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Letters to the Editor

Remember Houssian's contribution to community

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I am outraged at the treatment, without proof, of Joey Houssian regarding the slaughter of the huskies.

I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Houssian some years ago. He is of outstanding character, ethics and has done so much for Whistler, promoting eco-tourism.

Perhaps your readers forget his contribution to the community.

I highly doubt that Joey had any knowledge of this event until after it occurred. People should think before casting stones without facts and attempting character assassination of a fine member of the community

L. Thompson

North Vancouver

 

Compassion for the people, not just the dogs.

It is so easy to pass judgment and make accusations about the alleged dog culling. And because of all the interest from animal lovers, it's pretty easy to organize a peaceful gathering on behalf of the slain dogs and animal welfare.

The hard work comes when we search within ourselves for the much-needed compassion for all the people involved in this situation.

I was shocked to hear the details of the dog cull. However, through further observation and self-reflection, empathizing with the individuals involved was actually easy to do - what we should all strive to do.

Self-reflection #1: In the recent past, I contacted every private animal shelter in B.C., some in Alberta and a few in the US, only to learn there was no support in finding homes for my two gentle, house-trained, large, elderly dogs that were deemed unadoptable by the SPCA - thank goodness for the classifieds and Craigslist.

I can only imagine how difficult it is to find acceptable homes for nearly 100 sled dogs.

Self-reflection #2: Fourteen years ago I was under a significant amount of financial stress and found myself concocting irrational solutions to my problems. Fortunately, a supportive community helped me through that time and looking back, I barely recognize myself, or the decisions I nearly made. Many of you may find yourself thinking, "I could never do what that man did to those dogs!" However, not one of us can predict how we will respond to a stressful event(s) in the future.

The only thing I can hope for is that you will have a community that supports and empathizes with you if you do make choices you would not normally make - more importantly, they'll help prevent terrible choices from being made.

After all, a community is only as strong as its weakest member. Take the hard road, drop the judgment, find some compassion, and maybe then we'll see a peaceful gathering on behalf of the people involved in this incident as well as the dogs.

Nicolette Richer

Whistler

 

 

Squamish walk for the dogs

Like many I was speechless when I first heard of the unthinkable act that took place in Whistler back in April of 2010 in regards to the inhumane and brutal mass killing of 100 sled dogs. I am frustrated with our government and the laws currently in place, which allow such acts like this to take place and accountability not being enforced. I want to see change and I hope I am not alone.

So on Saturday, February 12 starting at 1 p.m. there will be a Dog Rally here in Squamish. I really encourage anyone and everyone who wants to participate to please show your support rain or shine. We will be walking our dogs from Squamish Elementary School (again at 1 p.m. so arrive a little earlier) to Stan Clarke Park. It is not our intent to disturb traffic, nor the daily operations for businesses or individuals. Those who walk their dogs will be asked to bring doggy bags to clean up after their four-legged companions, and I will personally walk at the back of the pack to make sure this happens.

I must be honest and tell you that I am not sure how many people will come out, but as a dog lover myself and having many in my life I cannot imagine what it would be like if it happened to one of my own. I am frustrated and I know others are as well. I am hoping this rally can allow us to constructively vent our frustrations and collectively come together showing our support for tougher laws and higher accountability for those who use dogs for the purpose of work.

I plan to circulate a petition, as well as encourage others to share their frustrations or voice their concerns. However, this will be done peacefully as there will be a zero-tolerance for violence and threats despite our anger. People can definitely bring their own signs if they wish to do so, and you do not need a dog to participate.

There will be an opportunity to show your support for the local Squamish SPCA by bringing a donation that will go directly to them and a letter will be read explaining the BC SPCA's position in the investigation that was implemented by Premier Gordon Campbell.

Let's take a stand, show that we love dogs, do not want to see slaughters like this happening ever again, and bring closure to a very disturbing incident which left a scar on the 2010 Winter Olympics and even Canada. Anyone wanting more information is encouraged to email me at Michael.a.t.Enders@gmail.com.

