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April 2: Letters to the editor Add to ...

On the margins

I lived in an old house full of used furniture, borrowed every penny I could to go to university, came out hugely in debt, fortunately got a job when 50 per cent of graduates couldn’t and then paid into a social system that my parents used up (Two Solitudes – March 31). I must be a millennial born in 1951.

Don Wilson, Calgary

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Like Margaret Wente, I am a boomer but our experiences have been so different, I wonder if we live on the same planet, let alone in the same province. In 1971, I had to hide the fact I had a child in order to be accepted into graduate school; in the biology department where I studied there was not a single female faculty member. Daycare was scarce; there was certainly none available through the school system.

My daughter, who recently gave birth to her first child, has a year of paid leave. When she returns to work, she will have access (in Quebec) to affordable child care. Her medical school class was 50 per cent female. She will be paid the same as a man for work of equal value.

I’m not saying that things are perfect, but there has been a sea change for working mothers which my daughter and Dakshana Bascaramurty will benefit from. And it is women, of the boomer generation and the one before it, that have been instrumental in bringing about the changes. The boomers’ legacy is not all bad.

Rachelle Sender, Hamilton, Ont.

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Neither Margaret Wente (1950) nor Dakshana Bascaramurty (1986 – my year, too, by the way) uses the word “hate.” But on the front page, it says: “Do the millennials hate the boomers?” Why promote their articles with the word “hate”? I don’t hate anyone for how old they are or aren’t. But I sure do “hate” trying to play up division.

Janis Wong, 26, Vancouver

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The language in the Wente/Bascaramurty columns attempts to set one category of people against another on the basis of nothing other than their age difference. How is this any different than setting them against each other on the basis of religion, skin colour, ethnicity, sexual preference or gender?

Irene Jordan, proudly 64, Elliot Lake, Ont.

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Margaret Wente’s picture of boomer privilege certainly wasn’t my experience. But at least my generation benefited from a government that invested in youth and realized that providing meaningful jobs and work-related experiences is valuable. Organizations such as Katimavik, Opportunities for Youth and Canada World Youth channelled that youthful energy.

We now have a government that has cancelled Katimavik, will be severely curtailing CIDA youth internships and cutting back on the overseas volunteer opportunities my generation benefited from. Instead, we’ll have more prisons. Where was the youth vote in the last election?

Molly Hurd, Halifax

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I’m a boomer who paid for my education with the help of student loans, borrowed from a bank for my first house and never had a defined benefit pension plan or a union job. I’m going to be needing what little I have left for my own future after providing private skating lessons, competitive-swimming fees, summer camps, daycare, driving lessons, holidays and postsecondary educations for my still-at-home millennial kids.

Theresa Nikkel, Toronto

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In the margins

After reading Ian Brown’s article Every Scribble Tells a Story (Focus, March 31), I grabbed a pen and wrote “wonderful” in the margin.

T.M. Dickey, Toronto

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Senate seesaw

I appreciate William Thorsell’s cogent analysis of the foolish trend to elect senators (The Sheer Folly Of An Elected Senate – March 31). My own view is based on a simpler read of the situation – I have yet to meet a Canadian who feels this country’s problems cannot be solved because we don’t have enough elected politicians.

As Mr. Thorsell points out, this is, in effect, an attempt to circumvent our Constitution by those we have entrusted to protect it.

Paul Hanson, Calgary

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The Senate was created as a political snapshot of Canada at Confederation, when population was concentrated in the East. This flawed model is no longer relevant and cannot be salvaged through a piecemeal voluntary elected process. The only truly equal option would be to abolish the Senate and make the parliamentary system truly representative of the taxpayers who pay for its operation.

Chris Bradshaw, Port Coquitlam, B.C.

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Lucy’s life

Edmonton Valley Zoo veterinarian Milton Ness (In Lucy’s Interests – letters, March 31) explains how stress affects Lucy’s health, the kind of stress that would put her at risk if she were to be moved. Dr. Ness says the City of Edmonton will continue to make decisions in Lucy’s best interests.

Was it Lucy’s best interests when the zoo sent away Samantha, an African elephant who kept Lucy company for 18 long years? Did anyone at the zoo worry about Lucy’s stress level then?

JoAnne Schwab, Toronto

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Mirror, mirror

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says the McGuinty Liberals should look in the mirror to see who is responsible for Ontario’s economic woes. Liberals have “no one to blame but themselves,” he says (Flaherty Slams Ontario Liberals –March 31). Mr. Flaherty should look in the mirror himself to see who is responsible for the need to rescue Canada’s federal economy, after he and his government systematically frittered away the substantial surpluses inherited from the Liberal government.

Roy Littlewood, Burlington, Ont.

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As a 25-year-old graduating into an economy with slim job prospects, I really want to thank federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty for providing me the opportunity to work an additional two years before I’m eligible for OAS. While we’re at it, I’d also like to thank him for putting more responsibility on me to contribute to my pension. I can see why it would be much more important for me to learn this valuable lesson in fiscal management than the oil and gas industry, which receives almost $1.5-billion a year in government subsidies.

Jessica Wishart, Toronto

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Many Canadians, including people with disabilities, who have lived on welfare looked forward to turning 65 because they would be better off. Now, they will live in poverty longer. The Harper government will compensate provinces for extended welfare payments to age 67, but that means prolonging poverty for those on welfare. Many others programs and services are tied to OAS/GIS eligibility. They include LTDs, CPP, Workers Comp, housing subsidies, pharmacare, homecare etc.

Laurie Beachell, national co-ordinator, Council of Canadians with Disabilities

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I wonder if we are not too far off from a dystopian future where seniors are forced to battle it out (to the death?) in a vain attempt to curry favour, food and medicine from a wealthy ruling elite. Hmmm. Sounds kind of familiar.

Since I wasn’t 54 by the weekend, I’d better boost my training regime.

Val Koziol, Toronto

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