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Conrad Black arrives at the federal courthouse in July, 2010, in Chicago. Today's topics: in Quebec, $2,519, plus what?; policing and mental health; R.B. Bennett is no Conservative hero; Black thoughts ... and more (AP)
Conrad Black arrives at the federal courthouse in July, 2010, in Chicago. Today's topics: in Quebec, $2,519, plus what?; policing and mental health; R.B. Bennett is no Conservative hero; Black thoughts ... and more (AP)

What readers think

May 4: Letters to the editor Add to ...

$2,519, plus what?

When I entered McGill in 1968, the cost of one year’s tuition was exactly $900 (Perfect Storm Of Public Anger Rattles Charest Liberals – May 3).

Based on the Canadian consumer price index, the amount of $900 would have risen to $5,777 by 2011, yet the average cost of one year’s undergraduate tuition in Quebec is $2,519.

Education is, of course, much more than a simple commodity. I believe it should be offered at minimal expense, just as, for instance, there should be more low-income housing for those who need it. But even low-income housing costs more than it once did. Education costs a whole lot more to provide in 2012 than it did in 1968. Students are simply being asked to shoulder more of that cost.

David Lieber, Montreal

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I don’t live or study in Quebec, yet my tuition fees are almost the same. That’s because Newfoundland and Labrador recognizes postsecondary education as an important part of a democratic society that should be affordable for anyone with ambition to attend.

Ontario funds postsecondary education poorly. Not only are its tuition fees the highest in Canada, they also drive up the national average. Quebec students are taking a stand in defence of public education.

Amber Haighway, St. John’s

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I am one of those poor unfortunates holding one of those “increasingly worthless” arts degrees (These Kids Are In For A Shock – May 1). My welding skills are non-existent; my abilities at engineering, accounting and computer programming are equally parlous.

What was I thinking? I mean, it’s not as though calligraphy studies are a key to riches (Steve Jobs), or that one can do anything with an MA in economics (Stephen Harper) and, goodness, philosophy certainly doesn’t lead to gainful employment (Stephen Colbert)!

Margaret Wente has the cart before the horse: Until we understand what is good and true and beautiful and just, we will have no idea what truly is a practical pursuit.

Fraser Gordon, Calgary

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6,664 apprehensions

Re Ontario Orders Policing Review (May 3): A review is welcome news. However the 6,664 police apprehensions of the mentally ill in Toronto last year may represent the canary in the coal mine – the consistent failure of governments to invest in a range of supports to people living with mental illness as alternatives to being apprehended by police.

The review should also examine strategies that divert people living with mental illness from the justice system, such as the partnership between police and ambulance services in Leeds Grenville, as well as mobile crisis teams.

The Ontario Chiefs of Police passed a resolution calling for investments in community mental-health services. The government has responded by investing in services for children and youth (including youth justice), but there is currently no additional funding for adults or expansion of mobile crisis-response teams, only available in half of Toronto police divisions.

Unless there is more community capacity in mental-health services, the police will continue to be the default mental-health response. This has to change.

Steve Lurie, executive director, Canadian Mental Health Association Toronto Branch

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Rent’s due

Speculation in the Toronto and Vancouver housing market – whether of foreign or domestic origin – inflates the cost of housing for everyone and kindles the risk of market crashes, as your editorial (Heat Over Houses – May 3) points out.

Rather then bickering, the former governor of the Bank of Canada and his successor could suggest steps to dampen speculation by echoing the advice of Globe columnist Doug Saunders in recommending Land Value Taxation (A Housing Crisis Of Global Proportions – April 28). Under LVT, governments would finance programs by collecting capital gains (economic rent) as it accrues, instead of taxing incomes and businesses.

Frank de Jong, Toronto

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Perspectives on power

Gwyn Morgan (The Sorry Lessons Of Green-Power Subsidies – Report on Business, April 30) compares the initial feed-in-tariff (FIT) rates for solar and wind to prices of legacy hydro and nuclear-generation assets that are fully depreciated – and not replaceable at anywhere close to what they were originally built for. Ontario recently had to postpone plans to expand the capacity of the Darlington nuclear facility because proposals were coming in at multiples of the $3-million-per-MW price in the assumptions Mr. Morgan cites.

With coal out of the picture, Ontario’s options for capacity expansion boil down to renewables and natural gas. Given the volatility in natural gas prices and uncertainties involved with fracking, doesn’t some diversification of future supply make sense? To put the $285-million increment to electricity bills due to renewables into perspective, that is an increase of less than 2 per cent to what is currently being paid.

John Cook, Toronto

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No Tory hero

Called a “rebel” by author John Boyko, R.B. Bennett is actually an embarrassment to the Conservative government and no Tory hero (Harper’s Year Of Reinvention – Folio, May 3).

A socialist-conservative, if such is possible, Bennett backed several programs the Harper government of today might gut or do away with: the Canadian Wheat Board (already gone), the CBC, the minimum wage, a maximum work week and unemployment insurance. Blamed for the Great Depression and rejected by Canadians in the 1935 election, Bennett fled to England where he died in 1947.

Les Bowser, Omemee, Ont.

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Black thoughts

Thank you for reminding readers that Conrad Black only renounced his citizenship when then-prime minster Jean Chrétien “unreasonably” (as you graciously put it) refused to let him accept the proffered spot in the House of Lords – despite the fact that other Canadians had been able to accept similar honours while retaining their citizenship (Second Chances And A Unique Case – May 3). I thought at the time that Mr. Chrétien was being downright spiteful. In huffily renouncing his citizenship, Mr. Black just “out-spited” him. (Can you tell I’m not a big fan of either?)

Shelley Boyes, Peterborough, Ont.

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Re Welcome Back, Conrad! (May 3): I had no idea Canada was so bereft of “fascinating, erudite and defiant public intellectuals” that we had to trawl the U.S. prison system to find them.

John Reardon, Toronto

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As a victim of the American injustice system, Conrad Black deserves our compassion, not our obloquy. The appropriate response to his return is “Welcome home.”

Robert Johannson, Winnipeg

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Whatever happened to Stephen Harper’s “get tough on crime” policy?

Fade to Black.

Richard Griffith, Ravenna, Ont.

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