Michael Enders

Squamish

 

 

Don't spoil Whistler's reputation

Like everyone else, here goes my two cents about Outdoor Adventures Whistler... Why is everyone focusing on how "inhumane" the killings were? Are these people suggesting that what has occurred would have been morally "OK" if the 50 or 70 or 100 (I can't keep up with the media's inconsistencies regarding how many were involved) dogs were euthanized by a trained professional? I believe the way the media has handled the entire story has sparked unnecessary outrage and contributed to the horrible threats and boycotts made towards anyone associated with the company. Yes, what happened was terrible. Yes, I agree that this story should make public press. And yes, investigations should go ahead. But don't spoil the reputation of the town (Whistler). Don't inadvertently encourage people to react with anger and hatred by focusing unnecessarily on the "execution" of the dogs. The fact of the matter is, I bet not one staff member currently working for Outdoor Adventures Whistler on the front line was even here last year! Half of Whistler's workforce is comprised of seasonal workers. Don't spoil their time in Whistler by threatening their safety and well-being. If you are one of these people, ask yourself, what are you contributing to the community? What can you possibly achieve by being a complete idiot? Instead, focus your energy into how you can help the community remember the dogs.

Danni Robbins

Whistler

 

Vet exercised professional right

The suggestion by G.D. Maxwell that a veterinarian may be partially responsible for the recent dog killings is unfortunate.

Refusing to euthanize 100 young, healthy dogs is a veterinarian's professional right, and some would argue, duty.

In sympathizing with the accused man and condemning the threats being made against him (justly, I think), Maxwell seems to be skirting the single "known" part of the story: this man self-admittedly made a terrible mistake and is responsible for his actions.

I'm sure a great number of other poor decisions led to the circumstances surrounding this event. The decision by a vet to refuse euthanizing these dogs wasn't one of them.

Ryan Redgrave

Vancouver

 

Animal cruelty laws need update

Having read G.D. Maxwell's article I have to admit it brought me back to my senses a bit, because when I heard about the horrific slaughter of the Whistler sled dogs I felt the urge to go head hunting and turn into someone I wouldn't like. However, I strongly feel the people responsible need to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. And there lies the problem that I believe all dog and animal lovers face, that there are not adequate laws to deter this kind of horrific act.

In most cases the penalty amounts to a slap on the wrist. There are no laws pertaining to working dogs; they can be disposed of as we see fit as long as it is done in a humane manner.

I think what most people are outraged about are the numbers and the inhumanity of the killings.

I find it very hard to believe there weren't other options. I strongly feel any dogs that are in these persons "care" need to be removed and they should be banned from having dogs, ever.

This is the very least we can expect. To all the decent people living in Whistler I sincerely hope you survive this black eye that has now been seen worldwide.

Steve Harding

Campbell River

 

 

Demand change

Please search for this new proactive important group in the Facebook search at top: Demand Change: Canada Animal Cruelty Laws, and post on your site, newsletters and local papers, to "Like" and "Share it" with other FB friends and users!

Someone kindly set it up today, with the horrific nightmare news of the beautiful dogs, which were killed by the company in Whistler.

Please be proactive and spread the word about this FB group, to encourage people to use their voice and send emails to their MPs to change our much-outdated animal cruelty laws, the wording, and much harsher penalties, ASAP as needed!

We need to take action, and if this is the one thing we can do that comes out of this distressing news then... well, we've DONE something. Thank you, from a Vancouver-Whistler lover...

"Be the change you want to see in the world" - Mahatma Ghandi

Monica Hromada

Whistler

 

 

Centre for Sustainability responds

Bob Calladine, in his letter to the editor in both the Pique and the Question asks for someone to offer some further insight to the comments he made.

For a broader explanation of what the Centre for Sustainability is about, please refer to the article "Whistler's Sustainability Advantage: The Whistler Centre for Sustainability" in the Nov 25, 2010 edition of the Pique or at www.whistlercentre.ca. For now, I will just shed some light on Bob's statements.

