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WHAT READERS THINK

March 6: ‘Woeful job’ in sexual assault cases. Plus other letters to the editor Add to ...

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here: letters@globeandmail.com

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Sadly, not surprised

As someone who spent 15 years in the Hamilton legal system working with survivors of violence against women, I am appalled to learn of the unfounded sexual assault rates in Canada (Unfounded, ongoing series). Appalled, but sadly, not surprised. My experience has taught me that the legal system as a whole does a woeful job in these cases.

Most women do not report such crimes to police, and unfounded rates like these help us understand why. Despite this, 30 per cent of complaints are deemed unfounded within my own community of Hamilton.

All police services with high unfounded rates should take a page from Toronto with its rate of 7 per cent and a chief, Mark Saunders, who has the wisdom to acknowledge that police can too easily “be influenced by subconscious beliefs … affected by long-held societal opinions about sexual assault.”

The status quo is simply not acceptable.

Joanne Robinson, Hamilton

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Power, policy, pols

It is indeed precious of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to dress up what amounts to her bid to win the next election as the “single-largest reduction in electricity rates in Ontario’s history” (Excluded From Ontario’s Hydro Cuts, Firms Say They Can’t Compete, March 3).

The manoeuvre is set to increase the province’s already astronomical debt costs by $25-billion, and that’s on the expectation that interest rates won’t climb over the 30-year repayment period.

This is wishful crystal-ball gazing at best and deceptive electioneering at worst.

The rate reduction may be the largest, but there was a lot of room to work with – and it’s nowhere near the savings that might have been possible if the costs around the Green Energy initiative had been competently managed and the scandals kept to a minimum.

Still, it’s not the $25-billion we should worry about. It’s the doubling or tripling of it that is virtually assured, given the Liberals’ track record on the energy and debt files. Worst of all is the dismal performance of Patrick Brown and the Progressive Conservatives in failing to articulate a viable, coherent alternative.

If the PCs have a plan to deal with hydro, I suspect they will probably phrase it in the form of a complaint after they lose the election. Complaining about the Liberals is not a plan. Time is ticking and barring a miracle, Ms. Wynne will end up with yet another mandate. Time to erect a sign at Ontario’s borders: Abandon hope all ye who enter here.

Kope Inokai, Toronto

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For sale: $1.5-million

Re Detached Toronto Homes Crack $1.5-Million, With Suburbs Hopping (online, March 3): The low inventory of homes for sale is driving up prices. One of the key reasons contributing to this shortage is the land transfer taxes and real estate commissions that are part of selling a home.

As housing prices increase at a 20-per-cent annual clip, so do the taxes and commissions based on that sale price. Both the Toronto Real Estate Board and City of Toronto have their own reasons not to investigate these underlying causes. To date, their explanations are self-serving.

That $1.5-million home sale in Toronto probably involves $127,000 in commissions (5 per cent of the sale price, plus there’s GST on that) and provincial and Toronto land transfer taxes ($52,950).

Contemplating those numbers, many people would rather stay put and renovate.

Marlon Hershkop, Toronto

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Delayed/denied

Re Lawyers Decry Ontario’s Court Tactics (March 3): How can scarce judicial resources best be deployed to ensure justice for all: The accused get their cases heard in a reasonable time, while society does not have criminal matters thrown out due to a lack of courtrooms and/or judges?

Governments with their already stretched budgets do not have the money to merely hire more judges and prosecutors and to build more courtrooms.

Ontario faces the same pressures as other provinces, but has the ability to take an approach that could alleviate the issue here: Ontario still permits litigants to pursue civil claims, particularly in the area of personal injury, in front of a jury. If civil jury trials were abolished in favour of judge-only sittings, such cases would be greatly shortened, thereby freeing resources to address criminal matters. Civil jury trials are more expensive than judge-only trials, so there is a financial incentive to the Wynne government to do away with this historical anomaly.

Andrew Suboch, Toronto

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Criminal cases are being dropped due to a lack of resources sufficient to protect our constitutional right to a timely trial. The problem is not with how the Supreme Court interpreted that right in the Jordan case. The problem is with the tax cuts, spending cuts, and hiring freezes our governments have imposed over the past few decades.

If the high court hadn’t drawn a line in the sand with Jordan, our rights would have continued to erode in the name of “fiscal conservatism” (that is, austerity).

Ignoring the impacts austerity cuts have on people’s lives is what produced Brexit and Trump. It’s time to pony up the resources required to give us a functional justice system.

Chris Rapson, Toronto

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Why are Crown prosecutors asking for written waivers (signed by the criminally accused) to forgo the right to timely justice so that a preliminary inquiry may be held before a criminal trial?

Whatever the answer, it will only take 30 months from the charge to completion of the Superior Court trial for the accused to worry about a possible conviction and maybe jail (if he or she does not sign the waiver).

What’s the big deal?

What about the time taken in a family law case for spouses and children to obtain custody, access, support, achievements in education, sports, arts and sciences, including love and affection and even an order for the matrimonial assets? The answer is: There is no time limit, and more than 50 per cent of spouses aren’t even represented by lawyers in Ontario. Why?

There are three justice systems in Canada, criminal, family and civil. Why aren’t the chief justices and attorneys-general demanding from our governments the resources needed for justice to prevail in all three systems?

Is prison more important than a child’s future?

Willson McTavish, Ontario’s Children’s Lawyer 1984-2002; Mississauga

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Gravitas …

Your editorial, Presidential-ish (March 2), rightly points out that “presidential” is really just a straightforward adjective. From repeated media use – online, in print, intoned by broadcasters – the word has come to imply some sort of political gravitas, similar to “prime ministerial.” With the same logic, here’s a cautionary note to Canadian media: Avoid labelling the 13 premiers as “provincial” or “territorial.”

Mel Simoneau, Gatineau, Que.

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