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Prime Minister Stephen Harper responds to a during Question Period in the House of Commons on Tuesday, March 26, 2013. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper responds to a during Question Period in the House of Commons on Tuesday, March 26, 2013. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

What readers think

March 28: The PM’s restraints on Conservative MPs, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Out of bounds

Re Conservative MPs Chafe Under Harper’s Restraints (March 27): Funny that, we live in a country that values and upholds the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, yet the party that currently has the right to govern this land wants to muzzle duly elected members from speaking as a representative of their constituents in the House of Commons.

Canadians seem to think their MPs represent voters. Sadly, the current “rebellion” indicates that, with respect at least to the federal Conservative Party, they don’t.

Rather than provide a place for robust debate, the governing party wants to ensure tight control over their elected members. That leaves their MPs to speak only to a tightly controlled agenda and to reflect the petty vanities of leader who, through such muzzling actions, clearly does not respect or value perspectives that reflect the concerns of all citizens as represented in elected politicians.

This sets a dangerous precedent that should concern Canadians, no matter what their political persuasion.

Leo J. Deveau, Regina


While I would not want to see the kind of rebellions that seem to happen in Westminster, perhaps Stephen Harper might remember that while he might be the team coach, he is not the owner. One day, the owners may decide to let the players play their game and fire the coach. Come to think of it, a bit of unruly Westminster may not be such a bad thing.

Peter Bull, Richmond, B.C.


Out of bound(arie)s

The legislation that provides Canadians with a fair and equitable redistribution of federal ridings goes back to 1964 and has been supported, in the past at least, by all political parties (Tories Claim Riding Redraw Benefits NDP – March 27). It is a model that has been and should be followed elsewhere. Conservative MPs, taking a leaf from their Republican buds in the U.S., are attempting to overturn decades of progress.

If it is the policy of the Harper government to eliminate independent electoral boundaries commissions and replace them with U.S.-style gerrymandering, the government should bring its proposals forward for debate in Parliament.

It is truly rich that Conservative MP Rob Clarke is complaining of gerrymandering when it is the Conservatives who are the ones trying to gerrymander.

James McAllister, Ajax, Ont.


Desirability shortage

Re Skills Gap ‘A Huge Issue’ (Report on Business, March 26): Having worked as a millwright in the nuclear and automation industries, I can offer a bit of insight into this situation. It isn’t so much that we have a skills shortage in Canada, as that we have a shortage of tradesmen who are willing to take many of the jobs that go begging.

Too often, “fast-paced environment” is industry-speak for “production comes before employee welfare.” These jobs often involve three rotating shifts within seven days – a combination of mornings, afternoons and nights, sometimes known as a continental shift – which is anathema to family life and good health. Often, employees are also expected to work unlimited and unscheduled overtime, which seems to occur on weekends or free time that normally would allow someone to engage in family activities.

I tried this regime and soon decided a job with less impact on my life and lower wages was a better choice. New recruits will leave such jobs, too – first chance they get.

Bruce Henry, Brampton, Ont.


Climate economics

To letter writer Andrew van Velzen’s rude expostulation on pipelines’ contribution to Canada’s economic well-being, “It’s the oil, stupid!”, I might reply (in tones of gentle bewilderment), “But, dear sir, to continue to assert short-term economic imperatives in the face of permanent global ecological collapse is surely the height of irrationality” (Pipeline Economics – March 27).

Or, more tartly, but still polite: “It’s the climate, sir! You know, what keeps our beautiful planet livable.”

Gaye Taylor, Ottawa


So a former Canadian hockey player who is in favour of the Keystone XL pipeline and “shares a Chicago connection” with Barack Obama plans to bend the President’s ear on the controversial matter when they meet (Darryl Sutter’s Pipeline To The President – March 26). Only in Canada could this nonsense be considered a story worthy of the front page in the country’s leading newspaper.

Ray Jones, Toronto


Basics for backs

I agree that a good back exam would certainly decrease inappropriate referrals to orthopedic surgeons (Backs To Basics – letters, March 27). Referral to a good physiotherapist would decrease inappropriate referrals as well, but over half of my patients do not have health benefits to access physiotherapy. As far as ordering X-rays, CTs and MRIs, I spend a great deal of time telling patients why they do not need these. These are not short conversations.

Most spine surgeons stipulate that the patient must have an MRI before being considered for an appointment. In a perfect world, we would only order imaging on patients with “red flags” and, if necessary, follow up their result with a referral to an appropriate spine specialist. In my city, the wait time is two years.

Lois McLaughlin, MD, Waterloo, Ont.


Sour on more salt

Excessive use of salt results in high blood pressure for many Canadians and a huge expense for our medical system (How To Season Like A Pro – Life & Arts, March 27). Adding one-third cup of salt to pasta cooking water is outrageous. If you cook pasta with no salt, you probably won’t notice its absence once the sauce goes on.

Sodium content can vary from one brand of salt to another. While it is true that Diamond Crystal kosher salt has 42 per cent less sodium than table salt because it is flaked, my kosher salt, a grocery store label, has only 3 per cent less sodium than table salt.

Lighten up on the salt and use fresh ingredients seasoned with citrus, herbs and umami condiments.

Sandra Nowlan, Halifax


Titanic, indeed

I wonder if Margaret Wente was aware of the irony of her comment about Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of Canada, and Jamie Dimon, the head of JPMorgan Chase (Plutocrats And The Rest Of Us – March 26). She wrote, “They’re on different sides of a titanic struggle for power.”

John Pierpont “JP” Morgan, the founder of what became JP Morgan Chase Bank, was also the founder of International Mercantile Marine, which owned the White Star Line – the company that owned RMS Titanic.

Trevor Wright, Manotick, Ont.


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