The Centre for Sustainability assists communities with long-range, comprehensive sustainability visioning, planning and implementation, building upon the expertise and lessons learned in managing and facilitating Whistler2020. To our knowledge, we have not competed directly with any local businesses in this area. Instead, we have collaborated numerous times with local businesses and consultants to build stronger proposals, a few of which we have won together. We have also hired a number of local businesses to deliver projects or services. We were glad to hear that Mr. Calladine feels that the Whistler2020 planning, monitoring and engagement process was successfully run by RMOW staff; that's why half of those staff moved over to become Centre employees to keep up these Whistler2020 activities.

Of course what makes Whistler2020 so successful isn't just the Centre's work, but rather the commitment and programming of 54 partner organizations and 180 Task Force members that have dedicated countless hours to the planning and actions on the ground. We did not play any role in the RMOW's in-house reviews, nor are we responsible for the management of the OCP, although we have assisted with the OCP public engagement strategy. Through iShift, we are assisting 30 Whistler businesses and organizations, through a grant we secured from the Government of Canada, Department of the Environment, to develop customized sustainability plans and implementation strategies.

Outside of Whistler, we are currently working with five municipalities on their community sustainability plans, and with three local governments on their energy plans. The majority of the Centre's revenue is generated through fee-for-service projects as well as external grant funding. The Resort Municipality Initiative grant from the RMOW was part of a five-year tourism development strategy agreement made with the Province, is less than one-fifth of our annual budget, and ends at the end of this year.

This grant would not be able to be used for transit or any other traditional essential service as suggested by Mr. Calladine.

We at the Centre - staff and board - applaud the innovation and entrepreneurial government culture exhibited by the RMOW and the commitment by Task Forces to continually push for this organization and put the steps in place to create the Whistler Centre for Sustainability. Results of that investment are already evident - within Whistler and outside - and many communities around Canada are seeing the creation of the Centre as yet another innovative initiative led by Whistler.

We invite anyone with questions about the Centre to check out our website whistlercentre.ca, drop by for a coffee, or give us a call or email anytime.

Cheeying Ho

Centre for Sustainability

 

 

Revolution in Egypt closer than we think

For many of us parents in Whistler, having growing kids come up for ski weekends, is quite an experience. Lots of juicy vignettes for next spring's Chairlift Revue for sure.

But to have a 22-year-old son, who spent last year at the American University in Cairo, come last weekend for some powder, the interaction was intense.

Just getting his gear together, while pulling him away from Al Jazeera on Shaw 175, was a trial. And sitting on the Red Chair, as he sent text messages of encouragement to his friends in Tahrir Square, was beyond anything I could have imagined at 10 on a Sunday morning.

Later, it wasn't quite an argument, more like a conversation on the politics of tourism. But my sense of the need to get away and chill out didn't exactly match his view of how in Egypt the tourist economy was a mixed blessing at best.

Next to government services and the military, tourism is the most important sector in Egypt's economy . More than 13 million tourists visited in 2009, providing revenues of nearly $11 billion and employing more than 14 per cent of Egypt's workforce at slave wages.

It's part of the problem they are facing, he would argue. Having hundreds of tour operators serving millions of tourists who care more about ancient Egyptology, not modern 20th century history, is part of what preserves the repressive status quo. The underemployed tech savvy youth of a new generation don't want to live in a museum, or with stagnant wages, or with old political battles being fought by corrupt leaders. They want change.

My reminding him of Max Weber's dialogue between the forces of persistence and the forces of change helped somewhat, although he studies more history than sociology. Together we then talked about Whistler, sustainability and the many thoughtful, progressive people who live here and like him, come to visit.

But as the child becomes the parent, he reminded me that "actions speak louder than words." Then off he was back to SFU and to get on the steep mountains of a changing and challenging world, with his friends in Tahrir Square.

William Roberts

President, The Whistler Forum for Leadership and Dialogue