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Canada can step up
In their compelling column in favour of global trade and finding the right way to work with China, Patrick Leblond and Pascale Massot argue that Canada should take a leadership role (Harnessing Disruption: Working With China On Global Trade, Aug. 3).
They make the important point that this period in time, when the United States is stepping away from global leadership, “offers opportunities for policy innovation for powers such as Canada. Canada must not only be at the table; it can be a leader, providing transformative ideas and rallying others toward workable solutions.”
Yes, this is in Canada’s long-term economic interest, but there is a further important reason for so-called middle powers such as Canada to reinforce a fair global trade system: fairness for the vast majority of countries in the world who are lesser economic powers. Canada’s ability to punch above its weight should also be used for this greater good, because, in keeping with Canadian tradition, it is the right thing to do.
Bob Walsh, Wilton, Conn.
Get a job?
I applaud Hugh Segal for asking if Ontario’s new PC government will define itself as kind-hearted, fiscally responsible and inclusive, or ideological, vindictive and exclusionary (PCs Shouldn’t Exclude Low-Income Ontarians, Oct. 2).
I hope the answer is Door No. 1. Sadly, with Ontario Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod telling us, “Let me be clear, the best social program is a job,” I suspect the question has already been answered.
Looks like I’ll need to tell my 90-year-old mother with advanced dementia who relies on the Community Care Access Centre for part of her care and my four-year-old niece with cerebral palsy to stop being so lazy and just go out there and get a job.
Martha Lynch, Toronto
Talk is cheap
Wilfrid Laurier University president Deborah MacLatchy is disingenuous in her column on free speech (Not Merely Free Speech, But Better Speech Needs To Be Protected On Campus, Aug. 1).
In response to a presentation I made at Laurier on May 9, entitled Does University Indigenization Threaten Open Inquiry?, the university charged $5,500 in “security fees” and intentionally scheduled a Gathering of Good Minds ceremony to coincide with my talk.
This indicated that there was no attempt to facilitate dialogue, but the opposite. In fact, the university was at pains to advertise that it “strongly opposed” my views, even though it provided no rationale for this position.
My case shows how “inclusive freedom” is not about facilitating “better, evidence-based arguments,” but disguising a politically correct totalitarian agenda. In order to determine what constitutes better speech, we need to exchange ideas freely, and everything must be considered. This requires bringing points of contention to the forefront, not avoiding discussion because it is perceived to be “disempowering” and “disrespectful.”
Frances Widdowson, associate professor, Mount Royal University, and co-ordinator of membership outreach, Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, Calgary
Dr. MacLatchy’s opinion piece does not deserve nitpicking over what she said, what she did not say, or should have said. She’s in a tough position defending something where you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Sure, she sounds like a kindergarten teacher pleading with rowdy children to be nice to each other, but what else could she do?
Still, I have been critical of how graduate student Lindsay Shepherd was bullied by two tenured faculty and an administrator at Laurier. They key to understand the bullying is tenure.
Tenure can give faculty illusions of supreme power as they can’t be fired and have a well-paid job and pension most people would die for. For review to grant tenure, most universities use “collegiality” as one criterion, ambiguous and subjective for sure, but useful nevertheless.
In future tenure reviews at Laurier, and universities generally, collegiality should be stressed, not just how faculty get along with each other, but how they treat students and the right of students to have unpopular opinions. It may even be time to reconsider permanent tenure and make tenure a, say, five-year renewable contract based on merit.
Reiner Jaakson, Oakville, Ont.
Power of a free press
The steep decline in “unfounded” rates in sexual-assault cases following The Globe and Mail’s investigation is a striking illustration of the power and importance of a robust and free press in society (Unfounded Rates Fall Across Canada, Aug. 3).
This story stands in sharp contrast to the one beside it on the front page, where speaking the truth about the real purpose and nature of “re-education centres” in China brings immediate threats to your personal freedom and that of your family (Former Teacher Who Fled China Speaks Out On Re-Education Centres, Aug. 3).
Investigative journalism plays a crucial and muscular role in shaping and guiding the democratic processes in a free society, and they should not be deterred by the relentless bleating about “fake news” emanating from south of the border.
Paul Thiessen, Vancouver
Climate change storms
Re Ontario Targets Federal Carbon Tax With Second Legal Challenge (Aug. 3):
As a former member of the legal profession, I suppose I should support the Ford government’s decision to use up to 60 per cent of the money saved by cancelling the basic income pilot program to fund a legal challenge of the constitutionality of the federal government’s proposed carbon tax, which is already being challenged by the government of Saskatchewan.
Instead, I find myself appalled that a government that claims to speak for “the little guy” has chosen to make some of our poorest citizens suffer so that an allegedly illegal tax can be declared unconstitutional twice. This seems rather like being declared pregnant twice – the second declaration really doesn't change anything, does it?
Ken Shugart, Welland, Ont.
As the Ontario government and others dial back their programs to protect the environment, Canadians only have to check their home insurance renewal rates to see how climate change is affecting them personally. My homeowner renewal rates have increased 20 per cent and our condo corporation rates have gone up 15 per cent. A straw poll of others indicates these increases are pretty typical.
It is critically important that even in turbulent times we continue to strike a balance between environmental, social and economic initiatives.
Wayne Fisher, Mississauga