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Power to expel
Re Did PM Have The Power To Expel MPs? (April 11): I hope your editorial rightly predicts that after the fall federal election, reporters will be asking the parties about their recorded votes regarding what is colloquially known as Michael Chong’s bill. Canadians should be grateful to Jane Philpott for bringing it to our attention. What troubles me is: Where were these reporters in 2015?
When I read about party leaders expelling members from their caucus (before Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott there was Erin Weir), I searched in vain in the media about how the parties had voted at their first caucus meeting. Now it appears that not only did two parties ignore the law, but nobody seemed to care, until now.
Mik Bickis, Saskatoon
If Prime Minister Justin Trudeau broke the law by expelling MPs because the Liberal caucus did not vote at its first meeting after the election on whether to adopt the Parliament of Canada Act’s expulsion procedure, then federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh broke the same law by unilaterally expelling me from the NDP caucus, which also did not hold this vote at our first meeting.
Erin Weir, independent MP, Regina-Lewvan
Isn’t it curious that the Liberals’ failure to vote on caucus powers according to the law introduced by Michael Chong did not appear to bother Jane Philpott at the time, but is a serious issue now that it affects her personally?
There must be a way to get people elected who care about something other than themselves.
Ken Duff, Vankleek Hill, Ont.
Re Expelled From Caucus (letters, April 11): The Jody Wilson-Raybould/SNC-Lavalin affair is not about legal technicalities. Nor is it about the merits of the SNC case. Nor is it about Ms. Wilson-Raybould or Jane Philpott. It is about keeping politicians’ grubby little fingers out of our legal system. That is the issue I am concerned about. I have no desire to see the antics that Canadian politicians regularly get up to spill over into how our legal system is run.
Jeff Breukelman, Richmond Hill, Ont.
Species to celebrate?
Re Swan Song (April 8): Mute swans (the Stratford species) were introduced from Europe and have become what’s called alien invasive. In the absence of natural predators in Canada, mute swans have proliferated. They take over wetlands for their nesting area, and drive our native species away from prime nesting habitat. This raises the question: Are mute swans really a species we want to celebrate with a parade?
Pamela Stagg, Picton, Ont.
At the border
Re Liberals’ Immigration Plan Is Good Policy Delivered Poorly (April 11): John Ibbitson lauds the decision to eliminate full hearings for asylum seekers entering at irregular crossings, asserting that “the immigration system is not humanitarian; it is economic.”
Immigrants and refugees can not be conflated. Canada has obligations to refugee claimants under international law, which absolutely prohibits returning refugees to situations of persecution. The Safe Third Country Agreement already imperilled this fundamental principle by preventing asylum seekers from claiming refuge at regular border crossings – essentially forcing them to cross irregularly instead. The changes proposed by Justin Trudeau will only exacerbate the problem.
Azeezah Kanji, Markham, Ont.
Canada welcomes legitimate refugees, evidenced by our country’s support of Syrians fleeing their ravaged homeland. Their plight is very different from economic migrants trying to jump the queue by exploiting a loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement.
My only criticism of the government in this matter is that it has taken it so long to act – some 40,000 so-called “asylum seekers” have entered this way in the past two years. How is this fair to legitimate refugees who deserve our compassion and financial support to begin a new life?
Beverley Williams, Halifax
Transit: Down shovels?
Re Ford Government Unveils TTC Subway Route To Ontario Place As Cost Of Downtown Expansion Rises (April 11): Uh oh. Just glanced at the map showing the province’s transportation plan for Toronto. Looks like transportation experts were not allowed in the room for this. Extend subway to compete with Pearson Union Express? Check. Jam more people into the already overcrowded Yonge line? Check. Throw money at little-used Line 3? Check. Run a line from Ontario Place to the Ontario Science Centre? Sure, why not?
And finally – perhaps as an homage to the Premier’s few weeks in academia – an LRT line to Humber College.
Don Reynolds, Toronto
In 2013, my wife and I spent six weeks visiting five major European cities. I soon became even more annoying than usual to travel with, because I was incapable of climbing onto a tram or subway without gesturing at the transit map and pointing out again and again that Toronto’s map would look like that, too … if only the past 40 years had seen the emphasis on actually building transit, instead of arguing about building it. When other cities’ maps have lines requiring most letters of the alphabet to name them, or line numbers that go higher than “3,” it gets embarrassing to be from here fast. Now, Doug Ford wants to discard 10 more years of planning and investment because he, and only he, knows what’s really best for Toronto transit riders.
And argue some more over what to build. Guess the people who actually build the stuff can put the shovels away. Again.
Bruce Mason, Toronto
Walking the OHIP talk
Re Small Talk (Opinion, April 6): My folks sacrificed to send me to a good university, but like the prodigal son, I squandered my early years on riotous living. I may have seemed like your garden-variety undergrad delinquent, but up close I was mentally ill. So I entered OHIP-funded psychoanalysis. A dozen sessions got me off alcohol, dozens more unearthed the traumas from which my symptoms grew like weeds. Eventually, I got better. Today, I’m a young lawyer who’ll spend decades paying into the very system I once benefited from.
Ontarians can’t let bureaucrats axe funding for intensive talk therapy to promote efficiency. A just, merciful society allocates disproportionate health-care resources to those who most need it. Paradoxically, the Health Ministry’s proposal is bad economic policy: Reformed prodigal sons make excellent taxpayers.
P.M. Smith, Toronto
Re Is Canada’s Election Ready For An Attack? (April 11): With all our squabbling politicians, how will we know if the election is under attack? What can we hope for on Oct. 21? Peace, order and good government? Good luck.
Marianne Orr, Brampton, Ont.