Retail marketer now marketing retail politics?

I was disappointed to read the letter from Rick Woodward in support of Pelham’s ex-(tempting to add “disgraced”) mayor, David Augustyn [“Former mayor running for Ontario NDP,” Letters, Nov. 24, p.6].

I remember Mr. Woodward from his many years managing the marketing and promotion for the Pen Centre Shopping Mall in St. Catharines. It is unfortunate, but in a way not surprising, that he now seems to be in the business of promoting David Augustyn.

Mr. Woodward’s statement that the “alternative” to the transformation of Pelham into yet another GTA exurban commuter community is “stagnation and a slow death” is exaggerated nonsense.

The “alternative” to ugly, tightly-packed row-homes on treeless streets is the preservation of green space and the preservation of farmland.

The “alternative” to the Augustyn council rubber-stamping these ugly designs—and the eyesore strip malls on Highway 20— would have been to take a more considered approach. Niagara-on-the-Lake has managed to do this for many years, retaining its charm and character. Why couldn’t Pelham?

Why was the Augustyn council so keen to pave this town over, handing over our destiny to developers through questionable financing means? What happened in Fonthill is about to happen in Fenwick due to what this man and his council approved.

I also want to note that no one disputes that the new community centre is a fine facility. It certainly should be for the $36 million we taxpayers spent on it.

What anyone with any sense objected to is the underhanded, devious methods used to sell the public on how it was to be financed. The very provable fact is that the Town of Pelham continues to be in relatively poor financial condition, due almost entirely to the MCC debt we will be paying off for decades.

Mr. Woodward now apparently wants to promote David Augustyn like he promoted Pen Centre. However, if there’s anything that this pandemic has taught us it is how we became way too dependent on unnecessary, disposable crap. I hold out hope that the voters of Niagara West soon come to realize what the residents of Pelham already know—that buying what David Augustyn has to sell is bad for the environment, bad for our wallets, and bad for our souls.

J. Macdonald
Via Voice website

 

Reaction to perceived “conservative Christian” slur

So now simply being a Christian is a black mark?

In his letter supporting the former Pelham mayor Augustyn [“Former mayor running for Ontario NDP,” Letters, Nov. 24, p.6], Rick Woodward wrote, “Our riding is currently held by a 24-year-old conservative Christian, Sam Oosterhoff, a representative who is often in some public and political trouble.”

Since when is being a conservative Christian worthy of condemnation? This is bigotry, pure and simple, and Rick Woodward owes MPP Oosterhoff, and the many conservative Christians in this community, an unqualified apology.

Sharon Little
Via Voice website

The word “Christian” in reference to Sam Oosterhoff was disturbing. Do you automatically say “Muslim,” “Sikh,” “atheist,” “Catholic,” “Baptist,” etc., when referencing a politician? Their religion should not matter. By the way, I am a Christian—proud of it and proud of Mr. Oosterhoff. What religion does the NDP leader Andrea Horwath practice? Goodbye and God bless.

Sue Harding
Pelham

In his letter, Mr. Woodward attempts to make a case for the selection of the former mayor as the NDP candidate in our next provincial election. In his concluding paragraph the author states “Our riding is currently held by a 24-year-old conservative Christian, Sam Oosterhoff, a representative who is often in some public and political trouble.” 

I’d like the author to imagine the reaction to his statement if we substitute Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, or any other religion in place of Christian. Of course, he’d be identified as some sort of racist.

I’m sure Mr. Woodward is not a racist and possibly even identifies as Christian, but his little missive provides a good lesson to “Leave Religion Out of Politics” and just state the facts in a secular fashion.

Michael Hoch
Fonthill

EDITOR’S NOTE MPP Oosterhoff declined to comment publicly. The Voice asked Rick Woodward if he wished to clarify his reference to Oosterhoff’s religious affiliation. He provided the following response:

“Thank you for allowing me to comment on the remarks I made in last week’s edition of the Voice. I apologize to anyone who may have misinterpreted my remarks as being anti-Christian bigotry. That certainly wasn’t my intention. However, as the religion.fandom.com Wiki entry puts it, Conservative Christianity is often characterized by ‘a belief in the authority of the Bible and a belief that it is an incontrovertible source of God’s revelation to mankind. This includes a willingness to believe that the Bible is to be believed over science or any other source. Bible prophecy and Bible inerrancy are affirmed.’ These are ideas I have a problem reconciling. Historically, faith and politics have led to some pretty horrific outcomes. We should keep all religions out of our politics.”

 

Councillors’ actions speak louder than words

I swear the antics in Pelham never cease to amaze me. Just when I want to give local politicians the benefit of the doubt, they say or do things that further erode my trust!

◼︎ The total lack of this Town Council to work together, and the whole four-vs.-three attitude has plagued any good they might have done. I fully believe that council could do more good and accomplish more for the residents if they worked together.

