"Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of 'touching' a man's heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it." --G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Maximize freedom of expression

Korean and English signs, North Road/Austin.
This afternoon, my council colleagues and I received an email from a Coquitlam resident who is upset with the growing number of non-English signs in the Austin-North Road area. The resident called on City Council to take immediate action to ensure that signage is in English. The note declared, "...something needs to be done now before it gets any worse." Here is my response:

Thanks for your note re foreign-language signage. We read about language issues most often in relation to Quebec's stringent pro-French laws. Whenever I think about the situation there, I recall the fundamental principle of freedom of expression that is embedded in our Charter. Quebec has skirted the Charter, however, by invoking the notwithstanding clause, which is any province's right.
Here in BC, I think we have a greater respect for free speech, free expression and free thought, and we are not so threatened by "other" languages. Personally, I also like to see free markets at work, and do not want to micromanage people's businesses. I therefore would view any attempt to force business operators to advertise in English as an unjustifiable assault on some of the basic freedoms that we so cherish in Canada.

UPDATE (March 15): Some Richmond residents are in the news this morning, complaining there's too much Chinese-language signage in that community. They will be appearing before Richmond council next week, armed with a 1,000-name petition, calling for mandatory English or French content.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Horne stands with Clark

You might have seen a story in yesterday's Coquitlam Now, headlined with the declaration that BC Liberal MLA Doug Horne was refusing to support Premier Christy Clark. The exact words were, "Horne won't back premier." I was quite surprised to see those words, and in carefully reading through the text of the story, I concluded that there was a strong possibly Horne had been misunderstood.

Today, Horne, who represents the riding in which I live, made it clear that he continues to support Premier Clark. He has now released the text of a letter he has sent to the editor of the Now, setting the record straight. Given the import of this issue, I have concluded that it would be in the public interest for me to share the full text with readers of this blog, so here goes:

Horne released this photo today to show his support for Clark

I feel that it is important for me to set the record straight and clarify my position. The headline that appeared on the front page of Wednesday’s NOW is misleading and simply not true. I do support Premier Christy Clark and our Party. I am and will be the BC Liberal Candidate for Coquitlam – Burke Mountain. Based upon my record of service to our community, including the Evergreen Line, new and expanded schools, more beds at Eagle Ridge Hospital and funding for local arts, sports and community organizations , I hope to be re-elected May 14th and have the privilege to continue to serve as your MLA in Victoria.
Douglas Horne, MLA Coquitlam – Burke Mountain

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Celebrate Coquitlam River success

Page from the City's Coquitlam River Water Quality Monitoring Report

Ponderous, doom-and-gloom predictions from the sky-is-falling eco-hysterical crowd are routine fare in the mainstream media, even as increasing scientific evidence shows that we have reason for optimism. I’ve been chronicling many of the good-news reports over the past year on my Facebook page.  And I certainly hope to add another link to this list of good-news stories tomorrow, when our two local newspapers publish. [Yup, here's a link to the Tri-City News' story. And here's a link to the Now's story.]

That’s because the City of Coquitlam has just released a report finding that, contrary to the impression left by the annual ritual of naming the Coquitlam River to the list of the province’s “most endangered rivers,” the river is actually exceedingly healthy.

I personally am gratified with this finding because, as chair of the Coquitlam River Aggregate Committee (which seeks to balance the needs of the important gravel-extraction operations along the river, with those of the environment), I stuck my neck out last spring when Mark Angelo, Rivers Chair of the Outdoor Recreation Council, once again slapped the “endangered” label on the river.

I responded by saying that everything I was hearing at the committee—from groups as diverse as our own environmental experts to the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans—had led me to conclude that the river was not, in fact, endangered. My decision to speak up, for the good work that had been done by the committee and many others, led to no small bit of controversy.

It also led directly to my decision to press the City to conduct its own, unique water-quality tests. After all,  the City has a great many storm-sewer outfalls that pour water directly into the river; it only made sense that we should know what’s coming out of them.

Yesterday, we found out.  The Coquitlam River Water Quality Monitoring Update report declares that “sampling results for the 2012 Coquitlam River water quality monitoring program indicate overall positive watershed health, with the majority of parameters being achieved at all locations during both dry and wet weather conditions.”  Significantly, the few problems that were identified (slightly low dissolved oxygen levels throughout the river and an elevated dissolved-copper level in the Riverbend area) cannot be attributed to the aggregate operators.

Let there be no misunderstanding: this is great news! It shows that the gravel operators are acting responsibly; it shows that committed, focused efforts by government workers, environmentalists, nature lovers and ordinary volunteers can make a difference; and it shows that the Coquitlam River is alive, vibrant and healthy. Truly, this is something to celebrate.