Mandate on measles
Re As Measles Spread, Calls For Vaccination Database Grow (March 31): Some people object to measles vaccination, citing religious reasons or arguing that they are not prepared to take the risk that vaccinations present.
Others say that since we have a high rate of vaccination, they should have the right to opt out.
Those opposed to compulsory measles vaccination should answer this: What would happen if we had no measles vaccination? Is the World Health Organization wrong when it cites measles as one of the leading causes of death among young children?
The health costs in a world without measles vaccination would be enormous; these are coats that can be avoided. There is no room for free riders on this issue.
Peter Woolstencroft, Waterloo, Ont.
A zoo’s place
Re Why I’m Never Going To The Zoo Again (Focus, March 29): Thank you to Robert Everett-Green for the excellent piece about our society’s bizarre arguments in favour of zoos. He is correct that justifications such as conservation or education are fallacies. The bottom line is that when living animals are involved in a business, when push comes to shove, the needs of the business will always be the priority over the animals’ needs and well-being.
Barbi Lazarus, Toronto
“Captivity and misery” packaged as “entertainment and cuteness.” What an excellent definition of the word “zoo.”
Stella Kilpatrick, Vancouver
When I was a young guy, I was fortunate enough to get a job at the Frankfurt Zoo for several months, where I assisted with giraffes and okapis. The two keepers I worked with had been there 30-plus years and had raised them. The wolves, elephants, lions, almost all the stock had been raised by keepers and were like their children.
We would go to the bush around the city to collect fresh shrubs, and tie them high in the giraffes’ enclosure for them to eat. I’d take the stripped branches to the elephants. One day, I was told to take care of them. I was terrified. They all smelled me when I went in, then carried on like I was one of them.
At the Affenhaus, the dozen gorillas were each given a morning cup of tea from a bucket by their keeper as they sat in a circle. They loved him. The back door was often left open and the young ones would come over to look at me (outside!) but never once did any step out. They lived in paradise, and knew it.
Rudi Warmé, Baltimore, Ont.
Well said, Mr. Atleo
“Forgiveness is not forgetting” – well said, Shawn Atleo (First Nations Must Turn The Page On Residential Schools – March 31).
A dear friend, an Austrian Jewish child of the Holocaust, arrived in Israel when he was 10. Before that, his “childhood” had been in numerous camps, both internment and later refugee. Many times over the years I have heard him say very powerfully: “Forgive absolutely, forget never.”
Mollie Cartmell, Peterborough, Ont.
Though we may be wrong, Jeffrey Simpson and I agree that political parties dissing each other, playing “small-ball politics” or riding to the rescue of the middle class are more likely to bore or exasperate young Canadians than to inspire them (Young People Vote For Tomorrow – March 28). So let me presume, at 84, to suggest three things they might be willing to work and vote for over the next 20 or so years: the life aboriginal Canadians deserve, the infrastructure Canada lacks, the postcarbon country the planet needs.
Tom Crerar, London, Ont.
Inside, looking in
Janette Bertrand’s comments in support of the Quebec values charter suggesting that (presumably Muslim) rich McGill students will take over condo pools and insist on segregated bathing were not challenged by PQ Leader Pauline Marois or rebuffed by CAQ Leader François Legault (Liberals Imperil Language, Culture, PQ Says – March 31).
The increasingly xenophobic comments from the PQ and its supporters would leave one to believe that the English-speaking population, visible minorities and anyone else who doesn’t, in their eyes, meet the criteria of pure laine is not welcome in Quebec.
Allan Amey, Ayer’s Cliff, Que.
Re Government Documents Say Expanded CPP Brings Gains (March 31): Why am I not surprised that ideology has once again trumped thoughtful analysis in the Harper government’s refusal to consider expanding the Canada Pension Plan? Internal research by the federal Finance Department reveals economic benefits from a CPP expansion, but the government seized upon an unlikely scenario in the report to dismiss the idea entirely.
How disheartening to see technical analysis abused in this way.
Alan Cooke, Vancouver
Math looks like …
Re Mom, What’s A ‘Times Table’? (editorial, March 29): I am quickly tiring of one-sided articles that blatantly use “discovery learning” as a straw man for imposing inflexible arithmetic on our children. Progressive education (the real alternative to rote learning and mere fact accumulation) demands more, not less, of students and teachers because they are asked not only to develop mathematical skills but actually know how to apply them as well.
I also take issue with the idea that somehow progressive mathematics education has been tried and has failed. I challenge anyone to visit some early-years, Canadian classrooms to see what math teaching looks like. In my 13 years of teaching in several Manitoba schools, I can tell you that filling out worksheets and being drilled with basic facts is still the norm, while any example of progressive education (or so called “discovery learning”) has never been more than a rare bright spot.
Cameron MacKay, early-years teacher and education graduate student, Winnipeg
Exit the e-world
Re Digital Overload series (March 28-31): One of the supreme ironies of modern life is that the more the cable companies, Internet providers and gadget manufacturers promise us greater (and faster) connectivity, the more we are isolating ourselves in our own single bubble of electronic stimulation.
There is a simple answer: Jump off the escalator. Switch off.
Malcolm V. Edwards, Calgary
What is the fascination with stepping out of the real world and into the digital world? Next, mobile phone companies will be offering the “Eternity Plan.” When we pass on to our great reward, we can be buried with our cellphones and chargers. St. Peter undoubtedly will be annoyed.
Bill England, Edmonton
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