What could be a more exciting assignment for an undercover police officer than infiltrating a group of politically active college kids and getting them drunk with taxpayer money (Undercover Against The Activists – Nov. 22)? With all the law-and-order spending going on these days, Canadians should be asking some hard questions about what kind of value they are getting for their contribution.
If I am going to be doling out for covert infiltrations and picking up criminals’ bar tabs, I would prefer to buy a few rounds for the Hells Angels, not a bunch of kids who spend most of their time in libraries and coffee shops.
Don Pyper, law student, University of Windsor
A little magic
As debate time is limited on the omnibus crime bill (Why Modernize The Penal System When All The Answers Can Be Found In Its Glorious Past? – Nov. 19), I am as confused as I was in the beginning by the statement that we need more prisons because of unreported crime.
If a crime is not reported to the authorities, how can they collect evidence and prosecute an unknown perpetrator and convict him or her and give a jail sentence? This reminds me of a popular novelty song in the 1940s called The Little Man Who Wasn’t There.
Would someone please explain how the courts can achieve this “magical” feat before it is passed into law?
Dorothy Madge, Windsor, Ont.
Think about Iran
I was pleased to read Paul Heinbecker’s commentary (Think Twice, Canada, Before Attacking Tehran – Nov. 22). He quotes some respected sources, including the U.S. Secretary of Defence and a former head of Mossad, arguing that a military attack on the Islamic Republic would be disastrous. Such an attack appears to be under serious consideration by the government of Israel, and Canadian officials have not ruled out the possibility of participation.
The current ratcheting up of tension benefits no one more than President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Iranian regime. The nuclear program is one of the few domestic issues in which he has the backing of a large portion of the population. International support for a potential military strike only solidifies the Iranian government’s desire to achieve a bomb, which they view as their best hedge against a “regime change” style invasion, and allows Mr. Ahmadinejad to boost his flagging domestic support by presenting himself as guarding Iran from outside forces.
Colleen Richards, Ottawa
As a radiologist and dedicated breast imager who has been involved with the early detection of breast cancer for more than two decades, I hesitate to respond to the article (In Breast Cancer Debate, A New Chapter Begins – Nov. 22) because debates on medical policy are best argued in the professional literature.
The newest guidelines from the Canadian task force will further confuse women and their physicians. The central issue is that the scientific literature is unequivocal: Early detection means increased survival. Period.
Screening with mammography annually after 40 is especially important. In 1984, the breast cancer mortality rate in the U.S. had been unchanged for 50 years. Since they started screening, it has gone down by 30 per cent (partly due to better therapy but mostly due to early detection).
The argument about “saving” money in the health-care system is spurious. Why is there money to treat stage IV breast cancer but no money to find it early? There is no such thing as “average” risk. You are either at risk for breast cancer because of your gender, or at high risk because of a first-line relative who has the disease.
Get a mammogram every year after 40. It’s not perfect but it works and it saves lives.
Garth Kruger, MD, Calgary
As a farmer and an elected Canadian Wheat Board director, my jaw dropped after reading Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz’s Nov. 19 letter (Wheat Board Tactics).
The Harper government plans to seize at least $100-million of farmers’ money from the CWB contingency fund, and use it to help pay for the emasculation of our marketing agency. It’s simply outrageous that the government is destroying the CWB against the wishes of the majority of farmers – and then demanding farmers foot the bill.
Mr. Ritz is clearly concerned more with spin than facts. His department has done no economic impact analysis of the changes they are ramming through Parliament. He writes that the government has a responsibility to ensure the future of the castrated organization that will replace the CWB. That may be, but ensure this future without our money, Gerry. The farmers should not have to pave the roads for the chariots of our conquerors.
Stewart Wells, Swift Current, Sask.
Re The Myth Of Financial Literacy (Nov. 21): There are many excellent financial literacy programs in Canada, but, as the federal government’s Task Force on Financial Literacy recommends, more collaboration among the private, public, non-profit sectors and Canadians themselves is needed. Financial advisers can assist people to navigate as their needs change throughout their lives. Globe and Mail columnists like Rob Carrick recognize this, and provide insightful tips for readers on personal finance.
Improving Canadians’ ability to make informed financial decisions is not about teaching them to fly their own planes, as Barrie McKenna writes – it is about teaching them how to choose the right flights.
Donald Stewart, former chair, Task Force on Financial Literacy
We still pay
Leah McLaren talks about corporate funding of the arts as a tempting way for philistine governments to offload costs (Must Our Peggy Be Linked With Bankers’ Hairy Wrists? – Nov. 19). Trouble is, the public still pays; it’s just that this way, the taxpayer doesn’t have any say.
Donations are written off. So they’re not gifts, they’re tax expenditures, which is no different than the government spending “its own” money.
I don’t think public funds should be spent without any accountability. But when they’re in the form of tax expenditures rather than direct funding, that’s exactly what happens. Corporations decide. Corporations glow in the reflected glory of their philanthropy. But in the end, it’s the taxpayer who picks up the cheque.
Brian Green, Thunder Bay
So, in deciding that the citizens of the Occupy movement cannot remain in St. James Park, Mr. Justice David Brown argues that parks are not a place where the strong, using “occupation and intimidation” can exclude the weak (This Revolution Should Pack Up And Go Home – Nov. 22).
It appears that this distinction applies exclusively to another public space: the corridors of power.
Dan Malleck, St. Catharines, Ont.