Letters to the Editor

Constituents write in about MP Hiebert

Since publishing a front-page article Feb. 16 entitled "Internal criticism shocks Hiebert backer" – in which disaffected former members of Russ Hiebert's electoral district association criticized the South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale MP – Peace Arch News has received numerous letters to the editor on the subject. As newspapers have limited space (printed submissions are typically condensed to allow more writers), this webpage will include more complete submissions, and will be updated throughout the week as full contact information is received. As well, unedited online Disqus readers' comments at the end of these letters will be accepted.

 

From Edward Rubin, Surrey:

Sigh, why is everybody so down on Russ Hiebert?

What did he do that was so terrible? As far as his sending his family to Ottawa lots of times on the taxpayer, so what? It wasn't like he made up a family and then claimed first-class travel for them or brought along a woman who wasn't his wife.

He simply took advantage of what was offered;if you offer a kid a plate of cookies and say take what you want, don't be mad if the kid takes them all.

At least he didn't go on strike and refuse to go to Ottawa like former MP Pat Carney when she was told that her son couldn't go for free. Who knows? Maybe Russ should thank Pat for the families travel free perk.

What he did was legal. It's up to us voters to demand that family-free travel be removed from the trough. And then don't vote for anybody to won't go along with that.

As far as Russ not doing anything, there's what, several hundred MP's? Russ probably does as much as most of them.

 

From Claus Ritter, White Rock:

With a federal election happening eventually, I am upset that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has taken away my freedom of choice by not allowing anyone within the Conservative party to oppose the incumbent, Russ Hiebert.

Although having voted Conservative in previous elections, I do not wish to have him represent me in Ottawa.

Therefore I shall be forced to vote for the opposition unless Mr. Harper decides to follow the principles of democracy and allow us a choice of Conservative candidates.

 

From Richard Kendon, Surrey:

An open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

As we are all expecting an election soon I am writing to you on a matter of some urgency.

I support the work you are doing and think you and your party overall have done a good  job for Canada.  However I will not be able to vote Conservative in the next election if you continue to have Mr. Hiebert as the Conservative candidate in South Surrey.

I am not alone in this thinking. Hiebert is a non representative to us. He does not communicate. Sure he sends out some self serving piffle on paper (at taxpayers' expense) but nothing of any substance that indicates what he or the party is doing, or for that matter asks for any input as his predecessor Val Meredith did. He apparently has never heard of email as a communication device, far less Facebook, Twitter etc.

His entire preoccupation seems to be to rack up as many frequent flyer points and expenses for himself and his family.

Not only is Hiebert an unacceptable candidate, the Conservative party process for parachuting in candidates and keeping them on even when it is blatantly obvious they are useless, is clearly undemocratic.

To win a majority in the next election you need the support of all conservative minded electors. You will not have mine if you do not make this change. Moreover I promise you I will work my ass off to assist any candidate, independent conservative or, if need be, a Liberal, or New Democrat or Green if Hiebert remains on the ballot in our riding.

I have told your people, who request donations, many times that you will not get one cent from me until Hiebert is off the ballot.

I suggest you have your researchers check out the recent spate of letters to the Peace Arch News on this subject.

Please take this matter very seriously.

 

From Andrew McVie, White Rock:

For the last two weeks the Peace Arch News has run several articles that I find to be exceedingly misleading about our MP Russ Hiebert and the Conservative Party's Electoral District Association (EDA) Board in our community.

Here are the facts:

1) On January 29th our EDA had an annual general meeting, a delegate selection meeting and a winter social for members. For in excess of seven hours across three separate events that day our membership worked together constructively. There was not a single sign of discontent from members of the EDA or from the Board, both past and incoming.

2) Members of every EDA in the country with a Conservative MP were given the opportunity in the Spring of 2009 to request an open nomination process if they so wished. The Conservative Party members of the South Surrey - White Rock - Cloverdale EDA chose to continue to support Russ Hiebert as our candidate in the next election.

3) Russ Hiebert has been silent on this story and will remain so because, as the Peace Arch News has been told on several occasions now, he does not speak for the EDA.  Russ is the right person to speak to about government policies but on matters involving our EDA I have been elected by our board as President and thus act as the representative on behalf of the EDA. Therefore, Russ has been doing his job properly by refraining from commenting on this issue, and it is inappropriate of the Peace Arch News to continue to berate him for doing his job properly.

