Lower your voice
I was relieved to read Tom Flanagan’s sensible commentary, Procrastinate, Ottawa. Quebec Will Come Around (Oct. 7). He counsels discretion and patience on the proposed Charter of Values. He also credits Quebec voters with qualities of discernment. This reminds us that while Montreal and Calgary were the seminal forces in Canadian politics in the 1970s and 1990s, respectively, and are seen as opposites, they often coincide in endorsing largely autonomous provinces.
This flexible approach contrasts tellingly with The Globe’s fervent advocacy on its editorial page, which recalls less an attempt at dialogue than the efforts of some English-speaking tourists to get through to people by speaking louder. That does not work.
Mr. Flanagan’s discreet approach is emphatically the one for English Canada to follow.
David Winch, Montreal
Based on belief
Re Ottawa Vetoes Prescription Heroin Treatment For Addicts (Oct. 4): “The Prime Minister and I do not believe we are serving the interests of those who are addicted …” The PM and the Minister of Health decide to eliminate heroin prescriptions to selected addicts, with the exception of a three-month trial (which will not be renewed after the trial period).
Was this decision based on sound medical research? Intelligent analysis of evidence? Or on personal beliefs? We look forward to, “The Prime Minister and I believe the earth is flat … ”
Sue Yates, Duncan, B.C.
How bad is it?
Re Census Changes Produce Flawed Data, Researchers Say (Oct. 5): We paid $20-million more for a voluntary National Household Survey to replace the mandatory Long-Form Census and got numbers we can’t trust.
But is it as bad as the critics claim?
Statistics on low income tell us if national and provincial anti-poverty initiatives are working – whether government should stay the course or do something different. At the local level, they help us to figure out whether charitable and community initiatives are helping. According to StatsCan, the reliability of the national statistics are, for the most part, very good. At the Ontario level – Ontario having about a third of the national population – they are good, which in StatsCan language means they can be off between 4 and 8 per cent (not my definition of “good”). For Waterloo Region, which has over half a million people, StatsCan says “use with caution.” They could be off by 16 per cent or more. In other words, don’t use them for decision-making: $20-million more for junk.
If a government wants to eliminate social spending, the easiest way is to say that there is no credible data establishing a need for the funding. The easiest way to lose the credible data is to kill the survey that provides good information and replace it with one that produces unreliable data.
Ernie Ginsler, Faculty of Social Work, Wilfrid Laurier University
Re How To Succeed In The 21st Century (Oct. 5): Like Margaret Wente, I love my dental hygienist; unlike Ms. Wente, I do not see my son or his generation as the cavity-prone slackers she suggests.
Consider that this generation of young men has grown up in a culture that portrays men as either hapless jerks, hopeless fools or predators. Becoming a decent man in a civil society presumes that society is civil toward men. Currently, it isn’t.
No wonder so many young men are hiding in the basement, struck dumb by a culture that teaches them they are stupid, pitiful or despicable. This is a moral cavity that is in need of attention.
Michael Smith, Toronto
With the breakdown of our institutions – from religious communities to families – a vacuum of values has been formed. Prudence, restraint, humility, commitment and service to one’s community have been replaced by the excesses of our age, including hyper-individualism. Oversharing on Facebook, vanity, materialism, inflated academic grades, dating like a game of musical chairs – we’re losing the moral courage that once shaped great nations and their leaders.
Roland Mascarenhas, Toronto
Tea and democracy
Oscar Wilde once said, “Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people, by the people, for the people.” His observations are no less true today.
Democracy is a messy business, but it works in the long run. America is on a non-sustainable fiscal path. The Tea Party has tapped into a vein of Republican populist frustration among people who recognize that you can’t live beyond your means (like the Reform Party did in Canada).
The Democratic version of this populist frustration, the Occupy Movement, did not have staying power. The day of fiscal reckoning is coming. If not the Tea Party, then some other movement or economic shock will intercede to compel the political elite onto a path of responsible fiscal reform.
Ian Stewart, Toronto
Re Why Campuses Are Too Often The Scene Of The Crime (Oct. 7): When 35 per cent of men in a survey say they would commit a sexual assault if they knew they could get away with it, society’s veneer of civility is exposed as being very thin indeed.
Hazel Billingsley, Edmonton
Elite vs. elitist
Re Gilmour, Ignatieff And The Privileged Canadian Male (Life & Arts, Oct. 2): Privilege is a notoriously easy target, but to connect the dots with recent events and paint Upper Canada College’s diverse “Old Boy” community with the same elitist brush does a disservice to the many achievements and contributions of our alumni.
There is a distinction between elite and elitist, and we work hard to ingrain in our boys a commitment to giving back and making a difference. There is no place for hauteur and entitlement.
Our students of today reflect the world around them. At a time of increasing economic inequality and social polarization, it is more important than ever to be a school that supports a great mix of backgrounds and perspectives.
To that end, thanks to the generosity of our community, this year we have allocated more than $3.7-million toward financial assistance in order to welcome 170 boys for whom UCC would have otherwise been out of reach. There is no place for antiquated perceptions at UCC today.
Jim Power, principal, Upper Canada College
Re Legal Pot Production Goes Commercial (Oct 4): The new growers are going to need fancy names. Can’t be the Weed Man (taken), or Toke-eh? (dicey with the wine people). Cannabis Canadensus Forever, or CCF, strikes a reassuringly familiar chord, but I favour Puff The Magic Drag-on.
Gordon S. Findlay, Toronto