands down winner every time.

Your gift to them could be a dinner or lunch out with a friend or family member at a local restaurant or cafe. Purchase a service or maybe a gift for your uncle, neighbour or favourite pet. It could be that you need something for the house, the yard or in the kitchen. Buy a book, a cake or a new pair of pants or shoes. Let’s challenge ourselves, whatever we buy, to purchase something from an independent small business.

Your gift back may be one of the best gifts you give this Christmas season.

Brian Bonney,

Canadian Federation of Independent Business

CFIB Director of Provincial Affairs, B.C.

Olympic ticket disappointment

We applied for tickets to a variety of events taking place in Whistler and were unsuccessful. How did other people fare? We thought perhaps as residents we might get some sort of priority but that didn't seem to be the case.

If we have to watch it on TV we wonder if it's worth staying in town. We are happy that the tickets sold out so quickly but perhaps VANOC might consider making some future allocation available to Whistler residents who didn't get tickets. After all, we are the hosts and it's a bit like not being able to go to ones own party!

Caroline Cluer


Radio waves

One has to wonder about the place Mountain FM has in our Emergency Response Plan. As the only truly local station, we should be able to look to Mountain FM when faced with a community emergency. Yet, Mountain FM was not only scooped by many stations from Vancouver, in the hours following the gondola collapse, Mountain FM ran music and not news, save for a few run-of-the-mill 20-second spots that provided virtually no useful information for locals and tourists who may have had friends or family on the gondola.

One would have expected a local station to provide a faster response, live reports from the scene and perhaps a phone number for mountain or muni information. Let's hope that our only source of local news creates a plan to deal with breaking news and emergency needs.

Matthew Saver


Talent in Transition

Thank you to Sam for writing about Transition Space in last week’s Pique.

We have been overwhelmed with the positive feedback we have gotten from the community and visitors in regards to Transition Space. We all agree that a local gallery would be a great addition to Whistler, creating an outlet to express and promote our local arts culture. We have a lot of talented people in this community and having a space where we can exhibit their works has been amazing.

Thank you to all the business owners in our building for helping us when they can.

All of the artists would also like to send out a warm thank you to Don Wensley, without him Transition Space would not exist and we all really appreciate his generosity.

Look for a completely new exhibit starting next week. This Sunday only, we are hosting a small market with over nine vendors from noon to 6. Please come out and support our local artists and artisans.

Andrea Mueller


Status quo has got to go

I just listened to a interesting show (CBC 1, The Current, Friday, Dec 12) which in a nut shell illustrated how our Canadian government policy and performance towards action on global warming was ranked 59th out of a list of 60 world governments.

Jim Prentice, the third Conservative environment minister in as many years, was interviewed and of course dismissed the report. He trotted out the usual Conservative party lines which state that economic factors are as important as environmental (science based) factors in determining policy, and developing countries must play by the same rules before we sign onto anything resembling a binding international policy (Kyoto).

Anyone who doesn't understand this as meaning anything but full speed ahead on the status quo should give their head a good vigorous shake.

Most illustrative of this point was Jim Prentice’s statement that implementation of meaningful climate change policy can only occur if our society is sufficiently prosperous enough to afford it. By that I would like to think he means that when we are well off, we can and will take meaningful action. If this is true then why during the past few years of booming economy and abundant prosperity have the tar sands been allowed and encouraged to become such a huge contributor of greenhouse gas and toxic waste production?

Because it’s good for the economy, stupid! Economy will always trump environment even during the good times. If we can't exercise some economic restraint (or more accurately, economic innovation) in favor of what is clearly necessary during the good times, then do you think our government will stray much further from the status quo as we slide into the coming years of global recession?

The sooner we realize that this government is fundamentally opposed to anything that threatens the status quo and that the continued and accelerated degradation of our environment is of little consequence to their values and policy the closer we will be to the truth. Then it’s just a matter of do we have the will and conscience to kick them out and demand what is clearly needed.

Bruce Kay


Reflections of a conspiracy theorist

If I was a conspiracy theorist I'd say that the Conservatives were more fiendishly diabolical than arrogant or ignorant. The current state of Canadian politics is a result of well thought strategy, an unimaginable turn, then recognizing the potential that brought, and good luck (luck being the meeting of preparation and opportunity).

Consider that in taunting the opposition to defeat the government in a confidence vote, the only option Mr. Harper would have was to ask the GG to dissolve Parliament and call an election. The populace, incensed at the Liberals, would then obliterate them in the election.

Things didn’t go that way. Rather they took a turn for the absurd.

Somehow the opposition was able to cobble together an association that unbelievably included the BQ. They announced that the PM in waiting would be Mr. Dion, the same man that Canadians and the Liberals had rejected only a few weeks ago. It appeared that the Liberals would be back in power in spite of themselves.

Spite themselves they would.

In response to Mr. Harper’s television address, the Liberals managed to allow Mr. Dion to present himself as a distraction. They then proceeded to eviscerate him and publicly took turns carving him up.

The GG’s acceptance of Mr. Harper’s request to prorogue is no surprise. It set the scene for the GG to give the opposition association a shot at forming a government if the government is defeated in the next confidence vote and if there is such an association at that time.

Shakespeare said, “Alas, the storm is come again! …misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows…” From where I sit though, the opposition association has a proverbial snowball’s chance of not eating itself under Caliban’s cloak.

Neil Ross


An appeal for oversight

This letter was addressed to MLA Joan McIntyre. A copy was forwarded to the Pique for publication.

