A disaster’s measure
Re Crash Death Toll Could Hit 60 (July 10): It is extremely ironic that I cannot bring a tube of toothpaste onto an airplane, yet we let 72 containers of highly flammable liquid sit unattended next to a residential community.
How did our Minister of Public Safety allow this to happen?
Anna Dolan, Ottawa
In a town like Lac-Mégantic, with a population of 6,000, 50 or 60 deaths attributed to a runaway train represents 1 per cent of the community’s entire population. I live in Winnipeg – population, 600,000 – where 1 per cent of the population would be 6,000 people. This is a tragedy of enormous proportions.
Regardless of the finger-pointing, it is clear that the railway and the federal government should be held to account for allowing the conditions that permitted this tragedy to occur. We know enough already to realize that profits are being put ahead of safety and that our government has failed us miserably.
Irwin Corobow, Winnipeg
Pipelines vs. rail
In the aftermath of the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, it was inevitable that the next step for people was to suggest pipelines as the primary mode for transferring oil (A Reminder That Pipelines Are Safer – July 9).
How quickly we forget the logistics of this proposal. Pipelines run for hundreds and even thousands of miles. A large percentage of those miles are unmonitored. A leak, especially a slow leak, could spill thousands of barrels of oil over an extended period with no one becoming aware. Just ask the people of Little Buffalo in northern Alberta what they think of pipelines.
When oil is transferred via train, at least a leak is detected within a reasonable amount of time. The real solution is to decrease our dependency on dirty oil.
Tyler Matychuk, Edmonton
If the nuclear industry is any guide to go by, Diana Furchtgott-Roth’s blizzard of statistics in support of pipelines over rail and road transport of oil may convince technocrats, but it will be cold comfort to those opposed to pipelines.
Though by no means perfect, nuclear energy is, by any objective statistical measure, one of the safest forms of electricity generation, yet it suffers from an industry-crippling public fear.
Public approval of large infrastructure projects is becoming increasingly problematic in a risk averse society that is largely scientifically illiterate. If Ms. Furchtgott-Roth seeks to turn public fear of pipelines into support, she had best reach well beyond the easy grasp of cold, hard statistics in her efforts to quell the emotional fears of pipeline opponents.
Peter Lang, Hawkestone, Ont.
What the army did
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is trying to define “democratic legitimacy” as a free and fair election held more than 12 months ago (The Vocabulary Of Legitimacy – July 10).
Democracy is more than simply “one man, one vote” (apologies for the implied sexism in the cliche), but that is how the Brotherhood sees it. It has spent the past year undermining Egypt’s nascent democracy by ramming through a deeply flawed constitution, with no support or input from outside Brotherhood circles, continually delaying elections and ignoring or undermining legitimate opposition.
The understandable worry among liberal democrats in Egypt was that the Brotherhood under President Mohammed Morsi was trying to create a form of Islamic Republic, in which democracy will be defined as “one man, one vote, one time.” The Brotherhood and Mr. Morsi, after gaining temporary political legitimacy in a free and fair election, then proceeded to throw it away.
In the political culture of Egypt, legitimacy could only be regained by mass public protest, in which the only way the public’s will can be captured is by the actions of the army, no matter how undemocratic those actions may seem to those of us living in mature democracies.
Habib Massoud, Ottawa
Ontarians pay less
Your editorial Indeed Convenient (July 8) doesn’t take into account the actual experience of full or partial privatization of liquor-board systems in Canada.
Retail prices are higher in jurisdictions with less government control; Ontario has lower overall beverage alcohol prices than either Alberta or B.C., according to the Canadian Association of Liquor Jurisdictions.
Government revenues from beverage alcohol sales have grown more slowly in Alberta (68 per cent since privatization in 1993) versus Ontario (83 per cent since 1993). The Parkland Institute believes the Alberta government has foregone $1.5-billion in revenue since privatization.
Privatized or partially privatized jurisdictions have higher social costs and increased rates of disease, and more vehicle crashes. For example, the per capita rate of impairment-related crash deaths was 2.03 per 100,000 people in Ontario, while the rate in Alberta was far higher, at 5.70 deaths per 100,000 people, according to a MADD Canada study.
Rob Dutton, chief financial officer, LCBO
MIA: storm warning
Before Monday’s record-breaking storm, I walked along a downtown Toronto street and watched the skies grow black, as people scurried off patios and strong gusts seemed to provide a warning of what was to come (Power ‘Hangs By A Thread’ As Toronto Tallies Flood Cost – July 10).
I couldn’t help but wonder, in this always-on, connected society that we share, why there were no weather warnings issued by Environment Canada or the media outlets that invest in “advanced forecast models” and colourful, animated weather maps.
While Environment Canada gave no warning for the deluge, it was quick to provide analysis as to why it happened and interesting trivia – of little use to those of us who arrived home three hours late and soaked to the skin.
Peter Bochsler, Burlington, Ont.
Curb the flow
Re A Ditch In Time Saves Cities (editorial, July 10): What about endorsing a price on carbon that is more reflective of the great damage that these emissions cause? That would not only help curb the flow of carbon into the atmosphere, it could also help compensate citizens, as well as pay for all those ditches that are now so evidently needed to handle monster rainfalls.
Arnet Sheppard, Ottawa
The suggested “bioswails” might be much more useful if they are made of concrete, rather than cement as suggested in your editorial, cement being a powder and not very effective in the rain.
Anna Barnett, Toronto
If Canadians can make love in a canoe, why can’t we remove people trapped on a flooded GO train? Clearly, Toronto failed the Dunkirk Test: No stream of little boats to the rescue. Looks like Toronto needs better emergency procedures, and more practice getting crowds out of difficulties.
Margaret van Dijk, Toronto