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75 years later
With all the D-Day tributes, we were again reminded of the familiar phrase, “Lest we forget.” But as I watched the various participants in the ceremonies, and saw the genuine emotions they were experiencing, I wondered if another phrase might be even more relevant: “Will we ever learn?”
Dave Ashby, Toronto
There are those who say war is futile, meaningless, humanity at its worst. “Never again,” they say. “No,” I retort. We should do it again – if we have to – willingly, forcefully, with honour and pride. Those brave Canadian boys, 75 years ago, overcame terror and fought to rid the world of an incomprehensibly evil scourge.
Canadians did not stand by. We did not shirk. We stood up. Canada at its best, at its greatest. From the fields and the farms, from the towns and the cities, they volunteered to fight a battle-hardened army. The Canadians on Juno Beach delivered salvation, hope and freedom. Many were just kids. Many paid the highest price so that we might live in a better world. God bless them all.
Nigel Smith, Toronto
Hoops and hopes
Cathal Kelly portrays Wednesday’s postgame comments by Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr – “they played really, really hard and gave it everything” – as “loser talk” (After Their Game 3 Victory, The Raptors Have Become What The Warriors Used To Be – June 6). Mr. Kelly writes, “That’s the sort of thing dead men say upon the commencement of walking … the sort of thing you say just before you roll over and die. It’s not a regrouping statement. It’s an epitaph.”
But I remember the words of an exhausted, soaking wet Phil Esposito in Vancouver, Sept. 8, 1972, after Team Canada had again been beaten by the mighty Soviets. He said: “For the people across Canada, we tried. We gave it our best. For the people who booed us, jeez, all of us guys are really disheartened and we’re disillusioned and we’re disappointed in some of the people. We cannot believe the bad press we’ve got, the booing we’ve gotten in our own buildings … I’m really, really, I’m really disappointed. I am completely disappointed. I cannot believe it. Some of our guys are really, really down in the dumps. We know – we’re trying. What the hell, we’re doing the best we can.”
Some epitaph that was. Let’s not count our chickens.
Ian Thompson, Halifax
As I was reading about Rob Elliott travelling to Canada from China to watch one Raptors game, I realized I had seen him before (Toronto Raptors Fan Travels From China To Attend ‘Once-In-A-Lifetime’ NBA Finals – online, June 3).
I was picking up my husband at Pearson International late Saturday when I noticed a man in a Raptors shirt leaving the arrivals gate and being met by a friend also in Raptors gear. They clinked their Tim Hortons coffees and let out a “Go, Raptors!” as they greeted each other. A lovely Canadian moment, I thought. Then I read about Rob Elliott’s journey and realized it was him. So nice to get the back story about the lengths people will travel for friendship and loyalty to a team.
Kirsten Eastwood, Aurora, Ont.
Local governments need a notwithstanding clause
Re Ford Government To Rewrite Toronto’s Development Plans To Allow Taller Buildings In More Of Midtown, Downtown (June 5): Wise government lives as close as possible to the people for whom it is intended. Centralization divorces action from insight. In the 1970s, it was the federal government that was criticized for taking disproportionate power from the provinces. Today in Ontario, it is the centralizing policies of the province that threaten.
The power of provincial government needs to be rebalanced. If the province is able to arbitrarily designate the manner and structure of local government and its institutions, perhaps Ottawa needs to rein in the province(s) to ensure a true local government of the people, for the people.
Local government needs a notwithstanding clause.
Marsh Birchard, Toronto
Together with no or bad transit decisions, it’s been a decade of amateur-hour planning and developer free-for-all here.
Ontario’s Municipal Affairs Minister is naive to believe the condos springing up along mid- and downtown Yonge Street will be for the suburban ordinary “people,” whose housing problems he professes to solve.
These condos are not only high-priced, they will become investor-owned assets, sitting empty. A 30-storey tower does not equal more affordability. Only the builders will profit.
The long-considered midtown- and core-area plans the minister now proposes to trash are Toronto’s attempt to correct the past Wild West trends and build on a more human scale, with heights similar to those that make cities such as Munich, Berlin, Paris (and yes, London) so livable, and dense enough to justify networks of subways and streetcar lines (which must be funded, not just “proposed”). We and our taxes cannot afford yet another decade of amateur planning – this time from Queen’s Park.
Ila Bossons, Toronto
After more than 20 years as an active participant in downtown and midtown Toronto neighbourhood residents’ associations (as a board member), municipal politics, and city planning (as senior city council staff), I have more than ample evidence that NIMBYism has done more to stifle Toronto’s housing supply needs than any other issue.
Small local residents’ associations have, for decades, disproportionately stifled growth by demanding special treatment. I’ve seen members threaten councillors as they insist no change should ever happen near them.
Toronto doesn’t need another Danforth Avenue – virtually nothing but two-storey houses and small, usually empty storefronts near usually empty subway stations. Until this week, that seemed likely for midtown (Eglinton Avenue) and the Crosstown LRT, a multibillion, taxpayer-funded investment that needs to be maximized.
No one residing that close to valuable, publicly funded transit is entitled to any expectation of neighbourhood consistency over her or his whole lifetime. They don’t deserve a monopoly or veto power over public resources.
Toronto isn’t Mayberry. It is Canada’s most dynamic city, and one of the most desired places to live on our planet. It is time to build accordingly.
J.P. Boutros, Toronto
Re Toxic Tailings Do Not Belong In The Athabasca River (June 4): “Total liabilities for [Alberta] oil and gas operations could be as much as $260 billion.” Do these private operators have mandatory insurance that covers environmental damage? How far does that coverage extend?
Come to think of it, oil companies ought to be insured for their role in climate-change damage. If the impact is as benign as they say, it should be easy to find a provider. But I would be very curious to see what the premiums would look like…
Jonathan Ball, Toronto