The dark(er) side
Re The Dark Side Of The Sunshine List (April 2): Your editorial grossly understates the reality when you refer to salary increases, from 1996 to the present, for the Durham region medical officer of health and chief of police as being “greater than” the inflation rate.
The Bank of Canada calculation for inflation from 1996 to 2013 is 39.27 per cent. At the rate of inflation, the salary for the medical officer of health salary would have gone from $143,197 to $199,430; the position pays $325,278 (a 127-per-cent increase). The salary for the chief of police would have gone from $136,333 to $189,870; that position pays $242,723 (a 78-per-cent increase). Not to mention benefit packages on top of these salaries.
Public-sector wages are out of control. There is no political gumption to do anything.
James Moyer, Paris, Ont.
Living the language
Wait. Essayist James Ross is telling me that the government of Quebec wanted to verify that he could properly speak and write the official language of Quebec before handing him a salary that comes entirely from public funds? The so-and-sos! (Shrunk In Translation – Facts & Arguments, April 2).
Plus, they had the nerve to employ testers with regional accents reflecting the diversity of accents Dr. Ross’s patients will inevitably demonstrate? And here I thought I’d heard it all!
Dr. Ross admits to freely choosing to pursue his publicly funded career in Quebec. He also admits to not preparing himself before a formal, written French exam. He is then upset that his sense of entitlement wasn’t enough to carry him through the exams.
To say that the world’s smallest violin is playing for Dr. Ross is less of a ludicrous cliché than the middle-class, anglophone false sense of oppression.
Max Silverman, Montreal
I had to live in Montreal for a year in the 1980s. My first frustration was a parking ticket because I hadn’t been able to read the (French only) road sign, but many others followed.
As a Quebec resident, I was entitled to vote in the first “separation” referendum. No prizes for guessing which way I voted.
Dave Ashby, Toronto
Canada’s decision to discontinue its membership in the UN Convention to Combat Desertification is inopportune, short-sighted and ill-considered – tantamount to a “slap in the face” by a country that should show leadership and good judgment (Canada Goes Rogue – April 2).
It’s occurrences like this that put Canada in an untenable, compromised position when it seeks more significant positions within the United Nations – for example, a seat on the Security Council.
Farel Anderson, Collingwood, Ont.
Man. Bites. Dog
Breed-specific legislation, such as Ontario’s pit-bull ban, does not reduce dog bites (Parted From His Dogs, New Jays Ace Vows To Strike Out Pit-bull Ban – April 1). A study done by the Toronto Humane Society in 2010 showed no significant reduction in the number of dog bites since the introduction of Ontario’s legislation in 2005.
According to the American Centers for Disease Control, more than 70 per cent of dog-bite cases involve unneutered male dogs, which are 2.6 times more likely to bite than a neutered dog. Why not improve owner responsibility by increasing the onus on dog owners who breed, raise and keep dogs to be dangerous, no matter the breed? Why not encourage licensing programs that impose higher fees, more consequences and more restrictions on owners of dogs that have bitten? Why not focus on training owners as well as dogs?
We’ll cheer Mark Buehrle’s every pitch because we are fans of the Blue Jays. We’ll also cheer for him because we hope the sacrifice his family has made will help lead to one important strikeout this year – the repeal of Ontario’s breed-specific legislation.
David Bronskill, chair, Toronto Humane Society
The pit-bull ban was legislated for a reason. Pit bulls attack other dogs; their bites have caused severe injuries to small children. Mark Buehrle needs to focus on the reason he came to Toronto – to pitch for the Jays, not to become a distraction in their quest to win a World Series.
Bill Read, Cambridge, Ont.
Shock, not surprise
The fatal shooting of a Texas district attorney and his wife in their home, not long after the murder of his assistant, should indeed shock Texans, but it shouldn’t surprise them (Fatal Shooting Of District Attorney, Wife Shock Texas – April 2). According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are more than 1,000 active hate groups in the U.S. Many are hostile to the federal government and have a very individualistic take on the rule of law.
The U.S. military and police forces command fewer than five million firearms, while the citizenry controls 310 million. These are figures that must jar policy-makers to action. Perhaps when lawmakers become targets, legislatures will get cracking, and a public outcry won’t be needed.
Ron Charach, Toronto
As an avid downtown cyclist, I have a rather more low-tech solution to the side-skirts-on-trucks issue: I give any large truck an extremely wide berth (Truck Skirts – letters, April 2). Regardless of who is right or wrong, the cyclist is going to end up dead.
Christopher Price, Toronto
The answer is …
Jeffrey Simpson asks a good question: Why no one seems to have blown the whistle on the massive graft that has evidently been taking place in Quebec for decades (Steeped In Graft, And No One Blew The Whistle – March 30).
FAIR, the Federal Accountability Initiative for Reform, is dedicated to protecting whistle-blowers who protect the public interest. Canada is a dangerous place for whistle-blowers, who seldom succeed in getting wrongdoing exposed, and typically suffer devastating, life-changing reprisals. Unlike the U.S., U.K. and Australia, our laws do virtually nothing to protect them.
As one public servant said in a focus group about whistle-blowing, “Show me that these stories have happy endings. Show me the [whistle-blower] who got a promotion and the wrongdoer who lost his job.”
There are precious few of these “happy endings” to be found. That’s the answer to Mr. Simpson’s question.
David Hutton, executive director, FAIR
Re Giant Mine’s High Cleanup Bill Shakes Up Policy On Toxic Sites (April 2): The owners of the Giant Mine near Yellowknife got the gold, but it’s the public that got the shaft.
Murray Angus, Ottawa