And the winner is …
The Harper government and the CBC seem to be in a competition to see which can most ineffectively spend my tax dollars.
Which is worse: Spending $16- to 25-billion on a non-competitive, sole-source contract for 65 F-35s or throwing away $800,000 annually on the “services” of Don Cherry, hockey’s clown in clown’s clothing?
My vote would go to the CBC, which might want to consider whether Mr. Cherry’s purported $800,000 salary is a wasteful drain on their pared-down budget (Cherry’s Salary Makes Him A Big, Fat Target For CBC Cuts – April 6).
On the other hand, Defence Minister Peter MacKay does seem to have been rather clueless on the fighter jet issue (The Political Masters Are Missing – editorial, April 6), leading one to wonder whether his trip from a fishing lodge in a Canadian forces helicopter last year might have gone too high without adequate oxygen.
Gerry Stephenson, Canmore, Alta.
Dissension on parade
Diversity has always been what I’ve been so proud of in Canada – a variety of groups living together, celebrating their uniqueness. The troubling situation in Montreal’s Outremont district is, instead, a story of nothingness – no Jewish procession, no Russian Orthodox procession and a sure recipe for producing more anger and dissension (Religious Tensions Force Ban Of Parades And Processions – April 6).
Elizabeth Fernandes, Toronto
Canadian stock exchanges have largely escaped the pointed finger for permitting abusive “backdoor listings.” This long-standing device permits the purchase, for peanuts, of an inactive but still listed corporation with played-out assets. The new controlling shareholder pumps it up, often with dubious assets. Its shares are deemed to have been fairly distributed to the public based on the original listing.
The Ontario Securities Commission only recently decided to “review” the backdoor listing device. Why didn’t the TSX take action to clean up the practice long before the Sino-Forest meltdown (Sino-Forest Auditor Ernst & Young Resigns – Report on Business, April 6)?
Recently, commentators have focused on the major differences between North American and Chinese business practices, which too often involve systemic obfuscation of disclosure to both their domestic and foreign regulators, and to their shareholders. Some urge, in this day of global business, that we should be realistic and accept different styles and practices. But the regulatory mandate in Canada (and in the U.S. long before) is original and continuing “full, true and plain disclosure.”
When playing in our sandbox, listed companies must do so by our rules. Exchanges must play a gatekeeper role on their listings. If they won’t do so voluntarily, regulators must use their recognition power to force them.
Canadian investors will continue to suffer from backdoor listings until they do.
Michael Robinson, Toronto
Increase gas taxes
With the popularity of gas-guzzling SUVs and other land barges, I’m amazed at consumers’ surprise and anger at increased gas prices (Pumps That Pinch – letters, April 6). I support much higher gasoline taxes – doubling the price of gas would be a good start – that would put an end to this waste of an irreplaceable resource.
Raymond Perrin, Ottawa
I have a dream …
Martin Luther King died 44 years ago this week from a bullet fired from an assassin’s rifle – the same week the Conservatives cheered as one of their MPs misappropriated Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream Speech” to celebrate killing the long-gun registry (Quebec Superior Court Halts Destruction Of Long-Gun Registry Data – April 5). Words cannot describe how disgusted I am at using his words under such circumstances.
Sharon Michaels, Winnipeg
I suspect Martin Luther King is sitting somewhere in Heaven, appropriately disgusted at MP John Williamson. One hopes Dr. King will be less offended, should the majority of Canadians recite it to themselves upon successfully voting out this bunch of yahoos in 2015.
Deane Taylor, Toronto
Young, old drivers
As a driving instructor, I see seniors drive on a daily basis. Many are good drivers. Many are not (New System Proposed For Senior Drivers – April 5).
I have seen seniors change lanes without checking their blind spots, drive too slowly, straddle lanes or turn left in front of oncoming traffic because they could not tell how far away the vehicles were and thought they could turn safely. In all cases, there were near-accidents.
Statistics tell us that while seniors account for 10 per cent of all drivers, they are disproportionately involved in 14 per cent of fatal crashes. Most seniors do not want to lose their licences. It means the end of their independence. That, however, is not the issue. The reason for graduated licensing is to make the roads safer for all ages.
Rachel Donnelly, Cambridge, Ont.
It’s ridiculous that someone can be granted a lifelong licence to drive. Every driver should be fully retested, perhaps every five years, to ensure they are still capable. Regular retesting would better catch incompetent drivers, young and old alike.
Brian J. Lowry, Fredericton
Enough has limits
Re: Onex's Schwartz Hauls In $64-Million Pay Package – Report on Business, April 6): Thursday, in my family practice, a man told me he and his fellow employees are being asked to take a pay cut. He works for a wealthy multinational. On other days, patients complain about the stress in their lives when companies merge or there are buyouts in the name of profits – more work, longer hours for those who do not lose their jobs. Not only are the individuals affected, but their partners and children. I do not begrudge someone’s right to make a profit but when is enough enough? The disparity between the lives of CEOs and workers seems unconscionable.
David Rosen, MD, Mississauga
Pice and penny
Some 50 years ago, my dad gave me a tin can filled with pice. By then, pice were obsolete coins from India, worth 12 to the anna when an anna was worth less than a penny (Don’t Lose The Penny – April 5).
“Johnny,” he pronounced, “These coins tell a story and the story is that it took poor India 3,000 years to devalue its currency to be worthless. But mark my words, here in wealthy old Canada, we are on track to achieve that in less than 300.”
Given that a Popsicle was then a nickel, I laughed it off as alarmist. Apologies, dad.
Other than that we pulled it off ahead of schedule, you were so right. Personally, I’m putting loonies in a can for my grandson. It’s only a matter of time before loonies become the next pice.
John Hinrichs, Toronto