Fun and Games
Once again, the Games have been awarded to a country with serious political and social problems, and a horrible record of anti-democratic policies and human-rights abuses (Game On – front page, Feb. 7).
Let's run down what we have learned about what's really going on in Sochi: animal cruelty, anti-gay laws, social media monitoring, corruption.
Enough is enough. Cancel the Olympics. Stop wasting money that should be directed to health and education and housing and other projects that create better living standards and a more open society for the citizens in the host country. There must be a better way to appreciate athletes' accomplishments.
Sheina Lerman, King's Point, Nfld.
I wish the global community could put as much effort, skill, development, time, energy, resourcefulness and capital into preserving equitable human rights as we do when dickering over something as trivial as Olympic "glory." Russia's LGBT community, for one, has more pressing matters at hand.
There is no glory in gold when it comes at the cost of human dignity – it's freedom for everybody, or none of us are free. Unite in a boycott of Sochi 2014!
Jason Motz, North Vancouver
I am taken aback by the coverage of Steve Stamkos's exit from the Olympics (St. Louis Replaces Injured Teammate Stamkos – Sports, Feb. 7). Can we get a grip?
It seems there is an instinctive slant toward covering the professional players heading to the Games. You cover this sort of story because you think all of Canada is obsessed by the NHL but could you turn your minds to the young and underpaid people who have strived to be there in Sochi, who had to do it without already being paid richly from their regular jobs.
Lyn Cummins, Toronto
I'm glad Richard Florida is advocating for better treatment for service-sector workers (Urban Workers Need More Pay – Feb. 7), but his suggestion that minimum wage be adjusted to reflect the median wage in any given city will provide only middling economic benefit over time.
I fear its immediate impact will be to speed the decline of regional centres, which already face significant demographic attrition. Young people will have further incentive to leave small communities already struggling with demands for increased services from a declining tax base.
Further, many service workers are suburban (as distinct from rural) commuters: We can anticipate they will be more likely to maintain a commuting lifestyle, gratefully accepting the urban wage premium while putting it to use in their home community.
It's a market, like any other.
Michael Martyn, Orillia, Ont.
André Picard is to be congratulated for his fundamental understanding of the root cause of emergency department crowding: an insufficient number of hospital beds leading to backlogs in the ER (How Hospitals Could Reduce Emergency Wait Times – online, Feb. 6).
He is right to praise innovation in the processes of care within the emergency department but also understands that this will not, by itself, resolve the overarching capacity problem.
The fundamental question, therefore, is not how to deal with non-urgent patients but how to resolve the cause of the impasse. Enhanced access to after-hours primary care, urgent-care centres and home paramedic visits are worthy projects but won't solve anything with respect to access in the hospital.
We need to address our lack of hospital and community bed capacity to meet the needs of an increasingly aging population. Until then, crowding and prolonged waits will remain an unsettling threat to the well-being of all Canadians.
Alan Drummond, co-chair, public affairs, Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, Ottawa
'Cu' later, superbugs
Re Super Bugged (letters – Feb. 7): I recently learned of the antimicrobial qualities of copper, and I wonder, why is copper not being discussed as a logical choice for surfaces in hospitals? The cost of refitting hospitals may be prohibitive but why aren't new hospitals, renovated hospitals and new equipment using copper instead of stainless steel?
Gayle Hallgren-Rezac, Vancouver
Strong role models
Robert Cairns suggests that as men are significantly underrepresented in elementary teaching (Quotas For Men – letters, Feb. 7), legislation ought to be enacted to designate 50 per cent of these positions as "male." He bases his claim on the seemingly unassailable premise that children need strong role models.
Indeed, they do. Great teachers, irrespective of gender, are usually excellent role models. The ability to educate and inspire children to love learning at an early age is what our society must demand of its educators. But the notion that gender-based elementary school quotas will advance this imperative is dubious at best. There is a grim irony in the wholesale violation of equality rights that must accompany such measures.
So long as there are fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers, and cousins – even a nice, upstanding neighbour – there are plenty of male role models to go around.
Bryan Davies, Whitby, Ont.
Mr. Cairns makes an excellent point. With the number of children living in homes without a male figure, the importance of more male teachers is urgent.
Ann Sullivan, Peterborough
So, Minister of State Pierre Poilievre wants "democratic reform" (Fair Elections Act – letters, Feb. 7). I suggest the best place for him to start his democratic reform is his own Prime Minister, who has prorogued Parliament four times since taking office in 2006. Some democracy!
Joseph Markarian, Toronto
Re What To Really Expect (Life – Feb. 7):
One of the greatest joys in parenting is the discovery of a rich, new relationship. If we dropped the idea that we need to manage and control a child's life and gave ourselves over to guiding, exploring and learning together, it would be more fulfilling for all.
Beverley Cathcart-Ross, Toronto
Go viral, eh?
Hurray! It's the reunion of our two favourite hosers, Bob and Doug McKenzie/Ford (Rob And Doug Bring Their Ford Nation Talk Show To YouTube – online, Feb. 6). Since Saturday Night Live has been running so much Ford material, maybe they can put the old SCTV show on again, like the old days.
It's ripe for Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis to do a reprise.
Melinda Munro, Windsor, Ont.