Harrison, high water
Re Nenshi, CP Rail Square Off On Derailment (June 28): While thousands of southern Albertans wait to return to their homes, businesses and workplaces until it is safe to do so, Hunter Harrison, the CEO of Canadian Pacific Railway, couldn’t wait any longer to send a loaded train over what turned out to be a flood-damaged bridge, saying “And how long was that going to be? We’re jeopardizing commerce.”
Fortunately, my city will pull through – come Harrison or high water.
Susan Vukadinovic, Calgary
I thee wed …
The media, in their commentary on the so-called “clash” around gay rights between the U.S. and countries in Africa, should mention that many of the anti-sodomy laws in Africa are holdovers from British colonialism; moreover, white, right-wing Christian fundamentalists continue to travel to places such as Uganda, preaching homophobia.
Perhaps it’s time for the West to look at how colonialism feeds homophobia in other parts of the world, rather than being self-righteous about the small gains toward acceptance made here.
Amanda Dorter, Guelph, Ont.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia makes an important distinction which The Globe and Mail fails to recognize and which is important to the ongoing debate (Hurling Insults As History Rolls On – editorial, June 28).
In his dissent in the gay-marriage decision, the judge distinguishes between discrimination against gays and lesbians and disapproval of their sexual mores. Many of us disapprove of discrimination against gays and lesbians but cannot affirm their moral choices.
That is not homophobia, any more than disapproval of heterosexual sex outside of marriage is heterophobia. It is the freedom to choose different moral values. That is in no way akin to religious or racial discrimination.
Bob Morris, Toronto
Re Two Nuclear Options (June 28): Greenhouse gas emissions from nuclear may be low (depending on assumptions about plant construction, fuel cycles and decommissioning) relative to conventional fossil-fuel powered energy sources, but they are certainly not zero.
Moreover, the nuclear option carries with it a range of other costs and risks that must be weighed against whatever advantage it might claim in terms of GHG emissions. These include: the generation of extremely hazardous waste streams requiring perpetual care; serious non-greenhouse-gas air and water pollution, particularly from uranium mining and milling; security, weapons proliferation and catastrophic accident risks unlike those associated with any other energy technology; operational inflexibility and long-term lock-in effects, leaving host jurisdictions vulnerable to changes in predicted energy demand and unable to adopt better energy technologies that may become available.
Nuclear energy, which has a history of delays and massive cost overruns in plant construction and refurbishment, cannot be considered a sustainable energy source for these reasons.
Mark S. Winfield, associate professor, Sustainable Energy Initiative, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University
Love of the wild
Calgary Zoo’s animal-care team are heroes for putting themselves in harm’s way to stay with and monitor the animals during the flood. Clearly a disaster of this magnitude was not planned for (Staff Risked Their Lives To Save Giraffes, Locate Hippo– June 26).
As the zoo moves to rebuild, there is an opportunity to reassess its mandate and ultimately its potential. The fundamental question in 2013 that should be asked is: Should scarce financial resources be used to house non-native species, especially large African and Asian mammals, when these same dollars could do so much to secure their survival in the wild?
To paraphrase Dame Daphne Sheldrick: What you are seeing in captivity is not the animal, but a tragedy.
Steve Gordon, Holland Landing, Ont.
Party time? Never
Re Tory Senators Help To Block Union Bill As Party Dissent Grows (June 27): Your article describes the Senate’s vote to block the union disclosure bill as “a rare act of legislative defiance and departure from party discipline.” There could not be better words to illustrate how dysfunctional the Senate is.
In a functional second chamber, this would be in the normal course of business, not “a rare act of defiance.” Why is there a party structure at all in the Senate? How can a group of individuals who subscribe to the same ideology, belong to the same party and are loyal to the same leader as those in government provide “sober second thought?”
One can only remember Stephen Harper’s comment after making one of the recent Senate appointments: that he would only appoint individuals who are committed to support the government’s agenda – so much for sober second thought. The much touted Triple-E Senate does not solve the problem, as long as the party structure remains.
Safwat Zaky, Toronto
Grow the CPP
Re Expanding CPP Could Reduce Voluntary Saving, Study Warns (June 26): The Fraser Institute report on the Canada Pension Plan overlooks a critical fact: Virtually all Canadian workers contribute to CPP, yet fewer than one in four tax-filers contribute to RRSPs.
The study acknowledges that RRSPs are mainly used by high income Canadians. It is not high income Canadians who are facing retirement insecurity. It is middle- and low-income workers. The most telling aspect of the report is that the Fraser Institute does not go so far as to say expanding CPP is a bad thing, even hinting there “may be benefits to a compulsory expansion of CPP.”
Canadians often pay high mutual fund fees within their RRSPs, while the CPP has low management fees, ensuring more of the contributions are used to actually fund retirement. CPP provides a secure, defined benefit, critical for long-term financial planning. RRSPs typically do not.
A gradual, modest expansion of the CPP is the best way to ensure retirement security for Canadians.
Paul Moist, national president, Canadian Union of Public Employees
Do birds a service
Not so fast with the urban fruit picking (Fruits Of Labour – June 28). Each year, the Bohemian waxwing waits patiently for the service berries to ripen just so, then they swoop down and gobble them up in one go. Each and every year. So please, humans can always go to Loblaws. They can’t.
Catherine Orion, Caledon, Ont.