 

From Doug E. Lachance, White Rock:

I feel compelled to voice my opinion regarding the current controversy regarding whether there should be an open nomination meeting to see whether our community supports Russ Hiebert's continuation as the Conservative party's representative for our riding.

Letter-writer C.M. Fergusson (below) says: "EDA board members are duty bound to…support any candidate chosen by the EDA nominations committee."

He goes on to say: "In this aspect all board members are 'prooHiebert.' If members cannot give this support, they are obligated to resign."

Basically what he is saying that the group who decides who will represent us in this riding must be Hiebert supporters and, if they're not, they are not allowed to be a part of the nomination process.

How can that be?

This is a conservative riding and has been for the 27 years I have lived here. As a result, virtually anyone who runs on the conservative ticket is going to win and represent us in Ottawa. (Much to the chagrin of a number of high profile Liberal candidates over the years.) This was clearly illustrated by the Conservative party's ability to parachute an unknown candidate who has no history in our community as a candidate, cruising to an easy win.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, for Russ it's just a plum job. He doesn't represent us because he loves this magical place that we live in and wants to do all he can to help us be all we can be, but instead he was a Conservative party favourite who was put in the right place at the right time.

This is in no way intended to say anything disparaging about Russ. I have met Russ and consider him to be a fine man with a strong character and ethics and I respect his family values. This is about what's best for our community, and the democratic process in general.

There is great dissatisfaction with Russ as our Conservative party representative and this can easily be seen by the forced resignations by senior members of the EDA board who longer support Russ Hiebert, and the opinion of many others in the riding.

(As evidenced by the poll in the PA News: "Should local Conservative nominees be allowed to challenge incumbent Tory MP's" where the numbers are 91% in favour of "Yes" at the time that I am writing this.)

Our community is clearly saying that we want an opportunity to choose the best candidate to represent us. This must not be ignored. It's how the democratic system works.

Good luck Russ. Perhaps you will win a fairly constituted nomination meeting open to all. Or perhaps we will have one of our many outstanding citizens come forward and become a strong new voice in Ottawa on our behalf.

What will be, will be, but we deserve the right to choose.

 

From C. Dubois, White Rock:

Enough of this controversy over Russ Hiebert and his selfish, child-like regard for the taxpayers who are on the hook, year after year, for his "family values" and silly newsletters!

Where are the Liberals who would run against this Conservative, rock-in-the-road incumbent, and have a fair chance of winning the riding in the next election?

In the last two federal elections, we were treated to a tired, old, retread local

and to someone of Eastern pedigree unknown to most local voters.

Is this the best the Liberals can do?

I can't blame Hiebert for winning, but does anyone care? The NDP, Greens, and others sign up throw-away candidates in each election.

Do the Liberals really care enough to run a credible candidate against Hiebert? If not, then what you see is what you get, by default.

 

From Walter van Halst, Surrey:

Despite the claims of new South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale Conservative party EDA president Andrew McVie on behalf of his MP, Russ Hiebert, the flood of resignations and departures from the local Tory board were anything but shocking and were, in fact, completely predictable.

As a longtime volunteer and Conservative EDA board member from 2004 to 2010 – who hoped to simply decline to  stand for another term on the board quietly – I now feel voters from all parties in our riding deserve to judge for themselves.

Revealingly, even the director who called asking me to stand again said he was only serving for another year because it was his job to make the nomination-for-director phone calls.

The truth is that all parties have divisions, and that can even be a good thing in terms of openness and debate. The problem in Russ Hiebert's case is that unlike with a deep policy split, the departures of the communications director David Wiens, EDA presidents and past-presidents Jim Scott and Jerry Presley respectively, the social events director Justin Malezewski and the scholarship chair, myself, all were because people no longer felt comfortable serving someone we could not support ethically and could not support or oppose democratically either, and so these departures were completely predictable.

Specifically, the issues which have hurt Russ ethically with his own board of directors have included a 2004 request for $5,000 in party funds for entertainment expenses (which was blocked) and flying himself and his family on executive-class flights during the worst economic crisis in over 60 years.

Finally, what proved fatal was asking for $ 41,000 in pre-election spending last fall from the local Conservative board because an election was "imminent," and then suddenly deciding once the president, Jim Scott, asked for an invoice and oversight into how these funds were to be spent, that lo and behold, last fall's imminent election was no longer imminent.

I do not believe that Russ Hiebert is a bad man, and both his wife and his family are wonderful. The problem is that neither Andrea nor his children are the member of Parliament.

