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WHAT READERS THINK

April 8: The politics of crime and punishment, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Politics of crime

The continuing one-sided debate about various aspects of crime and punishment in Harperland is worse than a waste of time. It’s clear that the government is going ahead with its legislation, regardless of intelligent criticism.

I believe they’re laughing all the way to polls at all the “soft on crime” Canadians who keep raising the issue. The challenge for those who of us who disagree with these bully tactics, and that’s most of us, is to put some fear into the Harperites.

N.H. Clarke, Kingston, Ont.

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Think again?

In April of 2012, a spending report on the impact of budget cuts to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency warns: “There is a threat that the agency will lack the appropriate inspection effectiveness to expeditiously prevent, detect and respond to threats to food safety, animals and plants” (Tory Cuts To Hit Key Programs – April 5).

In February of 1996, an Ontario Management Board Secretariat comment on the impact of proposed budget cuts to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment warned: “Risk to human health and environment may increase.”

The 1996 Ontario warning became evidence at the judicial inquiry into the May, 2000, Walkerton drinking-water-contamination disaster. Current federal ministers Jim Flaherty, John Baird and Tony Clement were members of the provincial cabinet that proceeded with the budget cuts in Ontario anyway. These individuals might want to think again this time, before they find themselves facing another inquiry into why the government of which they were part failed to protect the health and safety of its constituents.

Mark S. Winfield, associate professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University

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Profit’s price

According to The Globe, socialism can best be explained by looking at the former Soviet Union, Cuba and Venezuela – all extreme examples (Farewell To Arms, Comrades – editorial, April 5). Missing in action are the socialism-loving Scandinavian countries that have vibrant economies – and high standards of living. Scandinavians also love capitalism, and they have done a pretty good job at balancing the two.

Do we really want capitalism in its purist form? Shouldn’t the state ensure that profit doesn’t come at any price?

Cheryl McNamara, Toronto

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The Globe tells me that capitalism has gifted us with prosperity, equality and progress. Now that we have that straightened out, we can stop grumbling about all the “not perfect” and, admittedly, sometimes unfortunate outcomes of capitalism.

I look forward to feeling better about the fact that capitalist prosperity makes a few people’s lives stupendously better than most others’. While I don’t recall ever seeing that good old corporate gang on the front lines of equality campaigns, I’m ready to admit that my doubts about their intentions could have blinded me to their solidarity with these struggles.

I know there’s not much time left to remedy the little bits of progress that do give us pause about capitalism, but if we can’t restore the balance, we can all look forward to one hell of a bankruptcy sale.

Esther Shannon, Vancouver

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It was less than five years ago when the world capitalist system was on the brink of collapse, and had to be rescued by major socialist action by the various Western governments. Have The Globe’s editorial writers already forgotten?

John F. Fagan, Toronto

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At the forefront

It’s wrong to assert that municipal leaders regularly build new infrastructure with the assumption that provincial or federal governments will pick up the tab later (Ottawa Needs A New Model For Infrastructure Spending – Report on Business, April 4).

Until recently, more than 90 per cent of public funds invested in local infrastructure came from municipally collected taxes and user fees. Municipalities have struggled to build and maintain critical public infrastructure with just 8 cents of every tax dollar or fee collected, while juggling responsibilities downloaded by other governments and cuts to municipal transfers.

Infrastructure may now be a “hot ticket,” but it has been a show played to mostly empty seats for more than a generation. Let’s be clear: Municipalities have been at the forefront of calling for a reform in infrastructure planning and investment for more than a decade. We welcome the federal government’s support in this effort.

Karen Leibovici, president, Federation of Canadian Municipalities

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Brutally undemocratic

Re Baird Reaches Out To Tehran’s Foes (April 5): This Conservative wrecking crew thumbs its nose at the United Nations and now, in its infinite wisdom, reaches out to a brutally undemocratic country such as Bahrain to oppose the (albeit flawed) democratic Iran.

How are women and minorities treated in Bahrain? We continue to be embarrassed on the world stage.

Joe McGuire, Omemee, Ont.

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What advice costs

Research shows that financial advisers bring savings discipline, producing superior results for investors – 2.5 times more assets than households without advice, after accounting for all costs (Stop Paying Outrageous Mutual Fund Fees – March 28).

While fee-for-advice may be appropriate for wealthy individuals, one-third of Canadian investors start with under $10,000. Hourly fees are $130 to $300, with annual review charges of $800 and up: $800 on a $10,000 account amounts to an annual fee of 8 per cent. This compares with a trailing commission of roughly 0.75 per cent, or $75 on a $10,000 account. The result? First-time investors would pay much more for advice under fee-for-service than through embedded compensation.

Embedded fees ensure advice is widely available. Should we turn back the clock and make it available only to wealthy investors, or encourage a range of competitive choices and let the investor decide?

Joanne De Laurentiis, president, Investment Funds Institute of Canada

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Just wondering

Kudos to the government for issuing a guide to assist new immigrants to understand Canadian laws and customs (New Immigration Guide Issues Stern Warnings Against ‘Barbaric’ Practices – April 3).

With regard to our marriage customs and laws against being married to more than one person at a time, will the government also distribute this guide to residents of Bountiful, B.C.?

Linda Heslegrave, Toronto

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