◼︎ The anti-trust in vaccine attitude and lack of disclosure, by the Conservative Party, both Federally and Provincially, and the opposition to the vaccine passport continues to become a roadblock in encouraging the non-vaccinated to become so, and controlling the case numbers, preventing them from increasing and putting further doubt in people’s minds, both in parliament and on social media. Politics trying to undermine the science is ludicrous. I want to see MP Dean Allison and his colleagues line up and take their off-label doses of Ivermectin. In the work I do, I trust the opinion of the doctors and the science behind the vaccines, not the politicians. If necessary, I will step up for a third booster shot to protect myself, friends, and family.

◼︎ The Liberals wasted $660 million dollars on an election that we did not need and the outcome changed nothing. According to the experts there was nothing concrete in the Throne Speech that helps Canadians. Inflation, housing costs, the cost of living, controlling taxation, and reducing debt, from the municipal level all the way to the federal level. The $660 million could have been spent wisely, on things like healthcare, but now that the other federal parties don’t agree with the substance, or lack of, in the Throne speech, will they dare trigger an election? We also own a federal pipeline that is now a white elephant, while at the same time gasoline is up 41 percent, as is every item at the store. Climate Change is real, but not new. Coming out of this pandemic, health, jobs, cost of living, and stability are what I’m looking for, not more turmoil caused by politicians.

◼︎ The icing on the cake had to be the endorsement of a former mayor of Pelham, by the NDP, to run provincially in the next election. The cannabis odour issue was thrust upon us by the last mayor and the feds. The East Fonthill congestion and development mess was hurried by the last council and the debt we incurred as residents, instead of proper funding procedures and planning for the MCC, was piled on us by the last council. Now the previous mayor wants to represent us provincially, while we live with the results of his last two terms in Pelham?

In summary, politicians solicit your vote based on their platform and trust. With everything that I just stated, I have a hard time supporting anyone at this point in any party, since I feel that their actions past and present, and platforms, are broken and the trust that I placed in any of them has eroded. I fully support Mayor Junkin as a down-to-earth person with a common-sense farming background. Be careful who you place your trust in, because you will need to live with their agenda for the next four years after you vote.

Actions speak louder than words.

Rick Kavanagh
Fenwick

 

This year, put a wrap on wrapping and help save the environment

During the Christmas season Canadians will throw away an extra 450,000 metric tonnes of trash—wrapping paper, boxes, Christmas cards, leftover food, etc. In addition, some 6,000 kilometers of ribbon will be discarded. Neither wrapping paper nor ribbon nor traditional Christmas cards are recyclable.

Save every bit of paper and ribbon that comes your way. Consider wrapping gifts in newsprint or packing paper, fabric scraps, pillow cases, or gift bags which can be saved and used over and over. We currently use some bags which have reached the ripe old age of 20 years.

Consider e-cards or homemade cards on paper that can be recycled. For gifts consider homemade crafts or food, coupons for things like a cooked dinner, babysitting, or an event. Gift certificates are also welcomed as gifts. The idea is to avoid “stuff.”

If just we and our families and friends could do these things it would make an impact.

Let’s put a wrap on wrapping.

Donald Brown
Fonthill

 

Here comes gridlock

The intensification in Pelham does not appear to take into consideration the access to roads. In East Fonthill we see a few narrow arterial roads leading to Rice Road and to Station Street, onward to Highway 20.

Construction of homes continues along Rice Road into Welland, above into Thorold, and soon more off Station Street. Inevitably hundreds of cars will leave home around the same time daily, creating congested, narrow roads and frayed tempers. Given that most households have at least one car, and recognizing that retired folks also drive, Pelham taxpayers are waiting eagerly to hear solutions for improved traffic control.

L. Morgan
Fonthill

 

Border policy borders on senseless

Isn’t it time we took the politicians out of this? We ban flights from Africa, but allow the asylum seekers to come in via Roxham Road in Quebec?

Doesn’t make much sense to me.

Joan Eby
Fonthill

 

COTE’S COMMENTS | Larry Coté

Canadians are a welcoming people

Imagine if your life and those of your loved ones becomes so intolerably unlivable that you have to flee your country of birth and seek refuge in a foreign land. Likely, any destination you seek will be unfamiliar in so many ways. A different language, culture, climate, food, and ways different from yours beyond even your wildest imaginings.

That almost unthinkable scenario is what millions of people around the globe are faced with every day. They fervently look for relief from such despicable conditions and desperately hope that somewhere in this world there are people who will come to their aid. They do not know when, why, or where they might encounter such people, but hope springs eternal in spite of their unimaginable conditions.

Fortunately, there are persons in this country who make us all proud to be Canadians. They have portrayed us all to be regarded around the world as a kind and considerate nation. This has been demonstrated time and time again when Canadians have been called upon to come to the aid of people from around the world, who have encountered life-altering and threatening travails.

Canadians are also known to be humble and in spite of that noble ascription it should be acceptable to occasionally celebrate that treasured reputation. One of those concepts is how Canada has welcomed tens of thousands of refugees from many distressed areas of the world.