And now, when his new board president, Andrew McVie, claims that all of these resignations and departures are shocking, how does he or Russ explain to this community that the entire board was sequestered for over an hour at our November board-of-directors meeting while a National Council representative, Menno Froese, tried but failed to reconcile these differences over ethics and democracy among the executives on Russ Hiebert's own Conservative board ?

Those of us who felt we were truly loyal to the party and its leader felt we had no other choice.

 

From Robert Hearn, Surrey:

Regarding Mr. Hardy Staub's comment in the PAN stating Russ Hiebert is part of an orchestrated letter campaign.

I was on Russ's board for two years and just recently left. During this time, I backed Mr. Hiebert, including submitting one support letter to the editor surrounding his cheque signing issues of October 2009.  Otherwise I have not communicated with the media.

I now see letters to the editor describing their past board members as disgruntled.

Well, I agree with Mr. Staub that Russ Heibert is the puppet master behind these letters. While I was on the board, Russ arranged for all board letters to the media.

It was Russ that asked for board members to write the letter I submitted. I wrote my own letter but I had the option to use a pre-written letter supplied by a staff member.

Eventually I, along with other board members, grew tired of these 'cheesy' antics by Russ Hiebert.

Therefore, I will not be voting for Russ in the next election.

However, my support for the Conservative Party will return once Russ Heibert has departed; first class, I suspect

 

From Penny Essex, Surrey:

It seems to me the local Conservatives are the masters of their own misfortune.

Unhappy with Val Meredith, they parachuted Russ Hiebert in, stacked the nomination meeting with their own supporters, booted Val out and nominated Russ.

Mr. Hiebert has no history with this riding. He has no ties to the community, he's away most of the year and he has no connection with his constituents. It doesn't make for a good representative of the people.

And now, not pleased with his performance, some party members want to dump him, too.

In one respect, I think they're right. It is time for a change.

But let the voters do it in the next election.

 

From Arun Chatterjee, Surrey:

I congratulate PAN here for doing justice to their profession, i.e. Journalism.

This story reflects exactly what Steven Harper is doing in Ottawa. For example trying to bring spin media from south the Fox News here in Canada.

Recently Mr. Hiebert supported subsidy for asbestos manufacturers in Parliament. Use of asbestos is banned in Canada but Canada is one of the largest manufacturer in the world. They contribute donations to Conservative party.

There's still miles to go if you look at totally Liberally biased Tom Fletcher columns with spins in them most of the time.

Anyways, congratulations Lance and your team.

 

From Gisele Battle, Surrey:

We had plenty enough about Russ Hiebert, who constantly look for photo-op but does not do anything for his constituents. I would support  Hardy Staub any time.

Now, I would like to vote on the opinion for the question of the week: Should the City of Surrey be hosting G.W. Bush & Bill Clinton as guest speakers. My answer is Definitely NO.

 

From Christina MacLellan, White Rock:

As a followup to your recent front-page coverage regarding our MP – and noting what people currently are willing to risk for democratic freedoms in other parts of the world – it is imperative that we safe-guard our parliamentary system and everything it represents.

Under the current Conservative government, there appears to be a disdain for this cherished system by the prime minister and other Conservative members of the House. This should concern us all, regardless of political stripes!

Surely the behaviour of Bev Oda requires a CONsensus of all parties that she should step down.

Not only does our local MP have total disregard for taxpayers money but also demonstrates total CONtempt for our parliamentary system by his silience about the current Bev Oda matter of falsifying information, denying involvement which is then compounded by the prime minister’s defence of this behavour.

Surely we, the people, deserve better than this.

When I last checked we appear to be picking up the entire tab – which in Russ Hiebert’s case is mighty substantial – so should we not have some say?

Bev Oda should be forced to step down, and Russ Hiebert should be advocating for such action.

But of course that would be too much to ask as to date he has only attended to his own well-being and that of his family’s.

 

From Suan H. Booiman, White Rock:

The dark side of politics is not being able to communicate, as an individual or so directed by party politics.

The platform of the CPC is what this country needs, but is hampered by not providing clear direction, such as promoting individual responsibilities, expecting people to become Canadians among Canadians, away from social engineering.

Mr. Hiebert’s performance is no different than that of all B.C.conservative MPs. Try to find a date that any one of them showed to be the voice of the people?

