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Power to the people?
Re B.C., Ottawa Agree On Process To Give Power To Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs (May 6): Ensuring power to unelected hereditary chiefs, while denying it to a democratically elected group, seems another step backward in Canada’s Indigenous policy.
Other modern countries have evolved to overcome hereditary leadership, reducing it to ceremonial duties in expectation of its eventual demise. It feels like Canadian governments are conceding to outmoded forms of organizing that keep Indigenous people isolated and dependent. Indeed, as a democratic state, we should recognize only elected leaderships. To quote Bob Rae: “What are we doing here?”
Albert Howard Co-author, Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry; co-editor, Aboriginal Education in Canada. Brush Publishing; Calgary
Re Forget About Schools – Open Summer Camps In The Spring (May 7): To staff day camps with teenagers does not seem feasible. Camp counsellors are not babysitters. They should be able to work with all children, including those with special needs.
My sons are former counsellors. They were trained and certified in health and safety procedures, leadership and conflict resolution. They also needed a police check. Also, although teenagers are at “much lower risk” from COVID-19, they probably live at home where they could infect their parents.
Why not open schools during the summer? As teachers are paid for the year, they should be able to work these months. Also, classes don’t have to be conducted indoors. As a former teacher, I used to take classes outside for phys ed, language arts, art and science lessons. Teachers should be called upon to do their part in these difficult times.
Letizia Addario Toronto
On the brink
Re Asset-backed Lenders In Trouble As Borrowers Seek Deferrals (Report on Business, May 5): Canadian asset-backed lenders currently finance more than $400-billion of vehicles, machinery and equipment. They are a critical player in the economy, expanding available capital and offering competitive choice. They are part of the fundamental plumbing of the national financial system.
Normally when a customer is in financial difficulty, solutions are negotiated on an individual basis in an attempt to accommodate their particular situation. But in the current crisis, many non-bank financing companies are unable to sustain a significant rise in payment-deferral requests nor withstand a substantial return of physical assets if payments can’t be made.
History has shown that if liquidity is not supported, then many non-bank financing entities will disappear from the Canadian marketplace. There will be fewer financial providers and fewer alternatives available.
David Powell Toronto
This sounds like 2008 all over again. Small lenders bundle together loans in portfolios; portfolios are sold to larger lenders with guaranteed payments, assuming random defaults will be uncorrelated; unanticipated economic meltdown occurs and suddenly defaults are correlated; now small lenders can’t make guaranteed payments, and government bailouts are needed to avert catastrophic bankruptcies.
The crisis ends and the cycle starts again, because many lenders assume there will be bailouts if history repeats. I support bailouts in the present crisis, just as I did during the Great Recession. But I also think there should be fulsome policy analysis.
Is government the appropriate insurer of future meltdowns? Should the private sector re-evaluate risk- mitigation strategies that don’t assume future bailouts? Is there a Goldilocks policy somewhere in the middle?
Daniel Thornton Kingston
Power to the people
Re Workers Have Been Left To Save Capitalism From COVID-19 and Canadian Executive Quits Amazon Over Firing Of Workers Seeking Better Conditions (May 5): Contributor Richard Florida’s reference to Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle reminds us that we’re not good at empathizing with people who work at making the goods we need. But it makes me hopeful when people such as Mr. Florida and former Amazon executive Tim Bray can confront us with the human side of our socioeconomic system. The challenge will be to keep workers in mind, even when their problems are not amplified by a public health crisis.
Jim MacDonald Halifax
Contributor Richard Florida implies three important points.
First, it seems clear that capitalists and other business owners, with short-term mindsets, do not have a clue as to how the economy in the long term works. Second, once a capital investment is made, it is the workers, not the capital, that generates wealth. And third, workers should be seen as great assets and be paid well, instead of being seen as cheap commodities.
Bernie Koenig London, Ont.
Contributor Richard Florida’s assessment of late-stage capitalism is perceptive: Neither capitalist or political leaders are up to the task, or willing, to remedy its many failures. And while regulation is imperfect, I believe that, over time, it is the best means we have to ensure that the common good is served.
Weak regulation can compel corporations to act against the public good: disregard for workers, lobbying for competitive advantage, reduced quality and service, exaggerated claims, egregious management rewards, tax avoidance and manipulation of data, financial and otherwise, are but a few examples.
The belief that innovation is stifled by regulation seems unreasonable. Arguably, companies looking for competitive advantages in a regulated environment are more likely to invest in better products and services; excess cash flow would likely be invested in research or paid out in dividends, rather than used for share buybacks, risky acquisitions and other questionable activities designed to increase share price.
Dennis Casaccio Annapolis Royal, N.S.
Re In Full Bloom: Toronto’s Cherry Blossoms Are Off-limits In High Park – But You Can Still See Them Here (May 7): “Hey, honey, come here quick. I think I saw a petal move!”
“Sorry, I can’t right now. I’m in the middle of baking bread.”
T. M. Dickey Toronto
In memory of
Re Ceremony Held To Honour Armed Forces Members Killed In Helicopter Crash (May 7): And so they gathered, the families, fellow officers, dignitaries and our Prime Minister, to honour six members of the Armed Forces who lost their lives in a helicopter crash off the coast of Greece. It was painfully sad to think of these young individuals following their calling, only to be taken away too soon. They were the kind of people who strove to make the world a better place.
We struggle to understand the pain from calamitous events which have befallen Canada recently. As a resident of Nova Scotia, we have been particularly challenged with many burdens. We reflect on the families, colleagues and friends who go forward on life’s journey without their loved ones. May the spirits of these officers soar. Godspeed to these young warriors.
Audrey Wood Antigonish, N.S.
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