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Alarming, not alarmist
Re Michael Wernick’s Alarmist Words Are The Politics Of Fear (Feb. 26): Wesley Wark claims that Chief of the Privy Council Michael Wernick’s concerns about the decline in Canadian political discourse are “alarmist.”
But Prof. Wark’s point is directly undermined by another article in the same day’s Globe and Mail: RCMP ‘Aware’ Of Remarks Made About Trudeau On Yellow Vest Facebook Page. This article reports posted comments using language such as “traitor” and “treason,” and suggesting that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should be hanged. One wants to ask Mr. Wark what level of rhetoric it would require for him to begin worrying.
It is a shame that those using this aggressive rhetoric – language that mimics the dangerous hyperbole of the Trump approach to politics – will miss the irony that it is they who are turning their backs on the more traditional Canadian values of civility and reasoned discourse.
Sascha Maicher, Ottawa
The timing of the Clerk of the Privy Council’s comments on the state of Canada’s discourse may be debatable, but classifying the substance of his remarks as “the politics of fear” is at best naive, and at worst, sophist analysis.
That violent rhetoric has established a presence in Canada is indisputable. The Canadian Anti-Hate Network has already exposed multiple examples of dangerous, far-right groups. The RCMP recently revealed calls made on a Facebook page for the death of the Prime Minister. The investigation into Alexandre Bissonnette’s attack on a Quebec mosque discovered he was motivated by information he was consuming online.
Canada has a long tradition of civil discourse, but angry voices have coalesced on noxious social media platforms, influenced by Twitter-identified foreign trolls, and afforded credibility by reckless partisans.
Sounding the alarm is not instilling fear, it is demonstrating courage and common sense.
Christopher Holcroft, Montreal
Prosecute individuals, not the corporation
Re Anti-Bribery Rules Need To Get Smarter (editorial, Feb. 26): Indeed, the rules should be smarter, and they need to be effectively enforced, as you suggest.
But the process itself is seriously flawed. Massive punishments against corporations cause misery for employees and shareholders, who are completely innocent. Instead, the focus should be on the individuals who instigated, approved or acquiesced in the practices concerned.
Not only would that be more just, it would be a more effective deterrent. To get a deferred prosecution agreement, a corporation should normally be required to fire the CEO and, if it is a financial crime, the CFO as well, together with any other employees who are directly involved.
In the SNC-Lavalin case, the Prime Minister would have been negligent if he had not intervened to point out that it would be a bad thing if thousands of employees were to lose their jobs as a result of a criminal conviction.
David Selley, Toronto
Caring for caregivers
Re Who Will Care For Canada’s Caregivers? (Feb. 25): Canada is an aging country where seniors, in large part, must rely on their own family members to provide the necessary care and support. Benjamin Tal asks a vital question: Who will help those who help their loved ones?
As a former co-caregiver for both parents (mom had Parkinson’s and leukemia, dad had Alzheimer’s), I consider myself fortunate that they were financially savvy. Their joint nest egg helped cover many of the costs associated with their care in their later years, but not all seniors and/or families are this practical, or through no fault of theirs, can save this much.
Mr. Tal points out that “close to two million Canadians, or 14 per cent of those with parents older than 65, incur care-related out-of-pocket costs.” Those pockets must be deep, as care costs average $3,300 annually.
Should Canada’s family-caregivers continue to pay the steep price? No. There are steps being taken, but they are only baby steps. We need far more substantial strides.
Just one example: More employers could offer workers who act as caregivers paid leave, flexible work schedules, or work-from-home options.
Rick Lauber, author, Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians; Edmonton
It is caregivers (women) like me who are paying a far higher and longer-term financial cost than Benjamin Tal suggests. For six years, I was the primary caregiver for my widowed mother (she moved in with me to access health care and have day-to-day support).
Although she had a terminal, debilitating form of cancer, personal support in the GTA community where she lived was limited to 1.5 hours per week. We supplemented with private, in-home care, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
We considered a live-in caregiver at some $30,000 per year, but most don’t drive and they need time off. We looked at assisted living, but encountered long wait lists and costs of at least $5,500 monthly, while still facing large gaps in meeting her evolving needs, plus most facilities we saw were awful environments.
So I gave up most of my self-employed consulting work during what should have been peak earning years (44-50) to care for her 24/7. I was also a single parent and the primary caregiver of an adolescent. Aside from the emotional and physical drain, there were costs for everything from food and gas to hospital parking. But it was the loss of income, the ability to save for retirement and my child’s postsecondary education, which kept me up at night.
My parents are both gone now; I am recovering and restarting my career (not easy at 50). My mom agonized over all of this. She and my sibling recognized the value of what I did, and have ensured I am financially secure. For that I am grateful; I know I am one of the lucky ones.
Kirsten Mogg, Toronto
Bargain Chief executives
The Ford government has put the board of directors of Hydro One in a difficult position by significantly limiting their CEO’s compensation (Ontario Orders Hydro One To Cap CEO Compensation At $1.5-Million – Feb. 22).
How can they find someone who will take on this enormous job at well below the market rate of pay? I have a solution. I nominate Patrick Brown for the CEO’s role. I’m sure Premier Doug Ford would approve …
Mark Verlinden, Oakville, Ont.
Like letter writer Renton Stevenson, I, too, am a retiree who knows little about electrical transmission and distribution, but am willing to meet the “overriding criterion” of working for $1.5-million a year (Waiting By The Phone, Feb. 26).
While my retirement has brought me free time, I wouldn’t wish to return to a 9-to-5 existence. However, this is 2019, and the working world is changing. Might I suggest to Mr. Stevenson we job-share? Getting two for the price of one is surely a bargain the Premier cannot pass up.
Michael Sidford, Toronto