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Letters to the Editor June 10: Truth. And reconciliation. We need both. Plus other letters to the editor

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at the closing ceremony marking the conclusion of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls at the Museum of History in Gatineau, Que., on June 3, 2019.

ANDREW MEADE/AFP/Getty Images

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here: letters@globeandmail.com

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Truth. And reconciliation

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls could not have been unaware of the ongoing impact its choice of the word “genocide” would trigger: The intellectual and emotional responses were predictable. I congratulate the inquiry on its candour and boldness, while I still struggle with the risks associated with the choice.

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The federal government has also been bold, accepting the term without couching it as “tantamount to genocide.” To do so at this point would inevitably appear to be defensive, and aimed at minimizing what is our historical disgrace. Congratulations to the Trudeau Liberals on this count.

So that is the easy part.

What next?

We have had the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report for some years, a government commitment to act, and precious little government action to build a national consensus to do what it takes to achieve both truth and reconciliation.

What next, indeed.

Now, legal beagles and academics are debating the MMIWG inquiry’s genocide identification. The Canadian electorate should step aside from that “angels on the head of a pin” debate, and demand corrective action on anything that can be collectively interpreted as a “genocide.” That is who we aspire to be.

Our politicians have not taken the risk of telling all Canadians what is involved in achieving truth and reconciliation. Well, we all, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, must face the diagnosis and the treatment.

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Otherwise, the score is 2-0 for truth, over reconciliation. No winner; all Canadians sea to sea to sea will lose big time.

D.C. Stigant, Summerland, B.C.

Higher, darker, denser

Re Toronto Mayor Decries Province’s Sweeping Changes (June 6): Ontario’s Municipal Affairs Minister says he wants to create a more livable city. Does he know the meaning of the word “livable”? According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, which rates the world’s cities for livability, the criteria are stability, health care, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

In 2018, Vienna came out on top. Note that Vienna, a city of 1.86 million people, is 45.5 per cent parks and green space. Starting in the 1970s, it has built one subway stop a year; transit officials have relied on dependable yearly funding from the city to do this. Vienna has fewer than 25 towers that are more than 25 storeys tall. The density Steve Clark is suggesting will create dark, sun-blocked corridors, where small mom-and-pop shops will disappear and neighbours won’t know one another.

Bill 108 is soul-destroying. It benefits only developers. Sitting in their sunny homes, they don’t care what legacy they leave, as long as they make money.

Gail Rutherford, Toronto

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While forests burn …

Re How To Keep Western Forests From Burning (editorial, June 6): Estimates of the carbon dioxide produced by forest fires just in B.C. in 2017 and 2018 are in the order of more than 100 megatons for each year. Compare this number with the normal annual output for Canada of about 700 megatons of carbon dioxide, of which roughly about 100 megatons comes from burning gas, and one begins to see the problem.

If we were really concerned about carbon dioxide output, instead of fussing about a carbon tax, which perhaps could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by a small percentage, every effort would be made to drastically curtail forest fires. Unfortunately, this costs money, as it is very labour-intensive, and doesn’t raise money through a carbon tax.

Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Our politicians nickel and dime while forests burn.

Reid Robinson, Regina

In defence of the EDC

Re See No Evil: How Canada Is Bankrolling Companies Accused Of Bid-Rigging, Graft And Human-Rights Violation (June 4): Former U.S. president Ronald Reagan used to joke that “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” While it is easy to criticize government and its agencies, businesses depend on them for success far more than they care to admit.

Last year, Export Development Canada, a financially independent Crown corporation mandated to help Canadian companies of all sizes succeed on the world stage, assisted some 13,000 of those companies to export their goods. Over the past five years, EDC has paid $3.4-billion in dividends to the government.

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Without the loan guarantees EDC provides to banks, credit would dry up for exporters. If EDC weren’t there to backstop some of the risk, many companies couldn’t even consider exporting, ultimately threatening their long-term viability at home.

EDC generates revenue by collecting interest on loans and guarantees, as well as premiums on insurance products. It does not receive annual funding from government. Will some EDC investments fail? Absolutely. Based on EDC’s results, however, success happens a great deal more than failure, but that doesn’t get reported.

EDC is a key partner for the Canadian aerospace industry and the 200,000 people whose jobs depend on its success. If Canada is to continue to win internationally, government partnerships like the one with EDC are vital.

Jim Quick, CEO, Aerospace Industries Association of Canada

Dis/honesty’s ledger

Re In Politics, Honesty Should Be Required By Law (June 5): Duff Conacher’s call for politicians to be called to account for dishonesty goes too far in its list of misdeeds that should be subject to legal sanction, and not far enough in identifying the appropriate punishment. Breaking a promise is not the same thing as deliberately lying. Our law has long recognized this, for good reason.

The punishment for a crime should be one that gives a significant disincentive for committing that crime. In the case of a politician deliberately lying to win an election, the most effective disincentive would be for Mr. Conacher’s proposed ethics commission to have the power to overturn election results, in egregious cases, to enable voters to rethink whether they want a fraudster to represent them. Commercial law does not require recognition of a contract obtained through fraud; electoral law should do the same.

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Peter Love, Toronto

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Three cheers for honesty in politics and ethical behaviour all around. But Duff Conacher’s call for an actual “comprehensive honesty-in-politics law” contains a chill against free speech that might be unintended.

Mr. Conacher writes, “Sure, maybe we don’t want to criminalize lies by politicians and government officials – but there are many good arguments for prohibiting lying to voters.”

Well, the best way to not criminalize lies would be to forget the idea of passing a law that would criminalize “lying.” In any case, “lying” is often definitional. Let free speech, with all its warts and abuses, reign supreme. The dangers and follies of the alternative would be far worse.

Wayne Eyre, Saskatoon

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