The existence of the secret society, called EDA, behind Mr.Hiebert is no demonstration of leadership either. Over all those years, they have been silent as well.

Ottawa’s political direction is not Western Canada. The one and only one high on the agenda is Quebec – the high cost of bilingualism, which is not going anywhere.

That is only one of the many issues Mr. Hiebert never dared to consult the constituency about. The list is long.

Being a family man is commendable. The question is politics “where do you stand?”

 

From Alistair Duncan, Surrey:

What's the fuss about Russ?

I have never understood why, in a conservative bastion such as this riding, there was a need to parachute in Mr. Hiebert.

He has, however, answered the age-old question: Does it make a difference if you elect a Member of Parliament from the ruling party or not?

Previously, we had a Conservative MP in times of a Liberal government and little attention was paid to this riding. Now we have a Conservative MP with a Conservative government – little has changed.

I would suggest that PAN add a column reporting on Mr. Hiebert's activities in Parliament, specifically when he rises to speak and on what subjects. I can tell you it will not be a long column, nor will it be published very often.

Based on the reportings of Hansard (openparliament.ca/hansards), Mr. Hiebert rarely speaks in Parliament and often when he does, it is the well-rehearsed, self-patronizing, reguritations of the Conservative pary line, aka spin.

 

From Hardy Staub, White Rock:

EDA board president Andrew McVie is clearly out of tune with the majority of Conservatives in this riding, and certainly not aware of the feelings of the majority of people who live here.

As most readers will recall, I held public office in the City of White Rock for 17 years, nine of them as the mayor. Furthermore, I was the vice-chair of the Greater Vancouver Regional District, now Metro Vancouver. I mention this not meaning to boast, but to point out my credentials in order to show that I have the experience and a good sense of what our citizens expect of their elected officials.

From personal experience, watching his performance and from what I hear on our streets, I am convinced that Russ Hiebert is not the man that meets the expectations of this riding or the community at large. After all, he was parachuted into this riding even though he never lived here and really doesn’t understand the needs of the community.

Furthermore, I am of the strong opinion that if Russ Hiebert was to run in the next federal election, the Conservative party would lose this riding, even though it has been successful for well over the past 25 years.

Fiscal responsibility is one of the cornerstones of our party, but since his election seven years ago, Mr. Hiebert has shown that he does not take that responsibility seriously.

Although he earns a good salary as an MP, he has demonstrated the he feels that he is entitled to much more. A good example is the scandal that followed the disclosure that he had spent $214,000, almost $18,000 a month, in travel expenses, and I have not counted in the many weeks the House was not even in session.

I would love to see a breakdown of those expenses, and if Mr. Hiebert is not prepared to own up, it’s clearly an act of political cowardice.

The people of this riding deserve to know how he spends the funds of the riding association and public funds, and whether his riding manager, now apparently under contract as the regional manager of the Conservative party, is being paid with taxpayer dollars for political purposes.

What’s needed is a forensic audit of Mr. Hiebert’s spending behaviour.

I’m also concerned that he rarely, if ever, champions any of our concerns. He always appears to be in a campaign mode, bringing Ottawa’s issues to us, instead of taking our concerns to Ottawa.

I personally asked for his support in an application I was submitting to the federal government. I was told he would deliver it personally to the responsible minister with his recommendation, and later learned he did not do so. That’s simply a lack of integrity.

Everything he says is about him, as you report in your story, the opinion of a number of people who have left the riding association. He and his advisers are employing a spin that shows little evidence that he gives a hoot about the concerns of our citizens.

In my many years in public life, I have observed a few politicians who give politics a bad name, and it’s my firm opinion that our MP appears to fit into that category.

I predict that the Peace Arch News will now receive a barrage of letters from people proclaiming Mr. Hiebert’s virtues.

I believe, judging from the reports in your article, he prefers to spin a story, apparently a weak attempt at damage control.

For instance, I would not be surprised to learn that a large number of those letters will have been written either by his staff or members of his inner circle. The signatures at the bottom of many of these letters will not be, in all probability, those of the authors. Rather a number of people will be asked and urged to sign these letters to make it appear that they contain the opinions of the community.

Another attempt to spin?

One more point. This is addressed to our prime minister, the Right Honourable Mr. Harper.

Mr. Prime Minister, we send our young men and women to Afghanistan in order to help them become a democratic country. How about some democracy right here, why not allow this riding to elect their representative? I am told that you refuse to do so.

