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Champions of transparency
Re Trudeau On WE Vote: ‘I Made A Mistake’ and PM Offers A Mea Culpa, But Not Transparency (July 14): To be a leader is a tough job, needing to strike a balance between what is fair and what is not. A leader, their family and their friends are always in the limelight. However, it should not be difficult to maintain principled and impartial practices in their conduct – and I am not talking about Donald Trump here.
Unfortunately, some leaders seem to keep violating basic rules and saying “sorry,” thinking their actions will wash away from history. I think they will not, and hope future leaders will learn from this moment.
For once, the Prime Minister should stop apologizing and give this nation a chance to say thanks for his service.
Anas Khan Beaumont, Alta.
I believe the Prime Minister is rightfully being chastised for his involvement with WE Charity. And while the Kielburger brothers may have made mistakes as well, I can’t think of two other Canadians, over the past decade, who have done more to alleviate poverty with sustainable projects around the world. I will continue to support their work.
Tom Scanlan Toronto
In 2009, as part of my duties as a high-school teacher, we attended a WE event in Toronto with our students.
The theme was ‘”believe.” Our new director of education in Toronto, Chris Spence, was a speaker; Justin Trudeau was a guest; the Tenors and other popular stars were the entertainment. More than 60,000 were in attendance at the Rogers Centre.
Corporate sponsors ensured that we all got gift bags loaded with swag. We could send our children on WE tours to Kenya, or buy WE jewellery with our credit-card points. Through the thunder of cheering youth, we were enlightened about needy, troubled youth elsewhere in the world. Who doesn’t want to free the children?
WE Days have continued, but Mr. Spence has been removed from his post; the Kielburger family has been in the news regarding multimillion-dollar real-estate transactions; WE speakers have been a virtual who’s who of the Liberal Party. This is not a charity now, it seems, but a corporatized political vehicle.
Anne Eastwood Toronto
I can certainly understand why the Liberals turned to WE Charity to handle its commendable plan to get funds out to jobless young people.
WE has the proven capability, and their audience is the very target funds should reach. And the civil service is a little busy at the moment! Any undertaking of this complexity takes money and many good people who should be paid.
I find the matter of past honorariums paid to interesting speakers, such as the Trudeau family, to be no big deal. Funny how the number of speeches given over the years is often ignored.
Why are the Conservatives stretching so far on this issue? The hundreds of thousands of young people who will likely be denied volunteer experiences and modest stipends during these troubled times are sure to remember who killed their promised opportunities, and why.
Mary Dixon Winnipeg
As a past chairperson of UNICEF Canada, I feel the public are being misled by reports on the WE Charity contract decision.
Five facts: Celebrities, media and politicians of all stripes, and their spouses, are integral parts of most charitable activities; outside organizations hold fundraisers and donate proceeds to charities, sometimes paying speaker fees directly proportional to fundraising projections; governmental funds, programs and contracts are usually accompanied with stringent reporting requirements and subject to audits; most grown sons do not keep tabs on their mother’s or brother’s activities; WE has deep outreach into the student population and can quickly deploy a program designed to benefit other charities and youth in this trying COVID-19 world.
Margaret Koniuck Winnipeg
It seems to me that money just moves back and forth between WE Charity and the for-profit ME to WE social enterprise. What is the relationship between these two organizations? Does any money from the charity go to the for-profit affiliate, and for what purposes?
I would hope that the charitable section of the Canada Revenue Agency will do an audit of this relationship.
Myron Matlow Cambridge, Ont.
One has to give Justin Trudeau kudos for transparency – he’s been saying that “ ‘we’ will get through this together” for months now.
Louis Desjardins Belleville, Ont.
Champions of justice
Re McLachlin Urged To Resign From Hong Kong Court (July 11): The call of Irwin Cotler and others for Beverley McLachlin to resign from Hong Kong’s highest appellate court seems seriously misguided.
Resignation, as a gesture of protest, is most often meaningful only if there is a reasonable prospect that the effect will be to halt the conduct in question. If Ms. McLachlin’s resignation stood a realistic hope of reversing China’s crackdown on Hong Kong, then it would be worthwhile. But it wouldn’t; it would be an empty gesture, noticed for a moment, then gone. In her place – as one of the world’s great judicial thinkers – would be someone less able to dispense justice.
Progressive, brave judges are bulwarks against repression. They interpret the law, as far as they can, to benefit democracy and individual freedom over state power. Ms. McLachlin’s remaining presence on the Hong Kong court, then, is more important than ever.
Chris Albertyn Toronto
While it’s natural for Canadians to voice objection and deny legitimacy to Beijing’s erosion of legal rights in Hong Kong, seeing Beverley McLachlin resign her non-permanent post on the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal is unlikely to resonate in China.
A more damning and repeated condemnation of Beijing’s actions could come from finely reasoned and well-articulated decisions from our former chief justice, the sort of analysis Canadians have come to expect from her.
Even if delivered in a minority opinion, such statements form a durable part of the record, and would receive greater attention within China than a one-off resignation of a judge.
Eric LeGresley Ottawa
Champions of geology
Re ‘EE’ Coming (Letters, July 13): There’s a simple and elegant solution for the Edmonton football club’s moral dilemma with its historically inappropriate nickname: the Edmonton Eskers.
An esker is a gravel mound left by a glacial stream or river. This new name would speak to Edmonton’s geography as a river city and its proximity to Jasper National Park. The club could keep its beloved “EE” logo and its “Esks” sobriquet.
If a pile of ancient natural debris doesn’t strike one as terribly inspired, remember that the club plays games against a team called the Redblacks.
Geoff Moore Edmonton
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