The new Canada
John Ibbitson (Does Anything-You-Can-Get-Away-With Mentality Foster Tory Cheaters? – online, Feb. 24) and Lawrence Martin (The ‘Freedom' Show On The Rideau – Feb. 24) have a point or two. The patient, Canada, is sick, failing fast and will soon need life support. At the very moment that schools across the country are campaigning against bullying, we have a government in Ottawa that depends on bullying.
P.J. Robertson, Morrisburg, Ont.
An Iqaluit moment
I hope Prime Minister Stephen Harper enjoyed his 30-minute snowmobile jaunt in Iqaluit on Thursday. If, instead, he'd spent 10 minutes in the hopelessly overcrowded Baffin Correctional Institute, where overflow inmates sleep in the gym, 10 minutes with any social worker struggling with the alcohol and mental health problems that contribute to our horrendous crime rate, and 10 minutes with our minister of finance, who can't find the cash to deal with this crisis, then he might realize the disaster Nunavut is facing as a result of his insane law and order proposals.
Mick Mallon, Iqaluit
Just say no to WiFi
WiFi should be banned from schools, but not because of any health risks (WiFi Moment – letter, Feb. 22). It's simply the largest single distraction to modern education.
One would expect that paying thousands of dollars in tuition would concentrate the mind. But looking around any university lecture hall, you'll see hundreds of laptops, with students browsing the Web, playing games and posting on Facebook and Twitter. WiFi in the classroom unleashes the largest entertainment medium of our time.
Can we blame the students? No, because it's like taking an alcoholic to a bar. The Internet is an amazing tool, but its place in the classroom is downgrading the level of education and student engagement.
Kristian Laughlin, PhD candidate, University of Ottawa
Your article Democracy Caught In A Purgatory Between Freedom And Licence (Feb. 24) does a disservice to the tens of thousands of peaceful, ordinary Greeks who've taken to the streets to protest against undemocratic measures by a government with no popular mandate.
It's a tribute to the strength of civil society and rational discourse in modern Greece that its people have undergone so much suffering, and that there has been so little bloodshed. Yet, you focus on the rabble rousers.
Imagine what would happen in Canada if our government were replaced by a coalition headed by an unelected prime minister and approved by foreign politicians who included the representatives of a nation that had once participated in the slaughter and starvation of our citizens, laid waste our country, and was now giving us lectures about frugality and good governance.
Imagine what would happen if the HST soared to 22 per cent, unemployment hit 20 per cent, salaries and wages were cut by 33 per cent, endless job and service cuts were imposed, and there was no plan for growth. Would we be as patient and mature as so many Greeks have been?
Andrew Lyons, professor emeritus of anthropology, Wilfrid Laurier University, and Harriet Lyons, professor emeritus of anthropology, University of Waterloo
It's ironic that the army officers who've run Myanmar's opium and heroin production for decades, simply by exchanging uniforms for suits and buying seats as MPs, are now given United Nations money for drug eradication (Myanmar Moves To Wipe Out Opium Crop – Feb. 22).
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime itself says poppy cultivation increased 14 per cent in one year under the new government. Shan Drug Watch reports that seven MPs of the ruling party are known drug lords, that the Burmese army and People's Militia Forces are active in narcotics trafficking, and that most opium is produced in their areas.
Contrary to your article's claims, increased government access to rebel areas will probably increase drug production.
Kevin Malseed, Burma program, Inter Pares, Ottawa
No ‘cone of silence'
Re ‘Cone Of Silence' On Veterans Affairs Cuts Frustrates Advocates (online, Feb. 23): I am writing to confirm that all current benefits for veterans will be maintained. My priority is to ensure that our veterans and their families receive all the services and benefits they need and deserve.
Over the past few months, our government has announced significant improvements to the New Veterans Charter. These changes total an investment of $189.4-million over the next five years. We have set aside $2-billion over the life of the program to make sure our veterans have the support they need, whether it be today or in the future.
Veterans have told me loud and clear that there is too much bureaucratic red tape. On Feb. 21, I launched our Cutting Red Tape for Veterans initiative. We are improving the way we communicate with veterans by simplifying decision letters and creating an easy-to-understand brochure on benefits and services. Information will be in plain language, making it clearer for veterans and their families to understand what services they are entitled to.
Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, Ottawa
In Fords Find a Medium For Their Message (Feb. 24), Doug Ford is quoted as saying: “You're going to get the straight goods from Rob and I.” One thing is certain: Listeners to Newstalk 1010 shouldn't expect the straight goods on English grammar.
Alan Mendelson, Hamilton, Ont.
Oh no! Not another Bob and Doug show, eh?
Jenny Davey, Toronto
Population 192,000, area 16 sq. km.; population 2.6 million, area 630 sq. km. Does this sound like two cities that face the same transportation issues (Mayor Ford's Vision – letter, Feb. 24)?
Comparing Geneva with Toronto is as relevant as comparing how one should get from one floor to the next in a backsplit to that of a skyscraper. Toronto is unique; it's not realistically comparable with a major European city such as Paris or London, let alone tiny and ancient Geneva.
Paul N. Hornsby, Toronto
Re A Chicken And Avocados As Thanks (Life, Feb. 21): Not that long ago, chickens and other produce were given as payment for medical treatment in Ontario, too. My father discovered that, when he established his medical practice in a rural area, before the implementation of medicare.
My parents still talk of a memorable occasion when the bird in question had been plucked but not eviscerated. As my mother started to clean it before roasting it, she discovered that the chicken was full of cancerous tumours.
I don't think she's roasted a chicken since then.
Mary Robinson Ramsay, Walkerton, Ont.
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