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Canada, on July 1
On Canada Day, let’s resolve to take half the time we spend obsessing over our neighbour and invest it into making this a better, more vibrant country.
Turn off your phone or tablet, stop moaning to your long-suffering partner over breakfast and get out there and work on your favourite cause. It might be fighting for truth in politics (good luck with that), volunteering at the local tool library, or just seeing more of your neighbours and friends.
Get out, participate in society and stop fretting about what you cannot personally impact. If you think a certain U.S. leader and his acolytes are beneath contempt, start walking the talk and don’t let them dominate your thoughts.
Ritchie Leslie, Vernon, B.C.
Canada is our stories
It’s been a year since our 150th anniversary, and many Canadians would be hard pressed to identify major projects that brought our country together.
It’s time our government created a place in Library and Archives Canada to collect the stories that make us uniquely Canadians of all ages and backgrounds. An Indigenous elder’s stories, a Grade 2 child’s hopes for the future, a grandparent’s stories and millions more. We need a permanent online place where we can all upload our stories, our videos, our songs, our plays and our family histories. Not everyone will have a book written about them, but everyone’s stories are invaluable to their future family members.
This need not be an expensive project. Let’s turn Canada’s 151st anniversary into one that creates a legacy of which our grandchildren can be proud.
Harry van Bommel, Toronto
Canada’s sorry residence
I live near 24 Sussex Drive, and see a constant stream of tourists who peer through the gates thinking they are taking pictures of the home of our Prime Minister. Alas, they don’t realize he doesn’t live there! Having worked at the National Capital Commission as liaison for the elected officials of the region and the commission, I am well aware that the NCC’s mandate comprises the care of all of Canada’s official residences.
I am gratified at least some government officials are still grappling with the apparently tricky file on 24 Sussex Dr., erstwhile home of many PMs, now an empty and almost derelict house.
Our current Prime Minister is being housed in a serviceable mansion on the grounds of the Governor-General’s residence: pretty funny, since Her Excellency is living outside the grounds in a “secret location” while Government House is being renovated.
What is it with Canada? It is ludicrous to see our PM squatting in his neighbour’s garden! Instead of seizing this gift of an opportunity to restore 24 Sussex, or launch a contest to replace it with the kind of official-residence showpiece other countries have for their PMs or presidents, we are letting it moulder away, in the meantime having built a security fence within the fence surrounding the Governor-General’s grounds to contain the PM and his family safely.
I don’t begrudge the cost of any safety measures these days, but instead we could be getting on with a decision on 24 Sussex.
For goodness sake, what are we waiting for?
Carolyn J. Strauss, Ottawa
Canada: It’s 2018, not 1867
As an army kid in the fifties and sixties, I attended eight schools (five from K to Grade 5 alone), but luckily the eight were in only two provinces (Ottawa Asks Provinces To Make Life Easier For Military Families Reassigned To New Locations – June 28). Even so, imagine a nine-year-old trying to do long division in her head because she’s too ashamed to tell the teacher that her old school hadn’t taught her how to calculate it.
My brother and I were fortunate because we were bright and had a mother who was committed to supplementing what the schools didn’t provide. But I remember lots of bright kids who never made it out of high school because they just gave up. I also remember asking my mother why, if Canada was one country, were there individual school systems for each province and territory. There was no rational answer. There still isn’t one.
No doubt, it’s “historical.” I know it is a hackneyed phrase, but on this Canada Day, why don’t we “start a conversation” about establishing a standard curriculum for every child in the country?
After all, it’s 2018, not 1867, eh?
Helen Thibodeau, Cobourg, Ont.
Canada’s late, later train
Many decades ago, supported generously by the federal government, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific railways came into being. These railways were designed to move goods and people in our developing nation. In 1977, VIA Rail, which became a Crown corporation the next year, was created to manage passenger train travel in Canada.
CN and CP, as these railways were now called, were relieved of the obligation to operate passenger trains but they did accept the responsibility to provide right of way to VIA. Passenger trains were designated in railway rule books as “first class trains,” thereby ensuring that they would have priority over freight trains.
Few passenger trains operate over CP tracks today but many VIA trains travel on CN tracks.
Something has been broken, however, in this relationship. The most distressing example of this has been the mistreatment of the “Canadian,” VIA’s flagship transcontinental train operating on CN tracks between Vancouver and Toronto. Greg Gormick, a transportation policy adviser, released a report last year tracking on-time performance over four months: The “Canadian” was late arriving into Toronto 39 of 40 trains during this period. Recently, the train was 45 hours late into Vancouver.
This is an embarrassment to the country, a disservice to taxpayers and a betrayal of trust to thousands of tourists who spend thousands of dollars to experience the ultimate Canadian rail experience. Late, late and later seems to be the mantra of CN when it comes to the “Canadian.”
When will our government hold CN accountable for its shameful role in the neglect of a national treasure?
Dave Colburn, former VIA conductor/engineer, Edmonton
Without getting into the current legalities of immigration to different countries, I do find it interesting that Canada, between 1939 and now, could grow by almost 3.4 times (approximately 11 million people to 37 million) while the United States grew only 2.5 times (about 131 million to 327 million). Yet the U.S. is portraying immigrants as a negative influence, while Canada, certainly facing some challenges in major areas of heavy influx, still basically has a very positive attitude.
Few countries can understand this kind of massive change, let alone embrace it. It is just one of the many reasons for us to love and protect this wonderful, quiet, country. We have accomplished a miracle and we should be proud of it – and be prepared to protect it, and not just from the Russians, but also from their surrogates south of our border.
Mary Lazier Corbett, Picton, Ont.