It is true there are some Canadians who are not so welcoming to refugees to this country. They are entitled to such opinions and guaranteed that freedom by our Charter. But there are others who believe those who oppose Canada’s acceptance of refugees fail to recognize how these new Canadians help to enrich our society, add to our diversity, and help to grow our economy. Often, when we think about refugees we envisage depressing scenarios depicting persons enduring life threatening and often inhumane conditions.

In order to ease the concerns of those who would discourage the entry of refugees to Canada and alleviate some of those depressing images, perhaps we could look to some of the positive success stories from among the thousands of refugees to Canada.

What follows here are some observations about two private sponsorships within our midst. Private sponsorship means that no government funds are involved in the resettlement of the refugees to this country. There have been a number of groups locally that have undertaken such charitable initiatives.

The first of example involves a family from Vietnam during that crisis in the mid 1970s. The second exemplification is a more recent one involving a family from a war-ravaged Syria.

The family from Vietnam was a young couple with four children under the age of ten. The sponsoring group had rented and furnished a small, three-bedroom house centrally located in the community. The story of their precarious escape from Vietnam would make an award-winning feature movie. The preparations to escape were brilliantly executed and encountering pirates on the high seas along the way are mere morsels of the intrigue associated with that journey.

Although he spoke no English, the husband and father of the family obtained, on his own initiative, a job at a workplace not favored by domestic workers. After about a year, again on his own initiative, he found a better job in the Toronto area and moved his family to that city. His wife also found work in that city. This family has prospered and obtained Canadian citizenship almost entirely on their own initiative. All four children have obtained post-secondary educations and have started their own families. When they arrived in Canada, their entire possessions were packed into five plastic bags. Now this family portrays the image of ordinary middle class Canadian neighbours and integral participants of their community.

The other private sponsorship is a family from war-torn Syria. This family is comprised of couple with two young school-aged children. The woman is university educated, speaks three languages, and worked in a high-level administrative capacity prior to their escape to freedom. The husband and father is an accomplished skilled tradesman. Just one of their complications while living in Syria was their adherence to a Christian denomination. As part of their plan to escape from the tyranny of their life in Syria they covertly moved to Lebanon for a while before applying to come to Canada.

Again the sponsoring group rented and prepared a house located near the center of the community. Soon thereafter, both the woman and the man obtained entry-level positions in the workforce and were totally independent and self supporting in a very short time. Both have made advancements in their workplaces, obtained Canadian citizenship, and have purchased a home. Their children are doing well in school and participating in organized sports. Again, were you to drive by their house you would not know they were refugees but rather just another typical Canadian household.

It is absolutely remarkable how each member of both of these families has adapted to their new country in every aspect of their lives. We are fortunate to have these new neighbours.

While much more could be written about these two specific refugee families it is clear that their integration into Canadian society includes many pluses. It is important to recall that Canada was built by immigrants from across all regions of the world. Welcoming refugees to this country is a continuance of that history.

 

PELHAM AND COVID-19 | Mayor Marvin Junkin

Even with pandemic, Town finances back from the brink

As mentioned in last week’s column, Town Council will be receiving various budgets from staff over the next several weeks, to be discussed and passed. On Monday evening, Town Treasurer Teresa Quinlin-Murphy, and Deputy Treasurer Charlotte Tunikaitis were to present the capital budget and the water budget. Included in the presentation was a section which dealt with the overall financial health of the Town, using provincial indicators. I am proud to say that all five of these “financial health indicators” show a marked improvement over their 2018 counterparts, with several falling from high-risk to low-risk. These results have been achieved due to the efforts of both staff and council to continue to lower the Town’s debt, while also adding money to the Town’s reserve funds.

The big-ticket item in the budget is a request from the Fire Department for a heavy rescue truck, with a price tag of $600,000 dollars. The truck it is replacing is 20 years old, and it has structural fatigue.

Last week, I participated in two events, along with Town staff and members of council. On Tuesday, Councillors Wink and Olson and I raised a flag in recognition of HIV/AIDS Awareness Week. This disease has been in our communities for 40 years now. It is estimated that some 400 people in Niagara are living with HIV. Also taking part in this ceremony were representatives from Positive Living Niagara, who introduced their Red Scarf campaign. They then tied scarves to several trees and fences in front of Town Hall along with an explanatory tag attached.

On Friday, Councillors Wink and Olson again joined myself, and various Town staff and a small group of Town residents, along with members from the Niagara Region Native Centre, at the MCC for the REDress project reveal. Shyann Jenkins shared her story of REDress and a song.

The REDress installation itself, which consisted of red dresses being placed in the trees along the south side of the MCC, was coordinated by the Canadian Federation of University Women, Welland and District, represented by Kathy Shaw, currently president of this organization, and past president Carol Harding, and was based on the installation originally done in 2010 by Metis artist Jamie Black.

Each red dress represents over 100 missing or murdered Indigenous women, a truly tragic number that this display drives home. Equally revealing is the statistic that one in two women over the age of 16, in Canada, have experienced one of the many forms of gender-based violence. This is the first time that I have been involved and hope that with it taking place in Town more people will become aware of these atrocities against these women.