The year ended in despair with the death of the victim of that horrific gang rape in India. Before that, there was the attempted assassination of Malala Yousufzai, a 15-year-old Pakistani girl who had been shot in the head by the Taliban for promoting women’s right to education.
We now learn that Ms. Yousufzai has been released from a British hospital, with a strong chance of complete recovery (Pakistani Girl Shot By Taliban Released From U.K. Hospital – online, Jan. 4). It seems her spirit has survived as well as her body.
Maybe hope has returned to the world – for now.
Mick Mallon, Iqaluit
Talk about a mixed message. On Friday’s front page, Car Makers Get $250-Million Aid just so they can keep on going. But on the front page of Report on Business, it’s Low Rates Drive Canadian Vehicle Sales To 10-Year High.
How can an industry that’s so successful in this century need such extravagant, perhaps even profligate, help? Is there something wrong with Canadian workers, or the car-manufacturing industry, or the government?
Or is the Canadian taxpayer once again being duped?
Craig Tapping, Gabriola Island, B.C.
I’m sick of governments that claim to believe in competition constantly providing handouts to highly profitable industries that claim they can’t compete.
We learned long ago that subsidizing non-competitive industries just encourages people to stay where work is scarce while other areas have to search the planet to find employees.
I believe in investing in the future, but this is doubling down on a losing deal.
Per person, Fort McMurray contributes more than any other city to the national budget. If we had $250-million for developing and releasing land, we would create thousands of jobs for two generations, not hundreds of jobs for only five years.
Ted Doleman, Fort McMurray, Alta.
The big stick
Re Students Face New Uncertainty As Province Imposes Contracts (Jan. 4): Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten’s decision to repeal Bill 115, after she has used it, would be like me saying to you: “You will be pleased to know that, once I have finished beating you with this stick, I will be throwing it away.”
Paul Magowan, Beamsville, Ont.
The state of facts
While I was heartened to read Yolande Grisé’s elegant and clear defence of the principle of fact-based decision-making (Let Government Scientists Do Their Jobs – Jan. 4), I was also saddened to think that this was an issue.
As we start a new year, Canadians should be asking themselves a fundamental question: “What kind of Canada are we building?” Are we comfortable with the premise that scientific evidence produced by our best and brightest can be ignored or suppressed by our government in the interests of political expediency?
Unfortunately, I see that Ms. Grisé’s organization has only been with us since 1882 – a full 70 years after the War of 1812 – and thus is likely to be dismissed by this government as too modern.
Chris Marriott, Chelsea, Que.
Slice of life
Margaret Somerville’s article Pizza And Punishment (Jan. 4) is the best articulated analysis on the subject I have read. As a former warden of a maximum security prison and a former member of the National Parole Board, I can say that her presentation covered all of the essential elements of incarceration.
It should be mandatory reading for the Prime Minister, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and all elected officials.
In my view, it’s never appropriate for the minister to try to micro-manage offenders. Leave that to those better qualified; the minister should stick to more important national matters.
Eugene Niles, Dieppe, N.B.
A primary goal of any correctional system is to ensure that prisons are places no one wants to go to and to which no one would want to return. That’s why we feel it’s not in the public interest to provide pizza parties to criminals on a regular basis. We make no apologies for that.
Not only can these pizza parties reward bad behaviour, they also cause unnecessary work for correctional officers. In order for a bucket of fried chicken or a pizza to make it into the hands of a prisoner, it needs to be picked up, scanned and checked for drugs and other contraband. This exercise diverts resources away from preserving the order and security of our federal prisons.
While punishment and deterrence are critical, so is rehabilitation. Special meals, like pizza, will be allowed on certain special occasions as an incentive – if inmates are complying with their correctional plan and participating in rehabilitative programming.
Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety, Ottawa
Out of sync
Gary Mason’s article Does ‘Catholics Come Home’ Campaign Have A Prayer? (Jan. 3) and James Bradshaw’s article University At Odds With Program For ‘Problems Of Homosexuality’ (Jan. 3) both need to be read with a reminder that, in the past, women’s suffrage, drinking and gambling were all out of sync with the times.
If we only allow freedom of speech to those in sync with the times, nothing would change.
To oppose the Courage group at the Newman Centre or the Catholics Come Home campaign just because they’re out of sync with the times is a step backward in a society that prides itself as being free, progressive and forward thinking.
To paraphase what has been said so often and so well, when we limit freedom of speech for some just because we find it to be out of sync with the times, we limit freedom of speech for us all.
Cy Abbass, Thornhill, Ont.
I think Gary Mason misses the point. The Catholics Come Home campaign isn’t about filling the churches in order to fill the collection baskets; it’s about why we need to be there in the first place. We’re talking about what we’re here for. Life is finite, and there are no second chances to do it all over again if we get it wrong.
Mr. Mason should try dropping into a church for some quiet moments – he might just surprise himself.
Gail Fosbrooke, Vancouver
Price of Catholicism
Re Italy’s Central Bank Blocks Use Of Credit Cards At Vatican (Jan. 4): A clear case of “in God we trust, all others pay cash”?
Vera Phillips, Charlottetown