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Jane Philpott and Jody Wilson-Raybould speak with the media in Ottawa, Wednesday, April 3, 2019.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

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Looking past October?

Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott’s decision to run as independents in the October federal election seems risky and underwhelming when compared to joining the Greens – an option both appeared to be considering for the past few months.

But Monday’s announcement makes it clear that the two have their sights set far beyond October (Former Liberals Jody Wilson-Raybould, Jane Philpott To Run As Independents In Fall Election – online, May 27).

As independent members of Parliament, Ms. Wilson-Raybould and Ms. Philpott will miss out on many of the perks associated with party membership: a bigger budget, more committee opportunities, and the potential to sit on the front bench. The choice seems odd, given the former cabinet ministers’ previous career trajectories and heavy courting from both the Greens and the NDP.

Their decision becomes demystified when one thinks beyond October – and considers that Ms. Philpott and Ms. Wilson-Raybould might be doing the same. Could the two MPs be gambling on the increasingly realistic scenario of a Liberal loss in October, and subsequent leadership race?

Catharina O’Donnell, editor-in-chief, McGill Journal of Political Studies; Montreal

Beyond the Indian Act

Re Ottawa Can Easily Fix Sex Discrimination In The Indian Act – But We’re Still Waiting (May 24): The Assembly of First Nations fully supports ending gender discrimination in the Indian Act. The discrimination is the result of a federally imposed law that robbed First Nations of our traditional approaches to kinship and citizenship, and severed women and children from their nations, rights and cultures.

Attempts by the federal government to address the problem have only created new problems.

The article puts forward a potential temporary solution that the AFN supports. Our broader goal, however, must be eliminating the archaic, colonial federal approach and restoring responsibility for citizenship to First Nations where it rightfully belongs.

The gender discrimination that persists in the Indian Act is a glaring and egregious example of its outdated, paternalistic, colonial foundations.

It is time for all of us to commit to moving beyond the Indian Act into a new relationship that honours, upholds and respects the rights of all our citizens.

Perry Bellegarde, National Chief, Assembly of First Nations; Ottawa

Don’t let haters win

Re Israeli President Shocked By German Official’s Skullcap Warning (online, May 26): I was shocked to hear that Felix Klein, the German government’s anti-Semitism commissioner, had suggested that Jews perhaps not wear their kippas in parts of Germany. All that is doing is giving in to hate and letting the haters win.

Instead, there should be stronger deterrents and consequences for hate and anti-Semitism. The government needs to show strength, and properly protect its citizens.

This is just like Quebec’s Bill 21, a racist bill, with officials running away from their responsibility to protect their citizens (Questions Remain After Bill 21 Hearings Finish – May 18). It’s time to stop being politically correct. Let every Jewish man stand tall, wear a kippa and show the world that we are proud.

Yirmi Cohen, Rabbi, Ohalei Yoseph Yitzchak Congregation; Toronto


Re A Merciless Takedown (May 25): When I was a young adult, I asked my father, a man who had enlisted on the first day of the Second World War and who survived prison camp and the Long March, whether he had been aware of what Hitler had been doing in Germany in the 1930s.

My father, a man with a Grade 9 education and a deep interest in history and world affairs, answered, “Of course. Anyone with an ounce of common sense could see what was going to happen.”

Incidentally, my father was not fond of Mackenzie King.

Andrea Battista, Burlington, Ont.

Labour’s prospects

Re Future Of Labour Not As Bleak As Imagined (May 25): Barrie McKenna’s column on the decline in labour’s share of income set out an interesting hypothesis from a U.S. study: that a large part of the decline came from booms in the housing and resource sectors. The idea was that the extra value created, and the accompanying investment, naturally drove up returns to capital, and falling labour share is just the flip side of that trend.

A glance at the figure showing labour share in different countries suggests this explanation may not work outside the United States. For Canada, the labour share stops falling in about 2004 – the start of the oil boom. Far from causing a decline in the labour share, the boom, for Canada, meant higher wages and employment that were distributed across the country through long-distance commuting and migration.

The question then becomes: Why did labour do well in the boom in Canada?

This may turn the light back on questions about wage bargaining and labour strength that the study seeks to discount. At the very least, the figure suggests the need for real caution in exporting U.S.-based explanations to Canada or other countries.

David Green, professor, Vancouver School of Economics, UBC


Barrie McKenna writes that “the good news is that labour’s share of GDP appears to be stabilizing” after declining for the previous four decades.

In that case, I suppose an alternative – admittedly less optimistic – headline might have been: Labour’s Falling Share Of The Wealth Finally Hits Bottom.

David Bright, St. Catharines, Ont.


It’s one thing to express optimism that the decline of labour’s share of the GDP is “stabilizing.” But the recent McKinsey report on which this optimism is based makes it clear that “labour’s share” of the GDP includes income from all levels of employment, including the very highest.

And while the report acknowledges “the disproportionate distribution of income gain” to the highly paid, it offers no evidence that this is receding.

Isn’t this persistent and growing social and economic inequity the real problem for the vast majority of workers – and one for which our governments have offered no remedy?

Tim Armstrong, former Ontario deputy minister of labour (1976-86); Toronto

Stay for the insights

Re Come For The Clutter, Stay For The Chatter (First Person, May 24): My thanks to Steve Watson, whose essay reminded me of the $3 that I spent on a 40-piece set of Paul Revere silver-plated flatware some 20 years ago at a local garage sale. It has been used at every special family event since. So many bargains, so little time!

Catherine Walsh, Paris, Ont.


Cooking My Heart Out (May 23) was a charming and inspiring First Person essay. It brought to mind my husband’s grandmother’s adage: Cookin’ lasts, kissin’ don’t.

Edith Cody-Rice, Almonte, Ont.

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