Debt clock, tick-tock
Re The Battle of Tunney’s Pasture (Nov. 14): Konrad Yakabuski claims it would be hard for Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to “claim poverty” during upcoming government union negotiations, due to a projected $25-billion federal budget surplus between 2015 and 2019.
There is still the frighteningly huge national debt – $650-billion – to deal with. Servicing it consumes enormous amounts of money that could otherwise be used for useful government services and programs. As long as this burden exists, there really aren’t any budget surpluses.
Bryan Cassling, Toronto
Right to strike
As a public servant and a local union president, I am part of a bargaining table that is likely to contain more than 80 per cent essential service workers, so the government will be taking away our right to strike and replacing it with binding arbitration.
The government’s omnibus budget bill says an arbitrator must consider “the state of the Canadian economy” when determining awards. Since the Finance Minister has just announced that he is expecting a huge surplus, it appears that my employer is flush with cash (Flaherty’s $3.7-Billion Surprise – Nov. 13).
Awesome! Let’s cruise F35 speed to binding arbitration during the next round of collective bargaining, as this public servant needs a new gazebo and a pet panda.
I’m equally jazzed because my union has, over the years, been tucking away a sizable percentage of my dues into what has become a behemoth of a strike fund. Because we won’t be able to strike any more after the budget bill is passed, this account does not need to be allocated for supporting us on the picket line. Maybe we can change the “labour relations regime” by using the money for political action instead.
A Merry Christmas for Tresury Board President Tony Clement, in 2013. And Merry Christmas for us in 2015.
Dave Merrigan, Union Of Solicitor General Employees, president, Local 80073, Halifax
Re Don’t Jump On The Climate Disaster Bandwagon (Nov. 14): I spent the first 28 years of my life in the Philippines. Sure, I suffered through typhoons in my youth. But the unprecedented magnitude of disasters the country of my birth has experienced in re-cent years convinces me of global warming’s impact on vulnerable countries like the Philippines.
If richer, powerful countries like Canada are not willing to give a bit for the sake of their economic growth, we will see the ultimate destruction, not only of little and weak nations, but of all nations.
Cora Alcuitas, Vancouver
Margaret Wente points out that IPCC sees no observed trend in typhoon frequency. She does not point out that the IPCC said in its 2007 report that “it is likely that future tropical cyclones will become more intense, with larger peak wind speeds and more heavy precipitation associated with ongoing increases of tropical sea surface temperatures.”
The predictions of the IPCC are being realized, and Ms. Wente should not play down this fact.
James A. Duthie, Nanaimo, B.C.
Climate justice isn’t about “living like poor Filipinos.” But come to think of it, spending a week living like a poor Filipino, or any other desperately poor person, wouldn’t be a bad idea for Margaret Wente, as well as most of us who live privileged lives away from the eyes of storms.
Nothing like a radical change in “lifestyle” to foster a different and maybe more empathetic perspective on justice and climate.
Heather MacAndrew, Victoria
Easy Bake nostalgia
Re The Continuing Allure Of The Easy Bake Oven (Arts & Life, Nov. 14): My father was the Kenner Products toy company production manager in the 1950s and 1960s. My sister and I often played with toy prototypes and filled out questionnaires for their designers – a practice eventually discontinued, because managers would fight to the death defending their kid’s opinions on toy design.
My sister was one of the first of millions to get an Easy Bake Oven. Alas, growing up in a house filled with Kenner toys, we never thought to keep any of the originals as future collectables. Sigh.
Larry Gordon, Toronto
Egypt’s lesser evils
Re Morsi Accuses Interim Leader Of Treason (Nov. 14): Egyptians deserve better than having to choose between a secular or religious dictatorship. While the coup that deposed Mohammed Morsi may have been the lesser of two evils, the resulting “Mubarakism without Mubarak” is unsustainable and an affront to democratic principles.
Gamal Abdul Nasser, Anwar Sadat and Mr. Mubarak (spanning a half-century rule) banned the Muslim Brotherhood. Like today, the Ikhwan (Brotherhood) members were jailed, tortured, even executed. To no avail: The movement metastasized into a resurgent Salafist ideology.
Egypt needs new ideas, fresh solutions. The old ones have proven not only ineffectual but downright counterproductive.
John Dirlik, Pointe Claire, Que.
T.O.’s Ford woes
Re Ford Confronts Revolt Amid New Allegations (Nov. 14): I was dismayed to read that Not-Really-the-Mayor Rob Ford was signing bobblehead dolls of his own likeness sold at City Hall as a fundraising event for the United Way.
I am equally dismayed that the United Way hasn’t declared a Better Way (ethically) and publicly stated it will not accept donations that involve a mayor who has confessed to using cocaine and buying illegal drugs, a mayor who demonstrates violent tendencies in public and associates with convicted criminals.
If the annual Santa Claus parade has rejected Mr. Ford’s contributions, surely the United Way should. Unless it does, I will no longer contribute to its charitable activities. I will find other ethical causes. Call it the Santa Clause.
David Ferry, Toronto
I am not satisfied with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s cautious approach to the Rob Ford situation. She has failed to show leadership in addressing the loophole provided by the Municipal Act which is allowing this circus to continue.
Only after a mayor has been convicted of a crime and is being led off to prison would he or she have to turn in their key card to city hall. This means the mayor of Toronto – or any Ontario municipality – is virtually untouchable, regardless of his or her behaviour while in office.
He or she has greater protection from recall than a premier or even the Prime Minister. Those officials can be removed democratically by a vote of no confidence, triggering an election.
The province should explore amending the Municipal Act to allow for a recall mechanism. This ridiculous situation should never be allowed to happen again.
Evelyne Michaels, Toronto
When Mayor Rob Ford sincerely proclaims what a great job he’s done, at least we don't have to ask what he’s been smoking.
Rob Hollenberg, Dundas, Ont.