Skip to main content

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has tapped former governor general David Johnston to look into allegations that China meddled in Canada's two last elections.GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images

Shame, shame

Re “David Johnston is an inspired choice to investigate Chinese election interference” (March 16): When I first heard the word “rapporteur,” I immediately thought of the Spanish word cobrador.

A cobrador is a silent, dark-clothed, hooded figure who stands outside a debtor’s house to shame them into paying. While the cobrador has its beginnings in medieval Europe, the concept is still relevant today.

In more modern times, the cobrador is thought of as a manifestation of a conscience standing in judgment. Now that we have a special rapporteur, I think we also need a cobrador standing silently outside Parliament, to remind Canadians that we need our government to be responsible, transparent and accountable.

Alana Birt Uxbridge, Ont.

Celebrate good times

Re “On this day, 175 years ago, Canada became a democracy. Why aren’t we celebrating?” (Opinion, March 11): Contributor John Ralston Saul makes the case that each year on March 11, Canadians should publicly celebrate their democracy, remarkably resilient and now 175 years old.

We are unlikely to agree on all of the components that have made up our magical formula, but one key element is clear to me: Despite recent and not entirely unsuccessful efforts to attract outlier support by the promotion of division and anger, our major political parties still largely share the same fundamental values about rights, freedoms, co-operative federalism and a rough equality of opportunity across income levels and race.

That continuity is not secure. All the more reason to take up Mr. Saul’s proposal to acknowledge the importance of this legacy every March 11.

John Graham Former ambassador; former head, Unit for the Promotion of Democracy, Organization of American States; Ottawa

In the midst of national self-examination, Canadians should indeed remember Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine, who in 1848 defied the prejudices of their communities and stood together in defence of a vision of a non-violent, multi-ethnic, multi-religious, democratic Canada that prevails to this day.

It is worth revisiting LaFontaine’s words, as cited in writer Adam Gopnik’s A Thousand Small Sanities: The Moral Adventure of Liberalism (2019): “[Canada] is our homeland, as it should be the adopted homeland of the different populations that come from the diverse parts of the globe. … Their children should be, like us, and above all, Canadians. In addition to social equality, we need political liberty. Without it we will have no future. … These values are stronger than laws and nothing we know of will weaken them.”

Unusual in an era when established power was almost always reactionary, the governor-general Lord Elgin strongly supported them.

Larry Muller Trent Lakes, Ont.

Contributor John Ralston Saul exposes our disregard for the crucible from which our democracy emerged. Such resilience in the face of adversity should be celebrated.

Perhaps we have not been adequately equipped to appreciate the strength that gives Canada such potential. Is the proposal to reduce in-person citizenship ceremonies (“If Canada loses its citizenship ceremonies, we risk losing ourselves” – Opinion, March 4) a symptom? Has ignorance led us to stray from democratic traditions in favour of more divisive politics?

In the process, we have not met our social and environmental challenges. As a priority, let us rely on our uniquely Canadian democracy and embrace genuine, respectful reconciliation. Let us create relationships between equals that would be unstoppable.

Pheroze Jeejeebhoy Hamilton

In debt

Re “No, the Boomers didn’t live within their means. And younger generations will pay the price” (Report on Business, March 11): Contributor Paul Kershaw equates boomers not living within their means with our massive national debt. Living within one’s means should mean just that: an individual’s means.

No matter the generation, there is only one tool to influence government and that is the ballot box. Boomers had no more sway over government bloat or waste in the 1970s than young people have today.

Not paying my share of taxes? My one tax deduction, a small RRSP. Still, I must confess my profligacy: Four out-of-town vacations in 40 years of work; rent, half the amount of my take-home pay; car, inherited at age 46 (me, not the car); down payment on a fixer-upper at age 51 (both me and the house).

Is it any wonder why my fellows are a tad ticked off?

Helen Thibodeau Cobourg, Ont.

I believe the idea that government debt should be paid off as if it were personal debt is misleading.

Canada is an ongoing concern, unlike individuals. Public debt is still quite manageable relative to GDP, without individual Canadians having to repay their per capita outstanding balance at some future stage, as if the country were bankrupt.

I believe the greatest economic burden faced by the next generations is the extreme concentration of income and wealth. A small percentage of the rich has left middle- and lower-income groups with static or reduced economic circumstances.

We should return to a distribution of income and wealth that benefits all. Otherwise, most of the next generations would indeed be worse off, even with manageable public debt.

Dale Taylor Richmond Hill, Ont.

Nowhere to be found

Re “What a woo-woo L.A. supermarket beloved by celebrities says about our culture” (March 11): The Erewhon chain of U.S. health-food stores is named after a novel by Samuel Butler, first published anonymously in 1872 as a satire of Victorian society.

Butler’s Erewhon is a pseudo-utopia: Criminals are treated as if they were ill; sick people as if they were criminals. I find it absurd that people believe they can consume their way to enlightenment.

Health-oriented marketing seems to believe that a successful product simply adds obscure ingredients and grossly inflates price. I bet that someone could sell acidified alkaline water, channelled through a vast system of interconnected conduits, expertly built over a century and a half: Toronto tap water.

Moses Shuldiner Toronto

Write on

Re “Miriam Toews’s Oscars moment exposes a complicated relationship with her Mennonite hometown” (March 11): At least Miriam Toews is in good company.

Look at Nikos Kazantzakis, author of Zorba the Greek (1946) and the most famous modern writer to emerge from the island of Crete. When he died in 1957, the Greek Orthodox Church refused to give him full funeral rights; he was buried in a bastion of the famous wall in his hometown of Heraklion. His grave looks down on the city, but isn’t technically inside the city.

His epitaph: “I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.”

Bronwyn Drainie Toronto

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