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The Bank of Canada in Ottawa on July 12.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

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Structural co-operation

Re To End Polarization, Canadian Political Parties Need To Rediscover Co-operation (July 19): Contributors John Bell and John Zada seek to lower the level of political polarization, recommending that parties co-operate and voters tell political players that they don’t like nasty talk. Yet they made no mention of a structural solution enjoyed by a majority of world democracies: proportional representation.

Since parties rarely win majorities in PR systems, they must team up in coalitions to achieve governing majorities. During election campaigns, parties treat each other as potential partners in government.

To reduce political polarization, I’ll bet my money on a system that incentivizes co-operation, rather than pleading from the sidelines.

Peter Black Ottawa

On the job

Re Hospitals In ‘Full-blown Crisis Mode,’ Unions Warn (July 22): During the SARS epidemic, my mother was admitted to hospital for minor surgery. She died there, not from acquiring SARS, but from subpar care and neglect as more experienced nurses were pulled from their units to attend to SARS patients.

Sadly the situation has only gotten worse, and politicians have not implemented policies to prevent what is happening – again. The level of disrespect for health care workers and our elderly boggles my mind.

This is what we get when we vote for politicians who don’t listen, or when we don’t vote at all.

Barbara Sklar RN (retired), Toronto

As a recently retired registered nurse, I can attest that the health “care” system has been declining significantly for the last 15 to 20 years. While I hold our various governments accountable for the decline, I would suggest so are the CEOs and management teams of various health authorities.

These managers are continually tasked to find “creative” solutions and are handsomely rewarded for doing so. Those who don’t comply often find themselves out of a job.

In my experience, management teams pride themselves on being “yes” people. I feel there would have been more pride in saying “no” a long time ago.

Joanne Wiggins Victoria

Whose side?

Re Lessons On Inflation And Rates From 1981 (Report on Business, July 21): The Bank of Canada doesn’t want wage increases, because these added business costs will likely be passed to consumers and exacerbate inflation. Yet higher interest rates on business loans would also pass through and add to prices.

Higher interest rates will be paid not only by business, but by those with student debts and household mortgages. These debt payments flow to banks, investors and shareholders who will have more funds to spend, presumably at cross purposes with the intention of reducing the demand side of the equation.

The central bank’s actions are beneficial for corporate and banking elites, but detrimental to debtors and workers. Even at the risk of recession, it would ignore businesses that use inflation as an excuse to raise prices far beyond actual costs.

The BoC should be working for all Canadians, and should not side with capital in a class war.

Larry Kazdan Vancouver

Whole package

Re Canada’s Labour Shortage Is The Country’s Greatest Economic Threat (Report on Business, July 20): Contributors Mark Wiseman and Sen. Hassan Yussuff call for a national human capital strategy that prioritizes immigration and skills improvement, and eliminates barriers to work force participation. For such a plan to succeed, Canadian employers must commit to recruiting, retaining and integrating a broader, more diverse pool of workers.

That means building inclusive cultures where everyone can belong, supporting the unique needs of newcomers, training managers to lead diverse teams and expanding recruitment to include more women, older workers and people with disabilities.

Alignment around these goals, and increased collaboration between employers, government and employment and settlement services organizations like ours, will be critical to realizing that vision.

Tonie Chaltas CEO, Achēv; Mississauga

Stronger. Better?

Re What Good Is A Strong Mayor In A Weak City? (Editorial, July 21): To anyone wondering what could go wrong in creating a “strong mayor” with powers to veto city council decisions, I say: Rob Ford.

David Bright St. Catharines, Ont.

Real impact to bring effective municipal government requires enhancement of municipal jurisdiction in relation to the province, and not just strengthening the mayor’s power in relation to their existing jurisdiction.

Shalom Schachter Toronto

Get free

Re Freedom Of Expression In Public Libraries Must Apply To All (July 19): What is the point of the “free” in freedom if its meaning is imprisoned in shackles of antiquated thoughts? Our ideas need not be as old as our institutions.

Public libraries in our country are the cornerstone of communities. As a parent, presenter (of multicultural children’s books) and patron of one of the world’s best public library systems, I perceive what I see in such spaces to be representative of who we are as a nation.

Kudos to the many librarians who stand by difficult truths, and defend perspectives from uncomfortable positions that are not necessarily of their own personal accord.

Saumiya Balasubramaniam Toronto

Lesson plan

Re Is The Theory Of ‘Unique Learning Styles’ Dragging Down Our Education System? (July 20): Research to evaluate the effectiveness of using visual, auditory and tactile senses in classroom instruction has not provided support for their efficacy, because it is impossible to isolate them from all the other things that teachers do to achieve learning goals.

However, combining these modalities in a single lesson plan makes sense, because we take in information through our senses. Cognitive information learning theory has been shown to be effective.

Teachers do not make three lesson plans for a single concept. They make one whole-class lesson informed by curriculum documents, learning theories, available technology and, most importantly, student strengths, needs, interests and language abilities.

Lessons that support learning goals for diverse school populations are top of mind for teachers. They know what works best.

Cheryll Duquette Adjunct professor, faculty of education, University of Ottawa

It is clear to me that contributor Michael Zwaagstra is a secondary teacher, not an elementary one.

By the time students reach him, most have developed learning habits involving effective strategies. Acknowledging learning differences should not mean teaching each child in a different way, but providing a variety of learning activities and encouraging students to choose the learning strategies that work best for them.

The best elementary teachers do this, providing practical and emotional success that encourages lifelong learning.

Diana Rowles Teacher and university instructor, Victoria

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