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Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page has been battling to get details of the federal government’s spending cuts.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

The entire economy

I don't know where Jim Flaherty and Tony Clement got the idea that the mandate of the Parliamentary Budget Officer is limited to expenditures, and cannot address cuts and their implications (Budget Watchdog Takes Feds to Court – Oct. 22). Under the Parliament of Canada Act, the Parliamentary Budget Officer's mandate is "to provide independent analysis … about the state of the nation's finances, the estimates of the government and trends in the national economy" and "undertake research … into the nation's finances and economy."

Does anyone think that a homemaker trying to make ends meet would want to ignore how the budget got balanced? Roof repairs cut? Dentist dropped? Vacations cancelled? Savings bonds cashed in? Of course not. It's the entire economy, stupid.

J. Phillip Nicholson, Ottawa


Prosecuting athletes

Illegitimate performance-enhancing methodologies have become epidemic. Professional athletes need to be held to a higher standard. They are role models for children, and children need to be taught that cheating is wrong.

We need a law that criminalizes forbidden tactics such as those we have seen cited in the case of Lance Armstrong (International Cycling Union Strips Armstrong Of Seven Tour Titles – Oct. 22). If an overseeing professional body sees fit to reverse the records set by its most famous stars, then the government should have a means to prosecute those found by their organizations to have been cheating.

This would dissuade athletes from breaching their professional rules – and teach children that winning at any cost will not be rewarded.

Greg Adelstein, Montreal


To whose benefit?

Kevin Carmichael reports that household debt in Canada is too high (Canada's Credit Bubble A Dilemma For Central Bank – Report on Business, Oct. 22); on the next page, Barrie McKenna addresses the issue in Only Higher Interest Rates Can Slow Canada's Swelling Debt Loads. Neither article explores why the debt load of Canadians is too high; both cite the purchase of houses during a period of low interest rates.

Is student debt a cause of such high household debt loads? Are people borrowing on credit cards to buy food or clothes for their children? Are Canadians renovating homes because interest rates are low? Are seniors borrowing to cover living costs?

Raising interest rates, as central banker Mark Carney has been urged to do, would benefit investors and the banks. But will such a move on Mr. Carney's part benefit the majority of Canadians or a country that is affected by the sluggish recovery of the global economy? I am not so sure.

Barbara Michel, Toronto


CMHC is working. Why sell what works for a one-time payday when it means giving up control over what your article correctly identifies as "a major lever on the housing market" (Flaherty Eyes Privatization of CMHC – Oct. 22)? Where is the benefit in this for ordinary Canadians?

Rachel Simmons, Vancouver


Lords, pots, kettles

Conrad Black refers to "the terminal narcissism of the London media" (Black Set To Be Pilloried As Guest On BBC Comedy Show – Oct. 22). Now, that's a case of the Lord calling the kettle Black.

Gilles Coughlan, Ottawa


Help for bullies

Anthony Volk is on the right track when he says "we shouldn't be looking at victims as the solution" (Why Bullies Do What They Do – Oct. 22). Unlike TV or movie portrayals of a brave child finally having the guts to break the silence, real-life victims do not want to speak to a parent, teacher or any other person in authority because it will mean trouble for the bully and further bullying for the victim.

What would happen if the victim knew that speaking up would ensure that the bully actually received help? If a system were in place where the bully and, more importantly, his or her family received serious counselling, perhaps it wouldn't be so difficult for the victim to speak up.

Kathy Greenwood, Toronto


Did/didn't know him

Adam Radwanski's strong language to depict The McGuinty We Never Knew (Oct. 20) triggered a sense of déjà vu with such phrases as "stroking interest groups," "wielding influence over ministers," tossing those perceived to be liabilities "under a bus," "winning and keeping power means playing crass politics" and "prorogation of the legislature."

Then it came to me. These seem to be the prerequisites for becoming prime minister.

H.W. MacFadyen, Canmore, Alta.


What about the Dalton McGuinty we did know? The one who dragged Ontario education out of Harris disdain and neglect. Why doesn't Mr. Radwanski jog our memories about this Mr. McGuinty, rather than interviewing a bunch of sour grapes who are too cowardly to attach their names to their opinions? I am not a Liberal, but this article offends me.

Marilyn Gear Pilling, Hamilton, Ont.


Breadth without depth

Over the past five years, Canadian universities have experienced a loss of funds due to risky investments by financial advisers appointed by the university administration (Access Or Quality? We Can't Have Both – Oct. 20). Besides affecting faculty pensions, this has increased student fees, leading to decreased accessibility to higher education. Why should public universities own high-risk investment portfolios? What is the ratio of salary expenditure on administrative staff at universities when compared to faculty salary expenditure?

To contain fee hikes, universities have increased enrolment and class sizes; students thus have less access to faculty time and attention. Finally, a proliferation of "dumbed down" courses, to attract more students and thus more funds, means that while the average Canadian professor spends the same time on teaching as those at top U.S. schools, that effort is diluted into more courses at the cost of in-depth study.

Breadth without depth benefits neither students nor faculty. We need to seriously rethink our priorities and goals in the university model of education.

Arun Paramekanti, Toronto



I was puzzled to read the headline Why Do Older Women Suffer More From Hypertension Than Men? (Life, Oct. 19). They can't suffer from both?

Jo Meingarten, Toronto