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Buyers? Or realtors?
Re Real Estate Industry Lobbies Morneau To Help First-Time Home Buyers In Budget (Report on Business, Feb. 25): Is it really first-time home buyers who would benefit from taking on a bit more risk, relaxed down-payment standards and greater government subsidies?
Sales are dropping, which means, according to most market theories and real-estate history, that prices should drop. That should lower barriers for first-time buyers through reduced down payments without changing the minimum threshold percentage; reduced risk, so there is less chance of going under water by buying just before the bubble breaks … and so on.
Realtors are the real target of this charity. Yes, fewer sales will hurt them, but a realtor who hasn’t benefited from skyrocketing prices over the past few years is in the wrong line of work.
Paul DeGroot, North Saanich, B.C.
Thank-yous? No thanks
Re Academy Awards 2019 (Feb. 25): The Oscars are all about creativity and acting – yet every year, the production seems the same: movie clips, well-known presenters, various fashion crimes and a boring, if extensive, litany of thank-yous, right down to the second assistant van driver. Apart from the film titles, no originality.
At least fewer winners read their speech from a script this year: A one-minute monologue and professional actors can’t memorize their words!? A suggestion to build audience share: At a minimum, ban routine acceptance speeches. Just roll the thank-you credits while the winner says a few meaningful words, without benefit of script or teleprompter. (Thanks, Olivia Colman.) Viewers would be grateful.
Les Jones, Judy Rauliuk; Toronto
Pressure isn’t allowed
Re In Ottawa Politics, There’s Pressure … And Then There’s ‘Pressure’ (Opinion, Feb. 23): Lori Turnbull argues, as Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick did before the House justice committee, that appropriate pressure can be applied by the PMO on the A-G to intervene in a prosecution.
Under the constitutional principle of independent prosecutorial decision-making (known as the Shawcross Doctrine after the British attorney-general who originated it), information concerning the effects of a prosecution can be provided to the A-G by other cabinet ministers, but no one is allowed to apply pressure.
Jody Wilson-Raybould should have immediately reported publicly who put pressure on her. That she didn’t do this highlights the conflict of interest the A-G is in as a member of cabinet, as Adam Dodek pointed out (The Impossible Position: Canada’s Attorney-General Cannot Be Our Justice Minister – Opinion, Feb. 23).
Democracy Watch has long proposed that the attorney-general for every government in Canada should be a lawyer, with the sole job of advising the government on the legality of its actions, and have no role in prosecutions.
Prosecutions should be directed only by a director of public prosecutions (which only the federal government, B.C., Nova Scotia and Quebec have, although none is as independent from cabinet as is needed to ensure integrity in prosecutorial decisions).
The justice minister should only handle changes to justice-related laws and operations of justice-related programs, with full transparency required concerning the reasons for any funding changes that affect prosecutions.
Duff Conacher, co-founder, Democracy Watch; adjunct professor of law and politics, University of Ottawa
Speaking of prizes …
Re Will The Coming Days Bring Trump A Peace Prize Or Impeachment? (Feb. 25): I propose two nominations for Donald Trump, each of which is more appropriate than the Nobel Peace Prize: 1) the Smoot-Hawley Trade Promotion Prize; 2) the Philip and Elizabeth Jennings Award for American Patriotism.
Paul Kernighan, Cambridge, Ont.
Shift the conversation
Re It’s The Girls Who Suffer (Opinion, Feb. 23): My thanks to Lisa Damour for her insightful article about the lives of girls in the “modern” world, particularly for the fact she did not blame schools for the dramatic increase in anxiety disorders among teen girls. The conversation around access to social media via smart phones and other devices, which is often at the core of an individual’s lack of self-esteem, needs a massive shift.
Parents are the owners of the devices they provide to children, with the misguided notion that somehow they will keep kids “safe.” In my experience as an educator, parents rarely check on how their child is using the device, or what messages are being received. When cyberbullying occurs, and it usually does, the first call is inevitably to school administration with the question: “What are you going to do about it? My kid’s being bullied online.”
School systems need to dramatically empower school-based staff to hand issues right back to the owners – parents – and outlaw access to social media in schools.
Rob Keith, Calgary
Poop and nincompoops
Re Toronto Condos To Combat Dog Waste With DNA Tests (Feb. 23): Using DNA tests to hold lazy, obnoxious dog owners who don’t pick up after pets to account is a great idea. Mira Miller correctly writes that uncollected pet waste can pose serious health risks.
And speaking of poop, what’s with Toronto’s love affair with pigeons – also known as “rats with wings”? Pigeon poop, too, is riddled with various disgusting diseases. It also contains ammonia and acid, two substances that, along with moisture, are associated with accelerating rust in steel beams used in construction, especially bridges. On Aug. 1, 2007, the I-35W Mississippi Bridge that carried the Interstate 35W across the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minn., collapsed during the evening rush hour, killing 13 people.
The investigation that followed identified several contributing factors to the collapse. One was the build-up of bird droppings – specifically pigeon droppings.
Many of Toronto’s streets resemble avian toilets, because of the nincompoops (pardon the pun) who are feeding these rats with wings. Because of well-fed pigeons, a pith helmet and hip waders are a fashion necessity when walking in parts of Toronto.
David Honigsberg, Toronto
Waiting by the phone
Re Ontario Orders Hydro One To Cap CEO Compensation At $1.5-Million (Feb. 22): As a retiree, I have quite a bit of spare time. So I feel it my duty to apply for the position as CEO of Hydro One.
Granted, I know almost nothing about the electrical transmission and distribution business, but I do meet what appears to be the overriding criterion for this job – a willingness to work for $1.5-million a year. Plus, I promise not to raise electricity rates (given that this isn’t within the actual purview of Hydro One, I think I’m safe on this one). Perhaps Premier Doug Ford will call?
Renton Stevenson, Toronto