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Weekly Commentary  

Census forms and firestorms

Trevor Linden, Duncan Keith, Pat Quinn and many other hockey greats lit up our constituency this weekend and what a show they all put on for us.

Thanks to the tireless energy and great organizing of our own local legendary hockey promoters like Neil Jamieson, Scott Carter etc, we enjoyed a hockey feast of stories and action.

One of the surprise highlights of the BC Hockey Hall of Fame festivities was the documentary video (and presence) of Mr. Larry Kwong. If you haven't heard of him, don't feel badly. Sadly, most of the guests at the event hadn’t either, including me.

This Okanagan star began his hockey career in poverty in the 30's. He fought ethnic barriers all of his athletic life. Due to his tremendous skills and unshaken courage, and facing discriminatory taunts all the way, he eventually made it to the NHL.

It was not a pretty scene then. As a matter of fact he played literally for a 'New York minute' and was then sent back to the minors.

Undeterred, he went on to a stellar career in UK and European leagues. He served notice in those foreign lands that Canadian players would be a force to be dealt with.

He overcame disappointments and heartbreaks that would have stopped lesser young men in their tracks.

Finally, at almost 80 years of age, he was duly honoured here among other legends of the game at the awards ceremony. He had truly blazed the way and taken the hits so that my grandkids and yours will never have to face the painful barriers that kept him from every young kid's dream, the NHL.

Okay, so what's with all this census 'long form' apparent uproar?

First, as far as the uproar, it's not exactly deafening here in the sun drenched Okanagan and Nicola Valleys. And in my several meetings this week in places from Vancouver to Kitimat to Prince Rupert it was mentioned a grand total of twice.

Not saying people don't care about the issue. Just saying it wasn't rocking them to the core of their being.

Here's the thing that does bother people though. The long form threatens 20% of all Canadians (that is how many are 'selected') with jail or other penalties if they don't cough up the info.

Remember, these aren't people who are applying for permits or benefits. These are citizens just minding their own business.

If you are among the groups of people who are demanding this free info I have a question for you based on past 'quizzes'. Do you think it is right that you can threaten your neighbour with jail time if she doesn't tell you if she has mental issues or not? Or who does what chores in the house?

Or whether she is a Jew or not? Don't you find that one even a little bit chilling?

And how do you think my grandkids feel (their grandparents are Asian) when you tell them in the long form that it's not good enough for them to just say they're 'Canadian'?

I actually think most people demanding this information are well meaning. However, good intentions do not excuse bad policy. They can lead to even worse policies.

Think about it. In 2001 there were 21,000 Canadians so upset about religious sounding questions they declared themselves to be Jedi Knights! Makes me feel better to know we'll be protected from Darth Vader. Now if we could just protect ourselves from government.

Our proposal is to increase the amount of Canadians who get the long form, but drop the jail threats (I mean, even prisoners of war only have to give their name, rank and serial number).

That way we'll still get the same amount of info back, but it will be voluntary and more honest (and probably show a few less members of the Church of Jedi).

And talking about firestorms, how 'bout a big shout out to the emergency fire crews and those courageous diving water bombers. On Sunday they knocked out a potentially devastating fire off of Westlake Road in record time.

We salute you…again!


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