10 per centers
Re Clement Defends MPs’ Free Flyer Use (April 29): MPs are only allowed to send a “10 per center” – a taxpayer-funded flyer – to 10 per cent of households in their riding. However, if 50 per cent of the copy in these flyers is different, the MP can send them out as separate flyers – and they are allowed to send out as many separate 10 per centers as they wish.
Between 2008 and 2010, the Conservatives blanketed the Yukon with 10 per centers. I collected hundreds of these flyers to use as a medium in an art project, and was therefore able to really study them. By placing and replacing one dense block of tiny, tiny copy in one corner of each flyer; one B.C. Conservative MP sent out what was basically the same flyer to the entire territory.
The 10-per-cent rule is a joke. Canadians should demand that this practice be abolished in its entirety.
Linda Leon, Whitehorse
Conservative bulk mail often includes leading questions about how how badly the other parties are doing, while encouraging the reader to adopt Conservative-platform views. They often include a response form they want you to tick off to agree with their ideas. Of course, they want your name and address so they can put you on their “hit list” for donation requests.
I dutifully cut out the reply form, never including my name or address, write in all the blank spaces how I abhor this waste of paper and how I disagree with how they are running the country. I send it back with a certain amount of glee.
Deb McLean, Napanee, Ont.
The right thing
The CBC is refusing to take responsibility for Don Cherry’s sexist remarks (CBC: Don Cherry’s Views On Women In Sports Locker Rooms Are His Own – online, April 29). Clothing retailers are trying to manage the fallout from unsafe Third World working conditions (Canadian Connections – April 29). In both cases, the real responsibility for stopping this lies with us, the consumer. Stop buying Joe Fresh clothes, stop buying Budweiser beer (sponsor of Coach’s Corner), and watch the reinvigorated corporate zeal to do the right thing.
David Ferry, Toronto
Taking away preferential tariff treatment for Bangladeshi textiles or boycotting Bangladeshi products would hurt the women (and men) who work in this industry. It would undermine the progress women are making and injure the Bangladeshi companies that are responsible corporate citizens. Where action is taken, it should be to raise overall standards and selectively address cases where conditions are substandard.
Canada, through aid and trade preferences, has made a significant contribution to the economic and social successes of Bangladesh over more than 40 years, including supporting the Bangladesh garment industry in its infancy.
The Conservative government has seemingly been unwilling to trumpet Canadian contributions to development successes in places like Bangladesh (particularly where they were launched by another Canadian political party). Stephen Harper can display leadership by having our government work with the government of Bangladesh and with our apparel importers to improve the conditions in the factories in Bangladesh, as well as to clamp down on the corruption that too often undermines efforts to ensure decent conditions in the factories.
David Preston, Canadian high commissioner to Bangladesh (1999-2002)
Re When Telling All May Be Too Much (Life & Arts, April 26): Three times in eight months, columnist Sarah Hampson has used librarians as a metaphor for: plain vaginas (“female genitalia have pushed to the front of the cultural melee like a quiet, plain librarian”); a description of Nelly Furtado dressed not to impress (wearing “frumpy librarian glasses”); and, most recently, as an example of a writer’s dichotomous fashion sense (“Her top half makes her seem like a librarian; her bottom half, a sexy 35-year-old woman …”).
Forgive me if I’m seeing a pattern here: This portrayal of a librarian as a stern, bun-adorned, glasses-wearing frump has become tired. Venture into a library or check out images of modern-day, real live librarians (whatreallibrariansdo.wordpress.com) to see just how tired.
Julia Wells, Kamloops, B.C.
Even when local workers are available, some employers try to choose foreign workers because they are cheaper (Changes To Foreign Worker Program – April 29). Solution: Require employers to pay foreign workers 15 per cent more – instead of 15 per cent less – than they would pay local workers.
Reuel Amdur, Val-des-Monts, Que.
Hug a drama teacher
Along with Justin Trudeau, I am one of those reviled drama teachers mocked by recent Conservative attack ads (Who You Callin’ A Teacher? Why We Love Them In Theory, Loathe Them In Practice – April 27). The reality is that every day, in a very real, ordinary and practical way, we try to get at the truth of things with our students, by investigating, exploring and expressing ideas around bullying and diversity and personal identity and every other social, political and ecological issue of the day and of days past. While we do this, we also teach students to understand and practise an art form.
Philistinism is the true subtext of the ads. Hug a drama teacher today, and tell that person you respect what they are doing.
Catherine Hannon, Toronto
There is much debate about Justin Trudeau’s recent rebuttal ad, which shows him sitting on a desk in front of a blackboard in a classroom.
As a teacher with 26 years of experience, including drama, I am not bothered that he was “only” a substitute drama teacher. What bothers me is the fact he didn’t stick with it long enough to secure a permanent job and yet has the temerity to try to show teachers that he is indeed one of us.
Annette Kavanagh-Turner, Caledon, Ont.
Beneath the kilt
What’s Beneath The Kilt? Science (April 29) took me back to my time in one of Scotland’s kilted regiments, the Highland Light Infantry. Our regimental sergeant major had a small mirror on the end of his cane for quickly checking the “open air” policy under all kilts. But when we recruits went into town at night, we all cheated.
We had to stand on a mirror set in the floor before being checked out, but once safely outside barracks, out came the underwear from our sporrans (handy gadgets) and – shielded from prying eyes by our mates – we quickly donned skivvies.
Maybe not traditional, but oh, so much warmer.
Gordon S. Findlay, Toronto
It seems that curling stones are not the only great stones that Scotland has for the world.
James Stevenson, Bowmanville, Ont.