Gun crime, gun time
I call on the government to amend the Criminal Code to impose a minimum 10-year sentence on anyone convicted of a committing a crime with a firearm in their possession. A year is a joke, a badge of honour.
In my south Vancouver neighbourhood, violence is on the increase, including gunfire – mostly directed by gang members against other gang members, but innocents risk being caught in the crossfire. And now this most recent tragedy in Toronto (Toronto Police Warn Of Retaliation In Shooting That Killed Two, Hurt 21 – online, July 17).
We must send a clear message that the use of firearms triggers a severe penalty, one that cannot be reduced by plea bargaining, one that cannot be served concurrently with any other sentence: Use a gun, you’re in for a decade.
Michael Cox, Vancouver
A spokesperson for the Toronto Police Services Board said Tuesday that “there will always be these kinds of incidents,” which he attributed to a “few psychopathic individuals.” I dispute both claims.
The facts are that we have not always had these kinds of incidents and that something has changed in society to create the possibility for young men to act out their rage in this way. If we are to address the growing problem of gun violence in urban places across Canada, we had better do some proper research to discover the subcultural basis for these continuing occurrences.
Otherwise, our response to the problem will be ineffectual, as it has evidently been since Toronto’s “year of the gun” in 2005.
James Sheptycki, criminology professor, York University, Toronto
The stupidity link?
Margaret Wente’s claim that “yesterday’s regulations have a way of turning into today’s stupidity” might more accurately be turned around as “yesterday’s stupidity has a way of turning into today’s regulations” (Protecting Us To Death – July 17).
If evidence of the link is needed, one need not look further than André Picard’s article on the same day (We Must Give Our Kids A Fighting Chance Around Water), documenting the tragic consequences of our inexcusable failure to provide adequate safeguards for small children.
Why should an old hockey helmet sold at a yard sale not need to be as safe as a new one? Are some kids’ brains less important or less fragile than others?
Janet Milne, Ottawa
Margaret Wente might have shared the delight of our discovery in Switzerland a few years ago. In our daughter’s neighbourhood, my husband and I came across a group of parents and a professional company installing playground equipment in a public park. The name on the professionals’ truck? “No Risk, No Fun!”
And yes, the equipment included rope ladders, swinging suspension bridges, sliding ropes, a raised platform with no protective sides, and no warning signs or fences. Another playground featured unsupervised water pumps (manual) and channels, wall climbing, rubber bouncing pads and a very high slide.
Judith Frugier, St. Catharines, Ont.
Your editorial on the dispute resolution process for investors does not support the office of the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI) to the extent it should (Banking On A Fair Hearing – July 17).
I was asked by a widow why the RRSP account left to her by her husband went from $4.1-million to $2.9-million in a year. The question was posed because I had worked in the industry for 20 years. I found that the investment firm had, upon receiving the RRSP, divided it into two parts, one for bonds, the other for shares on a 50:50 basis. Within a year, the broker had done 47 trades in the equity portion of the account and diminished it to the extent that bonds had to be redeemed to maintain the equity proportion of the account and the trading this allowed.
I complained to the Ontario Securities Commission, which passed this on to the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (the brokerage industries’ self-regulator), which found no problem with the broker’s activities. The OBSI, however, took a different stance and obtained a large settlement from the broker.
The entire client-broker regulation mechanism should be removed as far as possible from the powerful (the brokers) and put it in the hands of an independent, government-established entity. After all, isn’t that what government is for, to serve and protect?
Alex Doulis, Toronto
Leading from behind
Lawrence Martin describes Jean Charest so uncritically, one wonders if he has lost perspective on the Quebec file (Jean Charest: A Giant Of National Unity – July 17). Mr. Charest may have been an important cog during the 1995 Quebec referendum, but he was soon overshadowed by others.
Even as Premier, Mr. Charest has proven himself lacklustre, usually following important debates, not leading them. His economic and social policies have fallen flat; Quebec has slipped further behind the rest of the nation.
Mr. Charest’s one saving grace may be his occasional nationalist fits, which have derived some minor results from the federal government; overall, however, his tenure has been disappointing. Were a general election held today, the choice would not be simple, for all our political leaders are considered harlequins.
Whichever party wins, theirs would not be a victory of choice but one of disappointment.
Deepak Awasti, Montreal
Among the righteous
My father and I were very pleased with Marsha Lederman’s excellent article on the newly opened “Enemy Aliens” exhibition at the Vancouver Holocaust Centre (The Friends Canada Insisted Were Foes – Focus, July 14).
My father witnessed the heroic and selfless behaviour of Prince Fritz von Lingen – a cousin of George VI – who was rounded up at Cambridge with other “enemy aliens” of German origin and was twice offered the choice of spending the duration of the war with Her Majesty.
To his undying credit, von Lingen turned down both offers and made the difficult passage from Liverpool to Quebec City, below decks on the Ettrick with the mostly Jewish refugees. As there were no toilet facilities, dysentery broke out after a few days at sea, and the conditions were horrible. The Prince organized a sanitary brigade.
Later, as an inmate in the Sherbrooke internment camp, and at considerable risk to himself, he kept a diary detailing the occasionally brutal and generally humiliating treatment meted out to inmates. Later, these diaries were introduced as evidence when a parliamentary commission examined the situation in the camps. Truly, Fritz von Lingen is to be numbered among the righteous gentiles. We hope his surviving relatives are aware of his decency and courage under very trying circumstances.
Ray and Ami Pariser, Hampstead, Que.
Who they weren’t
Re The Big Cut (Arts – July 17): Asked whether the state should subsidize the arts, Peter Ustinov once quipped, “Everyone knows the Parthenon, but no one remembers the names of the senators who voted against building it.”
John Scott MacMurchy, Toronto