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Canada's Finance Minister Bill Morneau speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on March 18, 2020.

DAVE CHAN/AFP/Getty Images

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Taxed out

Re Will The WE Affair Prove To Be Trudeau’s Sponsorship Scandal? (Opinion, July 25): The WE Charity scandal, in my view, is less about cronyism or the failure to recuse. The bigger deal is that such a contract was offered to an entity outside the Public Service of Canada.

So many experienced public servants are employed full-time at great cost to Canadian taxpayers. They were deemed incapable of doing this job. Why are Canadians – and public-service unions, for that matter – not raising hell about this?

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Kerry Wilson Ottawa

I’m on the board of a community association and am dumbfounded by the unfolding WE Charity shenanigans.

The law requires our board to account for every dollar received and spent, so when I hear the Finance Minister say that he forgot to pay a $41,000 obligation, I’m embarrassed for this man’s professional standing. Honourable people used to resign over such an egregious lack of discretion.

I must also ask: Why were no red flags raised by any advisers? When due diligence is done on a legally binding contract, what justification is provided when giving almost $1-billion to a real estate shell company?

It wasn’t long ago that the Prime Minister was apologizing for having a blind spot when it came to white privilege. It seems the issue of privilege has now infected everyone in Mr. Trudeau’s circle of Liberal friends and influencers, and all of this at taxpayer expense.

Paul Baumberg Dead Man’s Flats, Alta.

Anger management

Re Who Leads? (Letters, July 24): Executives and managers who harass and abuse staff seem to be following their natural instincts, which are to have a tantrum when things don’t go their way. I don’t believe any amount of training or “heart-to-hearts” can change them, because humans tend to rely on habitual behaviours when under stress.

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Things are also exacerbated when a leader is a “star,” because those who hire them often believe they are near perfection. The only recourse, then, would be to hire people who have instincts toward kindness rather than abuse or meanness, and the self-awareness to control themselves under stress.

Catherine McKay Mildmay, Ont.

Heads up

Re How One Employee’s Input Spurred Me To Remove ‘Chief’ From My Job Title (Report on Business, July 23): The word “chief” has a long, and I might even say, respectable history in English. It traces back through the French chef to the Latin caput and, ultimately, to the Indo-European kaput, all of them meaning simply “head.”

Since no Indigenous person ever used the English word “chief” but in translation, I have trouble understanding how I am insulting anybody by using it to refer to the head of something.

I’m glad contributor Catherine Roome has become enlightened as to the serious problems regarding our continued unacceptable treatment of many minority groups, and especially our shameful history of Indigenous relations. But I just don’t think tokenism like changing one’s job title will lead to a solution.

Dennis Forsyth Denman Island, B.C

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I commend contributor Catherine Roome for her awareness to change her job title.

In the early 1980s, I worked for the federal government. “Chief” was in common usage in the hierarchy of job titles, including mine. Although I was proud of my unit and role, I never liked and always felt uncomfortable using that word.

I often said I “headed up” or “was in charge” of my unit, yet my business card proclaimed “chief,” at least in the English version. Even with my intuitive discomfort, in those days there wasn’t the insight – by me or others – to understand the word’s meaning, or the disrespect it likely demonstrated to many Indigenous people.

My workplace? The Canadian Human Rights Commission. My job title? Chief, systemic discrimination unit. Forty years later, is this ironic? Maybe, but there’s nothing amusing about it. Sad? Yes. Racist? Likely, or at least insensitive. Systemic? For certain.

We can all learn. We can all become aware, change and improve. Always.

Catherine Burr London, Ont.

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All falls down

Re In Niagara Falls, Time Is Running Out To Buoy An Economy Sinking Under COVID-19 (July 23): I hate to say this, but many of Niagara Falls’ troubles seem of its own making: extortionate prices for parking and meals, as well as one tax levied on top of another, have transformed the town from a place one might visit on a whim to a once-in-a-generation excursion.

Perhaps it is time to rethink the region’s business model.

David Allen Edmonton

The economy of Niagara Falls may have been damaged by COVID-19 as fewer people visit and businesses struggle. But The Globe also reports that municipal officials in the Niagara region have considered closing beaches to Ontarians who live outside the area (Tensions Grow In Beach Communities – July 18).

As someone who would typically visit various Ontario towns in summer and spend money, I feel much more welcome in, say, Barrie. The mayor there seems much more welcoming of visitors, and appears to have a better understanding of the responsibilities and rights of citizens in the same province.

Sandra Neill Toronto

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These weren’t a few birds

Re The Crow And I (First Person, July 23): One summer, my husband and I were perplexed to find sodden crumbs in our bird baths. We soon discovered a crow flying from our open compost pile with a piece of stale French bread in its beak. It softened the bread in bird-bath water, then headed to the nearby nest to feed its young.

This intelligent bird raised a number of broods over the next few years, treating them regularly to softened compost offerings.

Wendy LeBlanc Picton, Ont.

I’m a birdwatcher. I have a backyard oasis filled with at least 20 species of birds and other wildlife. Part of this scene is the second generation of a family of crows.

It’s hilarious to listen to them chatter and coo affectionately to one another. The young can be quite noisy when learning to talk. They can recognize faces and apparently cars, as one waits for me on the corner of the street and flies over when I get home. I’ve had elderly crows come to die under the safety of my apple tree. I recently witnessed parents teaching their young how to drink from the bird bath.

My crows are named Slick, Tippi and Hitchcock.

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Donna Austin Palgrave, Ont.

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