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Premiers head to the opening meeting at the annual Council of the Federation conference in Charlottetown on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. (Andrew Vaughan/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Premiers head to the opening meeting at the annual Council of the Federation conference in Charlottetown on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. (Andrew Vaughan/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

WHAT READERS THINK

Aug. 29: Corporate sponsors for a Premiers’ Conference – and other letters to the editor Add to ...

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Every day, the news contains items that are, on some level or other, disturbing. But the news in your editorial And Now, A Word From Our Sponsor (Aug. 28) was so distressing, I had trouble reading the rest of the paper and am moved to express my outrage.

The Premiers’ Conference, sponsored by private industry and special interest groups? I had no idea. That our heads of government could publicly participate in such a clear conflict of interest is deeply unsettling.

On the surface of it, an intergovernmental conference makes good sense. But sponsored by corporations, unions, trade associations? This is indefensible. Any pronouncements coming out of such a conference are from this point onward deeply suspect and unworthy of the public’s trust.

At the very least, our premiers should be sent for basic ethics counselling. If I had my way, I’d fire the lot of them, and the organizers of the conference, too.

Please publish a list of all the organizers and sponsors of the conference so the public can boycott or admonish as appropriate.

Stan Munn, Calgary

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Several years ago, I handled media registration at the First Ministers’ conference in Charlottetown. One of my duties was to hand out gift bags to the journalists. Another was to make sure they had plenty of drink tickets to the end-of-conference banquet, to which they were invited.

All of this was paid for by corporate donations. Not one journalist ever told me “no, thanks.”

If The Globe and Mail really wants to discourage this practice, maybe urging journalists to say “no, thanks” would be a good place to start.

Ann Thurlow, Charlottetown

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‘C’ is for conflict

Re The Teachers’ Case Gets A Failing Grade (Aug. 27): As a parent with three children in the B.C. elementary school system, I can say with confidence your editorial is off the mark.

Before you write another editorial like that, you should talk to parents like me who see overcrowded classrooms with not enough assistants to help children with special needs, and who see gifted students asking teachers for some attention that cannot be forthcoming because the teachers are scrambling to address the needs of those more challenged in that area.

Classroom size and classroom composition are obvious issues. The union should not blink.

Cheryl D. Mitchell, North Vancouver

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As the father of a secondary school teacher, the father-in-law of two elementary teachers and the grandfather of three children in B.C.’s public system, I think it’s time for the union and government to butt out and let the teachers decide their own fate.

Put a simple question to them like, “Do you want to take the gains you have made so far and go back to teaching or do you want the union to continue trying to get you more?”

The average class size in B.C. schools is “near historic lows” of 19.3 students for kindergarten, 21.5 for grades 1-3, 25.7 for grades 4-7 and 23 for grades 8-12 (Factsheets: Class Size In British Columbia).

Averages can be deceiving, but maybe anomalies could be dealt with locally and case by case.

It would have to be an enormous gain over the present position to make up for the monetary and emotional cost to our teachers so far. Nothing will ever make up for the emotional and educational loss to our students. I’m for moving forward.

Mike Bennett, Chilliwack, B.C.

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Inquiry divide

Re Premiers Call For Missing-Women Forum (Aug. 28): Justice Minister Peter MacKay cavalierly rejects calls for an inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women by declaring that now is the time “to take action, not to continue to study the issue.” But it’s not “study,” it’s understanding. And without understanding, it’s not “action,” it’s flailing.

J. Phillip Nicholson, Ottawa

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Jeffrey Simpson’s succinct analysis of the phenomenon of missing aboriginal women sheds much-needed light on the knee-jerk demands for a public inquiry (Posturing Is The Only Reason For An Inquiry – Aug. 27).

The abuse of native women is greater than we realize because much of it is unreported when it occurs within the community. When I lived in the Northwest Territories, I was shocked to see the degree of abuse suffered by aboriginal women, and unreported because to do so would make the community “look bad.”

The primary generator of the abuse of aboriginal women is the extreme social dysfunction in native communities – a condition reinforced by the demands for native control over education, housing and health funding.

An inquiry would provide yet another revenue source for the industry that thrives on the sad conditions of native people.

Albert Howard, co-author, Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry: The Deception Behind Indigenous Cultural Preservation; co-editor, Approaches to Aboriginal Education in Canada: Searching for Solutions; Calgary

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It’s 5:30 a.m. and my brain is not yet fully awake. I’m struggling to understand a key paragraph on demographics in Tom Flanagan’s article, A Federal Inquiry Was Never Going To Do Much (Aug. 28). He states there are about 1.4 million aboriginal people in Canada, with 400,000 on reserves while “the other million – Métis, non-status Indians and about half of the First Nations population – reside off-reserve.”

Where do the Inuit reside? On ice floes in international waters? My wife’s comment: “My claim that I am Inuk and not simply aboriginal has finally been heard.”

Mick Mallon, Victoria

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Uzi anger

Re Uzi Recoil Causes Girl To Kill Gun Instructor (Aug. 28): Willful blindness on the part of this nine-year-old’s parents and on the part of a gun culture have ended one life and ruined another. What will it take to bring change?

Trish Crowe, Kingston

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Whose life is this?

Re Religion And The Good Death (Aug. 28): A great many of us see no value in suffering and do not believe in an afterlife. If Lorna Dueck chooses to let her life end in suffering, that’s her choice, but she has no right to impose it on others. I watched a close friend losing her physical abilities to the ravages of ALS over three years, an intelligent mind locked into a failed body. As Sue Rodriguez said: “Whose life is this anyway?”

I’m glad to see pressure on government to debate assisted dying. It’s high time.

Doreen Peever, St. Catharines, Ont.

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Deep in the doo-doo

Re Ford Threatened Teacher, Swore At Students, Documents Allege (Aug. 28): Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, then a high school football coach, is said to have made players roll on goose scat when he wasn’t satisfied with their performance, even though they won.

Why didn’t Toronto voters think of suggesting the same to Mr. Ford, say, a couple of years after the municipal election? After all, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. (Sorry for the unfortunate sauce reference.)

James Rusk, Toronto

 

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