More power for MPs
The following sentence in your editorial Progress On Democratic Reform (March 27) speaks to the crux of the matter: “MPs are not supposed to be eunuchs in the service of the almighty Prime Minister’s Office, but the most important people in the parliamentary system.”
It is galling to think that unelected people who are basically unknown to Canadians can dictate to our elected representatives. While I agree that well-chosen amendments may enhance Michael Chong’s private member’s bill, which is aimed at giving individual MPs more power, I worry that the Conservatives, in their zeal for power, could emasculate that, too.
Mary Ann Firth, Calgary
Stephen Harper says Russia’s economy is “one dimensional” and extremely vulnerable on energy exports (PM Pushes For Energy Sanctions – March 27). Hmm. Who does that sound like?
He says young Russians “want the same standards of governance and information flow that the rest of us have.” Meanwhile, back home, the PM is busy trying to lower Canada’s standards of governance. Just for starters, note the lack of co-operation and transparency on the Senate, proposed new elections act and the large omnibus bills to avoid debate on important issues.
Mr. Harper’s hypocrisy is ever more apparent to Canadians.
Mary Lynn Henderson, Calgary
Re The West, Russia Fight ‘War Without Weapons’ (March 26): The Arctic is Canada’s biggest story and asset. Russia is an important and valuable Arctic neighbour.
By comparison, Crimea and Ukraine are relatively small potatoes. I urge the Harper government to think Arctic and big.
Jacques Sirois, Victoria
Death, by choice
Re Do MPs Have Nerve To Debate Assisted Suicide? (March 27): I applaud Conservative MP Steven Fletcher for his courage in bringing forth a topic most politicians prefer to avoid.
Justice Minister Peter MacKay is reported as having little enthusiasm for Mr. Fletcher’s bill, noting: “His personal circumstances obviously inform his view on this very emotional issue.”
His experience and those of Dr. Donald Low make them extremely qualified to address the right of individuals to have the option of assisted suicide at the end of life. Perhaps Mr. MacKay would feel differently, if he faced similar circumstances. Then again, perhaps not. But it should be about having the choice.
Sarah Stewart, Nanaimo, B.C.
I applaud the courage of MP Steven Fletcher. Sadly, there are few national conversations about our end-of-life choices, as politicians are scared stiff of this subject.
Zelda Ruth Harris, Toronto
As Konrad Yakabuski reminds us, university tuition was a defining issue in the 2012 Quebec election (After Moving Right, PQ May Be Headed Down – March 27). Since that time, public opinion seems to have coalesced around the notion that student fees should support an increasing proportion of university operating costs.
Strangely enough, we seem to be ignoring lessons from the U.K. coalition government’s bold experiment in tripling university tuition in the face of similar pressures from universities to diversify revenues, increasing annual fees from £3,000 to £9,000 ($5,300 to $15,900). Official figures now estimate that 45 per cent of graduates will not earn enough to pay back their student loans over their working lives, up from 28 per cent in 2010.
At 48.6 per cent, according to universities minister David Willetts, the writeoff costs on the loan program will offset all promised savings to the Treasury.
Since Canadian taxpayers also underwrite unpaid student loans, the implications are obvious. I hope someone is listening, since ideology should not trump facts.
Atul Sharma, Winnipeg
Unpaid? Stop that
Re Unpaid Internships At Magazines New Target Of Ontario Labour Ministry (March 27): Magazine publisher Doug Knight is quoted as saying, “I would love to pay our interns,” but then adding, “we can’t do it.” As a book publisher, I’ve heard the argument Mr. Knight makes a lot – including from representatives of companies much larger and more profitable than ours.
Unpaid internships are unfair not only to those who work for nothing, but also to those who cannot afford to work for nothing, and thus can never get a foot in the door in many cultural industries. In fairness to all, unpaid and underpaid internships shouldn’t just be regulated. They should be outlawed.
Don LePan, CEO, Broadview Press, Nanaimo, B.C.
Re When Confusion Breeds Certainty (March 26): Dan Gardner has himself sown confusion with his own brand of certainty.
He is certain that people with a high “need for closure” will insist on an answer – “any answer” – to explain the mystery of Flight MH370. How many people will settle for any answer? He’s certain that “judging by CNN’s soaring ratings, there are an awful lot of” such people. Bit vague, that.
Traumatized loved ones of the missing passengers and crew are seeking closure, no doubt. But everybody that I for one know personally, as well as expert guests and hosts I’ve seen on CBC, have simply been displaying understandable fascination with a possibly horrific mystery.
Mr. Gardner deems this an aberration and invokes the spectre of the dreaded “conspiracy theorists.” Sharp interest in this puzzle as well as theorizing are both normal, not aberrational.
Barrie Zwicker, Toronto
Re ‘Modest’ Proposal? (letters, March 27): As a downtown Toronto resident, one who has sailed, paddled and cycled around the harbour and islands, the most noticeable noise from the island airport comes not from commercial aviation, but the piston-powered planes operated by private owners.
History is replete with the stories of cities that have failed and fallen into irrelevancy, not because they were too busy or noisy, but because trade and commerce just passed them by.
Direct rail service to Pearson International will help, but it will still not be as timely and convenient. Yes, “convenient,” because convenience may well determine whether we remain a vibrant commercial centre or slowly slide into economic obscurity.
Chiu Lee, Toronto
All in the title
Re Unlock The Power Of Your Spice Rack (Life, March 25): If a publisher wants to attract a male audience to this flavourful topic, I suggest a book titled, If You Have the Rosemary, I Have the Thyme.
Ken Mark, TorontoReport Typo/Error
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