How many taxpayers does it take to airlift the PM’s limo to India (India Still Baffled by Harper’s Armoured SUV – front page, Jan. 31)? Assuming an average federal income tax of $10,000, about 100 – and unfortunately, that’s not funny.
Katrin Horowitz, Victoria
So many publicly funded programs could use a million dollars to help Canadians. No wonder so many people lament our tax rates. Perhaps The Globe and Mail could write an article on funds used to protect the PM – are they unlimited?
Susan Cross, Kingston
I recently drove through four provinces in India – quite safely, I might add. My vehicle of choice, which took me from Trivandrum through Goa up to Mumbai, Varanasi and Delhi, was a prosaic mid-sized Toyota. In light of Mr. Harper’s million-dollar imposition on the taxpayers of Canada, I am sure that Mr. Harper will understand if I level the playing field come April 30.
Jane Crist, Toronto
Kudos to Jim Flaherty for making public his very private rare condition (People Have Said To Me, ‘Do You Have Cancer?’ – front page, Jan. 31). There are more than 6,000 rare conditions affecting one of every 12 Canadians, so it’s not surprising that high-profile persons are among them.
Mr. Flaherty can thank Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq for the Orphan Drug Regulatory Framework, introduced in October, which will vastly improve Canadian access to therapies for rare conditions. Sadly, the same legislation was passed in the United States about 30 years ago, in Japan nearly 20 years ago and in Europe 13 years ago. The good news is that there are ongoing clinical trials for bullous pemphigoid with drugs that may be more effective and/or avoid the side effects of steroids.
Durhane Wong-Rieger, president and CEO, Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders, Toronto
Providing information on Mr. Flaherty’s health is one thing. Turning it into a front-page story of this scope is quite another. What’s next? Detailed photos of the lesions?
Pierre Nadon, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.
The image of the couple wearing panda masks (Beijing Closes Factories In Battle Against Smog – Jan. 31) sends an alarming message about what conditions could be like in many other places on Earth in the not-too-distant future.
With the world’s population projected to balloon from seven billion to nine billion by 2050, there will have to be concomitant growth in resource exploitation and manufacturing in order to satisfy our wants and needs. Given that it is quite unlikely that the processes we currently utilize to produce power and make consumer goods will change significantly over the next 25 to 30 years, perhaps it would be a wise move to invest now in companies that produce pollution masks. Returns on that investment are likely to be phenomenal.
Ray Arnold, Richmond, B.C.
As a community health worker who gets a flu shot every year, I am inclined to agree with André Picard (Health Workers Should Make Flu Shot A Point Of Pride – Jan. 31). But some nurses cannot get the shot. Because the virus is cultured in eggs and then killed with heat to make the vaccine, those who are allergic to eggs tend to react against it.
By making law what is already common practice, the government is saying that nurses with an allergy to eggs cannot practise their profession for half the year. Imagine the hue and cry if they said you can’t drive a truck at night unless you have 20/20 vision or you can’t work in Ottawa if your IQ is over 100.
Tim Kyren, Chilliwack, B.C.
Jeffrey Simpson is right (The ‘Boom And Bust’ Must End – Jan. 30) and Alison Redford wrong when she argues that raising taxes in Alberta would be the “easy way out.” Far from it – given the likely opposition from both within and outside her own party to such a move, it would be a very courageous decision.
However, as the government’s own figures show, a tax regime similar to that levied by other provinces could easily raise a very large and game-changing sum – $10-billion or more a year. These additional revenues could immediately bring about two very desirable outcomes: the budget could be balanced in the bad years, and a substantial annual surplus of many billions of dollars could be transferred to the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund in the good years.
L.R. Kennard, Calgary
Re Chinese Women Take ‘Rental Boyfriends’ Home For The Holidays (front page – Jan. 30): The irony is that it’s the men being sought out – it’s estimated that 24 million Chinese men won’t be able to find wives because of imbalance between the sexes, believed to have resulted from sex-specific abortions and a preference toward sons.
In actual fact, it is the women who have the upper hand in choosing a partner – they simply don’t want one. I know I don’t have to ask myself why.
Lydia Vale, Toronto
The front page of Wednesday’s Globe (Jan. 30) featured a 1970 photo of a man from London’s East End. “You can see he’s a man whose soul has been destroyed or possibly didn’t exist even,” comments photographer Don McCullin. He is undoubtedly a brilliant photographer, but his denial of “soul” to this generic “homeless Irishman” is ethically disquieting, when the man’s humanity speaks so powerfully from the eyes caught by his lens and offered up to viewers in 2011.
Meanwhile, Canada’s own homeless – often suffering from mental illnesses or a sick economy – multiply around us. Ironically, an editorial in the same issue of the Globe urges us to Hug The 1 Per Cent, as if the “humanity” of these fortunate top-earning individuals is what we most need to recognize.
Marjorie Stone, McCulloch Chair in English, Dalhousie University, Halifax
Tough on non-crime
Among Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s intentions (Harper’s Priorities For Canada – Jan. 31) are a bill to “make it harder for those found not criminally responsible for a serious offence to be released from custody.”
What does he have in mind for those who are found criminally responsible – drawing and quartering?
Jack Tennier, TorontoReport Typo/Error
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