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A giant Mike Duffy balloon is seen near Parliament Hill. The balloon is part of a Senate reform campaign. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
A giant Mike Duffy balloon is seen near Parliament Hill. The balloon is part of a Senate reform campaign. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)


July 22: Tactics in Senate reform, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Duffy in the wind

You’ve got to hand it to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation: If you want to push for a referendum on the Senate, there’s no better poster boy (doll?) than a giant, inflatable Mike Duffy flapping in the wind (Giant Mike Duffy Balloon Lurks In the Shadow Of Parliament – online, July 19).

I don’t agree with the federation’s stand on the Senate – it seems to me they have a bad case of throwing-out-the-baby-with-the-bathwater syndrome – but I do admire their marketing tactics.

Karen Saunders, Winnipeg


I couldn’t help but stare at that giant inflatable of Mike Duffy perched not far from the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. That just about sums things up nicely.

Just one question: Is there any chance that Islanders could get their hands on that balloon figure for the mid-August Gold Cup and Saucer Parade?

Peter McKenna, Charlottetown


Motor City math

Re Motor City Sputters Into Bankruptcy (July 19): I believe filing for bankruptcy will be the model adopted by more municipalities that have mismanaged taxpayers’ money.

Detroit has a population of 700,000 people. Its debt has been estimated at between $17-billion and $20-billion. Peg the debt at $18.5 billion, and the per-capita debt load works out to about $26,400. That’s all it took to file for bankruptcy.

Ontario has a population of about 13.5 million and a debt load of about $280-billion, which rises, on average, about 5.5 per cent a year. At this rate, do the math and buckle your seat belts.

Adam Ridolfi, Toronto


Build bigger rinks

It should come as no surprise that the National Hockey League’s recent rule changes have not decreased concussions (NHL’s Program To Reduce Concussions Isn’t Working, Study Finds – Sports, July 18). Short of making professional hockey a non-contact sport (and banning fighting), no conceivable rule changes are going to have much effect on concussions in the NHL.

However, studies have conclusively shown that collisions and head impacts are significantly reduced when elite hockey is played on the larger Olympic-size ice surface. More room on the ice means fewer collisions. Same rules, fewer injuries.

The NHL’s stewards would be well-advised to stop rearranging the deck chairs and get on with the task of expanding the deck. No more rinks should be built to the NHL’s current ice-size specifications, which have not changed since the 19th century.

Introducing Olympic-size rinks into the NHL is one change that actually would work to reduce concussions.

Richard Wennberg, neurologist, University of Toronto


Further into debt

Re Europe’s ‘Austerians’ Need A Lesson In Macroeconomics (Report on Business, July 17): A similar argument, made in an episode of the BBC’s Yes Minister, claimed that the government should maintain employment at a hospital, despite the fact that the hospital was closed to patients, because the employment itself was helping society.

The problem being attacked by austerity is systematic: Our governments are bloated, inefficient and unsustainable. To point out that cutting employees from an unsustainable bureaucracy leads to short-term losses, due to temporary unemployment, misses the bigger point that the original level of government employment was unsustainable.

Matt Taylor, Kingston


Power, provided …

Margaret Wente’s column Staying Cool? Thank Nuclear (July 18) was like a cool breeze of common sense to many in Canada’s nuclear industry. It was indeed refreshing to see the real and long-term global benefits of nuclear-generated electricity so clearly stated and the myths around nuclear power debunked.

The timing of her article was fortuitous as Ontario embarks on a critical review of its Long Term Energy Plan. Along with the Power Workers’ Union, the Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries commissioned a study by a team of respected analysts to probe the implications of alternative electricity supply decisions facing the province.

The study showed that by investing in existing nuclear plants and constructing new nuclear units, in comparison to a more wind-turbine based future, Ontario stands to realize a net economic benefit of $60-billion, 100,000 person years of employment, and a reduction of almost 110 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

Ron Oberth, president, Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries


Last year, Europe added almost all of Ontario’s current generating capacity in one year and most of it was solar.

Solar is now cost effective in many regions, with little or no government incentives. It would be completely cost effective if governments worldwide eliminated the – according to the IMF – $1.9-trillion a year in subsidies to the fossil fuel and nuclear industry. The International Energy Agency estimates that all renewable energy (solar, wind etc.) has a subsidy of $88-billion per year.

The world is in the middle of a fundamental transition in our energy-based economy. It started about 20 years ago and it will take about another 20 years to complete. This transition is happening much faster than even most solar experts had predicted, let alone what the average person understood.

Ian MacLellan, chair, committee on solar electricity innovation, Canadian Solar Industries Association


Moral imperative

Re America Needs More From Obama On Race (July 18): Konrad Yakabuski describes the misery of the American black underclass: “poverty, violence, rotten schools and absent fathers.”

In the U.S., there were colossal, focused goals, such as the Manhattan Project to build an atomic bomb before the Nazis, and the proposal to land a man on the moon. Instead of technological goals, a major moral imperative is needed to prevent the growth of dysfunctional families among blacks. Sadly, it has not happened, and will not happen.

Jacob Mendlovic, Toronto


One man’s kindness

Re Honest Ed’s Is Going, Going . . . (July 17): As an immigrant to Canada from Hungary in 1956, I would like to add my heartfelt appreciation for Ed Mirvish’s generosity of spirit.

Quite a few Hungarians were the grateful recipients of his kindness. Many a Hungarian lawyer, doctor, engineer and accountant today – to mention just a few – could thank Mr. Mirvish for hiring their parents and grandparents when they first arrived in this country, even though they spoke no English and had no experience. The start he gave them help ensure the families’ futures.

We’ll never see the likes of Mr. Mirvish and Honest Ed’s again.

More’s the pity.

Susan Stern, Toronto

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