I want to touch base with you specifically on the lack of planning oversight of IPPs in the province.

I understand the provincial government's underlying rationale of proactively dealing with future energy crises by generating alternative energy sources. Frankly, I would much prefer to see us develop solar, wind, and hydro energy sources, as opposed to coal, gas, oil or nuclear-powered energy to meet future energy demand. I also understand the rationale of farming out the risk of new developments to the private sector, and that there has to be sufficient reward to motivate those companies to undertake the risk.

However, I do not believe that in order to accomplish an energy-secure future the government should step back and largely deregulate the energy sector. Arguably, B.C. was already a world leader in the production of green energy, given that such a large percentage of our power has been generated by hydro power. Perhaps, a large-scale dam would be "greener", or have more moderate and localized impacts, than the proliferation of private, unregulated, unmonitored power projects all around the province. As citizens, we rely on government to undertake this kind of big-picture thinking, and right now, your government has reneged on that responsibility.

I fear for the future of British Columbia — after watching the financial crisis begin to hit home around the world, and seeing the causative link between the current economy and the deregulation of the banking and finance sector, I urge the provincial government to take a more involved leadership role in managing and protecting our "energy" assets. Those "energy" assets — rivers and windy coastlines — are also assets in their wild state — as habitat, as vital ecological systems — and they are of immeasurable value to future generations. The province's current lack of an overarching plan to manage and monitor the cumulative impacts of all these independent power projects undermines any green gains that might be claimed.

Please urge your colleagues to initiate a master-plan for these independent power projects; to consider protecting certain rivers and watersheds because of their high competing values (recreation, tourism, wilderness, habitat) from IPP development (and thereby, protecting the proponents from the risk of spending significant sums to develop a project that is unacceptable to the region's residents); to empower the Environmental Assessment Office to review individual projects in the context of multi-river development; and to keep future energy as an asset of the people of B.C., not as a commodity that has been divided up, like the spoils of a great pillage, amongst private sector developers.

Lisa Richardson


Thanks from Waldorf School

The Whistler Waldorf School held its ninth annual Christmas Fair this past Saturday and amidst the freezing temperatures and icy winds, the holiday cheer and festive craft-making was enjoyed by many local families.

Thanks to the following businesses who graciously contributed to the wonderful success of our school fair: Nesters Market, Mountain FM, Whistler-Blackcomb, Pique Newsmagazine, Windsor Plywood, Sachi Sushi, Ziptrek Tours, Charlie Doyle Sign and Design, Whistler Happy Pets, Armchair Books, The Old Spaghetti Factory, Whistler Clearance Centre and Aphrodite's Organic Cafe and Pie Shop (Vancouver).  Jenn Raffler


Globalists have it wrong

Further to Andrew Mitchell’s perceptive piece, “Car companies in trouble,” (Pique N Yer Interest, Nov 27), I agree that the Big Three U.S. auto makers should be bailed out. They were done in not so much by their supposed unimaginative incompetence but by the same globalist government policies that have turned America — once the world’s biggest creditor nation — into its biggest debtor nation. These policies included the practically duty-free auto imports from countries with lower labour, social and environmental standards, and the lack of U.S.-wide labour standards that have enabled foreign car makers like Toyota to set up non-union shop in the deep South at lower wages and fewer benefits.   Such policies meant grossly unfair competition for Detroit.

Inexplicably, successive U.S. administrations have allowed manufacturing — the sector that can best take advantage of technological advance to increase productivity and wages — to contract. As a result, the middle class that used to maintain demand, save to form capital, and be a solid tax base has been shrinking. After 30 years of globalization, Americans find themselves working more or less in a moribund service economy and going deeper in debt.

Even more importantly, the U.S. needs a robust manufacturing sector for defense purposes as well. Yale professor Paul Kennedy made a direct connection between economic and military might in “The Rise and Fall of Great Powers,” and we know from Conrad Black’s seminal biography “Roosevelt,” that the Allies could not have won WWII without America’s prodigious manufacturing output.

The more rabid globalists insist that the Big Three should be allowed to go bankrupt. However, there are encouraging signs that they should not be. Their international divisions are still profitable, and their new American product lines — for example, GM’s plug-in electric car, the Volt — have been critically acclaimed and environmentally endorsed. Detroit could make the bailout work provided the playing field is level. Besides, the U.S. simply can’t afford to lose anymore manufacturing capacity.

Clearly, America (and the West for that matter) needs to import less, repatriate productive capacity, make as much of what it consumes as possible at home and pay higher wages to restore economic health.   As the late President Lincoln explained it to American railway barons wanting to import cheaper British steel: “When be buy abroad, we get the goods and the foreigner gets the money. When we buy at home, we get both the goods and the money.” Sadly, Barack Obama is no Lincoln. He is a globalist, and the real economic remedy of de-globalizing and re-industrializing North America is not on his agenda.

Joe Bako


Looking for help

Dear Whistler Neighbours, I am desperately hoping that somebody has found our Japanese marriage certificate that I very stupidly placed on top of my car while cleaning it, and then more stupidly left it there rushing to my son’s birthday party....

So somewhere between our house on Emerald Drive and the Spruce Grove Field house, our certificate flew into the unknown. It is framed in gold and is very beautiful with a lot of Japanese writing. I can imagine that if someone found it on the side of the road, they could think that someone threw out some lovely art. I can't even explain how difficult and complicated it will be to replace so if anyone spots a hint of gold shining out from the snow please, please, please grab it and give us a call (604-932-6987).

Thank you,

Carin Smolinski & Allan Wilson