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Hire vets first
Re Disabled Vets Finding Doors Shut To Jobs In Federal Service (May 24): Disabled vets should have priority when it comes to hiring for positions they are capable of performing. Veterans Affairs Canada should be responsible for ensuring vets are made aware of positions in their area and follow up with individuals and the Public Service Commission to ensure interviews are conducted in an expedited manner.
Based on what's reported, it is clear that many public servants involved in the hiring process are either insensitive toward disabled vets or have received no direction from their superiors to fast-track veterans' applications.
We should be treating all our vets respectfully every day for their service to our country, and not just on Remembrance Day.
Robert Street, Halifax
Re Universities Struggle To Find Affordable Housing (May 24): Housing affordability might have some role in preventing highly valued academics from joining schools in Vancouver and Toronto. However, I would also look elsewhere for an explanation.
I suggest that we focus on Canadian universities' ability to spot talent and the drive to attract it.
If housing prices are a concern in Toronto and Vancouver, then we must be attracting talent to schools in affordable housing markets, such as Waterloo, Kingston and London in Ontario, or Sherbrooke in Quebec.
The university rankings over the past several years do not show Canadian universities located in affordable housing markets rising in the local or international standings. Housing affordability might be a red herring.
Murtaza Haider, associate professor, Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University
Death on the rails
Re The Railway Children (Facts & Arguments, May 24): The essay on escaping near-death on the railway tracks stated, "These days, railways are heavily guarded against infiltrators …" In fact, these days, as in bygone days, most railway tracks are so wide open, they practically encourage pedestrian crossings, even though some are a short walk from stores and schools.
Hundreds of people, including children, have died. When there is a death, as in the three people who were killed by trains in the past month in the Toronto area, news reports focus on the inconvenience to commuters.
Three years ago, I brought this issue to Burlington City Council's attention and councillors were quick to implement widespread changes, including high density fencing and a communication protocol that brought together the city and several rail operators.
The model is working and it's there for other cities to adopt. They just need to make the call.
Denise Davy, Burlington, Ont.
I spent 30 years as an engineer at CN and Via Rail. I long ago lost count of the number of times I threw a train into an emergency brake application and held my breath, desperate in the hope the train might lose the mile-or-so an hour that might just give those kids a chance to make it to the other side of that bridge.
It is a common scenario. All too common. Much as I enjoyed the essay, I have to question the assertion that "These days, railways are heavily guarded against infiltrators …"
Daniel J. Christie, Port Hope, Ont.
A hot, hot place
Re Man Accused Of Pretending To Be Evacuee (May 24): A special tenth circle in Dante's Inferno awaits anyone found to be a Fort McMurray evacuee fraudster.
Rob Young, Toronto
The fair answer …
Your editorial, Another Day, Another Deadline (May 23), omits the entire context that invalidates the National Energy Board pipeline review.
Until 2012 and the Harper administration's dismantling of our decades-old environmental assessment process in Bill C-38, the NEB had no role in such reviews.
The Liberals pledged in the election that no project could be approved based on that broken process, which denied intervenors procedural fairness and reviewed only some aspects of the proposed pipeline. The broken process remains – and Energy East is in the midst of it as well.
The interim measures and additional panel cannot fix the wasted three years of a sham review. The only fair answer will be "no."
Elizabeth May, Leader, Green Party of Canada
As you quite properly point out, the most telling objection to the Kinder Morgan proposal to twin the Trans Mountain pipeline to North Burnaby, on the shore of Burrard Inlet, is that much more oil would pass through Vancouver harbour, one of the world's busiest, where, as you say, a major collision could do grave damage. Tanker traffic passing almost the entire length of the inlet would increase, we are told, from five to 34 per month.
Why is Kinder Morgan so wedded to its existing Burnaby terminal, when a glance at geography would show that a diversion and extension of the last few kilometres of pipeline to the south of the city from Sumas to the open docks at Roberts Bank, or even if necessary to a point in Washington State where Trans Mountain already has a facility, would eliminate this very valid objection?
John Edmond, Ottawa
New tax? Sweet
Re Why A 'Pop Tax' Is The Wrong Weapon To Fight Obesity (online, May 22): A pop tax is not the only answer to a complex health issue, but it is one important lever in a multipronged and long-term approach. A wealth of strong economic evidence indicates that price impacts purchasing behaviour. The 2014 results from the Mexican experience support this: The tax resulted in a 12-per-cent reduction in sugary drink consumption, and an even higher reduction – 17 per cent – among people living on low incomes.
Other countries also obviously agree that a levy is a health-progressive approach, including the U.K., France, Finland and Hungary; Ireland says it intends to announce a sugary drinks tax.
Some 74 per cent of Canadians surveyed support a sugary drink tax if revenues are used to support healthy eating initiatives.
There are no health benefits to consuming sugary drinks but there are many health benefits to taxing them.
David Sculthorpe, CEO, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
When raptors rule
Re Dinosaur Discoveries Signal Jurassic Park Generation's Coming Of Age (May 24): I wonder how many other basketball fans were surprised to delve into your article on the front page, only to realize it really was about palaeontology discoveries. I was certain it was acknowledging fans' support after the Toronto Raptors (also making history) convincingly tied the series with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Phyllis Dinning, Cambridge, Ont.