Any Life Any Vessel: an Open Letter to Canadians re: Kits Coast Guard

June 4, 2012

My family has lived in the Lower Mainland since 1874, and in other parts of Canada since before that.  There is a park, at least one street, numerous plaques and a host of archival material which document the contributions certain family members made to the city of Vancouver and to other municipalities, to industry and to politics. There is a certain plaque I pass quite frequently and when I do I always run my finger across one particular name to remind myself of where I have come from and of where I am going. It reminds me I have a duty to live my life honourably and to take the punches gracefully when they come; it is a reminder that my Irish temper on occasion has had difficulty obeying.  It is a reminder that power when given comes not for our own gain but always instead must be used for the good of others who depend on those to whom the power has been conferred. No matter how many times I touch that plaque its impact on me is the same. It reminds me that we are not alone in this world and that humanity is connected to each other from one generation to the next, and that my time on this earth had better be spent in a way that leaves a positive impact for those who may depend on me now and in the future. This life is a gift which we need to respect  and use wisely. At some times, and in certain arenas, it is a difficult lesson to practice.  The instinct of self-preservation can be stronger than the call to put others first. Yet, to do so, and to behave honourably is something I think we as Canadians are always called to do.  Our decisions impact others. None of these sentiments are written on that plaque; it’s just the name of my family member written there which brings all these thoughts to mind.

That plaque reminds me too that at times the life of a politician is a difficult one; there are sacrifices to privacy and family commitments, compromises to be made, rules to follow, nuances to consider and agendas to be weighed with every decision. I think if Canadians actually understood the tightrope which honourable politicians must walk, they would do more to become involved in politics and do more to support those who are  trying to do a good job in service to our country; yes, there are such men and women in public office. I have worked on political campaigns at every level of government and proudly so from coast to coast; despite its flaws I still have some faith in democracy and the parliamentary system. Because of my family heritage and those representatives I know personally in Victoria and in Ottawa, I tend to cut politicians a fair bit of slack when I hear stories of them in the media; often what is not reported in the media is the piece of the story that was most crucial to the decisions they make. Frequently decisions have political, ethical, cultural, economic and environmental points which must be considered simultaneously; on occasion these points conflict with each other creating shades of grey that do not show up in the black and white ink of media.

Besides my career as a writer and my involvement in the yachting industry, I occasionally get called upon to teach Business Ethics at the college level. Weighing shades of grey and ethical dilemmas which cut across political, moral and industrial divides is a hobby I take great pleasure in pursuing. These sorts of dilemmas in Canada are many and complex; our ability and willingness to navigate these concerns and stay united despite our differences somehow defines us as Canadians. However, I assure you wholeheartedly, my fellow Canadians, that the closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station is not a decision that falls into this category. There is no political, economic, social, moral, or nautical justification which would warrant the closing of this base; not one. Any politician suggesting there is has misunderstood grossly some or all of the reasons which compel this location to remain open.  If this station is closed lives will be lost, full stop. Any politician suggesting otherwise is in grave error and in gross neglect of their duty as a public servant. At no point were they elected to put human lives at risk; at no point will the sea bow down and say, “I will quell my force in obedience to Ottawa”. At no point will one human life  lost at sea be forgotten conveniently in order to make this issue go away.

So to my friends in Ottawa, Victoria and Vancouver, to my friends in the Canadian Armed Forces, in academia and in industry; to my friends who live, work and play on the waters of this coast and the other; to every Canadian who understands the power of the sea and the requirement to respect its force; to every Canadian who values human life more than political convenience, now is our time to step up and support the Canadian Coast Guard to ensure that the Kitsilano Base remains open. Now is our time, for any life, in any vessel is worthy of preservation. The men and women of the Canadian Coast Guard valiantly put themselves in situations which threaten their own lives in order to preserve another; these people deserve our support; human lives depend on it.

Katrina Boguski M.A.

Proud Supporter of the Canadian Coast Guard  


5 Responses to “Any Life Any Vessel: an Open Letter to Canadians re: Kits Coast Guard”

  1. janice Notman said

    Thank you for an astounding, honest and heart felt letter!!! If the powers that be don’t get it now, they never will. I, as well as my family support the Coast Guard 100%.

  2. Mary Ives said

    Send this to the Vancouver Sun.

  3. Marelle said

    Nicely said, Katrina. And I agree, you should send this to the Sun.

  4. Thank you for writing such a great letter. I hope it reaches the right people.

  5. […] I received a call from an MP on Thursday telling me that he had read significant parts of my “Open letter to Canadians” in the House of Commons on Wednesday. He urged us to keep up the pressure on Ottawa. Hundreds and […]

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