Gen Y will pay
Ontario, of late, has been feeling a lot more Mediterranean, and I’m not just referring to the weather (Budget Tilts To NDP As Liberals Bid To Shore Up Minority – May 3). The budget includes a disconcerting deficit of $11.7-billion, and will raise the debt to $272.8-billion, accompanied by a debt-to-GDP ratio of 40 per cent by 2015.
As a member of Gen Y, I’m deeply concerned by the state of Ontario’s finances.
Premier Kathleen Wynne’s decision to pander to the NDP instead of making the necessary hard choices is an abdication of responsibility. So, too, is Tim Hudak’s declaration that the Progressive Conservatives will not vote for the budget, regardless of how prudent its measures.
I’m not suggesting that Ontario become ideologically driven to hack its deficit, but it doesn’t take an economist to know revenues should resemble expenditures. Few young people will argue against the merits of addressing youth unemployment, expanding public transit and reducing the cost of insurance. But it’s hard to support proposals that will burden us with paying off a mountain of debt for the rest of our lives.
Eric Macfarlane, Ottawa
A square wheel
One of the main reasons the government of the day transformed Canada Post into a Crown corporation was the chronic deadlock created by the intervention of the Treasury Board into every aspect of labour negotiations at what was then a government department (Ottawa Girds To Fight ‘Union Bosses’ – May 2). Now, a generation later, the Harper government is reinventing a square wheel.
Still, what can you expect from a government that’s running recruiting ads for the War of 1812?
Ken Sears, Lethbridge, Alta.
Re Judge Blasts Conservatives Over Sentencing Reforms (May 3): It would appear that Justice Melvyn Green of the Ontario Court of Justice is also guilty of “committing sociology.” The judge is interested in getting to the root causes of recidivism – not just “punishment, incapacitation and stigmatization.”
Allan Ross, Toronto
The federal government is failing to respect Canadians who constructively criticize their legislative agenda, whether it be the police on the long-gun registry, criminologists on overcrowded jails, counsel – Crown or defence – and judges on the erosion of discretion and the increase in mandatory minimums and, indeed, victims who take a more enlightened approach to crime and punishment despite their pain.
We need an informed, open discussion about how our criminal justice system works, and the potential damage being done to it. Justice Melvyn Green has opened the door for us.
William M. Trudell, chair, Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers
Gabarus’s protective sea wall is no longer fit to protect the Nova Scotian community from storms, but aging infrastructure is only part of the issue (For The People Of Gabarus, The Ocean Is At The Door – April 30). Like many other coastal communities, Gabarus is affected by rising sea levels. Credible estimates indicate a rise of 100 centimetres over the next century.
This means that, even if we repair failing sea walls, we may not be able to protect people and property from storms and surges. Communities such as Gabarus need help from all levels of government to chart their future, but that help should also include the resources and information to make tough choices.
We can’t afford to repair all our coastal infrastructure; even if we did, it may not protect us as well as it once did. Isn’t it time that Canada started thinking about restricting new developments, and relocating some existing infrastructures out of the coastal zone?
Jennifer Graham, coastal co-ordinator, Ecology Action Centre
The report that nearly 260,000 people, including 133,000 children under 5, died from the Somali famine is shocking (An African Crisis – May 3). Tragically, the effects were worsened by the slow response of aid agencies and the blocking of aid by militant groups.
But the underlying problem is the low rainfall that caused the famine. The year before the famine was the driest in the region for 60 years. The British national weather office reported that a major factor in the drought was greenhouse gases; Oxfam’s Somalia director warned that, without urgent action to curb greenhouse gases, food security will be an ongoing problem, and many more will die.
Stephen Harper has made maternal and child health a priority in Canada’s international aid program. Yet, it makes no sense to spend money without acting quickly on climate change, to prevent deaths from crop failures. The government must change course and lead the international community in action on the environment. Then we’ll know whether they’re sincere about improving the lives of mothers and children.
Harry Shannon, Dundas, Ont.
Re Arab States Seek To Strip Canada Of UN Agency (May 2): Are Qatar’s efforts to strip Canada of playing host to a major UN agency in Quebec, ICAO, due exclusively to Canada’s stalwart and principled support for Israel?
While Canada’s Mideast foreign policy may have played a role, it’s more likely that Qatar and other Arab nations may be exploiting the Palestinian cause to advance their own interests. Qatar stands to gain in housing ICAO, as it brings in $119-million annually to the local economy.
La Presse reports that Qatar deemed Montreal to be too far from Europe and Asia and, with Montreal’s cold winters, that it wasn’t a desirable location. Qatar claims its delegates had difficulty getting visas in Canada, and were frustrated with high Canadian taxes.
It seems reasonable to conclude that Arab anger directed at Canada for its laudable pro-Israel policies could just be a smokescreen for Arab nations trying to manipulate Palestinian grievances to advance their own domestic pursuits.
Mike Fegelman, executive director, Honest Reporting Canada
Re Why F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby Is Anything But Great (May 3): There’s little to argue about in Fitzgerald’s slushy, though sometimes plush, prose, but the subject matter – a very rich man who comes to a very bad end – was generally popular in the ’20s, perhaps in consequence of the towering image, lifestyle and death of publisher William Randolph Hearst.
The period of quick fortunes assembled by “robber barons” was still fresh. One wonders if The Great Gatsby was a kind of premonition of a Great Depression. And one must wonder what makes such a story seem relevant now.
Michael B. Callaghan, Toronto