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Re Democracy Gets Schooled In Quebec (Editorial, Feb. 14): It is with sadness that we are witnessing the demise of school boards in Quebec. School boards are one of Canada’s oldest forms of democracy and, despite their occasional flaws, have permitted local priorities to be addressed in our school systems. Now, such initiatives in one province must emanate from the bureaucracy in Quebec City.
Would a provincial government ever have introduced French Immersion in elementary schools? It was a school board in Saint-Lambert, Que., that pioneered this, responding to demands of parents wanting to ensure their children would be able to participate in a bilingual country.
This led to boards in Ottawa and elsewhere to pick up on what has proven to be a very popular and successful program.
Provincial control of curriculum, testing, teacher negotiations and funding has, over the years, reduced the scope of school boards to innovate. Now, with Quebec’s example, they look to be an endangered species.
Alex Cullen Ottawa
While Section 23 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms does offer guarantees of minority language instruction across the country, it makes no specific mention of the right to elect and maintain minority linguistic school boards.
In Mahe v. Alberta from 1990, the Supreme Court was asked to determine whether the clause implicitly gave this right. It concluded that Section 23 “clearly encompasses a right to management and control” and “in some circumstances … warrant an independent school board.” However, these circumstances were never clearly outlined nor defined.
Moreover, history shows that in any case, since 1982, successive Quebec governments have shown no compunction in attempts to ride roughshod over Charter rights whenever it suits a purpose. Now that French boards will be legally abolished, it will surely only be a matter of time before those “pesky” English boards suffer the same fate.
History shows that centralized government control of education has remained a major objective in Quebec since the days of la Révolution tranquille. With all school boards gone, that aim would come to fruition, and along with it another nail in the coffin of the Anglo community in Quebec.
Alan Scrivener Cornwall, Ont.
Leaving on a jet plane
Re Bombardier To Depart Commercial Plane Business (Report on Business, Feb. 14): Imagine if Canada had invested more than $1-billion into medical research and the hospitals to house it, instead of supporting Bombardier’s airplanes. Quebec would have first-rate hospitals full of first-rate professionals, and we would have a very useful result of such an investment.
Could we keep this idea in mind for future use of public money? We will always need hospitals.
Barbara Klunder Toronto
Re Family Control Preserved Bombardier’s Independence But At Huge Cost (Online, Feb. 7): The story of Bombardier, a great Canadian business that looks to have lost its way, could have been easily avoided. I do work in succession planning and corporate culture, and this seems like a classic case of the founding family not having the insight to plan for bright new leaders to further build a strong culture of innovation and global competitiveness.
Sometimes, family-run businesses in this country lose sight of their critical stewardship and the need to embrace change, along with deeper commitments to preserving Canadian identity and protecting taxpayer investments where government money is involved. I find it heartbreaking, to say the least.
The C-series (now renamed the Airbus A220) is one of the most sophisticated aircraft flying, built from the ground up in Canada. Now, our Canadian engineers are left to work for the other guys. Airbus scored big on this – with a bargain-basement price.
Alexander Lutchin CEO, Executive Coach Global; Toronto
Re Toronto Police Chief Orders Officers To Stop Using Clearview AI Software (Feb. 14): If this software can be used to catch and incriminate those involved in child torture or pornography videos, I say to hell with privacy concerns. Sometimes we have to submit to things for the common good.
Alison Dennis Kingston
It is well documented that eyewitness testimony is notoriously inaccurate, fraught with human error and complicated by individual bias, even when it is sincere. So what is a police service to do? If a reliable application in the artificial-intelligence toolbox can be more accurate, why not put it to good use?
Let’s say we perfect facial-recognition software to the point where it dependably separates multiple sets of identical twins, then it is ready.
Honouring offenders’ rights to privacy should be lower on the rights and freedoms hierarchy than the right to safety. Might there be abuse of the application? Of course. That is why it should be regulated.
Hugh McKechnie Newmarket, Ont.
Re In The Ghoulish World Of Online Snark, Toasting To Metastasis Is A Virtue (Feb. 13): I believe columnist Robyn Urback is right to to criticize how social media weaponizes the illnesses of outspoken persons for odious “gotcha” payback, falsely framing it as karmic justice. Serious critics of Jordan Peterson’s exclusionary ideology should know better and separate his person from his public persona.
When a public person becomes sick, their humanity should deserve our cathartic pity. Instead of defaulting to ill will and schadenfreude, we should identify with the sufferer and express compassionate solidarity. If ad hominem attacks are wrong in debates over ideas, then they should be wrong when involving ailments. In battle, doctors are known for treating the wounded enemy with the same dedication afforded their own. As current events show, there is no connection between good ideas and good health.
When it comes to illness, we should all be on the side of goodwill toward others. The state of his ideas is a different matter worthy of rigorous disagreement. I wish Mr. Peterson well – his ideas, like everyone else’s, need a healthy defence.
Tony D’Andrea Toronto
I believe the online “virtue” of schadenfreude points to something even more disturbing: We hypocritically prize ourselves as a society intolerant of hatred, while at the same time indulging in it. The only issue becomes who or what should be its “proper” target: the right or left? Conservatives or liberals? Jordan Peterson or his opponents?
To hate at all is to corrupt one’s soul. Disagreeing or even condemning others should only be justifiable in so far as we don’t lose sight of their humanity. And that’s what happens when we hate – the antithesis of genuine virtue.
Paul Salvatori Toronto
Robyn Urback’s column reminded me of graffiti I once read on the wall of a university washroom stall when I was a grad student. It read: “God is dead, signed Nietzsche.” Below that was written: “Nietzsche is dead, signed God.”
Frank Foulkes Toronto
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