If Mr. Hiebert wishes to be our candidate at the next election, he should be elected by the Conservatives of this riding and face citizens of this community who might want to run against him.

Mr. Hiebert, a number of us are ready to take you on.

 

From Hannah Newman, Surrey:

From time to time, I have had the occasion to contact our MP, Russ Hiebert, on matters, both locally and federally, that concern me.

I read with some interest your front-page story regarding internal criticism against Mr. Hiebert and I fully concur with David Wiens' assessment.

I am not affiliated with any party and am judging Mr. Hiebert purely on what I have seen.  I find that he and his office are mostly unresponsive and, if there is a response, it is only to tell me all the wonderful things that he has done. My actual concerns are rarely mentioned.

Interestingly, I have had some contact with other MPs (Conservative, Liberal and NDP) in other ridings across the country, and none seem to be as remote or as self-serving as Mr. Hiebert. They all are much more supportive and encouraging of their own constituents and willingly interact with them.

I cannot say the same for Mr. Hiebert.

All one has to do is take a look at the mailings other MPs send out to their constituents in sharp contrast to the "I this" and "I that" from Mr. Hiebert. His mailings are so self-serving and never include any acknowledgment of the hard work done by his constituents on which he bases some of his successes.

Why this riding continues to vote for this particular MP is beyond me. We are very poorly served by him and we deserve better.

 

From Peter Hogendoorn, Surrey:

When did newspapers become corporate hatchet men for hire?

This appears to be more about airing gripes for a few people that because they couldn't control Mr. Hiebert, it must therefore be assumed that he is controlling everyone else, and this is their parting shot back at him.

That's quality reporting. If you look at your own words you'll see that Mr. Hiebert was not over budget, but least under-budget.

It also speaks of his other expenses being high as well, but not over his allotted budget.

These budgets are given so that the member can provide maximum access to his responsibilities in Ottawa and within his riding. It just happens that this riding is about as far from Ottawa as can be and it would appear to me that frequent travelling, even with 25 per cent of the expenses being attributed to his wife's travels, speaks of his commitment to his responsibilities both in Ottawa and personal contact with his constituents.

Further proof of that is in his telephoning and printing costs.How can this been seen as negligent?

What about the MPs that don't spend this money? I think I'd be more concerned about that; both as a constituent and as a "news" paper, in exposing MPs that aren't at work.

I've recently joined the EDA's board and I can assure you it was not because I wanted to be controlled by Mr. Hiebert.  On the contrary, I did join because I found him to be extremely approachable and demonstrates a very high commitment to his duties to represent his riding and his party's policies.

I encourage anyone who wants to experience the fullest extension of a living and breathing democracy, to join the party of their choice. Don't leave your opinions to be informed by media or idle gossip, when you can be part of the process, right down to the very policies you want to see your party be concerned with.

There is ample opportunity for your input.

This article is a lose-lose proposition.  The party looks bad, the MP's integrity is questioned without facts, the complainant looks bad and the paper looks bad.

Get involved and make up your own mind.

 

From Richard Robinson, Surrey:

I am delighted to read that others would like to see a nomination process in which Hiebert could be challenged by other candidates.

The Conservative party's national office should take a lesson from what is happening in Egypt and listen to their constituents.

I would like to see Val Meredith contest the nomination, if she feels so inclined.

 

From C.M. Fergusson, Surrey:

As a member of the South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale EDA and past board member, I feel compelled to comment on the article by Alex Browne in PAN Feb. 16, 2011 (Internal criticism shocks Hiebert backer).

All paid members of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) are automatically members of their local electoral district association (EDA). If any member so chooses, they can stand for election to the EDA board of directors.

Should they be elected, they are duty bound to uphold the constitution of the EDA under Sec. 16 and this requires them to support any candidate chosen by the EDA nominations committee.

In this aspect, all board members are “pro Hiebert.” If any Board member cannot give this support, they are obligated to resign and I applaud the integrity of any member that has made this choice.

As for those that seemingly cannot accept the fact that Russ Hiebert won the nomination and the subsequent election, and has since been nominated twice by acclamation and again won the elections by an ever-increasing majority, is it not about time to put aside your disappointment and look at the bigger picture?

We have enjoyed a more fiscally responsible government which has enacted several major pieces of legislation giving all Canadians a better quality of life.

It is correct to state that the national party executive has suspended – in several districts – that section to the EDA

constitution establishing a nominating committee whose duty is to “recruit potential nomination contestants” to

become the candidate in a potential future election or byelection.

