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It rests on integrity

Re Churches Escape Settlement Obligations (April 27): As a boy in a Roman Catholic school, I learned about the Seven Sacraments. The conditions surrounding penance remain clear: To receive absolution for a sin, I must confess the wrongdoing, feel true remorse, carry out the penance prescribed by the priest and, where possible, commit to restitution (the example of a broken window still resounds).

It all rested on integrity, with no provision for weaseling out at any step in the process. Which brings me to the "best efforts" the church claims to have made to raise $25-million for aboriginal healing. It's time to look at a different set of numbers.

Canada's population is about 35 million. According to the 2011 Census, about 13 million Canadians identify as Roman Catholic. So the "best efforts" couldn't yield $2 per adherent. Not $2 a week. Not $2 a month. Not $2 a year.

Just $2. Once. But there were funds for lawyers to help end run the inconvenience of integrity.

Ab Dukacz, Mississauga


Held for ransom

Re Hostage Ransoms Are A Lose-Lose For Any Government (April 27): Canada could offer a multimillion-dollar reward for the capture and conviction of John Ridsdel's murderers. This might deter the kidnapping for ransom of other Canadians. It might also more meaningfully than mere words express sympathy for the relatives of Mr. Ridsdel.

Rod Yellon, Winnipeg


A child's death

Re Alberta Couple Found Guilty In Toddler Son's Meningitis Death (April 27): If Ezekiel Stephan's parents had followed Alberta's provincial immunization schedule, by the age of 19 months Ezekiel would have received vaccine protection against three different strains of bacterial meningitis. It is quite possible, if he'd had this protection, that he never would have developed meningitis.

Michael Gertler, MD, Whitby, Ont.


Two-thirds of PhDs?

Re Study Sheds Light On Post-PhD Jobs (April 26): As a doctoral candidate in the English Department at the University of Toronto set to graduate soon, I found the positive spin on the study of post-PhD job prospects interesting, to say the least. If "a third of recent PhD graduates from Ontario universities are working as tenured or tenure-track university professors within a few years of finishing their degrees," doesn't that mean that two-thirds are not able to secure the type of work they have often spent close to a decade training for?

Kaelyn Kaoma, Toronto


No tips on tap

Re The Zero Per Cent Solution (Life & Arts, April 27): Why should it be risky to stop tipping in Canadian restaurants? In many countries, especially in Europe, there is no tipping. The price for the meal includes payment to the staff and is divided fairly.

If this isn't possible here, tips should be pooled and shared among staff, including the cook: If the food doesn't taste good, how good is a tip likely to be?

Jan Sundin, Bridgewater, N.S.


Our own culture

Re Reform Is Welcome. But Is It Possible? (editorial, April 26): Why pick on Canadian creators, the only Canadian element in our broadcasting system? Surely when The Globe is talking about ending "regulatory moats," it's talking about ending broadcasters' subsidies for broadcasting Canadian content. But those "regulatory moats" enable us to have a voice in an international market dominated by big players. This issue is fundamentally about having our own Canadian culture.

How can that be bad?

Maureen Parker, executive director, Writers Guild of Canada


First Nations housing

Re Ottawa Mulls Recouping Funds For Housing From Attawapiskat (April 25): Justin Trudeau's government has not addressed the deficit in funds for housing on reserves: The budgeted $554-million is actually a potential shortfall of some $19-billion, looking nationwide at the crisis.

The focus on First Nations accounting always seems to sidestep the larger issue of a massive, systemic funding gap, partially dating to the 2-per-cent spending cap on First Nations introduced in the 1995 budget by the Chrétien government and only now lifted. The infrastructure deficit is enormous and shameful.

While former Attawapiskat chief Theresa Spence's band council was put under third party management, this order was successfully challenged in federal court. The court concluded that the minister used the policy without consideration for "more reasonable, more responsive or less invasive remedies available."

It is true that the band had been in co-management for years and was unable to put sufficient funds toward local housing needs. But that is also partly because housing funds were reallocated to debt repayment: The band was servicing debt forced upon it when Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada and De Beers refused to shoulder costs for sewage-backup damages to Attawapiskat's housing stock.

You can't put a Band-Aid on a suicide epidemic. Addressing the structural and historical issues must be part of the solution.

Shiri Pasternak, postdoctoral fellow, Osgoode Law, York University


Women's battles

While having an accomplished, successful woman on one of Canada's bills is symbolically significant, and may gradually help to shift attitudes toward women's importance in society, it does little to address the structural inequalities – many of them (ironically) financial – that oppress a great number of ordinary women (And The Nominees Are – Folio, April 25). Therefore, I propose that the new bill be emblazoned with the faces of Canada's missing and murdered aboriginal women to remind us that the real battles women face will not be won symbolically, but when the substantive conditions of women's lives are made better.

Jill Goldberg, Vancouver


Fore! by flashlight

There is a funny anecdote that came after then-president Bill Clinton's renowned address on federalism at Mount Tremblant in 1999 (Will Obama Help Britain To Think Clearly? – April 27). The president was scheduled to meet with Quebec premier Lucien Bouchard afterward but, as prime minister Jean Chrétien recounted in his memoirs, "Clinton had to rush off to something he considered more important – his golf game with me." The match was late starting and the two golfing buddies had to play the final holes in light provided by security vehicles and flashlights.

J.D.M. Stewart, Toronto

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