Saturday’s letters: Loss of Hinshaw, senior Indigenous doctor alarming

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Re. “Hinshaw’s firing shows the era of COVID retribution not over yet,” Don Braid, June 23

Dr. Deena Hinshaw helped Albertans through COVID with a calm, measured approach and strong knowledge of public health. She was aligned with all the other provincial public health physicians across the country.

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Dr. Hinshaw was vilified by a very few Albertans and was fired by the UCP, led by Danielle Smith. While Smith was meddling in operational issues of health, she also fired the AHS board, dismissed Dr. Verna Yiu and appointed John Cowell. So, yes, she interferes with AHS personnel issues.

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Now, when called to task about Dr. Hinshaw and Dr. Esther Tailfeathers leaving Indigenous Health, the communications people say the premier does not get involved in AHS personnel issues. The UCP cannot have it both ways; the actions are wrong and the comments are disingenuous. This is not releasing a physician from duty; it is making a villain of Dr. Hinshaw and, in the most interfering, disrespectful process, AHS lost an excellent Indigenous physician, Dr. Tailfeathers.

We need all the kind and knowledgeable physicians we have in Alberta, but not according to the premier. Interference of AHS by the government is already far off the best path forward. Indigenous people, physicians and all Albertans should be concerned with this very bad action.

Dawn Friesen, Edmonton

Hinshaw’s firing akin to Trump politics

Dr. Deena Hinshaw saw Albertans through COVID with her sensible advice and calm demeanour. Danielle Smith comes along and chases her out of Alberta because Dr. Hinshaw did not agree with Smith’s out-there views on the pandemic. I wonder where Smith got her medical degree.

She is now refusing to let Dr. Hinshaw come back and accept a job in Alberta. Is this simply because the good doctor does not share Smith’s controversial views — relying instead on medical data, or is it because Smith cannot be seen as being wrong? We are heading too close to Trump-style politics and it is very scary.

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Kathy Holler, Edmonton

PM’s trip to anti-poverty summit shameful

Does this man have no sense of shame at all? This man being the prime minster of Canada, one Justin Trudeau. In late April, the prime minister, with an accompanying entourage, flying in two private planes, flew to New York City to attend a two-day  meeting of the Global Citizen NOW organization.

The official cost of hotel accommodation only for this entourage, which, of course, included his personal photographer, (flights and additional costs were extra) totalled $61,000 paid, of course, by Canadian taxpayers. The purpose of this convention? “To take urgent action to end extreme poverty.” As I said, has this man no shame at all?

Graham Morris, Edmonton

City taxing more, providing less

When we got our property assessment, much to our angst, it went up by close to $400/year. Recently, I read in the Journal that snow clearing, roads, sidewalks, et cetera, will be radically reduced. So, now I pay much more and receive much less.

J.F. Welliver, Edmonton

Real consultation needed on zoning changes

Re. “Zoning reform may be a bit of a snoozefest, but need for a plan shows city is growing up,” Keith Gerein, June 22

The lens through which Keith Gerein, much of the planning department, and some city councillors see the city’s future, and the rewrite of the zoning code, is boosterism. Boosterism is a strong bias to curb and the reason certain talking points about Edmonton’s future become facts when they are just forecasts.

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Like the forecasts about Edmonton becoming a city of two million in 50 years, or the dire state of things if urban sprawl continues, or the inability of the housing market to sort out affordability problems related to supply without this slash-and-burn job on the zoning bylaw. All speculation.

Yet that’s what happened with widespread infill and this trade-off of easing zoning regulations to free the hands of builders, developers, and property speculators. The lens of boosterism and hope has replaced common sense. And now it’s a mad dash to cash out this hope before it becomes unprofitable.

What’s lost in the process is a chance for meaningful consultation with Edmontonians. Instead, we receive condescending and repetitious mention of all the online events, podcasts, lectures, and whiteboard sessions we missed over the pandemic, which, along with replying to online surveys, is how the city chose to do outreach about the zoning bylaw.

Meaningful consultation means parking the boosterism and setting up more events across the city to explain the zoning bylaw changes. The gondola spanning the river valley will go down as the case study on boosterism and its numbing effect on good judgement, but this lack of meaningful public consultation is a close second. The city needs to step up and go meet people where they live before the council vote in the fall.

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Connor Houlihan, Edmonton

Senator’s appeal for restraint troubling

Paula Simons can’t be pleased. The Alberta senator, who has embraced the true spirit of being an independent member of the upper chamber must have just shook her head in disbelief listening to fellow independent Sen. Ian Shugart’s maiden speech recently.

Although both were appointed by Prime Minister Trudeau, Sen. Simons has frequently challenged and attempted to amend bills from the federal government, that she felt were not in Canadians’ best interests. Sen. Shugart, on the other hand, feels that poorly crafted or prejudicial bills proposed by the Liberals should simply be waved through with little scrutiny, stating that the Senate shouldn’t act “undemocratically” and that, “we need to relearn the virtue of restraint.”

While certainly unsurprising, given Mr. Shugart’s former position as the prime minister’s top public servant, his “independent” designation is certainly questionable. It’s sycophants, like rubber-stamp Shugart and others, that likely have Sen. Simons stewing, but hopefully not in silence.

Al Willey, Edmonton

Yes, a highrise is going up next door

Re. “Clearing the air on zoning bylaw,” Letters, June 20

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City manager Andre Corbould’s assurance that “a highrise is not moving in next door” is of little comfort to my neighbours who were dismayed when city council recently approved a six-storey apartment building, replacing most of a quiet residential block, following a developer’s purchase of seven single-family homes — all but two of the homes on the block, including two new skinny infill homes.

The complex will be as long as a football field, but will decrease in height to four storeys when it abuts one of the two remaining single-family homes. This is not “capped at three storeys” despite being a new development within a small-scale neighbourhood. Homes across the alley will have a four to six-storey building looming over their backyards, and will have an exponential increase in back alley traffic. The apartment will destroy numerous mature trees, and is not incorporating green building practices.

Community input was sought, but ignored by both city planners and most councillors. It appears that communication is a one-way street, and community consultation is not valued. The proposed new zoning bylaw needs to allow citizens’ voices to be heard. It should not be pushed through without effective public consultation, in order to rebuild trust in the planning process.

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Elizabeth Miller, Edmonton

Wise fiscal management missing at City Hall

My taxes increased by 14 per cent to pay for the $100-million bike paths and reduced service levels like snow removal. Mayor Sohi is busy attending a conference in Europe. Does prudent financial management mean anything to city hall?

Byron Chikinda, Edmonton

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