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How WE got here
Re Lobbying Commissioner Launches Review Of WE Charity (Sept. 11): The Kielburgers started the fight against child labour 25 years ago and were very successful in their mission throughout the world. However, I believe WE Charity became a victim of “founders syndrome.”
As a Canadian and believer in human rights for children, I was proud of their vision. At a 50th-anniversary celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Edmonton, in attendance were Desmond Tutu; Mary Robinson, then-United Nations high commissioner for human rights; Antonio Lamer, then-chief justice of Canada – and the Kielburgers, who inspired the youth there.
But then they expanded their charity and it seems they did not delegate nor trust other staff to manage operations, keeping control in their own hands. Still, I hope their work will continue to inspire Canadian youth, and that they will keep the torch burning.
Gurcharan Singh Bhatia CM, Edmonton
In Canada, apparently the days of believing that one is innocent until proven guilty are gone, and with them the loss of WE Charity, its founders and their good work among young people over the past 25 years.
This story began with the government’s attempt to assign WE the distribution of financial support to young people through the Canada Student Service Grant. Within days and without much evidence, the term “scandal” was put to common use, and political commentators and politicians saw opportunity for themselves instead of an opportunity to find the truth.
What scandal? The Ethics Commissioner has yet to report and parliamentary committees have yet to hold conclusive hearings based on evidence now before them. The implication that the Prime Minister and his family were somehow going to benefit from all this doesn’t make sense to me.
I for one am waiting for more hard evidence to shape my opinion one way or the other. I recommend the players mentioned above do the same.
Keith Oliver Cobourg, Ont.
Do lawns belong?
Re It’s Time To Decolonize The Traditional Lawn, Critics Say (Sept. 5): In defence of the good ol' family lawn, and why we shouldn’t be dissing it out of hand:
- Aesthetics: Lawns can attractively frame a home, a garden and the trees.
- Play: Lawns are places of play where young children can safely run without adult direction, monitored from a kitchen window.
- Socializing: Neighbours can converge for recreation or just to hang out.
- Safe pandemic bubble: In lockdown, lawns are one of the few possible outdoor retreats.
Despite these arguments in favour of the lawn, its future looks bleak. The reason? Economics. Land is too expensive; many backyards now have laneway homes. Mega-homes are built on lots that had never seen their full zoning potential. And rezoning replaces yard space with blank square footage.
Michael Clague Vancouver
A university professor asks, “What is a lawn but a statement of control over nature?” And what, we might ask, is a canoe made from a cedar tree but a statement of control over nature?
In fact, a lawn is nature. It is also itself a colony. Grass is a carpet of leaves; leaves are photo-synthesizers that support life. Lawns seethe with life – clover, pollinating bees, other insects and micro-organisms – and provide soft aesthetic cushions for our feet. They are our children’s play spaces and our picnic blankets.
It was popular in the form of the village green in traditional British country life, where travelling players acted and maypoles were danced around. Lawns also suit the wet and foggy climate of the B.C. coast. Who knew they were also instruments of colonialism?
S.B. Julian Victoria
Re Ecologist’s Garden Is A Challenge to Lawn Order (Aug. 29): Given all of the environmental issues caused by cutting healthy pollinators and other vegetation to plant, fertilize and mow a lawn, shouldn’t cities be banning lawns rather than naturalized gardens? I believe that it is Nina-Marie Lister who should be filing complaints with the city against all of her lawn-owning, polluting neighbours.
Anna Dolan Barry’s Bay, Ont.
Re Playing Down The Rabbit Hole (Opinion, Sept. 5): Contributor Joseph Uscinski notes that the popularity of conspiracy theories long predates the arrival of social media. However, the sheer volume of material available now, and the lack of control over who posts what, means that we are objectively exposed to more such theories, rarely with any indication of where they came from.
The solution should be twofold. First, it should be reinforced at every opportunity that there is such thing as expertise. Some people – through virtue of training, experience and skill – do know more than others on a given topic.
Second, children should learn how to properly question any story or claim. They should be able to apply healthy skepticism and find and value reputable sources of information.
In the end, we shouldn’t have to insist on the regulation of social media if we can all tell, even virtually, when someone is wearing a tinfoil hat.
Adam Green Ottawa
Re History Should Be Addition, Not Subtraction (Editorial, Sept. 9): It is no surprise to me that Canadians would lack a rich sense of their own history.
In Ontario, only one high-school Canadian history credit is required to graduate. STEM subjects dominate the curriculum. These are worthy areas of study, but not every student is going to become an engineer or a scientist. Every student is, however, developing into an adult Canadian citizen. To fully participate in citizenship responsibilities, isn’t an understanding of who we are and how we got here fundamental?
Were Canadian history compulsory in every grade, this understanding could include Indigenous histories, immigration patterns, social problems, provincial and local histories, scientific and medical discoveries, the criminal justice system and even pandemics, to name a few topics.
And shouldn’t at least one course in Canadian studies be a compulsory requirement for graduation from any Canadian university or college?
Ian McKercher Ottawa
Re Unfulfilled (Opinion, Sept. 5): Was this column languishing in the vault since, oh, 1952? To describe female sexuality, as contributor Debra Soh does, as driven by evolutionary biology ignores the role of patriarchal social structures imposed on women over the past several thousand years. There’s a reason for the term “female empowerment.”
Patricia Gay Edmonton
Don’t do it
Re Giant Crossword (Diversions, Sept. 5): In a valiant effort to forestall the advent of autumn, I have decided to forgo completing The Globe’s summer-ending giant crossword puzzle.
Robert Vineberg Winnipeg
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