A pattern of failures
Judging by the news out of the United States (U.S. Regulator Raps Enbridge On Safety – Report on Business, Aug. 3), it’s no wonder the I-never-met-a-pipeline-I-didn’t-wanna-build Conservatives are hardening the time limits on the Northern Gateway review (Ottawa Sets Strict Deadline On Northern Gateway Panel – Aug. 3).
The longer the review goes on, the more spills there will be. The more bad press.
For the government to say it must harden the review’s end date because it needs to give its final decision by June, 2014, is a joke. They’ve done everything but fan the go-ahead signature dry.
In the U.S., they’re talking about Enbridge’s “pattern of failures” and “pattern of accidents.” We’re seeing a pattern, too – a pattern of failures by the Harper Conservatives to behave in anything approaching an objective manner on the oil-sands file.
Tammy Knowles, Winnipeg
Having recently returned from a trip to Israel/Palestine, and having seen for myself the ongoing construction of illegal settlements on the West Bank, it is obvious, as Shira Herzog writes, that a two-state solution for peace in the region grows more distant with each passing day (Two States, Many Failures – Aug. 4).
Even more troubling is the concrete wall that is being built, snaking its way through the West Bank, dissecting Palestinian villages and eliminating the possibility of establishing boundaries for a Palestinian state. Many courageous Israelis seek to halt construction of the wall and of the settlements, but they are marginalized and their voices are lost in the cacophony of sabre-rattling that is so much a part of the daily discourse in the region.
Linda C. Hunter, Calgary
The minister, the visa
The most significant point in our open letter to Jason Kenney is that the Immigration Minister misused the Law Society’s discipline process to try to stifle freedom of speech (Minister Faces Legal Uprising Over Conrad Black Visa – Aug. 2).
We challenge Mr. Kenney and Stephen Harper’s claims that we are wrong to suggest political involvement in the decision to issue a temporary resident permit (TRP) to Conrad Black. The federal court has already found that Mr. Kenney intervened in a high-profile case. He had George Galloway, a British MP, declared inadmissable to Canada in order to ensure Mr. Galloway did not receive a TRP.
In that case, the court found that Mr. Kenney and his officials issued instructions to the Canada Border Services Agency, which assumed on scant evidence that Mr. Galloway was inadmissable. Mr. Kenney and his officals, the court stated, had Mr. Galloway barred from Canada, more from antipathy to his political views than any real concern that he had engaged in terrorism. Their statements “raised a reasonable apprehension of bias.”
In light of the history of improper intervention in a politically sensitive immigration case, Mr. Kenney’s outburst that we lawyers are guilty of “baseless accusation of misconduct and reckless character smears” rings hollow.
Mary Boyce, Clifford Luyt, John Petrykanyn, three of the 80-plus signatories on the open letter to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, Toronto
The man, the visa
The furor over Lord Black’s Canadian visa is a tempest in a teapot. I hate to see people hitting a man when he’s down. Whether he retains formal Canadian citizenship or not, people think of Conrad Black as a well-known “Canadian,” married to a well-known Canadian writer, with a home in Canada.
Let’s be more optimistic: As a well-known author himself, now that he’s here he might be persuaded to write a biography about our greatest PM – Sir John A. – or General Brock, of 1812 fame.
Hugh R. Latimer, Yellowknife
Corporate, not collegial
You report that fraud in postsecondary institutions is attributable to collegialism, “a system of decentralized authority and co-operative stewardship involving academic staff and administrators alike” (A Collegial Culture All Too Open to Fraud – Aug 2).
Starting in the 1980s, advocates of corporatization argued that the collegial culture of universities stood in the way of cost efficiency and strategic decision-making. Universities needed to function more as businesses to make the most of public monies that support them and to reduce their dependence on government funding by marketing their knowledge-based products to paying clients.
University administrations embraced private-sector methods for conducting business and aggressively pursued lucrative markets. In the process, they appropriated many functions that once belonged to collegial bodies. Collegialism now is barely a shadow of your description, functioning more as a rubber stamp of policies and practices initiated and managed by senior administrative offices.
As a long-term critic of corporatization, I find it laughable, yet sadly predictable that, when opportunities are taken by well-placed managers and their staffs to siphon off monies, it is collegialism, not corporatization – the more likely suspect – that is blamed.
Janice Newson, professor emerita and Senior Scholar, York University
I’d likely agree with author John Degen’s stand on copyright (Like Lunch, Writing Isn’t Free – Aug. 2) even if I didn’t count three writers among my friends. Creative talent should be duly compensated.
However, there’s compensated – and then there’s compensated.
Current laws, which extend copyright protection decades beyond a writer’s death, make a sad joke of the concept of public domain, which, by the way, also exists for a reason and also enriches society.
As I look at shelf after shelf packed with upward of 3,000 books acquired over a lifetime, I scan the titles and know well that over 90 per cent are out of print and have been for years. But, someone, somewhere, owns the copyright; they sit on their property which doesn’t make it to bookstores for a new generation to enjoy. How does this benefit anyone?
Bring back sane laws – let’s say 20 years – and you’ve got me on board.
Jim Harris, Ottawa
It appears John Grimbly may not fully comprehend the Maple Leafs’ strategy for permanent mediocrity (Badmintongate – letters, Aug. 4).
They do not, as did the Olympic badminton players or the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Lemieux era, lose strategically to ensure a better future. Instead, they use a natural talent for losing with gusto at the halfway to two-thirds point in the season. Then, in a doomed-to-fail playoff bid, they play like superstars for the rest of the season. After they inevitably miss the playoffs – by only one or two games – they find themselves poorly positioned to benefit from the best draft picks.
This leads to a permanent condition – not good enough to win and not bad enough to get better.
Michael Greason, Toronto
I must say I am shocked and appalled at the badminton scandal. I mean, what’s next? Blood doping in lawn darts? Match-fixing in horseshoes? I fear for family reunion picnics.
Mike Peters, Toronto