Re Every Time You Brake, Insurers Will Be Watching You (Aug. 19): My auto insurance cost was recently increased by 25 per cent. My driving record hadn’t changed, I still had no infractions or claims, and I had moved from an area where there had been some teenaged vandalism to a quieter, more upscale location. My premium increased because my postal code changed when I moved two stops down the highway.
If the drive monitor app is adopted by the auto insurance industry, it won’t be because it reduces premiums.
Trevor Jones, Stoney Creek, Ont.
People who believe in “privacy” will no doubt protest, but Paul-André Savoie’s use of vehicle telematics to modify driving behaviour is visionary. In fact, why stop there? Why not install telematics sensors in our bodies to modify health behaviour? Why not install video cameras and other sensors in our houses to modify lifestyle behaviour? Yes, we’ll be monitored 24/7 by the authorities and big corporations, but what a brave new world it will be!
Paul McFedries, Toronto
In Jesus As We’d Like Him To Be (Aug. 19), Prof. Reza Aslan says all religions “are nothing more than a language made up of symbols and metaphors to help an individual explain faith.”
Sorry, I have to disagree, at least when it comes to Buddhism. Five centuries before Jesus, the Buddha specifically suggested not to get caught up in language and its conventions. The Buddha taught “asoulity” and no God. So where are the metaphors and symbols? It’s a personal practice with straightforward language, available to any and everyone who’s willing to try.
Prof. Suwanda Sugunasiri, president, Buddhist Council of Canada
State of the unions
Konrad Yakabuski piles up the negative adjectives in his description of unions (A Radical Idea For Union Leaders: Partnership – Aug. 19). He also talks about us representing “working stiffs,” which is a gratuitous insult to the 4.6-million unionized workers in Canada. Furthermore, he suggests we are wedded to confrontation and uninterested in productivity or our employers’ economic health.
I can tell him that more than 99 per cent of our collective agreements with employers are settled without strike or lockout. We are, indeed, interested in seeing employers do well because that is the basis of family-supporting middle-class jobs in Canada. Unions are involved, often with employers, in workplace training and apprenticeship programs, which lead to productivity gains for employers. For example, we have a joint venture with the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters to do research that looks into effective remote learning and also promotes new occupational credentials in manufacturing. These initiatives are hiding out in the open for reporters to cover.
Ken Georgetti, president, Canadian Labour Congress
The persistence of a “loose network” of al-Qaeda affiliates is not “despite” but “because” of U.S. counterterrorism policy, including its misguided reliance on drone strikes (The Long War Against Al-Qaeda Isn’t Over – Aug. 17).
The U.S. administration may have killed 34 key al-Qaeda figures this way, but the well-documented slaughter of hundreds of civilians and “collateral damage” in strikes based on grossly faulty intelligence must be added to the calculation. Small wonder that these groups have no difficulty finding new recruits.
Ann Rogers, Ladysmith, B.C.
Our diseased Senate
It is encouraging to see Michael Bliss promote the idea of a referendum to open up the possibility of constitutional change, even if one or more of the provincial premiers would not agree (Remove Our Diseased Senate From The Body Politic – Aug. 17). This is almost a return to what Pierre Trudeau originally wanted in 1981. To save patriation and the Charter, he was forced to abandon his proposal for constitutional amendment by federal referendum in case of a deadlock, caused by provincial premiers. With regard to the amending formula, the anglophone premiers prevailed. We are stuck with a Constitution that cannot be changed even if the people of Canada want it. Mr. Trudeau’s “people’s package” had been severely cut.
Michael Bliss wants Senate abolition, not reform. But this procedure could also be used for the creation of a truly new Senate, elected and equitable (rebalancing the distribution of seats). It could even be used to reintroduce the referendum mechanism Mr. Trudeau wanted and make our Constitution less of a straitjacket.
Theo Geraets, professor emeritus, University of Ottawa
Senate abolition is an attractive proposal. But like so much of the discussion about Senate reform, Prof. Bliss’s idea fails to confront the major obstacle, namely, that any amendment to our Constitution requires, among other things, the passage of “resolutions of the Senate and House of Commons.”
Unless the Supreme Court answers the questions posed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in some highly imaginative fashion, the reality is that the Senate’s consent is necessary for its own abolition and most other reform proposals. How many senators are currently planning a future on EI?
Ramsay Cook, Toronto
Re Wallin Claimed Trip To Mystery Museum (Aug. 17): More than $1,800 for a return flight from Ottawa to Toronto? I could send someone to India for that. A quick search online reveals that Porter airlines offers return fares from Ottawa to Toronto for under $600, tax included, for last-minute, same-day travel. With advance booking and other conditions prices would be even cheaper.
How many politicians are wasting taxpayers’ monies this way? Is it too much to ask that our representatives travel economy class for flights under three hours, and instruct their staff to look for the cheapest fares?
Michelle McCarthy, Toronto
I fail to understand the fuss over spending $1,800 for a trip to a museum that doesn’t appear to exist. I know I’ve spent a small fortune driving around looking for a place that does exist. Doesn’t it follow that one would spend much more looking for a place that does not exist?
Paul Magowan, Beamsville, Ont.
Congratulations to Fraser Simpson on his “thousandth puzzle” – the two words embedded cryptically within his Saturday crossword (Arts – Aug. 17). We hope to be around for his 2,000th – and because of the mind games and nimbleness of thought he encourages, we very well might be.
Thank you, Mr. Simpson, for enlivening our Saturdays with challenging (and sometimes infuriating) word play.
Malcolm and Katheryne Edwards, Calgary