‘ Worthy’ victims
Re Watchdog Says Prison Violence Is On The Rise; Toews Says It Has Decreased (Aug. 9): “My paramount concern is about violence against people out on the street who are innocent,” Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is quoted as saying. The Harper government has put into action tough-on-crime legislation (despite falling crime rates) under the guise of caring for victims.
With this quote, Mr. Toews has demonstrated that to our current government, it is only the “worthy victims” who matter. The myth of the “worthy victim” has been used to justify public ignorance toward the deaths of prostitutes, homeless people and other disenfranchised members of the Canadian populace for years. The idea that some victims are more worthy of our pity and support than others carries distinctive racist and classist undertones. I was under the impression that in a democracy all individuals were equal.
Noah Schwartz, Ottawa
Of credit ratings
Re A Credit Rater That Overreacted And Overreached (Aug. 9): Professors Daniel Muzyka and Lawrence Weiss believe that Standard & Poor’s was wrong to lower the U.S. government’s credit rating. They argue that the U.S. is a wealthy country with “no reasonable scenario” for defaulting. But they are missing the point.
Credit ratings primarily evaluate the likelihood of debts being fully repaid on time, i.e. the quality of the debt. As an individual, I may have a good job and ample money in the bank. But if I am late paying my bills, my credit rating will suffer despite my prosperity.
Similarly, America as a nation is full of economic potential. But it is struggling to act on this potential – even to pay its bills – due to a hamstrung political system. For a reasonable default scenario, simply look back to 1979. For several weeks the U.S. government was late repaying its “risk-free” treasury bills – technically a default.
Michael J. Armstrong, faculty of business, Brock University, St. Catharines
Re London Is Burning (Aug. 9): In my almost four years of living in London, I’ve learned of the impending Armageddon of my adopted city from the international media more than once. G20 protests – city ablaze. Bank of England riots – turmoil and carnage. Now – “pop-up riots” are shaking the foundations. Never mind the Black Death, Great Fire of London, or the Blitz – this is it. Last Days seem to be upon us. Forgive my irony.
In no way am I playing down the events going on in London and throughout the country. A still deeply entrenched class system, that is worn as a badge of pride yet is ironically a sense of shame, continues to incubate a simmering tension between the haves and have-nots. Years of social legislation which have made it more profitable for certain sectors of society to remain on the dole have fostered a sense of entitlement as opposed to self-pride.
Instead of focusing on London’s Last Days, the international media must show these events as what they are: a shameful, chaotic undertaking driven by greed, which in the end will only destroy the so-called marginalized communities in which the perpetrators live.
James Patava, London, United Kingdom
The other Ted
Ted Morton: Alberta’s Charisma-Challenged Firebrand Takes His Shot (Aug. 5). I find that the image you have portrayed bears little resemblance to the real Ted Morton. I have known Ted for more than six years and he is a warm, generous and intelligent man who wants to make Alberta and Canada better places to live.
Ted will work positively and constructively with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to improve the services of the government of Canada as he did last December when he persuaded the finance ministers to develop Pooled Registered Pension Plans to increase the retirement income opportunities for all Canadians. This is an example of Ted Morton’s leadership at its best: challenging the status quo, defying the conventional wisdom of the bureaucrats in Ottawa, getting a better result.
Gord Elliott, Calgary
Gavels and pens
Re Should Writers Wield Gavels, Or Is The Pen Still Mightier? (Aug. 6): The writer lumps Margaret Atwood into the “never-ending queue of self-seeking practitioners” who, in this case, castigated Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford for cost-cutting measures, specifically the possible closures of some public libraries. To consider that this Canadian literary icon’s wakeup call has anything but the public weal at heart is shameful and narrow-minded.
I suggest that if Philistines are at the gate, it matters not who sounds the clarion call! Neither should it matter whether the crier has vested interests.
Don Carter, Brighton, Ont.
Helping the homeless
Re Housing Plan Set To Stir Debate (Aug. 9): At least Vancouver is actually doing something right about homelessness. We have seen a net decrease in street homelessness – all during an economic downturn. It only makes common sense that shelter and permanent housing for the homeless needs to be built throughout the city – not simply in one neighbourhood.
However, unless the city begins to address the lack of affordable housing for working families, no amount of housing for the homeless will meet the demand. With low wages and the high cost of housing – Vancouver will remain unaffordable for mere mortals.
Brian Postlewait, executive director, Mission Possible, Vancouver
Keep food banks
Re Time To Close Our Food Banks (July 25): To say we need to close food banks to draw attention to poverty and get government to act is sort of like saying we’ll close down pharmacies until we cure disease. Poverty, like disease, is a complex issue. Food banks are but one small, but important, remedial action.
Elaine Power’s statement that “it is time to stop applying a solution that isn’t working,” assumes that we are all shortsighted enough to believe that food banks are the deciding factor in whether or not someone is impoverished. Food banks are remedial. Not preventative.
Closing food banks would probably put pressure on our municipal, provincial and federal governments to do something about hunger and poverty, but what happens to the families and kids in the meantime?
Gena Robertson, executive director, SIRCH Community Services, Haliburton, Ont.
Years ago a Quebec comedian defined the goal of Quebeckers as “an independent Quebec in a strong Canada.” Federal Transport Minister Denis Lebel and interim NDP leader Nycole Turmel are perfect examples of this soft nationalist comedy come true.
And maybe we should be pleased. After all, election campaigns are partly about winning converts.
Ramsay Cook, Wakefield, Que.