Stuck in time
Re Tory Brand Takes A Hit, Results Of Survey Show (Dec. 31): Given the news last year, it's not surprising that most Canadians think we're moving in the wrong direction. What does surprise me is that respondents think the country is moving. Given the lack of action or initiatives on a host of issues by Stephen Harper and his cohorts, it would seem that we're firmly stuck in a quagmire.
Peter D. Hambly, Hanover, Ont.
Re Ottawa's Gold Rush: Cashing In A Stash Of Coins From 1914 (Dec. 31): At last we have uncovered Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Economic Action Plan! They're melting down old gold coins and selling them to help balance the budget.
How can Canada's opposition leaders possibly compete with this kind of stellar economic thinking and government management?
Cliff Dunn, North Bay, Ont.
When to get help
Re Power To The People (letters, Dec. 31): Letter writer Martin Shelley asks why the army wasn't called in to assist Toronto during efforts to restore power after the ice storm. Toronto is still the butt of jokes 15 years after Mel Lastman called in the army to assist with the clean-up after several snow storms. What politician wants to risk similar ridicule from the rest of Canada?
T. Lemieux, Toronto
Where is Mel Lastman when Toronto needs him? As mayor, he had the good sense to call in the army when the last vicious storm paralyzed the city. What was Rob Ford thinking – that he could wait it out while hundreds of thousands were left cold and without power in the depth of winter?
H. M. Goodall, Kingston
Re China Says Japanese PM Not Welcome After Shrine Visit (Dec. 31): China's anger over the Japanese Prime Minister's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine in remembrance of Japan's war dead is disingenuous. In most cases, Japan's soldiers were following orders, something China expects of its soldiers, regardless of how wrong-minded those orders may be. China of all countries understands that, having had its soldiers commit many atrocities within its borders (Tibet, Tiananmen Square and many more).
We should all be concerned by China's actions over the past few years as it exhibits a heightened sense of nationalism.
David Bell, Toronto
Face up to frailty
Re An Aging Population: Our Senior Moment (Dec. 30): John MacInnis and Jeroen Spijker correctly draw to our attention that many older adults are healthier than ever. But these are not the aging patients who fundamentally challenge how we provide health care, especially hospital care.
Frail older adults with multiple, interacting medical and social problems are ill-served by health care geared to single-system illness in people expected to return home to the embrace of otherwise unoccupied families.
We must offer reform, not derision, of patients ("bed-blockers" in hospital speak) and their families ("can't cope"). Until we do, the scale of how aging will impact health care is far from being exaggerated.
Even now, there is overwhelming evidence that the "increasing complexity of age-related comorbid conditions" merits more than the authors' mild caution.
Health care must face up to frailty. Recognizing its impact and how far behind we are would be a good start.
Kenneth Rockwood, Halifax
Re Reflections On Bravery (Dec. 30): Nicole Foran and her fellow flight attendant Carolina Santizo Arriola are our heroes. They deserve every accolade for their roles in freeing more than 160 passengers and disarming a gunman. Why did it take four years to recognize their bravery?
Stan Szpakowicz, Ottawa
What's with this absurd fascination – oftentimes indiscreet, certainly irrelevant – with telling us that someone is a "single mom"? Would Carolina Santizo Arriola have been any less heroic had she not been a single mom?
Wik Van Weel, Pierrefonds, Que.
Next up in T.O.?
Re Who Will Succeed Rob Ford? (editorial, Dec. 28): Former Toronto mayor David Miller's electoral appeal was citywide. In 2003, he polled well across the city. While it is true he won more downtown wards, he was a strong second in many suburban areas, including Etobicoke, which is Rob Ford's home turf.
In 2006, Mr. Miller won all the inner suburbs, including Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough, and achieved nearly 60 per cent of the vote. He won 43 of the 44 wards. His message in that election was clear: We will build the great city that we deserve by focusing on things like transit, the environment and young people. This message resonated citywide among Torontonians of all neighbourhoods and backgrounds.
In the 2014 election, the test will be which candidate supports an inclusive city-building program that ensures Toronto remains a prosperous city where no one gets left behind.
We've seen the alternative.
John Laschinger, campaign chair, Miller campaign 2003 and 2006
Re This Canadian City Could Be The Next Detroit (online, Dec. 9): Prof. Joseph Arvai of the University of Calgary argues that the current growth trajectory for Calgary, built on oil and gas, is highly risky and that unless Calgary diversifies, it could be the next Detroit. He suggests Calgary is a single-horse town, and that horse – hydrocarbons – is doomed as more benign energy sources grow.
The percentage of Calgary's population living in suburbs is the same as the Canadian average. The downtown core's population is growing, not shrinking.
Detroit has a long-term debt of some $15-billion. Calgary's is $3.4-billion – with a net accumulated surplus of over $13-billion.
Nearly 20 per cent of Calgary's employment is in education, health care and the arts. Over 70 per cent of the city's employment is non-industrial.
Calgary's labour force has one of the highest levels of postsecondary education in the world. It has the highest average income per capita in Canada ($58,312).
Calgary looks diversified, prosperous – and definitely not Detroit-like.
Leonard Waverman, dean, DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University; former dean, Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary
Re Rob Ford Named Newsmaker Of Yhe Year (Dec. 23): Noisemaker? Yes. Newsmaker? Come on, everybody knows it's Mike Duffy.
Douglas Cornish, Ottawa