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Letters  

Hate breeds hate

I feel obligated to write this after seeing the Castanet poll on banning Syrian refugees and how there is a vast majority who support a Trump-style ban.  If Syria was a predominantly Christian country, there would be no talk of a ban.  Our doors would be open to these people who are fleeing the mass murder and the raining down of bombs that is occurring in their country.  Conditions are so poor that they are risking their lives to flee.  But because they are from a Muslim country, we feel that we should be banning them.  Don't pretend that is not the reason behind it.

I had the privilege of travelling through Syria in 1999.  I found the people to be incredibly kind to me.  I was 18 at the time, traveling alone and I'm female.  Based on what I had experienced in other countries prior to arriving in Syria, I should have been chronically harassed, however I found the Syrians to be very open, kind, and willing to go out of their way to help me.  It breaks my heart to see what has happened to their country.

We are a country of immigrants.  Our immigration policy is open to everybody, not just white, Christian people.  Syrian immigrants go through a lengthy vetting process that can take years to complete.  The immigration process does not just let in random people where we know nothing about them besides what they put on their Facebook page.

There are issues with immigrants in Europe, but it is a completely different set of circumstances.  Immigrants are flooding the borders and there is no vetting that takes place before they arrive.  Canada gets to pick and choose who they let in and only let in those who pass the rigorous process.

Put yourself in the shoes of Syrian immigrants before you want to ban them.  Imagine if your children were dying because bombs were falling from the sky.  Imagine if you were getting gassed by chemical weapons your own government was deploying on you.  Imagine if you were dodging sniper bullets trying to secure food for your family.  Imagine if you could become "disappeared" for speaking out against your government.  Imagine if you had to leave everything behind because your country was too unsafe to live in.

Hate breeds hate.  Fear is the product that's being pushed by Trump's America and we are buying in to it.  We should be welcoming Syrian immigrants who have made it to Canada, not being suspicious of them because they are Muslim. All they want a safe and secure future. 

Let's not forget our past.  Look at the Japanese internment camps from World War II.  Is that where we are heading again?

Kristina Smith





Canada's great reputation

I was very disappointed to view the poll on Syrian refugees on Castanet this morning. Over 70% of the voters support a ‘Trump’ style ban on Syrian refugees in Canada. 

People here need to remember that most of Canada's population is based on immigrants within the last 80-90 years. 

I have always been proud of Canada's global reputation for being a kind, compassionate and respectful nation. Let's not fall into the hatred and segregation the United States is being plagued with right now. These refugees need safe places to support their families, and we can not make blanket generalizations about a race or religion based on the actions of few. 

Let's keep up Canada's great reputation.

Darcy Langhorn



Exorbitant courier fees

I, as do so many others, do a lot of online shopping these days. I try and buy most things from within Canada, but from time to time it's unavoidable ordering something from the USA, Europe or China. When these packages arrive in Canada, we usually owe taxes and duties on them. Nine times out of ten the charges are waived but the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), and your shopping arrives at your door promptly. This is if the seller ships your item(s) via a state postal service (USPS, Royal Mail, etc). However, when items are shipped via a private courier (UPS, FedEx, DHL), there are COD charges for taxes, and fees for the courier clearing the package through customs. The charges usually range from 25-65% of the total item value, which is absurd. I used to blindly pay these fees because I didn't know that I didn't have to. It wasn't until a friendly UPS driver told me (when I was stuck with a $97 brokerage fee for a $285 item) that we all have the right to self-clear customs.

There are a couple ways to do this, whether before or after the item has arrived. It's easiest to do it right after the package has shipped and you have gotten a tracking number.

- Print out your invoice/paypal receipt
- Call the courier (UPS, etc.), give them the tracking number, and tell them that you want to clear your items by yourself at your local CBSA office. They should then instruct you on what you need to do.
- Note, if the declared value is more than $1,600, then you can only self-clear at the port of entry to Canada. For anything less, however, the paperwork can be done at any CBSA office. The office here in Kelowna is at the Airport.

If the courier shows up at your door with a bill, you do not have to pay it.

- Simply refuse delivery, and inform the driver that you intend to self-clear customs directly with the CBSA.
- Take note of the unique shipment identifier number (tracking number) on the package, as the shipment will then be returned to the courier's local warehouse or depot.
- The courier must provide you with a commercial invoice, or an Import Duty and Tax Invoice.
- Take your invoice and the tracking number to the CBSA office and declare your goods, then take the official customs receipt to the courier's depot and collect your package.

I realize for small value shipments this may be too much hassle for some people. But the fact that big couriers are charging people for services that they did not consent to is illegal. Most people just roll over and take the charges, but for those that do a lot of international shopping, the brokerage fees can be a real drain on the wallet. Brokerage services by couriers should be a service that is opt-in, not opt-out.

Andrew Jorgensen 





Easy to support budget

It is very easy to support the BC Government’s 2017 budget, not only from what has been presented recently, but from the consistent and prudent record that government has demonstrated for many years. Clearly the intention of this government is to handle yours and my taxes in a way which would lead to paying down our debt and maintaining BC’s excellent credit rating – all the while understanding the need to responsibly act on the needs of the people of BC when fiscally able to do so. One prime example stated in the budget is the intention to eliminate the MSP premiums when BC is fiscally capable of doing so. I applaud the prudent first step of reducing the premium by 50% at the beginning of 2018. I also applaud the committed plans to address social support, improve public education and ensure economic development is broadened even further. 

It takes courage to bring down a budget like the one just presented in light of the uncertainty the world faces today. It also takes very prudent planning for today looking forward to ensure we do not head towards greater debt in the near future. This Government continues to ensure that we do not go too far too fast while monitoring external influences which may create issues which can be addressed far more effectively with the planned surplus should the need arise. 

What is gratefully recognized is how we got to the point where we can afford to do this. This government resisted the temptation to get us further in debt by handing out cash and getting us further in debt. As a result of our AAA rating, we taxpayers are less burdened by larger interest payments on our debt. Thus money is freed up to benefit us all. Thank you!

I look forward to this government getting re-elected so this prudence and good planning will continue to benefit all of BC.

Jim Edgson



BC budget

I'm very disappointed that there is no raise in income assistance rates in the new budget. It is impossible for people to live on $600/month. 

These low rates are not a "dis-incentive" for people who need assistance, they just add further barriers to people getting well, moving on, or having some kind of reasonable quality of life. Research supports the need for the social determinants of health: there is no health at $600/month.  

While I acknowledge that there are many demands on the provincial budget, we pay one way or the other. If people had some sort of reasonable amount to live on, with a graduated plan if they are able to get into, or return to, the work force, the other social costs would be significantly less.

Sue Harrhy



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