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Letters to the Editor Aug. 2: Cruel and usual punishment. Plus other letters to the editor

Ontario Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod announced plans to roll back social-assistance changes put in place by the former Liberal government.

Chris Young/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:


Without evidence

I am appalled by the new Ontario government’s short-sighted decision to cancel the pilot project to establish a basic income for a group of individuals (PCs Roll Back Liberal-Era Social Assistance Changes, Aug. 1).

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I’m not surprised by the moves to demonize all those on social assistance, but surely we should be waiting to see the results of the three-year pilot project on basic income before stating, without any evidence, that it is not doing what it was intended to do.

Universal basic income is a concept that is being looked at by jurisdictions around the world and the results of this pilot project would have given researchers much more information about the outcomes. I cynically wonder if the current government was afraid that the research results might not agree with their preconceived ideas.

Elise de Stein, Hamilton


In its recent announcement on social assistance, the Ontario government under Premier Doug Ford reveals four of its characteristics.

First, it demonstrates a preference for bashing the poor in alleging there are hundreds of millions of dollars of fraud without providing a shred of evidence.

Second, it demonstrates its capacity to ignore the high costs of poverty generated through compromised health and child development, lost productivity, poor educational outcomes and increased child maltreatment when it cancels increases to social assistance rates that are far below the poverty line.

Third, it exhibits a preference for ideology over evidence in policy-making when it cancels the basic income pilots, which would have provided broad evidence about the effects of basic income.

Fourth, it displays a preference for simplistic single bullets over comprehensive policy when it proclaims jobs as sufficient to end poverty. Why no intervention in the labour market then to insure there are enough jobs that pay enough to move the worker out of poverty?

Sid Frankel, associate professor, faculty of social work, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg

A ‘carbon duty’

Re Ottawa Cuts Carbon Tax To Ease Competitiveness Concerns (Aug. 1):

Dennis Darby, president of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters association, warns that “If the countries with whom we are competing – and especially that big one to the south of us – do not have that kind of a [carbon tax] system in place, then you are having your hands tied behind your back.”

One method of leveling the playing field would be the imposition of a “carbon duty” on imports from jurisdictions that do not impose a carbon tax. This would give a stimulus to the local manufacture, extraction, and farming of goods for the Canadian market – which in turn could provide economies of scale for Canadian exports.

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Nicholas Tracy, Fredericton

Council cuts

Margaret Wente unwittingly gave the solution to Toronto city council’s inefficiency when she noted the council doesn’t have a party system (Doug Ford is Right About Toronto, July 31).

To make it easier for council to make more decisions more quickly, council should use a party system like the province and federal governments. Parliamentary democracies are more efficient when they operate with a party system with an agreed party program.

Ian Elder, Toronto


There might be some validity in Ms. Wente’s claims that Toronto’s government is “unwieldy and dysfunctional.”

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But why is it that Ontario Premier Doug Ford chose to reduce only the size of the Toronto’s council? What about Hamilton, Ottawa, Windsor, Sudbury?

Probably because this is a vendetta move against Toronto’s core by a man who once lost a bid to become mayor and didn’t do so well in Toronto in the recent provincial election. It is only being marketed as cost-saving and efficiency. A win for democracy? C’mon.

Lee Jacobson, Toronto


Mr. Ford did this with no consultation, saying that it will save taxpayers money. This is a total fabrication. All it will do is create a whole new and expensive level of bureaucracy around the diminished size of council, in order for these councillors to get the job done, representing the needs of local constituents.

Ann Mummenhoff, Toronto

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Downsizing-obsessed Mr. Ford could go on to save taxpayers across Ontario a tidy sum by applying his “Toronto formula” (one councillor per 100,000 residents) across the province. It would certainly put a stop to one of his pet peeves: endless council debates, on which Toronto holds no monopoly.

That would leave all of Ontario with about 135 councillors – Hamilton with six; Ottawa with nine; London, high-tech Kitchener and Waterloo with around four each; Kingston, Guelph and Barrie with not quite 1.4 each.

Sadly there would be no councillors at all for former premier Mike Harris’s North Bay, Newmarket, Niagara Falls, and many others … just mayors talking to themselves.

Ila Bossons, Toronto

Firearms Figures

Letter writer Robert Dale, arguing against increased gun control, says we’re “twice as likely to be killed as a pedestrian or a cyclist in Canada than a murder victim who is shot” (Guns Or No Guns, July 30). Surely this is an argument for restricting both guns and cars.

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Michael D. Arkin, Toronto


Comparing the absolute number of deaths from car accidents to gun violence or shark attacks or beagle maulings is not statistically significant unless you also take into account the number of times that people are exposed to those risks.

The probability of shark attack is not the number of attacks divided by the population; it is the number of attacks divided by the number of times people go into shark-infested waters.

A count of the number of gun deaths to car accident deaths isn’t statistically meaningful in the absence of a reference point ... unless you think the frequency of people taking a gun out in public is equal to the frequency of people taking a trip in their cars.

Darryl Squires, Ottawa

Happy birthday to us

Re What It’s Like Sharing A Birthday With Your Wife (July 30):

Without too much thought, I can name at least eight close friends and acquaintances who have the same May 25th birthday as me. In fact, my daughter-in-law’s mother is one and, coincidentally, her husband’s name is Gary – as is mine. Also, my right-hand man in business had his birthday on May 25, as did the wife of another executive who worked with me. Needless to say, we celebrated many happy birthdays together and we shared the bill also.

Gary Koreen, London, Ont.

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