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Letters to the Editor April 6: Mr. Ford’s math ‘idea’. Plus other letters to the editor

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is considering mandatory annual math testing for all the province's teachers, regardless of whether they teach the subject.

Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here: letters@globeandmail.com

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Mr. Ford’s math ‘idea’

Re Ontario Considering Mandatory Annual Math Testing For All Teachers (April 5): Premier Doug Ford has declared he has “an idea” – annual math tests for all Ontario teachers, including those of decidedly non-math disciplines, such as French, music, gym, history, geography and art.

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Inexplicably – or perhaps explicably, considering his policies – Mr. Ford is omitting the group which would most benefit from such a test: himself and his caucus.

Randy Johnson, Toronto

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Public education is an investment in the future, however, the Ford government views it only as a line-item expense (Ontario To Cut Thousands Of Teaching Jobs Over Four Years – April 5). For the past few years, Ontario has enjoyed relative labour peace with teacher unions, with the associated benefits accruing to students and parents from a co-operative teaching environment. With the proposals to increase class sizes and an arbitrary requirement for annual math testing for all teachers, this is about to end.

If the Ford administration’s performance to date is any guide, poor planning will be followed by ham-handed execution. Lack of attention to detail will make any forecast savings illusory, but there will be a real cost in terms of a return to an antagonistic relationship with teachers, strikes, inconvenience to parents and increased conflict in the classroom.

Frank Malone, Aurora, Ont.

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Based on the numbers in their recent policies and initiatives, which don’t seem to add up, may I humbly suggest that we first test our Premier and his cabinet on their math skills.

Catherine Taylor, Toronto

Burst. Count the days

Re Ottawa Vows To Fix First Nation Sewage Leak (April 5): How about devoting a few inches to this story on the front page every day, as a kind of test case to see exactly how slowly the federal government moves to fix the burst lagoon?

We could have a counter for the days since the chief of the North Caribou Lake First Nation wrote Indigenous Services Canada on Feb. 17 to say there was a problem.

Even with the press coverage so far – thank you for keeping the story near the front page – officials are not calling in the army to fix the lagoon immediately, but are planning to be in to the community on Monday to “talk about” fixing the lagoon, which has never worked properly since it was built in 1997.

Anya Hageman, instructor, Economics of Indigenous Communities, Queen’s University

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Prosecuting SNC-Lavalin?

In 2015, the RCMP charged SNC-Lavalin under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act for allegedly paying US$48-million in bribes to Libyan officials and defrauding various Libyan organizations of US$130-million.

The alleged crimes took place between 2001 and 2011 – between 18 and eight years ago. Today, the board and executive of SNC are not made up of the same people who are alleged to have committed bribery and fraud, and SNC’s policies have changed.

How can it be fair and reasonable to proceed with a prosecution when the people affected by the prosecution did nothing wrong? If there is to be more investigation of this matter, I would like to know why a deferred prosecution agreement was rejected by director of public prosecutions Kathleen Roussel.

At least two of the executives who are no longer with SNC-Lavalin were charged, but their trials did not proceed because too much time had passed, which highlights another problem with the justice system.

Ellen Grant, Toronto

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DPAs on special. See your friendly Liberal MP for details.

Edward Sager, Cochrane, Alta.

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The mainstream media has portrayed the SNC–Lavalin scandal as the delicious melodrama of a personal conflict between the Good Jody Wilson-Raybould, who simply wants to obey the law, and the Bad Justin Trudeau And His Evil Gang. Notwithstanding the self-righteous murmurings of GJWR, and the slimy secretive maneuverings of BJTAHEG, there is a deeper issue – how should we enforce an inherently unfair law, which punishes corporations that commit bribery or fraud by disallowing bidding on government contracts for 10 years?

GJWR takes the entirely reasonable and correct interpretation that the separation of judiciary and legislature is paramount. But isn’t BJTAHEG also right by trying to find a way around a law that unfairly punishes the many for the crimes of the few? Police, for example, can’t simply lock up a motorcycle gang suspected of criminal activity. They must do the hard work of investigating in order to arrest only those members for whom they have evidence of alleged criminal activity.

The decision to allegedly offer bribes was made by a few executives. Isn’t it unfair to put the jobs of nearly 9,000 SNC employees, and the value to shareholders, at risk for the sins of the few?

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The deferred prosecution agreement of 2018 – which was slipped into an omnibus bill and is rightly seen as a sneaky loophole – isn’t the answer. Treating corporations as people allows boards and executives to hide nefarious activities. Bad corporate conduct should carry personal consequences. Parliament must change the law. Corporations don’t bribe people, people bribe people.

William P. McKay, Halifax

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Ten years ago, when automobile companies were in financial difficulty, we heard “too big to fail.” Are we now hearing “too big to prosecute”? Would that be consistent with the preamble to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which states that “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law …”

Donald G. Barber, Toronto

Airbnb: better agreement is an option

Re Vancouver’s Weak Agreement With Airbnb Is The Best We Can Do (April 2): While it is true that Vancouver’s information-sharing agreement with Airbnb has not improved the situation much, it certainly is not the best that we can do.

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The primary issue with Vancouver’s agreement is the lack of enforcement and platform accountability. Airbnb and similar platforms must be held accountable, through legally-binding terms, and prohibited from listing any unlicensed property.

San Francisco has set an example for cities like Vancouver. As part of a broader package of “common sense regulations,” Airbnb was required to delist all homeowners who did not register with the city. This resulted in Airbnb listings dropping almost in half virtually overnight, from 10,000 to 5,500.

Vancouver and other Canadian cities need to go further than memorandums of understanding. Without a legal agreement that is truly enforceable, the growth of unlawful listings on platforms like Airbnb will continue. Let’s strive for better and hold these platforms accountable.

Alana Baker, director of government relations, Hotel Association of Canada; Ottawa

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