ABCs of wages
I am not a teacher, but I know and value the contribution that good teachers make to our communities, especially through all the extra programs they do with sports, the arts, clubs, leadership development and youth mentoring – all that stuff that happens outside school hours (Ontario Set To Widen Wage Fight – Sept. 12).
But I am troubled by the spin that the media have put on this in portraying this legislation as being about “freezing teachers’ salaries.” This leaves the public thinking that teachers, just like NHL owners and players, are greedy. Various locals consented to a wage freeze six months ago.
At issue here is the right of these unions to negotiate their own agreement, which might very well be the same or similar to the agreement imposed. For this reason alone, I support the teachers.
Rachel Corbett, St. Catharines, Ont.
When public-sector unions demand increases, they are asking already beleaguered taxpayers to turn over more of their own pay to put public-sector workers even further ahead of the private sector. That’s unfair and it is unaffordable.
Politicians across the country have spent decades putting public-sector workers before taxpayers at the expense of taxpayers – it’s time to reverse that trend.
Philip Hochstein, president, Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of B.C.
Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, could not be more right when he said it is not “business as usual” (Union Directs Teachers To Stop Extra Activities – Sept. 12). Students who are most in need will suffer if the union forces this issue.
Catherine Bertmount, Toronto
Call in the mayor
If Ontario teachers are halting their voluntary activities, it sounds like the mayor of Toronto has the time, inclination and resources to sub in (Ford’s Office Aides Help Run His Football Teams – Sept. 12). Just don’t let him coach the debating team.
Vicki Ziegler, Toronto
Nix the reward
The duty of a school monitor is to monitor and control behaviour on the school bus (Toronto Man Hands $703,000 Cheque To Bullied Bus Monitor – Sept. 12). This would include the prevention of bullying and ensuring safe and appropriate behaviour by all children on the bus. Based on what happened, it appears that bus monitor Karen Klein was not performing those duties.
Who hired her and who was monitoring her performance? If I were a parent with young children, I would not want her as a bus monitor supervising my children.
As much as I empathize with Ms. Klein’s situation, I do not believe she should be rewarded for her incompetence. She should have been fired.
Gloria Pearce, Whitby, Ont.
An embassy’s role
I learned the importance of the Canadian embassy’s influence in Iran in 2009 when I was briefly detained by Iranian security forces while covering the election protests following Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed victory. The embassy played a key role in securing my release; when I was detained again a few days later, the embassy sent staffers to ensure my well-being and ultimately secure my safe departure from the country. Without a Canadian embassy, I doubt I would have been let go from the Interior Ministry basement where I was held.
The presence of a Canadian embassy is even more important for thousands of Iranian-Canadians who travel to Iran each year. As one of the few Western countries with missions in Iran, it gave Canada considerable influence to protect our citizens and carried significant symbolic value to the Iranian government.
The closure could well constitute a death sentence for the Canadians held in Iran, whose release could still be secured by a skilled diplomatic effort by Ottawa. That the closure was followed by a public statement of support from Israel merely reinforces the perception that this was a cave-in to lobbyists.
The Harper government should reconsider the closure of this key diplomatic outpost – one of Canada’s most critical in the Middle East.
George McLeod, Bangkok
Get in line
While the idea of joint ownership of Hans Island between Canada and Norway certainly is beautiful (Float Away – letters, Sept. 11), I fear it might backfire when Denmark finds out it has been left out of the deal. After all, they have been claiming ownership of the rock for decades.
Lisa Kristensen, Montreal
Diagnosis: tax cuts
Jeffrey Simpson writes that growth in health-care funding is squeezing out education (We’ve Made A Choice: Health, Not Education – Sept. 12).
Of course we should demand better value for our health-care spending. That is my life’s work. But, if Canada’s governments are feeling financial pressure, it’s because they have cut taxes by the equivalent of $100-billion a year, not because they spent it all on health care.
Michael Rachlis, MD, Toronto
‘A right to lie’
Earlier this week, you reported on the reasons people habitually lie (Lyin’ Ryan: Why He Can’t Stop Untruthing – Life, Sept. 10).
Another reason now reveals itself in the discussion of Midnight’s Children (The Flaw In The Media’s Script For Midnight’s Children – Life, Sept. 12). The film’s director, David Hamilton, recounted his experience with the coverage he and Deepa Mehta received in the Indian press. Mr. Hamilton said that when he complained, the reporter replied, “This is a democracy. We have a right to lie.”
Like India, the U.S. is a democracy. Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan must feel he is exercising his democratic rights.
Mei-fei Elrick, Guelph, Ont.
So to speak
Methinks it is a mistake in etymology to suggest replacing the term “Merkans” (citizens of that country to the south, suggested by letter writer Sally Morrow – Merka Mysteries, Sept. 11) with “Merkins,” based on the name of the U.S. president, Merkin Muffley, in Dr. Strangelove (Proud Merkins – letters, Sept. 12).
Calling our southern friends and neighbours Merkins would likely strain relations, perhaps provoking a repeat of 1812. Dr. Strangelove is chock full of deliberate sexual references slipped past censors. A merkin is a pubic wig (and the first syllable of president Muffley’s last name is no accident).
Ian MacKay, Ottawa