Margin of error
First, Statistics Canada saw its chief publicly excoriated by the Harper government, which led to his departure. Then the agency saw its budget cut to the bone. Then it saw its main and most trusted source of data on Canadian families, the long-form survey, called an “invasion of privacy” and replaced by a different, less reliable version.
Are we really all that surprised at an erroneous jobs report (Please Excuse Our Margin Of Error – Aug. 18)? What else can go wrong?
Claudette Claereboudt, Regina
Urgency, not apathy
Like many others, I was horrified at the news of the West Point clinic raid (Raid On Ebola Clinic Poses Serious Threat To Liberia’s Largest Slum – Aug. 18). Almost as horrifying is the direction in which discourse has been steered in its wake.
Already, the raid is being held up as evidence that attempts to aid West Africa are “futile” (a view espoused in the comments section at globeandmail.com, among other places). These readers shamefully use the actions of a few to justify the fate of many.
With trials of the Canadian Ebola vaccine being fast-tracked, we as citizens stand in a unique relationship to those needing assistance. The looting should be treated as a tragedy that strengthens the urgency of our potential aid, not a justification for apathy.
Emma Byrnes, MA student, ethics and political philosophy, Toronto
I vaguely recall articles a few years ago about unsustainable pension plans and employees retiring in their early 50s. That was Greece, right? (Ontario Fiddles While Quebec Learns – Aug. 18)
Garrett H. Polman, West Vancouver
Bravo! Your weekend editorial The Nine Commandments (Focus – Aug. 16) underscored many of the underlying problems with “modern” policing. Indeed, the mantra of “community” policing, while a practice that still has merit and that is practised by several police departments, is used more for public relations than actual policing.
Michael Boudreau, criminology department, St. Thomas University, Fredericton
So 17 of the top 29 schools in Ontario are Catholic and we should be trying to figure out how they get such good results (Who’s Afraid Of Catholic Schooling? – Aug. 16). I can tell you how.
The parents who send their kids to these schools believe in supporting their children’s education and do whatever they can to provide the learning support their child needs. There is little distinction between the quality of teaching in schools but there is a great deal of distinction in how parents get involved in their child’s education.
If other schools knew how to give parents the advice and information they need to do this, they too would be on top of C.D. Howe’s list.
Parents make the difference! It’s time educators show them how.
Dr. Patricia Porter, learning skill assessment specialist, Vancouver
Margaret Wente writes, “As for the argument that the rest of us are forced to subsidize the Catholic system? Actually, we don’t. They pay taxes, too.”
In fact, we do subsidize Catholic schools via Ontario’s general revenue. While property owners can direct the education portion of their property taxes to either a public or Catholic board, property taxes do not not cover the full cost of education for any of those boards. The shortfall is funded through provincial general revenue. Income taxes from all Ontarians subsidize all school boards, public and Catholic alike.
And as for equating the hurdles to eliminating Catholic separate boards as equal to those needed to eliminate the Senate: A recent Supreme Court ruling has confirmed that even a trivial reform of the Senate requires support from most or all of Canada's provinces. Conversely, the complete elimination of Catholic school boards in Ontario requires only a motion from the Ontario Legislature and concurrence by the House of Commons. The hurdles are so low that Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador have already done it.
Kevin O’Donnell, deputy leader, Green Party of Ontario
Nathan VanderKlippe’s detailed and insightful article on Chinese treatment of the Uighur peoples of Xinjiang (Inside China’s War On Terror – Focus, Aug. 16) was terrific. It gives the Uighur people and their culture the respect they so well deserve, and counters Beijing’s view that the Uighurs, as Muslims, should be kept under repressive rule. Mr. VanderKlippe’s article is also a correction to the view that China is no longer a repressive state, but rather a friendly partner in trade and investment. Congratulations on a fine piece of journalism.
Diana Lary, professor emerita, University of British Columbia
Leah McLaren’s column There Are Other Options To Motherhood (Life & Arts – Aug. 15) doesn’t address a question that many of us in “otherhood” have to confront: “Why didn’t you adopt?”
This may be as painful for some of us as the original query about children. However, as children are an important part of being human, I recognize that we can’t help but ask. Adoption is another matter entirely.
When my husband and I were discussing adoption, he was diagnosed with five years to live. By the time he was stabilized, I was unwell. I have no desire to tell individual strangers about these obstacles. Many of us grieve for the child we never had and will carry this loss to our death beds. I write this knowing that some women wish to remain childless – this too represents a serious life choice that should not be trivialized.
Linda Dydyk, Montreal
The free press
The Turkish ambassador to Canada writes that a Globe and Mail editorial is “undiplomatic and unethical” because it favours one candidate for president of Turkey over another just before the election there (Undiplomatic – letters, Aug. 18).
Perhaps the ambassador does not realize that diplomacy isn’t the job of a free press. It is part of the free press’s job to take political stands through editorial opinion. I may or may not agree with that stand, but I am a freer citizen for a press with the right to voice it.
Ken DeLuca, Arnprior, Ont.
So “comments made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Justice Minister Peter MacKay have hurt the confidence of Canadians in the judicial system” (Time To Move On From Feud, Says Top Court’s Chief Justice – Aug. 15)?
Nonsense! Their comments have enhanced people’s trust in the chief justice and support for our judicial system. They also have eroded any minuscule lingering confidence we might have had in either Mr. Harper or Mr. MacKay.
Jacqueline Stalker, Kingston