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FORD’S TRUE STRIPES?
Re Ford To Override Election-Spending Ruling (June 10): The world has become accustomed to hearing about autocrats such as Vladimir Putin silencing political opponents. Is Doug Ford displaying his true stripes when he needs the notwithstanding clause to protect him from the messages of nurses, teachers and environmentalists who might remind voters how Mr. Ford has eviscerated the health care system, the education system and the environment?
Bruce Peckover Toronto
In case you hadn’t noticed, a constitutional crisis is under way in Canada. Legislatures have awoken to the immense power that comes from an ability to override constitutional rights and freedoms by threatening to invoke the notwithstanding clause: Ontario (electoral boundaries and now election spending), Quebec (Bill 21), Alberta (a failed attempt to restrict marriage to opposite sex only), New Brunswick (an abandoned attempt to shield a mandatory school vaccination law).
The power to override constitutional rights and freedoms is antithetical to the rule of law. How can a constitutional democracy allow the tyranny of the majority to override fundamental rights and freedoms?
It is clear that our political leaders cannot be trusted to wield this power responsibly. If the use of the notwithstanding clause continues unfettered, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms will no longer be worth the paper it is written on.
Nicole Chrolavicius lawyer and lecturer in constitutional law at Osgoode Hall Law School, Toronto
Without doubt the pandemic must be over because Ontario Premier Doug Ford has reverted to his notwithstanding ways.
The notwithstanding clause was never meant to be used routinely to override minor disputes in law, such as to cut the size of Toronto City Council or to cancel the unions’ electoral spending. Yet Mr. Ford’s default setting is to resort to invoking this extreme measure for self-serving or vindictive purposes. For Mr. Ford, the personal is the political.
His political temperament shows no prudent restraint. Moreover, his enabling cabinet goes along regularly with such renegade moves over petty disagreements. Consequently, it foreshadows that they would go along with more serious breaches in the protocols of our democracy. He and they are not to be trusted to govern Ontario democratically.
Tony D’Andrea Toronto
COUNTING THE DEAD
Re Canada’s ‘Disappeared’ (Letters, June 9): Reader David Allen writes that we need a dispassionate study of the death rate at residential schools in comparison with the death rate among the Canadian population. A good starting point would be the calculation by Dr. Peter Henderson Bryce that from 1892 to 1908 the annual death rate in residential schools was 8,000 deaths for every 100,000, compared with a rate of 430 for every 100,000 for the Canadian population between the ages of 5 and 14 years of age. The death rate in the residential schools was 18.6 times the rate among the Canadian population in the same age bracket.
Dr. Bryce had a long career in public health, and at the time he made his calculation he had been chief medical officer of the federal Departments of the Interior and Indian Affairs for five years. Given the poor state of the records relating to residential schools, it is unlikely that any review of the records at this time would prove anything other than that historians always like to do more research.
Alan McCullough Ottawa
UNSAFE AT HOME
Re The London Attack Reaffirms Why Muslims Often Feel Unsafe In Their Own Country (June 9): I grieve with Canadian Muslims mourning the deliberately targeted killing of a Muslim family last Sunday.
All Canadians of all faiths and cultures should support the nine-year-old boy who is the sole survivor of this horrible crime. We must stand with the Muslim community to bear witness that we are as grief-stricken as they are at this horrible event. We must do everything in our power to ensure such a thing never happens again.
Lisa Jeffrey Toronto
Let’s move past the hate. We have seen hate rear its ugly head in various forms as of late. Whether this is toward Asians, Black people, Muslims, Indigenous people etc., there is too much hate. This recent London, Ont., truck attack has many Muslims worried.
As an Ahmadi Muslim, it worries me, too, that anyone in public wearing a scarf can be targeted.
Is it such a crime to be different? This violence plagues us much like the coronavirus, and it’s time for people of all backgrounds to come together and stop fearing one another. It’s time that we all get to know each other’s backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures, religions and different ways of life. All of us live in this land together; let us learn to live in harmony.
Haseeb Ahmad Mississauga
The tragic killing of a Muslim family in London, Ont., is heartbreaking. We stand with the Muslim community decrying any form of religious or racial intolerance. We also remind parents everywhere that learning tolerance and respect for all life begins in the home where children are raised.
Frank Sommers Doctors Against Racism and Antisemitism, Toronto
TRAVEL PLAN, PLEASE
Re Ottawa To Ease Travel Rules For Fully Vaccinated Canadians (June 10): It’s great to finally see a tiny amount of movement by the government signalling it will allow fully vaccinated returning Canadians to skip hotel quarantine and only have to isolate until their negative test comes back.
But wait a minute. The federal government still has a travel advisory in place telling all Canadians not to travel. It also persuaded Canada’s four major airlines to suspend all flights to winter holiday destinations. And the Canada-U.S. border remains closed.
The complete lack of any comprehensive plan to reopen the border, drop the travel advisories and reduce quarantine for all travellers, not just Canadians, has our tourism, hospitality, airline and travel industries in limbo. Hundreds of thousands of employees are in limbo, too. Support is being scaled back soon. What’s the plan?
Jill Wykes Toronto
Despite the fact that less than half of Americans are fully vaccinated, COVID-19 cases are dropping dramatically in the U.S. as states relax restrictions and businesses are opening up to the point that people who are fully vaccinated are allowed inside without the need to wear masks.
Over the past 14 months, we have learned much about this terrible virus and are able to mitigate it with a high success rate. Vaccinations are working.
That said, continued closing of the U.S.-Canada border will do more harm than good as an impediment to the economic recovery of both countries.
It is high time to allow vaccinated travellers into both countries.
Michael Pravica PhD, Henderson, Nev.
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