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Students at Cross Lake Indian Residential School in Cross Lake, Man., in February, 1940. (HANDOUT/REUTERS)
Students at Cross Lake Indian Residential School in Cross Lake, Man., in February, 1940. (HANDOUT/REUTERS)

WHAT READERS THINK

March 13: A Senator’s words. Plus other letters to the editor Add to ...

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here: letters@globeandmail.com

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A Senator’s words

As the grandson of a residential school survivor, I was shocked and saddened to read the remarks of Senator Lynn Beyak (Senator Panned For Defending Residential Schools, March 10). The architects of the residential school system deliberately set out to destroy aboriginal people and their cultures, and knowingly put Indigenous children’s health and lives at risk.

It is shocking that the Senator would seek to recognize “the remarkable work and good deeds” of those who worked in the residential school system. More than 6,000 children died; tens of thousands were abused in the care of these schools. Her attempts at revisionism are shameful.

Ms. Beyak is required to refrain from acting in a way that could reflect adversely on the position of senator or the institution of the Senate. In my view, her comments reflect poorly on herself as a senator and bring the institution into disrepute.

Paul Emerson Reid, Priddis, Alta.

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In the pendulum politics of the era we live in, condemnation awaits anyone who doesn’t see every issue through an all-or-nothing lens. What happened in residential schools shames us all as Canadians. But that does not mean everyone and everything associated with them was evil.

Woe betide anyone who speaks outside the limits of perceived correctness, political or otherwise, on this subject or any other. Senator Lynn Beyak is just the latest person to have that lesson reinforced. It is, after all, 2017.

Lynn Summers, Calgary

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When we pay for something, we aren’t expected to congratulate the cashier for giving us the correct change. Does Senator Lynn Beyak actually believe we should be praising the residential school system for providing the equivalent of correct change? Praising the “kindly and well-intentioned men and women” for doing the most basic correct things wipes out and dismisses the atrocities that were committed.

Judi Lederman, Toronto

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Buy? Canadians only

Re Ontario Revisits Foreign Home Buyers’ Tax (March 10): A tax on foreign buyers is one approach, but how about limiting the purchase of property to Canadian citizens only?

Foreign investment is flocking here because we have a stable government, the rule of law and they can pile their money (ill-gotten or otherwise) into a great investment that they know will only go up. City governments rub their hands together because our property taxes are based on housing prices, so there’s little incentive to curb price escalation.

Meanwhile, a lot of Canadians are unable to buy a home in their own country, and rental prices are going up, too.

Leslie Martel, Mississauga

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Gender equality

Re Men Have A Role In Women’s Equality (March 10): If women’s rights are to be seen as human rights, men not only have a role but a responsibility to assure these rights.

Michael Valpy’s classroom approach to issues of sexual consent, as outlined in his essay Patriarchy 101 (Facts & Arguments, March 10), is an example of such responsibility in action.

Another example is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his colleagues who use their platform to walk the talk of women’s human rights.

To those who would criticize Sophie Grégoire Trudeau’s call to women on International Women’s Day to reach out to males to advance women’s equality I would ask: Are you raising sons as well as daughters who are feminists?

Lesley Sisler, Winnipeg

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I think I understand Sophie Grégoire Trudeau’s surprising pronouncement on the occasion of International Women’s Day, and the picture of her and her husband gazing intently into one another’s eyes while holding hands.

Like me, she has been surrounded for the most part by strong, kind, intelligent and therefore feminist men.

Unlike me, however, I think she forgot, long enough to make that statement, that many of the world’s women live in fear of their partners and are subjugated to the men in their lives, only ever able to dream of equality and freedom.

Not, therefore, the best thought-through contribution to the one day of the year on which we formally celebrate our successes but recall our sisters the world over who live in appallingly hateful circumstances, where the word “feminist” is feared and the concept of taking by the hand a male partner to celebrate his like-mindedness is unheard of folly.

Carolyn Strauss, Ottawa

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It’s progress

Re Ontario, Quebec, Alberta Reach Health Deals With Ottawa (March 10): This is good news for Ontario, as it will increase mental health funding by $192-million per year for the next 10 years, allow Ontario to address gaps in mental health care, and improve accessibility to services.

Over the past five years, Ontario has increased funding for community mental health and addictions by $180-million, so the accord represents a significant increase. However, with an annual mental health care deficit of $1.5-billion per year based on disease burden, Ontario will need to continue to invest more of its own funds to close the gap.

The $5-billion for mental-health care nationally is a cumulative total over 10 years, and not the base budget increase that would get provinces’ mental health spending to 9 per cent of their health budgets, as recommended by the Mental Health Commission in 2012. It represents a per capita investment of about $15 over 10 years, while $87 is required to get mental health funding to the 9-per-cent target.

While short of the policy goal, it represents a historic investment in mental health by the federal government, and both levels of government should be commended for ending our winter of discontent over the health accord.

Steve Lurie, executive director, CMHA Toronto

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A bold champion

Re NDP Stalwart, Social Activist Margaret Mitchell Dies At 92 In Vancouver (March 9): Raising head tax certificates in her hand, Margaret Mitchell, member of Parliament for Vancouver East in February, 1984, demanded that Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s government apologize and refund to Mark Aik Liang and Shack Yee the head tax that governments collected from them, and from thousands of other Chinese who entered Canada between 1885 and 1923.

Ms. Mitchell’s bold action sparked the redress campaign for the victims of the racist government actions restricting and barring the entry of people from China that led to years of family separation and community isolation of Chinese people in Canada.

She will not only be remembered as a woman’s rights advocate but also as a champion against systemic racism and exclusion in Canada. The government Justin Trudeau leads would do much better in fighting against racism and Islamophobia if its actions and visions were as bold today as Margaret Mitchell’s were in her day.

Amy Go, Toronto

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