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May 7: Letters to the editor Add to ...

Kids served us well

Good for The Globe for defending the "kids" elected to Parliament (The 'Kids' Are All Right - editorial, May 6). I served in the House with three MPs elected as "kids" at the ages of 22 and 23. Each served with distinction and each became a member of the Privy Council. For the record, they were Perrin Beatty (Progressive Conservative), Herb Breau (Liberal) and Lorne Nystrom (NDP).

For added perspective, one might visit the Canadian D-Day cemetery at Beny-sur-Mer. Most of the graves commemorate soldiers who died extremely young. "Kids" have served Canada well.

W. Paul McCrossan, former MP (York Scarborough), Toronto

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I have a question for journalists smirking at the election of young people as MPs: What is the average age of our soldiers who have died in Afghanistan?

David Malahoff, Charlottetown

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Beyond local

Amid consternation regarding the spate of young Quebec MPs-elect - a few of whom are Ontario-born students with little connection to their new ridings - we have witnessed a 180-year circle. It ends with Charmaine Borg, native of Keswick, Ont., co-chair of NDP McGill, and now MP for the riding of Terrebone-Blaineville. It begins with Louis-Hyppolyte LaFontaine, first elected in 1830 to represent Terrebone in the 14th parliament of Lower Canada.

LaFontaine was a francophone Montreal lawyer and leading voice in the fight for responsible government. When the British Act of Union, 1840, joined Upper and Lower Canada into a single colony, LaFontaine failed to win his new seat in Canada East.

However, reformer Robert Baldwin had just been elected in two Canada West ridings. Upon taking his seat for Hastings, Baldwin urged LaFontaine to run in the by-election for Fourth York, not far from the future birthplace of Ms. Borg. Not only was LaFontaine successful, but he and Baldwin went on to form the government in 1842 - making LaFontaine the first Canadian-born prime minister of the Province of Canada.

Then, as now, voters have found causes that outweigh the importance of having a local candidate.

Benjamin Ries, Toronto

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Dogged politicos

Ruth Ellen Brosseau apparently agreed to have her name stand for election because a friend in NDP headquarters asked her to. That's where her commitment ended (Rookie Quebec MP Missing In Action - May 6). What really boggles the mind is that one Claude Berthiaume, who voted for her, admitted he didn't know who she was, where she was from or that she couldn't speak French. "I'm beginning to wonder if we've been had" he is quoted as saying. Do you think? Gives more weight to the old saw that you could run a dog in some ridings and, if it represented the "right" party, someone would vote for it. It gives more ammunition for those who don't want ill-informed citizens to be forced to vote.

Ann Sullivan, Peterborough, Ont.

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Moms then, now

In 1977, our first child was born (1970s: The Golden Age of Motherhood - Life, May 6). I was working full-time and had no maternity leave. I returned to work half-time when my son was just 14 days old. It was an exhausting, miserable introduction to motherhood.

There were few daycare centres, and none near our apartment. We had no car. For years, my husband and I dealt with dodgy and unreliable babysitters. Fast-forward to 2011, when maternity leave and well-regulated daycare are widely available. If I'd had a choice, I'd definitely have preferred mothering in this decade over the supposedly "golden" 1970s.

Christine Overall, Kingston, Ont.

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Income strategies

Conventional wisdom has it that "minimum wages fail to keep pace with rising costs" (How Paying People's Way Out Of Poverty Can Improve All Our Pocketbooks - May 6). The opposite is the case. Over the past few years, provinces and territories except British Columbia have increased their minimum wages by more than the cost of living, and B.C. has announced it will end its freeze of its minimum wage and make up for lost ground over the next few years. A key factor in the restoration of minimum wages has been the spread across the country of provincial and territorial poverty-reduction strategies in most jurisdictions, which recognize improvements in minimum wages as an important element of income-security policy for the working poor.

Ken Battle, president, Caledon Institute of Social Policy

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Gilles Duceppe is laughing all the way to the bank. Canada will be paying him an MP pension of $140,000 a year for life. He apparently earned this by spending almost 20 years trying to separate Quebec from Canada. Can anyone explain this injustice?

Florence Wood, Lac des Iles, Que.

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Proof of death

Anyone in this day and age who thinks a photograph can be relied on as proof of anything really shouldn't be walking around unaccompanied by an adult (Seeing Is Believing - Or Is It Just Curiosity? - May 6).

Kathleen Keating, Vancouver

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Fishing for logic

Suggesting sharks as the cause of the disappearing sockeye salmon doesn't make much sense, considering that in 2010 more than 30 million salmon returned to the Fraser system (The Mystery Of The Vanishing Salmon - May 5). Why didn't the sharks impact this run? Much more sense can be made out of the food chain in the oceans. The production of fish is directly related to the photosynthesis of the plankton throughout the world's ocean. What happened in the Gulf of Alaska in 2008 was that there was a most unusual massive bloom of diatoms, due probably in part to volcanic dust containing iron. This gave rise to more zooplankton and food for adolescent salmon which could account for the massive returns in 2010.

Suggesting the loss of salmon has been due to predation by sharks is similar to saying that declines in all animal populations are due entirely to predation. As any farmer will tell you, the availability of good grass has a lot to do with raising abundant cattle.

Tim Parsons, professor emeritus, Department of Earth Oceans, UBC

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Last weekend, a bunch of us were fishing in a remote area up the Ottawa Valley. One of the lads, Peter, was in a small clearing near the cabin when a Ministry of Natural Resources helicopter flew over. Peter looked up just as a small object fell from the chopper. He tried to catch it but missed, and it bounced off his hand into the mud. It was a five-inch trout! The fish survived the fall but expired soon after, despite efforts to keep it alive in a bucket of water.

The MNR often stocks small lakes in that area. The trout must have been caught in the exit sluice and fell just at that moment (or possibly the ministry guy saw Peter and dropped it on purpose). Either way, Peter plans to mount the little fish, maybe with a small parachute.

One of our group suggested we forget about the lake and just stand in the clearing with nets, watching the sky.

This fishing tale is true. I was there and sober.

Dennis Cusack, Ottawa

 

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