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Lucy gets cleaned at the Edmonton Valley Zoo. Today’s topics: budget backchat; good news for twentysomethings; Lucy’s vet on what’s best for the elephant; March weather ... and more (REUTERS)
Lucy gets cleaned at the Edmonton Valley Zoo. Today’s topics: budget backchat; good news for twentysomethings; Lucy’s vet on what’s best for the elephant; March weather ... and more (REUTERS)

What readers think

March 31: Letters to the editor Add to ...

Budget backchat

In “tout,” you’ve chosen the perfect verb to describe the Conservatives’ strategy for selling the federal budget (Ministers Tout ‘Modest’ Tory Plan To Slash Spending, Shrink Public Service – March 30). The word’s often used in connection with betting on a horse race. For the non-gamblers, I offer this advice: This budget can be summarized as 20 per cent “I see” and 80 per cent “We’ll see.”

Chris Marriott, Chelsea, Que.


The juxtaposition described by John Ibbitson (PM Delivers His Vision: Less Government For All – March 30) between a “genuinely conservative government” that offers Canadians “less, less, less” and a “progressive agenda ... of those who promote equity or social justice” is both accurate and deeply troubling.

Although balancing the budget is necessary and laudable, one only has to look at our neighbours to the south to see what happens when a country pursues the unattainable prize of ever-expanding GDP. The gap between rich and poor grows ever wider, marginalized people become more so, our air and water become poisoned, and the fabric of society stretches to the breaking point. More and more money is spent on police and prisons, while genuine security becomes increasingly elusive.

Why Stephen Harper is so determined to take us down the disastrous road followed by the U.S. is puzzling to say the least. I hope Canadians will let him know loudly and clearly this is not the Canada they want.

D. Philip Cameron, Regina


Your March 30 edition devoted almost half a page to a photograph of Thomas Mulcair speaking with the media about the budget (New Face Of Official Opposition Stands Opposed), but only one line reporting what he had to say. An odd journalistic lapse, it seems to me, especially since, as the picture caption points out, this was “his first chance to square off with Prime Minister Stephen Harper as head of the Official Opposition.”

Bryan Colleran, Guelph, Ont.


Decreasing the military budget (Deep Defence Spending Cuts Signal A Harper Reversal – March 30) is a good move, but doing the same for foreign aid and diplomacy (Ambassadors’ Residences, Foreign Aid, Diplomats’ Pay Subject To Cuts – March 30) is not. The emphasis should shift from the generals to the ambassadors as, in the wise words of Tony Benn, all war represents a failure of diplomacy.

Tim Jeffery, Toronto


I suppose the idea of a “penny for your thoughts” is going to go the way of the one-cent coin. Maybe we should start thinking about a nickel for your notions.

Nigel Brachi, Edmonton


When thousands of Canadians indicated they were not comfortable with their government’s build-a-pipeline-anywhere policies because of job-related economic concerns, energy security and fears about environmental damage, they were ignored or belittled.

The federal budget took a further step to stifle debate by reducing the environmental assessment period for pipeline construction.

This is nothing more than a way to fast-track building and profits for big oil companies. These pipelines pose serious threats to the environment and the public interest, yet the government wants to speed up the rubber-stamp process.

Dave Coles, president, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada


Good news

Amidst all the bleak economic forecasts and austerity measures, it’s nice to see there’s at least a bit of hope for young people entering the work force (Against All Odds, Twentysomethings Are Making It On Their Own – Life, March 30). As I get closer to 20, I’m definitely concerned, especially when hearing about the economic downturn. It’s good to know there may, in fact, be hope for us.

Leslie Tulett, Mississauga


In reply …

The McGuinty government is taking strong action to balance the budget by 2017-18 to protect the results Ontarians have achieved in education and health care. Balancing the budget is the most important thing we can do to grow our economy and create jobs.

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak (The Budget Ontario Needs – March 30) presents no plan of his own, except to oppose the 2012 budget we presented, which outlines savings of almost $18-billion and holds overall spending growth at 1 per cent over three years. Most observers have noted that it would make sense for Mr. Hudak to support the budget. Instead, he wants to force an election nobody wants.

Mr. Hudak cites economist Jack Mintz. Mr. Mintz studied our Tax Plan for Jobs and Growth and concluded it would create more than 600,000 net new jobs. Our reforms cut taxes on new business investment in half, making Ontario the second favourite destination for foreign investment in North America. Mr. Hudak voted against the tax cuts for business when we first introduced them in the legislature in 2009. That’s why it is so ironic to see him oppose the proposed freeze to further tax cuts today.

Dwight Duncan, Ontario Finance Minister


Tucked inside

If they enjoy eggs boiled in urine in China (An Acquired Taste – letters, March 30), I shudder to think what they like in their omelettes.

Allan Shipley, Parksville, B.C.


Lucy’s best interests

Lucy is not just any elephant, she must be understood and treated as an individual (Who Will Speak For Lucy? – March 28). At 36, her health is stable; she has a fulfilling, comfortable life. She also has a particularly complicated medical issue: Elephants usually breathe through their trunks, Lucy breathes through her mouth. Under stress, or other times of increased need for oxygen, her ability to breathe is stretched almost beyond her capacity.

After an extensive examination of Lucy’s trunk and upper respiratory passages which required sedation, Dr. James Oosterhuis – an elephant specialist and acknowledged expert in large mammal health – concluded it would be life-threatening for Lucy to be placed under the kind of stress that would be caused by a move and that it would be unethical for any veterinarian to recommend moving her. The City of Edmonton will not put Lucy at risk.

Lucy has been cared for by the dedicated staff of the Edmonton Valley Zoo for over 30 years; the zoo is committed to providing the best care she would receive anywhere. While the zoo’s long-term goal is not to house elephants, the City of Edmonton will continue to make decisions in the best interest of Lucy.

Milton Ness, veterinarian, Edmonton Valley Zoo


Out like a Leaf

I don’t know what role global warming may have played in the strange weather we had this March but instead of in like a lion and out like a lamb, we got in like a lamb and out like a Leaf – cold and disappointing (Concussions Have Played A Role In Leafs Slide – Sports, March 30).

Tom McCann, Toronto

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