Jeffrey Simpson calls income splitting for families "perverse and unfair" (Income Splitting Is Unfair, And Political Gold – Feb. 14). In short, bad policy.
What about a critique of income splitting for seniors? Surely all the same arguments would apply. Once again, seniors get preferential treatment over families. It is time for a larger conservation about intergenerational equity.
Laura Way, Ottawa
Jim Flaherty's fellow Conservatives should be more worried about his choice of language than his position on income-splitting (Tories Rethink Income-Splitting Pledge – Feb. 14). When he calls for a "fulsome discussion," the Finance Minister utters a challenge that goes to the core of Conservative policy – fulsome means copious or excessive.
For a Prime Minister's Office often portrayed as obsessed with limiting debate, such words must seem like a deliberate targeting of its central nervous system. If he means what he says, this brave dissenter should have his country's full support.
Scott Gardiner, Toronto
Is less more?
Thank you for summing up the big question ahead for Canadians: "Ottawa spends less, but it also does less. Is that a virtue or a problem?" The 2015 election will indeed turn on that question (Public Finance On Autopilot – Feb. 12) .
Canadians have the task ahead of educating themselves on what their society will look like with a lower and lower tax base. Take a look south. It ain't pretty.
Kay Norton, Coquitlam, B.C.
The government proposes to grant the minister power to strip citizenship from naturalized Canadians who, in the minister's opinion, demonstrate a lack of intention to reside in Canada (Tories To Speed Citizenship Stripping – Feb. 8).
Geoffrey York's story about South Sudanese doctors who came to Canada as refugees, remained underemployed because their medical skills went unrecognized in Canada, then returned to help rebuild South Sudan (Heroes Confront Horrors In Homeland – Feb. 14) perfectly illustrates the proposed bill's malice.
The new law would depict these men as mere citizens of convenience, undeserving of Canadian citizenship. Of course, the truth is precisely the opposite. They do Canada proud as citizens who give up a more secure life in Canada to help those left behind – Thomas Lul sacrificed his own life in doing so.
Audrey Macklin, Toronto
Obstacle to recovery
The notion that addiction is not an illness but a self-inflicted habit (Philip Seymour Hoffman Had A Habit, Not A Disease – Feb. 13) is damaging in so many ways. It feeds the misunderstanding that addiction is a moral weakness, an individual choice to do what's wrong over what's right. It ignores the fact that a choice to initiate the use of addictive substances may arise in response to a less tolerable option – an underlying mental illness, physical or emotional trauma. The idea that stigma and its trusty sidekicks prejudice and discrimination have a useful place in society perpetuates stereotypes, alienates our loved ones and adds yet another obstacle to recovery.
Advances in neuroscience and psychology indicate that an addicted brain does not function in the same way as a non-addicted brain. Physical changes in the brain make it increasingly difficult for someone to quit a substance, despite their best intentions and efforts. In short, we are learning that this brain disease robs individuals of their ability to resist the behaviour that can result in tragedy. The addiction, not the man, robbed Mr. Hoffman's children of their father.
Dr. Catherine Zahn, president and CEO, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto
Third in our hearts
My own evidence is merely anecdotal, but I have long marveled at Canada's propensity to finish fourth at international competitions, thus just missing the podium (Another Near-Miss For Canada – Sports, Feb. 14).
Perhaps an enterprising statistician could supply us with a comparative history of the who, what, when and where of our fourth-place finishes. Then a psychologist might suggest why.
John Grimley, Toronto
Getting to the Olympics is incredible. Winning a medal is only part of the success. Every participant is already at the very top of their sport, and should be seen as a hero.
Blair Humphrey, Victoria
A reader suggests it was "meddlesome" for an English journalist to suggest an independent Quebec would do well in the medal rankings (Quebec Counts – letters, Feb. 13).
In my travels to England, I've found friends there to be generally supportive of the Quebec national project. Perhaps this is because they recognize the universal principle of national self-determination. Indeed, the Canadian Parliament has recognized Québécois nationhood. We are going to build on this, and any person in the world is allowed to comment on it.
If Quebec supports its athletes (scientists, artists etc.) in a way Canada does not, it must be evidence that the Quebec sense of nationality is at least as well developed as the Canadian.
John Matheson, Montreal
The journalist should have been reminded that, had next September's Scottish independence vote passed before the 2013 Wimbledon Tennis Championship, Britain would not have won the men's singles (Andy Murray: The Pride of Scotland/Britain – front page, July 9, 2013)!
Ian Harwood, Calgary
CUPE's Paul Moist makes a good point (Pension Rebound – letters, Feb. 12) that public-sector pensions are much healther than some say.
However, I take issue with the concept that "pensions are promises to retirees" – in fact, they are debts not yet paid for wages deferred.
Michel Bourassa, Ottawa
In Need A Day? Take A Day (Business – Feb. 13), a professor is quoted as saying, "One has to be quick not to jump to conclusions."
I wonder if he could provide some further guidance. I am always ready to jump to conclusions, perhaps a little slow not to jump to conclusions, and any advice as to how to improve my speed at not doing something would be greatly appreciated.
Stephen Jarrett, London, Ont.