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Kids ride their bikes past the sign for D.A. Morrison school in Toronto on June 2, 2021.Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

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The end

Re U.S. Ends War In Afghanistan (Aug. 31): The United States may have ended its and NATO’s war in Afghanistan, but it was Afghanistan that ended the war in final victory.

Bill Fairbairn Ottawa

The rapid and complete collapse of the Afghan government, after 20 years of financial and military support, was not foreseen by most analysts. That should be proof of the futility of the entire enterprise and justify Joe Biden’s position that it had to end. I believe he will be proven right in the long run.

Mike Hutton Ottawa

Taxing problem

Re A Tax On Them (Letters, Aug. 31): A letter-writer suggests we shouldn’t increase taxes on banks as that might lessen dividends for shareholders, including some seniors. Seriously?

Bank profit in this country is obscene. A slight decrease in payouts to those who can afford to own stocks is a small price to pay for a tax that could raise money and help those in need, including many seniors.

Tom Scanlan Toronto

Re Private Delivery Of Health Care? Yes Please. Private Funding? No Thanks. (Opinion, Aug. 28): Provinces already have the power to tax citizens and corporations toward paying for medicare without federal transfers. What many provinces lack is the economic capacity that would enable citizens to pay higher taxes.

Newfoundland and Labrador already has its fiscal back against the wall, and the federal government is already bailing out that province. As a percentage of gross national product, the federal deficit is now greater than it has ever been, having developed an enormous potbelly over the past year.

If interest rates rise by even three percentage points, most provincial governments would be in financial trouble. As well, Canada’s population is aging rapidly and will continue to drive up health costs along with the dependency ratio.

What will columnist Andrew Coyne suggest when the federal government can no longer afford to help pay for medicare? There should be increased financial discipline at home, at work and in government.

Patrick Cowan Toronto

Back to school

Re How To Fix Canada’s Education Catastrophe (Opinion, Aug. 28): While I don’t agree with contributor Irvin Studin when he suggests masks and other prevention methods should be discarded as soon as possible in the coming school year, I heartily agree that schools need to “double down on quality” and actively pursue “excellence in education.”

Last fall, I was dismayed to receive a message from my son’s principal outlining the school’s priorities: “Learning” ranked fifth on the list, after “creating positive connections” and “fun and laughter.” With my son about to enter Grade 7, I hope he’ll be given a challenging academic school year – and not just 6.5 hours of warm fuzzies everyday.

Tuula Talvila Ottawa

Re The Make-up Test (Aug. 28): Ministries of education across the country are saying now is the time to close gaps caused by pandemic-related changes to education delivery. It should be noted that ministries of education were largely responsible for how confused and frustrated parents and educators were in the past two years.

Likely any progress will be completely because educators and parents make it happen in spite of bad management. For example, “in Ontario, it’s unclear whether the government’s $20-million allotment for reading assessments in the early grades will be enough to address children’s learning needs.” That is less than $30 in funding per student. It would barely cover one reading recovery kit in a school with 700 or 800 primary students.

In my opinion, the funding announcements across the country are pure public relations. As has happened for the past two years, teachers and parents will just have to figure things out for themselves.

Wayne Nickoli London, Ont.

In solidarity

Re Tight Labour Market Opening New Doors For Potential Workers (Report on Business, Aug. 31): With Labour Day around the corner, it is worth noting that union coverage reached a 10-year high in 2020, according to Statistics Canada.

A record five million workers are part of the labour movement this summer, according to monthly tabulations. With federal pay equity now the law as of Aug. 31, workers’ bargaining power could well be the key to postpandemic success.

Tom Baker Burlington, Ont.

Leading letter

Re Goodbye, Ryerson (Letters, Aug. 30): While Egerton Ryerson may have had nothing to do with the direct abuses inflicted on students by various agencies entrusted with running these benighted institutions, he certainly contributed to their mandate.

How else to interpret this passage from the 1847 Report of Dr. Ryerson on Industrial Schools? “Agriculture being the chief interest, and probably the most suitable employment of the civilized Indians, I think the great object of industrial schools should be to fit the pupils for becoming working farmers and agricultural labourers, fortified of course by Christian principles, feelings and habits.”

In other words, these schools were intended to remake children in the image of their colonial masters. Could Ryerson’s intent have been any clearer?

Liz Addison Toronto

Thing I learned

Re An Older Generation, Learning New Tricks (Aug. 28): A host of seniors’ educational organizations across the country – from here in Kamloops to the McGill Community for Lifelong Learning – succeeded in moving from face-to-face to online learning.

The Ontario Later-Life Learning Videoconferencing Working Group, established prepandemic, played a leading role in assisting other third-age learning groups in such moves. Seniors organizations are learning – and teaching – new tricks in a host of ways.

Ginny Ratsoy Board member, Kamloops Adult Learners Society

All the stars

Re Canadian Music Educator Founded the Field of Acoustic Ecology (Obituary, Aug. 28): I’m a deeply passionate lover of music. The most profound and fantastical music performance I have ever attended was R. Murray Schafer’s The Princess of the Stars in Banff in 1985.

Crucial to understanding this event is to note that it was performed on a small lake high up in the Rocky Mountains. It began in the middle of the night and ended with the sun rising over the mountaintops.

There was no seating; one sat somewhere between the trees on the ground and became entranced as Mr. Schafer’s ethereal and haunting sound world drifted over the lake and echoed off the mountains. As the narrative unfolded, the prosaic day-to-day world vanished and one seemed to enter the dimension of the mythic.

It was a truly sublime experience like no other I have experienced.

Sascha Maicher Ottawa

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