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Conservative Party of Canada Leader Pierre Poilievre and his wife Anaida jump to their feet as he is announced as winner of the Conservative Party of Canada leadership vote, in Ottawa, on Sept. 10.Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

Polling Poilievre

Re The Making Of Pierre Poilievre (Sept. 17): It would appear that Pierre Poilievre’s worldview and ideology have been disproportionately influenced by a single book written more than half a century ago, Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom, which he read in his youth.

What followed has been an entire adulthood in politics that seems detached from the experiences of the real world that tend to inform and moderate. This type of politician expects society to conform to those words on a page, rather than the other way around.

Bad things come from that.

Bob Goddard Kingston

I had a conversation with a friend shortly after Rob Ford was elected mayor of Toronto. When asked why he thought voters had made that choice, his sudden outburst was telling. “Because they’re idiots!”

Well, no. They were the same electors who had, apparently, made a perfectly rational choice a few years earlier.

As a relationship counsellor might suggest, if all your partners dump you, it might be time to consider that maybe you are the problem. Maybe people are fed up with a steady diet of “we know better” and “it’s for your own good.”

Pierre Poilievre might be outside the comfort zone of the urban core. But it is clear that his message is resonating elsewhere, just as it has in Britain, Sweden and Italy, and (in its negative obverse) in Hungary and the United States.

Perhaps the left should question whether it’s not others – it’s them.

Tom Curran Prince Edward County, Ont.

The Globe and Mail doesn’t usually make typos in bold type. But surely the front-page headline of “The Proselytizer,” referring to Pierre Poilievre, should have been “The Polarizer.”

Ab Dukacz Mississauga

Centre of it

Re Pierre Poilievre’s Path Runs Through The 905 (Opinion, Sept. 17): “Sure, he’ll deepen the party’s support in Prairie provinces, which won’t matter in a federal election.” Truth is painful. Truth is dismissive. But the truth is right.

Not being a conservative in the Prairies is interesting. Being of curious mind, Rick Peterson’s Centre Ice Canadians, a centrist-conservative advocacy group, caught my attention. I was always convinced there was a better way to engage politically.

Ingrid Moisuk Regina

An education

Re Religious Schools Can Be Good – But They Shouldn’t Get Public Funds (Opinion, Sept. 17): Ontario’s funding for Catholic schools was partly justified by the argument that Roman Catholic schools were protected by Canada’s Constitution. However, Quebec found ways to eliminate Protestant and Roman Catholic schools, and Newfoundland and Labrador also ended its religion-based school systems.

At least one of Ontario’s political parties should resolve to fund only one public system in its platform. What possible justification can there still be for preferential public funding of a religion-based system?

John Thorpe Stouffville, Ont.

While the hesitancy toward separate religious schools is understandable, provincial policymakers would be wise to consider the system-wide educational effects of abandoning publicly funded religious systems.

In 2010, Nobel Prize-winning economist David Card and McMaster University professors Abigail Payne and Martin Dooley studied the effects of a separate Catholic system on educational outcomes in Ontario. They found that the prevalence of Catholic schools in an area boosted test scores of students in both Catholic and public schools, because school boards were forced to compete and improve to retain students.

Given growing concerns over Canada’s flat international test scores, any measures that may reduce competition in education, and thus harm educational quality for all students, should be met with skepticism.

Lucas Orfanides Markham, Ont.

One has a right to be philosophically against private schools being part of our education system. But the financial cost to government and the taxpayer should be seen as a bargain.

If subsidies to private schools are in the range of 35 to 50 per cent of what public schools receive per student, savings to the education budget are 50 to 65 per cent for each student not in the public system.

Elementary math?

Diane Soden Burnaby, B.C.

Reneging on historical guarantees to fund Catholic schools requires a high bar of necessity. However, I believe that subsidizing private education, whether religious or not, is politically destabilizing to democracy.

Although there may not be pro-active intention to influence pupils, all institutions have bias, unwitting or not, which would be reflected in teachings. In turn, pupils can be influenced in the political choices they make later in life.

Religion, for example, generally teaches adherents to be generous and therefore would influence voters to select parties that believe in more equitable distribution of wealth. On the other hand, religion may also sway voters to select more socially conservative parties. Neither choice is inherently right or wrong, but they are choices nonetheless.

The bottom line is that the public purse, contributed to by all citizens, should not be shaping elections one way or another.

Ross Hollingshead Toronto

I don’t think it has ever been about the education standards provided in public, private or charter schools, but always about who a child goes to school with.

Catholic schools generally do not admit other religious groups. Private schools mostly admit students who come from wealthy families. Specialty schools, like those for the arts, sciences or languages, also gather children from similar backgrounds.

All of these options look like segregation dressed up as choice. Opt in to any of them and one can be sure a child will not be exposed to certain other groups.

Public school is the only place open to all, and better reflects our multicultural society.

Donna Clare Calgary

Dream weaver

Re Queen Of Our Dreams (Opinion, Sept. 17): In ancient Rome, manners were shorthand for breeding: Personal appearance and cleanliness signalled superiority. During the Renaissance, manners became about chivalry, a way to moderate force and temper physical appetites. It wasn’t until the Victorian era that manners took on aspects of kindness.

The (unconfirmed) anecdote of Queen Victoria drinking the contents of her finger bowl – when she realized her guest of honour, a foreign dignitary, had mistaken it for soup – set the tone. These days, the impulse to humble or compromise one’s self, to spare someone else discomfort or embarrassment, is fading fast.

Of all the present-day luminaries who could have come to tea in the messy living room of contributor Jennifer Robson’s anxiety dream, Queen Elizabeth would have been among the most likely to ignore the cat hair and praise the cat.

Katherine Gougeon Toronto

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