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Our Prime Minister demoted our justice minister and attorney-general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, during her exceedingly meritorious term (PM Chooses Not To Be Clear On What Happened With SNC, Feb. 8). Why doesn’t he explain why? Clearly.
Malcolm Hanson, Ottawa
There is a fine line between governance and political interference. If there’s a story here, it looks like the story is about a justice minister who didn’t know where to draw that line.
A justice minister telling the public prosecutor to achieve a particular outcome would have been political interference. The same minister requesting that the public prosecutor explore whether a suitable remediation agreement could be reached would have been governance.
Given the particulars of this file, perhaps governance would have been preferable to petulance.
Eric Pelletier, Toronto
I wonder: How does one stakeholder in Canada, in this case SNC-Lavalin, get to meet with government officials and parliamentarians a reported 50 times over a two-year period, including 14 times with the Prime Minister’s inner circle of advisers in the PMO?
I’ve spent decades working for civil society organizations trying to get the ear of our government on issues ranging from arms sales to human rights. Requests for meetings with anyone beyond junior civil servants are invariably met with silence or a boilerplate letter that says, “I hope you understand that the minister has a very busy schedule and cannot respond to all requests for meetings.”
Our politicians, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, are fond of using phrases such as “consulting all Canadians” and “we want to hear everyone’s voice.” The SNC case demonstrates that in our version of Canadian democracy, money still talks – or in this case, bends the ears of those with political power.
Dale Hildebrand, Toronto
Disease-gender link, too
Re Gender Bias Hurts Female Scientists’ Chances Of Landing Grants, Study Finds (Feb. 8): Now that a study has shown that the Canadian Institutes of Health Research funding system is biased against female researchers, it is time to look at whether CIHR’s funding system is biased against female-dominated health issues.
Is less research funding going to female-dominated health conditions than male-dominated health conditions, even after taking into account factors such as prevalence and impact?
A comprehensive study would be challenging because of Canada’s data deficit. There is a lack of good quality, comparable figures on the prevalence and impact of health conditions, their gender distribution, and CIHR funding by health condition. Having said that, existing data strongly suggest that female-dominant conditions do indeed receive less generous research funding from CIHR, making such a study extremely important.
Margaret Parlor, Ottawa
Beard the bear?
Re Diplomats Launch Suit Against Ottawa (Feb. 7): Canadian diplomats and their families serving in Cuba have sadly been required to turn to our courts for treatment of their debilitating “Havana syndrome” symptoms.
Given the close relationship between Cuba and Canada over the years, one largely forged by the Prime Minister’s father, it is highly doubtful that the Cuban regime is behind the sonic attacks. As American diplomats represent the other targeted nationality, this serious undermining of diplomatic protocol points to Russia.
No doubt President Vladimir Putin views both Canada and the U.S. as his shortlisted enemies, especially since both nations have pursued Magnitsky sanctions against his inner circle. Why isn’t Russia being held accountable?
George Horhota, Toronto
Adult autism wait lists
Re Ontario Overhauls Autism Program In Attempt To Eliminate Wait List (Feb. 6): The recent announcement by Ontario’s government of its plan to eliminate the waiting list for access to autism treatment, and the corresponding brouhaha is all related to the needs and fate of children under 18. What about the scandalously long waiting period for adults with autism to get access to group-home accommodations?
An applicant cannot be added to the waiting list before they are 18. Is it acceptable to have wait lists that stretch to 10 years? Parents of children on the spectrum can’t be expected to live longer than their children; at some point, society, especially a wealthy and civilized one like Canada, needs to have adequate facilities to house its disabled and most vulnerable citizens.
Children, Community and Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod’s approach to eliminating the waiting list for access to treatment by dividing the currently available budget resources among those who are being served and those on the waiting list won’t work in this case. How many people can you stuff in a bed and a room? So what is Ms. MacLeod going to do? Anything?
Frank LeClair, Ottawa
Big bang-bang theory
Re Residents Gather To Voice Noise-Level Concerns (Feb. 6): I battled construction noise a few years ago when I was chair of a Toronto residents’ association. When the foundations for high-rise condos were being sunk, my neighbours and I were frequently jolted out of bed at 7 a.m. by pile drivers. The cannon-like sounds could be clearly heard, even though our homes were about three kilometres away.
The problem, above all, was the timing. Most residents were still asleep at 7 a.m. – at least until the big bangs began. City officials told me changing the noise bylaw to an 8 a.m. start time was a non-starter, so I gave up tilting at that particular windmill.
I am convinced that 7 a.m. is an anachronism from a time, maybe 80 years ago, when many workers were up at 7 to be at work at 8 a.m. in factories. Today, more workers start jobs at 9 a.m., and likely sleep past 7 a.m. unless construction noise drives them out of bed. It is high time that the city changed the start time for construction to 8 a.m. so most residents can have an uninterrupted night’s sleep.
Michael Craig, Owen Sound, Ont.
EU Council President Donald Tusk’s musings after Theresa May’s latest empty-handed trip to Brussels, where he wondered what a “special place in hell looks like, for those who approved Brexit, without even a sketch of a plan of how to carry it out safely” sounds like an excellent design opportunity for crowd funding (U.S.-Canada Border Offers Brexit Lifeline, Feb. 9).
As to what such a terrestrial destination might look like, a one-way ticket to Yemen, Syria or Venezuela springs to mind – or, given The Donald, perhaps even our neighbour to the South.
Richard Cooper, Ottawa