If any disaffected member wishes, there are procedures and avenues open to them to petition for a meeting where they can express their views and seek change.

Undoubtedly in the next election campaign, Mr. Hiebert will have to answer for his expenses and, if his present record is any indication, he has listened to the electorate and made major adjustments to expenditures. Is this not being responsible to the electors in his constituency? I think so and am happy that we are represented by him in Ottawa.

In any organization, advice is sought, evaluated and a choice is made to accept or reject. If someone’s advice is not accepted perhaps they were not as persuasive as they could have been or just plain wrong.

If it is a matter of differing styles or ideologies, then move on; it’s not your problem.

We are all entitled to our opinions, and that is as it should be. We cannot speculate on what might have been, only on what we have now.

For those that espouse the principles of the CPC electing a candidate in their electoral district is paramount. In our system, it is all about numbers, and policy is not made by individual MPs. Some may get to have greater influence than others, but they still count as only one vote in the Commons.

 

From Pat Petrala, White Rock:

Thanks for your story about the sad situation and years of behaviour exhibited by MP Hiebert and staff.

I have asked him to kindly work to ensure respect of process is accountable to Canadians. Respect government seniors management, and their wise recommendations, and do not sully them with this behaviour. Minister Bev Oda must resign.

Mr. Coyne’s recent MacLean’s column states the situation as many, many media, political professors and community leaders as well as us regular voters recognize the situation.

The apparent rebuke by Hiebert’s riding association, former Progressive Conservatives, Reform and Alliance members indicates Russ has years where he and his leaders do not listen to the requests and advice by your constituents of all or any flavours, science and professional experts on census and more.

Listen now.

As our representative at the caucus discussions – I ask my MP to kindly ensure our voice is heard. Minister Bev Oda must resign.  KIROS needs funding – get to it.

 

From A. White, Surrey:

It would appear that the doctor of spin's antics are slowly catching up with him.

I've said all along that the parachuted-in candidate – now MP – into this riding is more concerned about his own welfare than those of his constituents and this riding.

There are the constant self-serving mail-outs ad nauseum, the media-seeking 'town hall meetings,' and don't get me started on the photo ops.

It's all 'spin' and performed with your tax dollars.

That expense largesse he tried to squirm out from was typical of the smoke-and-mirrors dialogue coming from this MP. It's never his fault, you see. Spending upwards of $700,000 of your tax dollars on expenses was OK'd by his masters in Ottawa. He even sought their approval. Now, he's telling us, "I'm reformed, I've cut back on my extravagant expenses and am listening to the constituents."

This all rings hollow since this matter became public.

In any event, I've grown weary of this MP's antics and those of his staff – the yes crowd.

The people of this riding need someone in this job that acts on their behalf first and foremost. We need to have someone who will rely more on action than 'spin.'

 

From Mary T. Harrington, Surrey:

I am a member of the Conservative EDA.

I am fully supportive of MP Russ Hiebert and look forward to working with him.

Mr Hiebert is a hard-working MP and, in fact, does meet with his constituents; he is there for the people .

There are many reasons that member's in any organization leave – i.e. family commitments, moving to another area, retirement etc.

One can please some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time.

 

From Gordon Hammond, White Rock:

For many years I have supported the Progressive Conservative member Benno Friesen, Reform member Val Meredith and Conservative member Russ Hiebert.

I have canvassed with Mr. Hiebert, worked on his campaigns and have always found him to be upbeat and most interested in representing the citizens of his riding.

His expenses in 2008-2009 are a thing of the past and in 2009-2010 were reduced a great deal.

However, why did the Peace Arch News not report that Sukh Dhaliwal, Liberal member in Newton-North Delta, spent $55,000 more than Russ Hiebert, or that  NDP member Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkley Valley) was the highest spending in BC, more than Russ Hiebert in 2009-10.

If the Peace Arch News is going to only report on one member's spending, perhaps they should check out the spending of all members and report the numbers.

Russ has also brought substantial government spending to South Surrey/White Rock area with the highway divider on Highway 99, the new health centre in White Rock’s Centennial Park which has created a number of new jobs in the area, plus better health for a number of residents in the area with the new facilities. These will be put to use by health patients within the next couple months.

In future, please report all the facts and not just limited ones.

As for disaffected members in the article, who are critical of Russ, perhaps they should raise their concerns to all the members instead of the press.

