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Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef: ‘I've been quite clear from the very beginning that I don’t believe that a referendum is the best way to go about having a really complex conversation about an important public-policy issue like electoral reform.’ (CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS)
Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef: ‘I've been quite clear from the very beginning that I don’t believe that a referendum is the best way to go about having a really complex conversation about an important public-policy issue like electoral reform.’ (CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS)

WHAT READERS THINK

Nov. 28: A vote to vote. 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 vote to vote

While the government’s plan to reform the Fair Elections Act announced by Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef is welcome, the same cannot be said of her refusal to hold a referendum to establish a new voting system (Liberals To Reform Fair Elections Act – Nov. 25).

It would be hypocritical and an affront to Canadians for a decision to be forced through a majority Liberal Parliament elected under first-past-the-post, a voting system the Liberals deemed so defective that one of Justin Trudeau’s most prominent campaign promises was that it would be replaced before the next election.

The three major opposition parties (representing 56 per cent of the popular vote at the last election) now support holding a referendum. A referendum is the only way a change to the voting system will be considered to be the legitimate will of the people, rather than a decision made for the benefit of the party in power (with less than 40 per cent of the popular vote) by virtue of the system it discredits.

Stanley Greenspoon, North Vancouver

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The continual call for a referendum on election reform is mainly being pursued by Conservative supporters because they know a referendum pitting first-past-the-post against, say, ranked ballot, or mixed member proportional, or single transferable vote or whatever would assuredly fail.

These systems can be complicated, each has pros and cons. The public wouldn’t put in the effort necessary to seriously consider the question.

The Liberals should hold a much simpler referendum: “Do you want a voting system that would result in a type of proportional representation, whereby the MPs elected would closely reflect each political party’s provincial share of the vote OR do you want to keep the current first-past-the-post electoral system?”

If election reform passed, the current all-party committee would decide which of the PR systems would be implemented.

Larry Jacobi, Victoria

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Halting all suicides

Re Military Admits Link Between Combat, Suicide (Nov. 24): I was glad to read that “National Defence and Veterans Affairs are working on a suicide-prevention strategy” for Canada’s soldiers. It will undoubtedly contain a detailed list of actions, and come with the resources required to assure effective implementation.

In contrast, the Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention contains neither specified actions nor dedicated resources. There is no reason to expect it will lower the nation’s suicide rate the way that Quebec’s provincial suicide prevention strategy has since 1999.

The World Health Organization recommends that all nations develop and implement national suicide prevention strategies.

A “framework” is not a strategy. Canada is one of the few developed countries not to have one.

Why would the federal government aspire to have a national suicide prevention strategy for its soldiers, but not for its civilians? Especially when some indigenous communities have rates of death by suicide – especially among children and youth – that are far higher than those of soldiers who have served in Afghanistan.

Jack Hicks, Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, University of Saskatchewan

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Justice, integrity

Re Judge Cuts Sex Predator’s Sentence In Half After Beating In Jail (Nov. 25): I am outraged. No, I am livid after reading a sexual predator had his 12-year sentence cut in half after being roughed up in jail.

I am a father of a young daughter and I am appalled at the decision by Justice Terry Clackson of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench. I feel the ruling illustrates a lack of respect for the children, some as young as 13, whom David Spencer Adams lured into sexual activity. These teens will suffer for the rest of their lives, while Mr. Adams will be out in the community sooner, his “rights” protected. What about the rights of the children and their families?

Justice? Not that I see. This decision is no way contributes to what the judge called “restoring the integrity of our justice system.”

Douglas Campbell, Sherwood Park, Alta.

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Dressed to offend?

Re When Does Dress Up Deserve A Dressing Down? (Nov. 25): I’m left rolling my eyes at Gary Mason’s defence of costume parties – especially his question about whether someone donning a “Canadian hoser” tuque and plaid shirt is similarly racist.

This kind of reasoning fails to acknowledge the imbalance of power, historically and today, between mostly white revellers and those whose cultural dress they imitate. Even at its most benign, cultural appropriation is tiresome and juvenile; it does contribute to a racist society. Until this message gets through, students deserve to be called out for it.

Elizabeth Kalbfleisch, Toronto

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While I agree that the Queen’s students likely had no ill intent, it doesn’t make it right. Something that a white Canadian interprets as harmless fun can feel far less innocuous to someone of colour, particularly someone who has experienced racism. In the spirit of Canadian politeness and civility, we should look at how others can interpret our words and actions, rather than just relying on our intentions. This isn’t being PC: It’s just good manners.

Johan Lee, Toronto

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About those ‘values’

Re Leitch Proposes Scrapping CBC If She Becomes Prime Minister (Nov. 25): But isn’t CBC one of our Canadian values?

Rob Young, Toronto

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It takes a toll

Yet another weary chorus of Toronto politicians whining about their inability to fund their city: Toll roads are only the most hare-brained of several options proposed (Toronto Infrastructure – Folio, Nov. 25). Meanwhile, the elephant in the room is ignored: property taxes. House after house sells for twice as much as mine is worth in Burlington, yet their property taxes are substantially less than mine. Toronto has enjoyed a tax holiday compared to much of Ontario. This is 2016. A modest, graduated increase in the mill rate would bring in lots of money, and cost virtually nothing to implement. Come on, Toronto – take the obvious step.

Perry Bowker, Burlington, Ont.

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Staub out ageism

Re A Staub in The Dark (Life & Arts, Nov. 24): I found the article on a Staub cocotte entertaining, but was dismayed by the remark that “you probably won’t be able to lift it after the age of 70.”

Blatant ageism has no place in The Globe and Mail. I’m 72 and can assure you that I and many others, 70 and older, are quite capable of lifting a heavy dish out of the oven. There are those who, regardless of age, might have a challenge lifting such a heavy item. But to assume that after 70 we are all weak perpetuates a stereotype that must end.

Dan Curtis, Victoria

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