Boot and reboot
Preston Manning is right that Alberta Progressive Conservatives need an ethics reboot (After Redford, Alberta Needs An Ethics Reboot – Aug. 11). Obviously, this situation does not begin and end in Edmonton.
In his analysis of how politicians and leaders are chosen, he speaks of qualifications. In this, he omits a critical factor: that politicians are chosen by their parties solely for their ability to get elected. Thus, we have assemblies across the country populated largely by career politicians whose principal job skill is the ability to win elections. Often, these people have never worked outside politics and thus cannot relate to ordinary Canadians and their values. Small wonder they make the ethics-stretching decisions they do.
It's time to consider steps such as term limits to eliminate these career politicians and provide Canadians with real "representatives."
Michael Farrell, Oakville, Ont.
I'm sure everyone would agree with Mr. Manning that "character matters" in public life, but character is the sum of what people do, not what they say they will do. So how do you test for that?
Psychologists have personality inventories but there are no tests for character other than what Abraham Lincoln once proffered: If you want to see a man's true character, give him power. Regrettably, this awareness we develop after the fact.
Victorian poet Francis Thompson observed that, "All man's Babylons strive but to impart/The grandeurs of his Babylonian heart." Given that politics tends to attract people with "Babylonian hearts," I take some reassurance in knowing that in Canada, at least, we still have good investigative journalism and public auditors and people who are not afraid to ask questions.
David McInnis, Ancaster, Ont.
Perhaps Jim Stanford should look in the mirror to find a least one major contributor to the "dismal jobs report" he cites (That Strong Recovery? It Was Just A Myth – Aug. 11).
Canada is losing jobs because it's become the "high-cost" producer – at least in part due to the wage and benefits structures Mr. Stanford and unions like Unifor have created. This, compounded by their absolute refusal to discuss any ways to mitigate these costs, when faced with the new realities of the world economy, will produce more lost manufacturing opportunities and layoffs. This environment will increase industry's hesitation to invest in more productive machinery and procedures … creating further economic contraction and more dismal jobs reports.
Perhaps Mr. Stanford and his union could be more flexible.
Doug Fletcher, Exeter, Ont.
Feminism is a social movement and philosophy that advocates the social, economic and political equality of men and women (Women Against #WomenAgainstFeminism – Focus, Aug. 9). I have yet to meet a young woman who is uncomfortable with this goal, nor many who seriously believe we have reached it.
I do meet young women who are uncomfortable with the term "feminist." Since the goals and values associated with feminism are clearly not the problem, I can only assume this discomfort is the result of reductive images and misinformation spread in social and mainstream media, including, sadly, our national newspaper.
Clarissa Hurley, Fredericton
Margaret Wente ignores the raging, often violent, misogyny on the Internet and buries at the end of her column the plight of women and girls in, as she puts it, "the more miserable parts of the world."
While it may be true that educated women in North America and other Westernized countries have made giant strides in breaking the glass ceiling, this is not true of the majority with less education and fewer opportunities, complicated by the continuing and prevailing hateful attitudes of many of the men in their lives.
Sheila Dropkin, Toronto
Wiser re: Kaiser
Gwynne Dyer claims in his provocative piece What If The Kaiser Had Won The War? (Focus – Aug. 9) that "there was no great principle at stake" in the First World War – it was "just another great-power conflict."
Ford Madox Ford, who fought in the Great War and published Parade's End in the decade following, had one of his major characters claim otherwise in a conversation on Nov. 11, 1918, about whether the war should have ended in an armistice:
"He agreed that there had been enough of suffering. But there must be more … He had said that it was the worst disservice you could do to your foes not to let them know that remorseless consequences follow determined actions. … The consequence of invasion is counterinvasion and symbolic occupation."
This character in a novel written by a veteran and published in 1928 believes a "great principle" was indeed involved: that no country should be allowed to invade another with impunity. And he got this much right: Since 1918, we have suffered "endless recurrences" of such invasions.
Dr. Elaine Bander, English department (ret.), Dawson College, Montreal
Mr. Dyer has an extremely benign take on how the Kaiser would have handled victory. In August, 1914, the Belgian city of Louvain was deliberately incinerated and nearly 700 civilians executed because some objected to Germany's invasion in order to attack France. In defending the atrocity, the Kaiser wrote to President Woodrow Wilson: "my heart bleeds" for the sufferings of Belgium caused "as a result of the criminal and barbarous actions of the Belgians, compelling his generals to take the strongest measures against the bloodthirsty population."
On the subject of peace, he wrote in 1917: "Germany should demand Malta, the Azores, Madeira, the Cape Verde Islands, the Belgian Congo and Longwy-Briey while Poland, Courland and Lithuania should be annexed. America and England should pay $30-billion in reparations, France $40-billion and Italy $10-billion."
Who can guess what future repercussions would have ensued from these tender mercies?
Jon Snelson, Oakville, Ont.
Who's Speaking Up For Canadian English? (Aug. 11), John Allemang's interesting excursion into the way we speak and spell, missed the bit about oral delivery. "Colour" and "color" sound the same when spoken, but Canada is mostly content to use a nearby foreign country to entertain itself, to receive its news and to revel at celebrity. The damage is evident: "Gandhi" now sounds like "Gawndhi," "pasta" has become "pawsta" and "Iraq" has become "Eyeraq."And, of course, that old standby "Mummy" is now "Mawmy."
This is not the oral culture Harold Innis used to talk about. It's our almost total immersion in another country's media. I hesitate to mention the oncoming death of the CBC, and can only hope that the Radio-Canada portion remains relatively intact.
Graham Watt, Sackville, N.B.