All shook up
Re Mr. Trudeau’s Senate Surprise (editorial, Jan. 30): While I seldom vote Liberal, I applaud Justin Trudeau’s strong-handed action to demonstrate how the Senate can be improved by diminishing the influence of political ideology and increasing its reliance on experience and reason.
Diminish the draconian power of the PMO, let the elected Commons be the sandbox for ideologically driven comedy, and let an impartially appointed Senate be the chamber for sober second thought. The change, though desperately needed, will probably take years of enlightened leadership. At least Mr. Trudeau is showing us the way.
Keith Oliver, Cobourg, Ont.
Stephen Harper at one time said he would not appoint anyone to the Senate. The PM has since stuffed the Senate with highly partisan individuals, two of them appointed, then reappointed after failing to get elected as MPs.
Thomas Mulcair did introduce a bill to remove all senators from caucus, which Mr. Trudeau rightly did not support because Mr. Mulcair’s bill had a second part to it – a demand to ultimately abolish the Senate. The most sensible proposal is the one Mr. Trudeau has just put forward.
J.M. Laxton, Ajax, Ont.
The immediate “expulsion” of Liberal senators from the Liberal caucus reflects a lack of respect for Canadians and Parliament. Such a significant change in the structure and dynamics of the Senate demands open and public consultation. It is to be hoped this does not foreshadow a style of governance to come.
John Morgan, Ottawa
Justin Trudeau says Liberal senators will no longer be Liberals. As was pointed out some time ago, a rose by any other name still retains the characteristics of a rose.
Anne Spencer, Victoria
Your editorial response to Justin Trudeau’s initiative smacks of fuddy duddy (not to be confused with fuddle duddle): Mr. Trudeau’s failure to engage in wide-ranging advance consultation, even with his own senators, may well prove a fatal flaw – but that would be unfortunate. No one, including your editorial team, has offered a more thoughtful and potentially promising option within the tightly constrained practical and constitutional limits of this debate. A discussion on the merits should be welcomed, not condemned out of hand.
John Graham, Ottawa
The expulsion of the Liberal senators from caucus may play well for a few days, but when the dust settles, Justin Trudeau will have to explain how you stop the other team from scoring goals after you’ve removed your players from the field.
Howard M. Greenfield, Montreal
What a dramatic move! Maybe Stephen Harper will think twice before criticizing the “drama teacher.”
Ann Lawson, Nanoose Bay, B.C.
CP cuts hurt forestry
Re CP Engineers A Swift Turnaround (Report on Business, Jan. 30): In the same week you published a story about Hunter Harrison’s “revolution” at Canadian Pacific, including some impressive statistics about cost cutting and doubling of share price, three forestry mills in Canada had to halt production due to a shortage of railway cars.
The effect of cutting 11,000 railway cars, 400 locomotives and 4,550 jobs at one of our duopoly railway companies might be good business for U.S. investors such as Bill Ackman, but it has consequences for forestry workers, farmers and other Canadians who depend on trains to ship product to market.
The federal government is working hard with the resource sector to expand international trade and negotiate free trade agreements. Increased international trade cannot happen if our product is left sitting on the loading dock due to cost cutting by railway “revolutionaries.”
David Lindsay, president, Forest Products Association of Canada
Sorry isn’t enough
Re Veterans Don’t Accept Apology From Fantino (Jan. 30): Controversy has followed Julian Fantino’s career for years – as chief of the London, York Region and Toronto police services, as well as his tenure as commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police and now as the Minister of Veterans Affairs. How much longer will Canada’s veterans have to endure this man’s intemperate behaviour? The Harper government’s attitude toward those who served their country, exemplified by Mr. Fantino’s contemptuous behaviour, is shameful.
Willem Hart, Toronto
Re Minimum-Wage Hikes Cost The Poor (Jan. 30): According to Ontario’s minimum-wage advisory panel, the link between low wages and poverty is weak.
I suppose the corollary is: The link between earning $1-million per year and wealth is weak.
John Morrison, Burlington, Ont.
Let’s abolish any withholding tax on minimum-wage earners. This would a) put immediate money into the hands of the employee, b) eliminate compliance work for the employer, c) reduce “under the table” payments and d) keep a lid on the minimum-wage amount. Come tax season, minimum-wage earners would report income and pay taxes, if any (these earners, i.e. working poor, students, seldom owe anyway).
Stephen J. Drahos, Wolfville, N.S.
Ever so Canadian, eh
Re A Great Canadian Mystery (Arts & Life, Jan. 28): John Doyle’s odd review of the Canadian Screen Awards tells me he’s afraid to be seen celebrating anything. Especially something inclusive, growing and thumpingly Canadian.
You bet we have a lot of awards. Canada’s film, TV and digital industries create a lot of jobs (130,000) and wealth ($6-billion). Once a year, we gather as a combined industry to award the best in our business as chosen by their peers. Big industries deserve big celebrations. How can Mr. Doyle object to 131 Canadian Screen Awards given in three ceremonies when America hands out 281 Emmys every year – and they’re just for television!
We don’t award participation, we award excellence. Awards not only celebrate great work, they help produce more of it. So let me invite Mr. Doyle to take a risk and celebrate the industry he reports on when we present the Canadian Screen Awards, with the nation applauding as our most famous, favourite stars take their laurels.
It will stir a pride in this country that will silence the critics. Mary Pickford thought so when she hosted our early awards. Watch Martin Short do the same on CBC on March 9.
Helga Stephenson, CEO, Academy of Canadian Cinema
Re Marmite, Shmarmite (letters, Jan. 29): Vegemite is for beginners. And children. Take it from someone who has had Marmite and peanut butter on toast every morning since forever.
Dave Norris, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.