Re How Trudeau Can Keep His Promise To Change Canada’s Election Law (Sept. 22): In the Danish series Borgen (available on Netflix), the country’s Prime Minister spends a large amount of her time making up coalitions and keeping them together. It’s a drama, of course, so there is some exaggeration. But still, the imperfection of proportional representation looks obvious.
Recent elections in Israel, Italy and Belgium also show the downside of mixed-party government.
Yes, reform is necessary, but someone should still be in charge and consistent in their policies, not shackled to political adversaries one is forced to bring into cabinet.
Paul Hitschfeld Ottawa
Contributor David Beatty sees the problem, but rather than referring it to the Supreme Court, whose learned judges are not necessarily equipped to design a new voting system, Parliament should commission a non-partisan citizens assembly. It can determine what system achieves the professor’s worthy goal: to treat all voters fairly.
Wilfred Day Port Hope, Ont.
Contributor David Beatty mentions how environmentalists are at a disadvantage in the first-past-the-post system, as the Green Party does not carry seats it would earn in a fairer system. In the midst of a climate crisis, using a system that would lessen the power available to address it seems not only undemocratic, but also dangerous.
Proportional representation would bring in parties willing to take the bold climate action I believe we need.
Nicole Godin Toronto
Re B.C.'s Craven Election Call Exposes What We Let Politicians Get Away With (Sept. 23): Craven? I call it democracy. Much has happened in the world since British Columbia last went to the polls. Our social, economic and political circumstances have drastically altered, and the party platforms we voted on three years ago are outdated.
I welcome the opportunity to examine the new platforms and candidates that parties will put forward to the electorate, then make my voting decision with fresh eyes. Let’s see how they propose to keep us safe and healthy, rebuild our troubled economy and deal with the ecological crises facing the province.
If I can go to the grocery store safely, I can vote.
Jamie Alley Victoria
In the accompanying photo, a bee buzzes about John Horgan’s head. This reminds me of the custom among Renaissance painters to depict a fly as a form of memento mori.
If not mortal death in this instance, perhaps an impending electoral one?
Brian Green Thunder Bay
Re ‘We Need To Do More In China’: Ambassador Pushes For Closer Ties With Beijing Despite Turmoil (Sept. 22): I find it exasperating to see Dominic Barton continue pushing for closer ties with China, citing its growing economic clout. The country has used this very reason to act as a might-is-right bully against its immediate neighbours and subject its Muslim citizens to forced indoctrination. I believe Mr. Barton fails to understand that China’s economic rise has made it more intolerant – not more democratic.
Canada, along with other mid-level countries, should develop a long-term plan to deal effectively with China. The best way would be to follow China’s own plan: It successfully obtained manufacturing and intellectual expertise from the West and offered low manufacturing costs and minimal interference – exactly what big business wants. There are many poorer countries that are reasonably stable and more than eager to become economic powerhouses.
Canada should use export-financing arms to defray initial investments, whilst making it difficult for Chinese goods to be used in technologically sensitive sectors. This requires the government and its counterparts to think long-term – undoubtedly wishful thinking on my part.
Kartik Shanker Montreal
Re The Wall And The Way Forward: Finding A New Relationship With China (Sept. 19): Foreign correspondent Nathan VanderKlippe offers an intelligent examination of the dilemma Canada faces with China and how it might be approached. There is a profound quote from a China-focused research analyst: “I don’t think stopping China is an option.”
Now if only he had added “or the United States,” because that would be the full dilemma in a nutshell.
Hal Hartmann West Vancouver
In its relationship with the world, China has built a considerable amount of soft power, which depends on maintaining respect and goodwill. With its foreign policy direction under Xi Jinping, China is frittering away its soft power.
The most effective response would be to ensure that, at every step, China is frustrated in achieving the ends it seeks. For middle powers such as Canada and the European Union, cutting trade relationships would not be necessary. But since China often does not play by the rules, we would be wise to reduce our dependence on a country that has acted capriciously and shown itself to not be a reliable partner.
This would further reduce China’s soft power and drive home the lesson.
Manuel Mertin Calgary
Re Civil Response (Letters, Sept. 22): A letter-writer against the abolition of civil juries notes that they return a verdict quickly, while judges often take weeks or longer to render judgment. Doesn’t this view unwittingly expose the potential injustices found in civil trials by jury?
Such trials often raise complex issues that take time for proper consideration before a just verdict can be reached. The question, then, should not be whether civil trials by jury are better or worse, but rather, should we be making such lengthy time demands on our citizens?
Robert Batting Calgary
Re Is Canada About To Repeat Fiscal History? Debt Levels Suggest That’s Likely (Online, Sept. 22): Is it time to roll out a debt clock again? In 1990, the then-named Vancouver Board of Trade thought government needed a visual reminder of Canada’s sky-high debt. The solution was a massive clock, 12 feet in length by nine feet tall, which showed a debt of $92,000 a minute at its peak.
Each year, Paul Martin, as finance minister, was invited to speak at the board’s annual debtor’s breakfast (where gruel was served). The clock was placed on stage right next to Mr. Martin, its ticking sound cranked up as the debt per minute clicked over. It took eight years before the government wrestled the debt down – Mr. Martin came to Vancouver and stopped “that damn clock.”
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation now has a digital debt clock and Canada’s federal debt, at last check, is a scary $652,968 a minute. This should be a screensaver on all politicians' computers.
Darcy Rezac Managing director emeritus, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade; Langley, B.C.
Keep your Opinions sharp and informed. Get the Opinion newsletter. Sign up today.