On the same day (Monday, Feb. 22nd) that The Telegram published a letter to the editor questioning whether emergency response times should be the same for the fishery as for the offshore oil sector, Earle McCurdy, head of the fish union, came out publicly to say they should be uniform, one and the same.
To rehash, Commissioner Robert Wells, head of the Offshore Helicopter Safety Inquiry, recently recommended a full-time, dedicated and fully equipped response helicopter ready to go in 15 to 20 minutes for St. John's.
Which raises the question whether the search and rescue response standards will remain as is for all other at-sea emergencies — including those involving the fishery.
As it stands, the Canadian military’s Gander-based Cormorant helicopters must be airborne within 30 minutes of an emergency call during weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and within two hours at other times.
Could there ultimately be a 20-minute response time for an offshore oil call versus up to two-hour response time for a fishing emergency?
The question raised in the letter to the editor was this: “Which is worth more: the life of an offshore oil worker, or the life of a fisherman?”
Here’s a statement from McCurdy a few hours later: “Surely the lives of fish harvesters are worth no less than those of offshore oil workers."
The moral: the key to motivating the FFAW is to write letters to the editor.
Which is fabulous, but the union executive should be more on the ball.
•••Speaking of letters, The Telegram ran another letter in the Saturday (Feb. 20th) paper by Dr. Pradip Ganguly — a top cancer specialist who serves as chief of radiation oncology with Eastern Health — slamming the provincial chapter of the Cancer Society.
The letter was also used as the basis for a front-page story in the same edition.
Ganguly wrote that Daffodil Place is in serious financial crisis, criticizing the decision to build the $7-million, 24-room hostel in the first place.
He says the money needed to keep Daffodil Place afloat is diverting much-needed funds from more important causes and needs.
CBC TV reported Monday night that Ganguly’s letter was written in December, but “lost” until last week.
In today’s edition (Feb. 23rd), The Telegram carries a clarification on its editorial page that reads:
“By way of clarification, a number of commentators have questioned the timing of the release of a letter on Daffodil Place in The Weekend Telegram ("Cancer Society's plan flawed") by Dr. Pradip Ganguly. Among other things, those commentators have suggested Dr. Ganguly should have raised his concerns earlier. The letter was received by The Telegram several weeks ago, and was published after representatives for Dr. Ganguly contacted the paper asking when it would be published.
Well, why wasn’t it published earlier?
If representatives of Dr. Ganguly hadn’t of contacted the paper then the letter wouldn’t have run?
The Telegram should be clearer on why the letter wasn’t published sooner.
•••Back to coincidences, let’s see if I have this straight:
The Telegram finally carries Ganguly’s letter to the editor and front-page story critical of the provincial chapter of the Cancer Society on Saturday, the day after Peter Dawe, former executive director of the chapter, formally announces his Liberal candidacy for the provincial district of Topsail.
Then, on Monday, the Williams government announces the date of the Topsail byelection (March 16th), and Dawe resigns his candidacy for “medical reasons.”
Meantime, also on Monday (as pointed out on CBC Radio this morning) The Telegram carries a Cheer in its Cheers and Jeers section endorsing Conservative candidate Paul Davis:
“Cheers: to an arresting performance. Former RNC media relations officer Paul Davis has made the move from municipal politico to provincial candidate, courtesy of his clear and unequivocal win in the nomination race for the Tories in the Topsail district. He's still got an election ahead, but he is certainly a sharp cookie, and a refreshing change from career politicians or executive assistants looking to take on the boss's mantle.”
There’s something off …
•••A final note on letters to the newspaper …
Bill Murray, the former bureaucrat at the centre of the House of Assembly spending scandal, was sentenced Monday (Feb. 22nd) on fraud-related charges to two years in prison and ordered to repay $177,000.
Judge Robert Fowler also ordered Murray to write a letter of apology to be published in a newspaper and to seek gambling treatment.
As The Telegram put it, Murray “was effectively the caretaker of the legislature's finances, and as such is the central figure in the scandal that broke 31⁄2 years ago. He allowed politicians to overspend money allocated for constituency services and then he fudged the numbers to hide it.”
But was Bill Murray actually the “central figure” in the scandal? (I've made this point before.)
Was he the bureaucratic criminal mastermind who engineered the changes in the House of Assembly that led to the legislative rot?
I don’t think so.
Not a single politician — not a single member of various internal economy commissions — has been taken to task for the decisions that led to the abuse of constituency allowances.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for their letters.