Letters to the editor

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Troubling numbers

Re: Idle no more and Theresa Spence, Chief of the Attawapiskat First Nation.

Here we go again. A year ago, we were blamed for all the trouble at the Attawpiskat First Nation (AFN). Now she is going one better — she is on a hunger strike and will die for her people if that what it takes.

Well, she does not need to worry about dying as this is not a hunger strike, just an attention grabber, and she loves attention.

Here are a few facts about Spence and the AFN — all figures are taken from their website and are the result of an audit by an accounting firm from Timmins, Ont.

2011 total revenue: $34,414,888. Total expenses: $31,174,847. Surplus for 2011: $3,140,041. Accumulated surplus at the end of 2011: $60,686,128.

A trust fund was set up in 2007 to receive yearly payments from the mining company DeBeers. In 2011 $2,050,000 was received from DeBeers. The accumulated surplus in the trust fund was $8,862,964 at the end of 2011.

They have a capital account (in trust) that holds $9,553,739, all of which is invested in the stock market. Included in the trust is $612,882 in Government of Canada bonds.

Think about it — they receive free money from you and I, then lend it back to us and we pay them interest on it.

How crazy is that? But I guess we should blame the fools in Ottawa for allowing that.

Figures supplied by the AFN show a population of approximately 1,800, yet they have a council of 22 people, including two chiefs and one deputy chief. Plus they have five unelected officials.

Their reported salary and honouraria is $978,989.

They report having approximately 600 students attending school and they have 14 school board members, who in 2011 were paid a total of $223,640. Total reported spending on salaries for council and school board wages: $1,202,629.

They also report administration fees of $3,290,047 and further wages/benefits of $11,228,614. Take off the reported $1,202,629 for council and school board salaries and you are left with $10,025,985,

Well, where did it go? The auditor attached a few pages to his report indicating that the AFN finances were a mess and they have no way of tracking the money.

It does not have to be this way — there are numerous First Nations in Canada that are doing extremely well, but they are usually found in areas where there are opportunities for employment.

Here is a suggestion: use some of the surplus money and build homes (you have the funds) and educate your people and stop blaming every one else for your trouble.

Barney Feenstra

Qualicum Beach



No to Qualipark

Re: Editor John Harding’s editorial in the Jan. 4 edition of The NEWS (Pumped on 2013).

Build it and they will come.

True, as we see with the continuing obsession for growth in our neighbouring community to the south.

In Qualicum Beach, I doubt that Harding’s view of being “pumped on 2013 ” is shared by the majority of citizens.

For those wanting a larger-city lifestyle, Nanaimo and Courtenay / Comox beckon from just a few miles away. Those of us who chose small town Qualicum Beach as our home are not looking to see a similar-sized city of “Qualipark” here in District 69 with all the attendant problems of water supply, air quality, noise, congestion, destruction of natural environment, etc.

One of life’s current major controversies is the clash between conservation and economic growth. A balance between the two must be found. Pushing for more and more development and growth is not the answer when it ruins our quality of life (one might suggest relaxing the law on murder in order to improve the fortunes of funeral homes).

No, sir. Development and the short-term jobs it provides does not balance the loss of life’s natural bounty.

Those councillors who are “driving the long-overdue changes in attitude” give first priority to business and development. The “unique nature of the community” will not survive the urbanization that such a policy will bring.

We must hope that the remaining two years of their power will be insufficient to do the irreparable damage that threatens.

Frank Horner

Qualicum Beach