 

From Edie Williams, Surrey:

What a difference seven years make.

I recently attended the annual general meeting of the Conservative party at the Hazelmere Golf & Country Club. There was a great spread of sandwiches, cookies, coffee and tea, and everyone partook lustlily.

The names of 30 prospective board members were transposed on a screen but none were introduced nor were their intentions made clear as to why they would want to be on the board.

As there were no nominations from the floor, the 30 were acclaimed and that was that.

Back we went to the coffee and tea and then it was evening and out came the chocolate fountain to dip in the fresh strawberries and listen to the band which had been hired to celebrate the annual winterfest of the Conservative party.

Wow!!  I have been informed by reliable sources that this shindig cost more than $7,000.

I'm also told that of the 30 board members elected, fewer than 20 ever turn up for meetings.

So who puts this list together and why is it always exactly 30? Maybe because after 30, one has to have an actual vote and then somebody might get in whom no one wants.

As I sat and pondered, I reminisced about the AGMs we used to have, before Mr. Hiebert came on the scene. They were usually held at the Elks club, at the Sunnyside Hall or in a school gym.

There was a lady who brought an urn with coffee and a plate full of cookies and if you wanted to partake of that, you paid $1.

Everyone who was on the slate was introduced by name and background, and they stood up so that everyone could see who they were.

Including nominations from the floor, there were never more than 22 people eligible to be on the board.

Everyone present got to vote and at the end we sent around a bucket to collect donations to pay for the hall.

Expenses incurred were negligible.

I just thought I'd say thank you to all the people who make donations to the White Rock/South Surrey constituency and tell them that I really enjoyed the spread at Hazelmere that their money has bought.

They may not have meant the money to go there but, hey, this is Russ Hiebert and things are different now. Money is no object and changes are made only when spending costs are made public.

You might also want to increase your donations a little, because the costs of transporting the Hiebert family back and worth will increase as, proudly announced by Russ at the meeting, there is a baby on the way. Congratulations.

Needless to say, I will not attend another AGM. Things are different now and I don't like the smell of it.

 

From Bill Taylor, White Rock:

The adverse comments in the Peace Arch News website article of Feb 15th do not reflect the views of the majority of the members of the Conservative electoral district association board.

The commenters are entitled to their views, but some of their statements were not accurate and were demeaning to the 30 very capable volunteers who serve on the board.

The MP expense issue was addressed publicly last year, and costs have been considerably reduced.

Russ Hiebert and his staff conducted three public information sessions in the last several months on retirement planning, taxation and benefits issues for seniors, and a highly successful public telephone conference call with the finance minister during which a good number of constituents were able to address questions to Jim Flaherty relating to the upcoming budget.

All of these public events were well attended and very much appreciated.

The Conservative government has reduced tax rates and brought in important measures to fight crime. Canada's economy, along with Germany's, has weathered the recent credit crisis much better than most countries in the Western World, a credit to their leadership.

 

From Don Pitcairn, Surrey:

It makes you wonder if people in this historically conservative riding will hold their noses and once again vote for Ru$$ Hiebert in the next federal election or if they will instead stay home instead or change party allegiance away from Harper's Conservatives.

South Surrey Senator Gerry St. Germain should be very concerned with local EDA members resigning and publically expressing their frustration with our MP's behaviour and spending habits, especially since Ru$$ was parachuted into the riding in the first place.

Want more reason to dump Mr. Hiebert when you vote?  If re-elected he will qualify for the coveted MP gold-plated pension, costing us millions of dollars more for years to come.

Is this how we want to reward Ru$$ for all of his frequent flyers and "free-quent" flying?  I don't think so and I'm certainly not alone in this thought.

You can send Ru$$ Hiebert and the rest of Canada's MPs a message that overspending wont be tolerated by taxpayers simply by voting him out of office the next chance we get, which hopefully will be this spring.

 

From L. Wright, Surrey:

It is unfortunate those who have resigned from the Conservative EDA choose to air their dissent so publicly.

The EDA continues to support Russ Hiebert 100 per cent and look forward to the future with enthusiasm for him.

There is a natural ebb and flow in any organization with people leaving for various reasons.

Those of us who are still on this committee are more than well able to handle any business that will arise and we look forward to the coming year with all its political twists and turns.

Concerning the posted Internet letters and the use of disgusting language, they tell me these letter writers would not be part of the political party I support nor would I want them to be.

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