HAVE YOUR SAY
What’s ahead for 2014?
If 2013 was a who-smoked-what, who-spent-what, who knew-what roller-coaster, what will the coming year look like?
Tell us who, what or where will define the next 12 months and why you think so. We’ll publish a section of responses in the Focus section.
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Sexual justice, MIA
It is tragically ironic that more than 100 heads of state were gathered in Johannesburg last week to honour Nelson Mandela for his towering achievements in paving a path to freedom for millions, while at the same time such freedom is denied to gay and lesbian people in many countries (The Battle Is Far From Won – Dec. 13).
The eloquent speeches rang hollow for those who are forbidden the basic right of sexual justice and equality before the law.
Where does all this homophobic rhetoric come from?
I place it squarely on the shoulders of religious groups and churches that work within these countries, inciting hatred and discrimination, based on a flawed reading of a very human text.
When I stand in the pulpit on a Sunday morning, I offer repentance to our gay and lesbian kinfolk for what we have done to them. And I will continue to speak on their behalf until there is no breath left in my body.
Linda Hunter, minister, Knox United Church, Calgary
Go well, Madiba
As one who was privileged to work as a volunteer for the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) and Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress, I mourn the loss of a great leader and human being.
And as leaders like former prime minister Brian Mulroney are continually touted as the champions of sanctions against apartheid, the champions I am compelled to mention are ordinary Canadian working people.
Thousands of Canadian workers welcomed anti-apartheid speakers to their events, refused to buy South African products and risked losing their jobs as they participated in a campaign to pressure the Canadian government to stop engaging with apartheid. Postal workers refused to handle mail, telephone workers blocked communications, auto workers and dock workers down-ed tools and public-sector workers in Ontario and elsewhere pressured employers to get rid of South African fruits from their jails and colleges. More than 300 Canadian labour groups contributed financially to the underground work of SACTU and ANC.
These are just a few of the many stories and these stories must be told.
Hamba kahle (go well), Nelson Mandela.
Brenda Wall, Toronto
It was great to see the well-earned recognition for Brian Mulroney and Joe Clark for their steadfast resolve in backing sanctions as part of Canada’s concerted effort to end apartheid, particularly at a time when other G8 nations were reluctant to act.
Speaking of acting, we should all enjoy it now because it won’t be long before Hollywood paints a decidedly different picture.
Rob Moser, Calgary
A gas tax is not on
Re Gas Tax Should Fund Transit Project: Panel (Dec. 13): I live in a delightful rural town of about 2,000 people. Our streets and sidewalks are cleared in winter; our roads and other services are well maintained by local government. When the local arena could no longer provide sufficient ice time for casual use, residents got together to raise money to build an impressive outdoor rink. Such is the beauty of living here.
That we should be expected to pay an extra tax, whether on gas or any other means, to finance transit in the Greater Toronto Area is unacceptable. I understand gridlock and the need for more infrastructure, but if there is a need to invest to correct this, those who benefit should pay for it. Toll roads, local improvement taxes and any other means are the fair way to go here.
Forcing me, my neighbours and friends to bail out the GTA is absurd.
Ken Duff, Vankleek Hill, Ont.
Loyalty to citizens?
Re MP Staffers Forced To Sign Lifelong Gag Orders To Get Raises (Dec. 11): At a time when Canadians want more transparency about what’s going on in Parliament, the highly secretive, all-party Board Of Internal Economy committee votes to muzzle MPs’ staffers for life!
More and more parliamentary wrong-doing is being exposed by government workers – everything from improper spending to sexual harassment. These new rules are designed to prevent courageous employees from revealing such behaviour.
MPs who support the “loyalty agreement” should be told that unless they renounce their support, they will lose our votes. What about the loyalty our elected officials owe us?
Al Yolles, Toronto
Re Newtown: A Year Later, The Struggle Goes On (Dec. 13): Canadians must not assume that gun tragedies like Newtown, Aurora and Tucson are American problems that will not happen here.
In April, in Gatineau, Que., a gunman stormed a daycare and shot to death a teacher. Last year, another legal gun owner, armed with a semiautomatic rifle that is not restricted here, was charged with murder after an attack at a Montreal club where Quebec’s Premier was celebrating her election victory. One technician was killed and another wounded.
Stephen Harper’s laxity about gun control may only be one election issue, but it is a crouching tiger of an issue; all it takes is one tragedy to bring it to the forefront of the minds of voters, be they in Connecticut, Quebec or Toronto.
The sooner the NDP and Liberal leaders force this issue into public awareness, the safer we and our children will be.
Ron Charach, Toronto
Postal price points
Re We Do Not Have A Delivery For You (editorial, Dec. 13): The price of a single Canada Post stamp is going from 63 cents to $1. That’s an increase of more than 58 per cent. Or nearly two-thirds. Imagine that happening to groceries.
Peter Ferguson, Kimberley, Ont.
Re Pension Costs Force End To Home Delivery (Dec. 12): The announcement of the service cuts by Canada Post came less than 24 hours after the Canadian Union of Postal Workers was informed of regulatory pension relief. The change removed, for the next four years, the requirement for special payments to the Canada Post Pension Plan.
So the Crown corporation has turned to justifying the cuts with operational losses, which would be more apt if those losses were happening. Canada Post has lost money in only one year in this century, 2011, when the losses resulted mainly from a lockout of workers and the cost of losing a 30-year dispute over pay equity for women.
Meanwhile, the postal service has remitted more than a billion dollars to the public purse.
Instead of trying to justify cuts, Canada Post should improve and expand services for new revenue, including postal banking.
Denis Lemelin, national president, CUPW
Re Boring History: Canada Post’s Rail Tunnel Ends Its 50 Years As A Relic (Dec. 13): Proof yet again that history does in fact repeat itself, even at Canada Post. Both today and back in the 1950s, it had tunnel vision.
Alan Scrivener, Montreal
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