One hopes that Prof. Charles Taylor was brought back to reality from his academic isolation (With A Clear Question, 50 Per Cent Plus One Is Enough – Feb. 6) after reading Lysiane Gagnon’s compelling column on the Clarity Act (NDP Forgets Clarity’s Past – Feb. 6).
His endorsement of the NDP position that 50 per cent plus one vote is enough to begin Quebec separation proceedings would mean that if a “no” voter woke up with a hangover and inadvertently voted “yes,” his/her vote could launch the move to separation. Anything other than a “clear majority” would be totally unacceptable to most Quebeckers and, indeed, to the rest of Canada.
Ms. Gagnon points out that a large majority of francophone Quebeckers have supported a 60-per-cent vote in favour of sovereignty being required for a “clear majority.” And as others have observed, the NDP requires a two-thirds-support vote to change its own constitution.
If the NDP maintains its position, it will pay dearly in the next election for its misguided effort to retain the separatist vote.
Michael Berry, Qualicum Beach, B.C.
What are the odds?
A consortium of real-estate developers trash-talking a competitor’s proposal for a downtown casino in Toronto is what I would expect between business rivals (Developers Pan Casino Plans – Feb. 6). Unexpected was the revelation that Paul Godfrey, head of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission, which is the licensing body for casinos in the province, is also the board chair of RioCan Investment Trust, a member of that self-same consortium of real-estate developers.
I cannot understand how it is acceptable for him, as the head of the provincial body responsible for the promotion and oversight of gambling in Ontario, to be associated in any way with companies that might benefit from decisions made by OLG.
David Kister, Toronto
Penggui Yan argues that the longwall method of coal mining requires workers skilled in that technique, and particularly mentions the safety issue of explosive gases (The Case For Temporary Foreign Workers – Feb 5).
That may be true for supervisors of this assembly-line approach to mining coal. However, for most of those involved in extracting coal, longwall is a repetitive process in which the work is broken down into narrow tasks that do not require unique skills. The argument that Chinese workers with particular skills in longwall mining are necessary is not supported by the vast amount of research that was done in this area, under a discipline called socio-technical systems.
Harvey Kolodny, professor emeritus, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto
After 58 years in the underground coal mining industry – the past 44 in Canada – I can understand why HD Mining wishes to bring in its own Chinese employees, with experience of modern longwall operations, to begin their Murray River operations. Longwall operations in the complex geology prevalent in Western Canada are not for the faint of heart. Beginning a new longwall operation with coal or hard rock miners who have little or no experience of the self-advancing supports, shearer loaders and armoured conveyors required for longwall operations would be foolhardy in the extreme.
I doubt there are many Canadian miners with extensive longwall experience. Any mine manager worth his salt would, for safety and operational efficiency, require that the first face be opened using experienced longwall operators, who could then train and be supplemented by Canadians with underground experience as the mine develops.
Gerry Stephenson, Canmore, Alta.
Heavens. It must now be irrevocably socially unacceptable to be labelled a lefty since John Sewell (of all people) objects to being called “arguably Toronto’s most leftist mayor” (‘In A Balanced Way’ – letters, Feb. 6).
Marty Cutler, Toronto
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Margaret Wente has every right to criticize Dalton McGuinty; I did it all the time (McGuinty’s Legacy: A Green Nightmare – Feb. 2). But her facts are not my facts. Coal emissions do kill people – the Ontario Medical Association put together the key study. Our biggest subsidy burden is for nuclear and gas plants, not renewable power. Ontario uses tens of billions of dollars worth of fossil fuels per year and it’s wrong to say otherwise.
Green energy is critical to slowing climate change. The Liberals’ privatizing approach to green energy has created big problems; community and public ownership would have changed the whole dynamic of green energy.
Peter Tabuns, Ontario NDP energy critic
Margaret Wente’s argument against the economics of building new wind turbines in Ontario when we already have surplus base load is sound, but doesn’t remotely apply to solar power. Solar power generation tracks with peak demand, times when we are more likely to be undersupplied and importing power at exorbitant rates. This dramatically magnifies the benefit of solar projects and is what allowed Germany to meet 30 per cent of its power demand on a hot summer workday with just a 4-per-cent solar commitment in their supply mix. Plus, solar doesn’t have the environmental concerns that plague wind.
Peter Goodman, CEO, Solar Power Network
Um, advice for a PM
The Globe reports that Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy is attempting to contain a scandal regarding alleged secret cash payments (Political Squalls In Europe Threaten To Derail Reforms – Feb. 5).
The first thing Mr. Rajoy should do is deny, deny, deny, then sue his government for $50-million for making false accusations and eventually agree to settle for $2.1-million. Then he should take any money he may have earned by advising businessmen on, let’s say, how to run a pasta business, and place part of it in his home safe and the rest in a safety deposit box in a nearby foreign country. Let the money sit – five or six years sounds about right. Then make a voluntary disclosure to the tax man. Hopefully the amnesty period hasn’t passed so he won’t be subject to any penalties.
If the PM is brought before a government committee investigating his involvement with secret cash payments made to him, he should fall on his sword and admit that he did accept secret payments, and that it was the silliest thing that he has ever done, and that he has never knowingly made a mistake. The PM will hear much snickering and guffawing, but he should look straight ahead with a “how dare you accuse me of doing anything illegal?” look.
Don Cooper, Toronto