Advice … on advice
Canadians of all ages from all regions are being given a lot of great advice this year by our politicians and senior public-sector managers.
Thank you to Canada Post CEO Deepak Chopra for his Participaction program for seniors. And a thank you to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty for advising Atlantic Canadians to get even more exercise by travelling to Alberta after their EI gets cut off. And of course thank you to Industry Minister James Moore for allowing us to rest after all our efforts by not having to worry about whether our neighbour’s child is hungry. And we can’t leave out Treasury Board President Tony Clement, who wants to heal public servants, or at least have them pretend they are better, because he wants new sick-leave rules.
My advice: In the spirit of the season, give us a break from all that advice. We might start to think it’s self-serving.
Felicia Fahey, Dowling, Ont.
Re All This Outrage Distracts Santa At This Crucial Time Of Year (Dec. 21 ): Liz Renzetti has Santa placing the blame for Christmas Grinchitude on atheists. As much as I’d like to speak for all of us, we’ve never managed to congregate a synod – or at least nobody told me (we’re a somewhat disorganized lot). But I think I can speak for the few atheists I know when I say none of us would ever be so presumptuous as to mess with somebody else’s Christmas.
Christmas for many of us is a cultural holiday. We’re out there celebrating like everybody else; we don’t want to harsh anybody’s mellow. Peace on Earth, good will to men.
I’m sitting here waiting for the radio to treat me to this year’s best rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus, munching on Christmas treats, and looking forward to the World Junior Hockey championships.
Bob McKercher, Toronto
Exxon Valdez redux?
Re NEB Clears Path For Northern Gateway (Dec. 20): Federal policy has made the National Energy Board a captive of the industry it is supposed to oversee and regulate; any doubt about this has been dispelled in the Enbridge Northern Gateway decision. Three board members – a consultant and a lawyer, both from Calgary, and an Ontario geologist – have recommended that two pipelines should be built across British Columbia, one to deliver Alberta tar to Asian markets (yes, it’s tar, not oil) and one to transport toxic diluent to back to the tar sands.
The 500-plus-page rationale is simple: Profits are worth the risks, Enbridge has it under control, disasters seem unlikely and, in any event, the environment will recover.
The project will benefit Alberta, but whatever gains B.C. might realize will not compensate for the inevitable accidents. I pity the B.C. premier who gets the late-night call that says we have just had our Exxon Valdez moment.
Kevin Hanna, Kelowna, B.C.
ABCs of ethics
Re Pay Hikes During Wage Freeze Followed ‘Letter Of The Law’ (Dec. 20): I’m so tired of manoeuvres that follow the “letter of the law.” What about the on-the-face-of-it simple wrongness of giving more money to senior staff during a wage freeze ? What about the ABCs of ethical behaviour at Ontario school boards?
Karen Murphy, Peterborough, Ont.
Award for Grapes?
In 1980, we were looking for a between-periods “segment” for Hockey Night in Canada that would hold viewers. A drop-off was occurring, supported by stats showing a spike in water and hydro usage, as fans rushed to the washroom and opened the fridge for “another pop.”
Ralph Melanby, executive producer of HNIC, recommended Don Cherry for six shows, at what I recall was $50 a pop. The TV rookie’s on-air audition was rough. Complaints flooded in, suggesting the “experiment” might end. Ralph promised he would coach Don to improve his performance and we agreed on six more appearances.
I spent the next six Saturday nights in Toronto pubs and bars observing patrons. They paid scant attention to the Leafs game – until the first intermission when “Grapes” appeared. They stopped what they were doing and hung on his every word, cementing, in my mind, his television future.
Over the next 33 years, the “rough diamond” evolved into a natural entertainer. Ron McLean was the perfect pairing; they quickly became the iconic dynamic-duo, HNIC’s Wayne and Shuster, Batman and Robin.
Don celebrates his 80th birthday in February. Whatever his status with HNIC, the Order of Canada selection committee should award Donald S. Cherry this long-deserved honour, if for no other reasons than that he is a man who has quietly donated much of his wealth to assist sick children, his unwavering support for our military, police, firefighters and their families, and for sitting in Canadian arenas signing autographs until the last kid gets theirs. They all love him.
Ron Devion, former head of CBC Sports, Brentwood Bay, B.C.
John Doyle’s annual TV-related list of The Top 10 Most Irritating Canadians (Dec. 16) didn’t even include an honourable mention for Don Cherry, who should have been the uncontested No. 1.
Andrzej Derkowski, Oakville, Ont.
Want is keenly felt
In 2006, Stephen Harper said, “You won’t recognize Canada when I get through with it.”
I disagree. I do recognize it: a huge and growing gap between the rich and the poor; homeless people huddling in the streets; a jingoistic foreign policy; veterans abandoned on return from foreign wars; contempt for the environment; a blinkered, punitive justice system; boorish, outrageously entitled politicians. Where have we encountered all of this before? Dickensian England.
Industry Minister James Moore asked “Is that always the government’s job to be there to serve people their breakfast? ... Is it my job to feed my neighbour’s child? I don’t think so.” In keeping with the season, he could have continued with, “Are there no prisons … And the Union workhouses? Are they still in operation?”
We know about the prisons. Can the workhouses be far behind?
Joseph Davis, Calgary
Re Salvation Army Sees $250,000 Drop In Donations (Dec. 21): Toronto should be more ashamed that the Salvation Army is not collecting for charity in Union Station because the army’s brass band was considered too loud than of the fiasco associated with its mayor.
Patricia Canning, St. John’s
Fetch, hop, jump
Re Fetch The Mail And Stay Fit, Canada Post Tells Seniors (Dec. 19): I had no idea Canada Post is now running Participaction. Will other government agencies hop on the fitness bandwagon? Stats-Can could have us stand up to be counted. We could jump through hoops for Canada Revenue.
Wait, that’s already happening.
John Roy, Toronto