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The Saskatchewan Legislative Building at Wascana Centre in Regina on May 30, 2020.Mark Taylor/The Canadian Press

Too long

Re “Vast majority of jail inmates in several provinces are still awaiting trial, survey finds” (Oct. 30): When as many as 80 per cent of prisoners are jailed on remand across Canada, it is definitely “horrifying,” as one professor notes. But beyond that, I see a human-rights travesty.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Well, I find that cruel and inhuman appropriately describe being jailed, sometimes for months, without a trial and before a conviction. I suggest that enterprising lawyers might successfully use human-rights arguments to build a class-action lawsuit on behalf of those jailed before being found guilty.

Above all, provincial bail systems should be immediately reformed to guarantee that the accused can be granted or denied bail within days or weeks, rather than months as is appallingly common.

Michael Craig Owen Sound, Ont.

Climate record

Re “The Liberals’ heating-oil gambit blows up in their face. The carbon tax may be collateral damage” (Nov. 1): No one could ever accuse the Liberals of climate-policy coherence.

After eight years, we still have the worst climate record in the G7. Our claim to climate “leadership” was further compromised by buying the Trans Mountain pipeline and funding its construction as costs to taxpayers ballooned to more than $30-billion.

As for the assumption that natural gas is a better climate choice than oil, that is only looking at emissions from burning. Upstream natural gas is mostly fracked and releases vast amounts of a powerful greenhouse gas in methane. To reduce emissions from homes, by far the best strategy would be maximizing energy efficiency and making heat pumps affordable.

Unfortunately for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, their policy incoherence looks to have caught up with them. But it is certainly not the end of carbon pricing – it is one thing they (almost) got right.

Elizabeth May OC; MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands; Leader, Green Party of Canada; Sidney, B.C.

Look into it

Re “Untangling the great policy mess of Canada’s innovation problem” (Report on Business, Oct. 28): There is much to be lauded in this cri de coeur about the undesirable state of research and innovation. However, I find that the diagnoses and prescriptions fall short.

While lamenting the business sector’s chronic inability to commercialize non-business (“independent”) research, the contributors argue for more independent research funding to fill an apparently constipated knowledge pipeline. They decry declining business spending on research, but seem to overlook the healthy number of firms currently engaged in it.

They mourn the lowly 2 per cent of businesses that incorporate research into business strategies, but don’t see the challenges in technology adoption. They call for more layers of science bureaucracy – another “independent advisory body” – that would further gum up the decision-making works.

By all means, let us have more research where advantageous, but not necessarily more research. I regard this as a good starting point for action.

Ron Freedman CEO, Research Infosource; Toronto

The contributors argue that government should provide increased funding for research, on the grounds this would help improve Canada’s economic performance. To their credit, however, they also point out little demand from Canadian businesses for the results of research.

I believe governments should fund research for the same reason they fund sports and culture: as a worthwhile human endeavour. But until someone explains how to ensure businesses make use of research to drive growth in this country, and not just elsewhere, I cannot take seriously claims that more research funding would help our economy.

Instead of looking at research as a way to save our economy, we should be asking how we can actually have an economy so that we might be able to save research, and a few other things.

Jim Paulin Ottawa

How much?

Re “Denounce and refute, don’t muzzle” (Oct. 30): God knows my campus comrades and I, back in the late 1960s, said hurtful things about political leaders and university authorities in our fervour for student rights, social justice and peace.

But the case of York University student unions strikes me as different. Those students, as individuals, have the right to offensive free speech subject to the laws of the land. But campus organizations, funded by fees paid by all students, should adhere to agreed-upon community standards, so that all members of the community can participate in communal life without fear.

Would a student union be permitted to call for all women to be expelled? To demand separate toilets for people of colour? I think not, and rightly so, because we do agree on some limit to the range of permitted free speech.

We just disagree about whom we are trying to protect from harmful speech.

Elaine Bander Montreal

For better

Re “Alarm grows as Saskatchewan bars third-party sexual health, sexual-abuse prevention educators from classrooms” (Oct. 30): As a family physician, one of my favourite gigs was as a sexual-health educator in elementary schools.

I brought a science-based curriculum and relieved teachers of a sometimes uncomfortable and unfamiliar lesson plan. Parents were always notified and encouraged to discuss information with their children. They could opt out their child, but I don’t recall anyone ever doing so.

Information was age-appropriate and sensitively handled. An adult who was more comfortable and familiar with the language and facts than parents and teachers was an invaluable resource.

There is ample evidence that knowledge about sexuality and knowing how to talk about it is beneficial for school-aged children. It protects them from bullying, predators, unwanted touching, sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. It gives them freedom to grow up with confidence and security, rather than in ignorance and fear.

Perhaps parents in Saskatchewan should think about that when the next election comes around.

Elizabeth Fendley MD, Vancouver

All too well

Re “The cultural world is being ruptured by the Israel-Hamas war” (Oct. 27): I laughed in recognition at how a Jewish woman was assured by concert security staff that she was safe from harm, because “nobody will be able to tell” she is Jewish.

Throughout my life, I’ve had the unnerving experience of being told, with a kind, encouraging smile, that I “don’t look Jewish” – as a compliment. My daughter (and many other Jews, I’m sure) has had the same experience.

We have received this “compliment” from professors, work colleagues and even friends. I cannot even imagine my Catholic or Protestant friends receiving a similar comment about the non-connection between their appearance and their religion.

So why us? Discrimination comes in many forms.

Lise Hendlisz Toronto

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