Canadians accept that our system allows a party with less than 40 per cent of the popular vote to govern as a majority. We accept this on the assumption that the government will respect Parliament’s role as representing all Canadians, not simply those who voted for the party in power.
Respecting Parliament’s role means timely disclosure of all information necessary for an informed assessment of proposed legislation, both by MPs and the public at large, and the allotment of sufficient time for such legislation to be properly examined and debated.
What we should not accept is the sort of government that treats Parliament as an inconvenience to be ignored or marginalized in the interests of promoting an agenda – much of it not previously made public – through the use of closure and “one size fits all” omnibus bills. Heading a minority government, Stephen Harper used what tools he had to stifle Parliament – prorogation, withholding information, sidestepping committees. Now that he enjoys a majority, it seems he has dropped any pretence of respect for, or interest in, Parliament.
Canada is a parliamentary democracy. Without a properly functioning parliament, there can be no real democracy. Canadians should be very concerned by this assault on our basic values.
Chris Marriott, Chelsea, Que.
A letter writer states that “the Grits and the Dips have a common enemy” (No Mania Required – June 15). Is it really necessary to describe those who disagree as enemies? This is not a useful approach to politics.
We are all citizens of a great country. We all intend to make this country better, if we can. The only real difference between those of us at opposite ends of the political spectrum is our vision for this country – we have differing opinions on what Canada should be, and on how to get there.
I believe it would be useful to remember this to carry with us a basic respect for our fellow Canadians, whether we agree with them or not. Using harsh and unforgiving terms only creates hard feelings, and leads us toward becoming a less civilized society. This is different from all of our visions for this country.
Jeff Breukelman, Richmond Hill, Ont.
Long night’s day
So our “hard-working” MPs are extremely tired at having to stay up all night and work (MPs Battle Boredom To Fill The Bill – June 14)? May I politely suggest they shadow medical residents, who regularly work a 24-hour day looking after patients.
Nikhil Joshi, resident, Internal Medicine, Memorial University, Newfoundland and Labrador
The photo of Justin Trudeau voting brought to mind my grandmother’s maxim: A lady always covers her mouth when she yawns, even in the bathtub. Methinks a gentleman should, too.
Peggy Moore, Toronto
It doesn’t belong
Re McGuinty Threatens Election Call (June 15): The McGuinty government’s gutting of Ontario’s Endangered Species Act and other environmental legislation no more belongs in the province’s budget legislation than Stephen Harper’s evisceration of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, Fisheries Act and other federal environmental laws belongs in the federal budget legislation.
Mark S. Winfield, Toronto
Changes in refugee legislation contained in Bill C-31 will not make it more difficult for refugees fleeing to Canada (No Real Refuge In Canada – June 15). Philip Berger, Bernie Farber and Clayton Ruby do not distinguish between someone who arrives in Canada claiming to be a refugee (asylum seeker) and someone who has been found by an authorized board or agency to meet the UN Convention definition of refugee.
Last year, 25,300 asylum seekers submitted asylum claims in Canada for a total of roughly 147,000 such claims in the past five years. Only about 40 per cent of those claims were found to be genuine. The new legislation introduces reforms in a system that is not serving the needs of real refugees and brings it in line with most other Western industrial nations.
No EU countries have accepted Roma asylum seekers from Hungary or the Czech Republic as refugees; they also designate countries that are signatories to the UN Convention and are democratic as “safe” for refugees. Canada ranks as one of the most generous refugee countries in the world. The new legislation will ensure we continue to do so.
James Bissett, Centre for Immigration Policy Reform
As the authors noted, Roma who survived Nazi persecution mostly remained in Europe after the Second World War, rather than seek a new life in the New World. Visiting Hungary in 1993, I noticed, even then, how the Roma seemed to be regarded with disdain and suspicion by the local population. The situation has certainly become worse for them with the rise of right-wing extremism in Europe. The bigotry and hate reflected in online comments on this issue are difficult for me to fathom. Perhaps it is time to educate Canadians on the history of the Roma so these hateful stereotypes can finally be relegated to the dustbin, where they belong.
Belle Millo, chair, Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre, Winnipeg
The silver spike is not the only thing missing from the iconic “Last Spike” photo that so famously depicts the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railroad (Railway’s Iconic Silver Spike Joins Museum – June 15). Missing also are the thousands of Chinese Canadians who gave their hard labour – and some, their lives – to the building of Canada.
For far too long, the contribution of Chinese Canadians in the construction of the CPR has been ignored. One had hoped that the apology by the Canadian government in 2006 for the racist laws imposed on the Chinese right after the last spike was driven would help remind Canadians of our community’s contribution to the building of our nation. Yet, it seems the collective amnesia about the sacrifices and hard work remains.
Perhaps, alongside this last spike, the Museum of Civilization should also display information about the history of Chinese Canadians in Canada, including their role in building the CPR, and the subsequent discriminatory treatment afforded them by the government.
Avvy Yao-Yao Go, Toronto
Smell of success
China is identified as the “third country to put one of its female citizens in space (Taikonauts Wanted: Only Fresh-Faced, Odour-Free Mothers Need Apply – June 14). This is technically correct: China is the third country to have its own personnel-carrying space vehicle, so it’s the third to put citizens of either sex into space in a craft it built.
But if the point is sending female astronauts into space, regardless of whose vehicle is used, China is far from third: It has been preceded not only by Russia and the U.S., but by Canada, the U.K., Japan, France and South Korea. As far as I know, none of these had criteria mandating motherhood, or related to body odour. So I guess China is a pioneer in that regard.
Peter Suedfeld, Vancouver