From the margins
History teaches that marginalizing people does not generate more agreement and peaceful results (Harper Needs To Stay The Course – Jan. 14). The marginalized become ever more desperate to have their views heard; militancy quickly emerges as their only option and desperate people care little for public opinion.
Ethics teaches that governments have moral responsibilities to all citizens, not simply to their base or to a general public opinion. Even if the public finds something futile, or even opposes it, it may still be the government’s moral duty to press forward. Public opinion once opposed civil rights and the vote for women.
The government has a moral obligation to see to it that smaller, vulnerable groups be heard, and not simply dismissed in the name of “staying the course” – a euphemism for “clinging to power.”
Richard Feist, ethics professor, Saint Paul University, Ottawa
Idle No More has brought a virulent racism into the open. Reading online comments can be very disturbing, with many of the remarks fed by ignorance.
Graham Watt, Sackville, N.B.
Kudos to the indigenous leaders who chose to meet with the Prime Minister to make life tangibly better for their people (Better To Be Inside Than Outside – editorial, Jan. 12). Indigenous Canadians need leaders, not divas. They don’t need the self-serving antics of Chief Theresa Spence and the bitter losers from the last Assembly of First Nations election. They don’t need blockade-loving populists who preach a phony veto over government action.
The Crown today is the federal government. Admitting that reality, and working with Ottawa in a useful way, separates the real leaders from the pretenders.
Derek Smith, Toronto
Chief Theresa Spence is fulfilling a necessary and heroic function for Canada. With her insistence on the presence of the Governor-General as the Queen’s representative, she is demonstrating the truth that the first peoples of this land, through the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and pre-Confederation treaties, have a nation-to-nation relationship with the Crown and not with Canada.
Instead of partnership in Canadian Confederation, first peoples were handed the Indian Act as the ultimate colonial control of first people by Canada. How tragically ironic that Canada achieves self-rule, then acts as a colonizer to the first peoples of this land.
Carol Vignale, Tsawwassen, B.C.
Efforts are being made to “refloat” the Costa Concordia (The Largest Salvage Operation In History – Jan. 12). Is the Liberal Party of Canada following this story?
Farley Helfant, Toronto
Barriers are many
I am glad you concluded that just because the treatment of suicidal teens is not perfect, it should still be pursued (Long Way To Go – editorial, Jan. 14). Fully 45 per cent of suicidal teens in the study did not receive treatment. That is a sobering statistic, and raises the question: Why didn’t they?
As you note, one big reason is lack of resources – in all of Canada, there are only about 450 child psychiatrists. Waiting lists are prohibitively long. Psychologists and social workers are not covered by medicare. Other professionals on the front line – teachers, police officers, pediatricians and family doctors – get woefully inadequate training in the area of recognizing and triaging mental illness in adolescents. So the barriers are many.
Let’s use this study as a wake-up call for improving the quantity, quality and accessibility of treatment for troubled teens.
Marshall Korenblum, chief psychiatrist, Hincks-Dellcrest Centre for Children and Families, Toronto
Only in Victoria …
The review of the book written by Stephen Reid – “Canada’s most infamous bank robber” – reminded me of an unusual school field trip (Hard Time, Strong Words – Books, Jan. 12).
In 2000, while I was working in a Victoria elementary school, it was decided that our Grade 7 students would try lawn bowling. After a presentation by two lively septuagenarians, we set off for Victoria Lawn Bowling Club.
We got off the bus and were crossing the road when we heard loud bangs and saw a small car speeding away with police cruisers in pursuit. The student beside me asked, “Was that a gun shot?”
“Surely not,” I said, hurrying the students into the pavilion. It turned out that the driver of the car was Stephen Reid, hours before his arrest.
To those who would never place “Victoria” and “excitement” in the same sentence, I say: Only in Victoria could Grade 7 students go lawn bowling and get involved in a bank robbery.
Jennifer Ferris, Victoria
Where’s the logic?
Some distinguished Canadian educators, members of the Facts in Education panel, write to say “there is no evidence that strong teacher unions are inconsistent with high quality education” (Union Impact – letters to the editor, Jan. 14).
We’re left to infer that teacher unions are related to high achievement, based on the fact that “virtually all of the high performing countries” have “strong teacher unions.” Of course, there is no logical basis for inferring that strong teacher unions cause high student achievement, as there are many other factors that affect achievement.
Malkin Dare, president, Society for Quality Education, Waterloo, Ont.
The taste of home
Europeans have only themselves to blame for a glut of illegal Chinese garlic (‘Big Money’ In Illegal Garlic – Jan. 10). Consumers buy the stuff, and dealers – both honest and unscrupulous – will always try to meet the demand.
Here in Canada, grocery shoppers complain all the way to the cash register about the quality of cheap imported garlic, but never about price. There are dozens of excellent varieties of garlic being cultivated here, from porcelains and rocamboles to purple stripes and silverskins, but in quantities too small to compete. It’s only when consumers in this country insist on top-quality Canadian garlic, and are willing to pay the price, that the dominance of flavourless imported garlic will end.
Les Bowser, Omemee, Ont.
As someone living alone, I am interested in reading about the increasing number of Canadians who choose to live solo (The Rise Of The Single Life – Focus, Jan. 12).
You write that “independent living has come a long way from the stereotypes of spinsters hoarding cats and feckless eternal bachelors.” Like the woman featured in your article, I’m no stranger to the “lonely spinster” stereotype. I was relieved to know, however, that unlike some of my cohort, I have never hoarded feckless bachelors.
Sonia Usmiani, Bowen Island, B.C.