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Sept. 1: Back to (un)school – and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Back to (un)school

A thank you to Leah McLaren for informing me that my laissez-faire approach to parenting is actually called “unschooling” (‘Unschooling’ Is A Luxury For The Wealthy – Life & Arts, Aug. 29). Now I can pretend it’s intentional and stop feeling so lazy.

Our local public school, where our five-year-old will be starting senior kindergarten this week, has been trumpeting the arrival of full-day kindergarten. We plan to have him attend for only part of the day.

Otherwise, he wouldn’t have enough time for his “self-directed learning” – i.e. play (he’s working on a dinosaur dictionary and I recently spotted a crayon drawing of the solar system lying around in the living room).

To paraphrase Mark Twain, I wouldn’t want to let his schooling interfere with his education.

Tuula Talvila, Ottawa


It’s a crime

Re Scant Scrutiny Of Crime Bills In Spotlight As Senate Studies Wrong One (Aug. 29): As we get our daily dose of news, we read/see/hear of many things to cause concern – ebola, Syria, Ukraine, ISIS etc. None of these has the close impact of something happening right here – our federal government running amok.

When the government sends the wrong bill to the Senate for review, and gives those drafting major criminal legislation a week to prepare complex wording, we really need to worry about the impact this incompetence is having right here at home. This despicable state of affairs deserves more media attention.

G. Wayne Brown, Nanaimo, B.C.


To borrow a phrase, it is a crime that over the past few years the politicians of this country have abdicated their responsibility to carefully scrutinize criminal legislation.

It seems that no one has the courage to stand up and meaningfully challenge proposed legislation that is dramatically changing our criminal justice system. Non-partisan experts are either not called to appear before committees or are ignored by them. Legislation is rushed through and too often rubber stamped.

The Fairness for Victims Act debacle could be a catalyst for a new, more careful and principled approach to proposed legislation that affects the cornerstones of democracy.

Is there someone in Ottawa who will rise to the challenge?

William Trudell, chair, Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers


The sending of the wrong version of the Fairness for Victims Act to the Senate only reaffirms my belief that we are being governed by a bunch of amateurs. It promotes tears, if not groans of disbelief.

Can we now expect to be entertained by yet another comedic performance by a misguided and uninformed backbencher on the sequel to the drama of the Voter Information Card?

Barry V. Fisher, Lethbridge, Alta.


Commit sociology

The Harper government has not shown any interest in truly working with aboriginal communities. If it did, it would have consulted widely and worked closely with them on a myriad of policies and programs that affect the day-to-day lives of aboriginal peoples (environmental legislation, education, social assistance reform, accountability measures etc.).

Instead, it has resorted to bully-politics, threatening to cut off the funding of those communities and organizations that don’t fall in line with its agenda (something other groups – refugees, charities, environmentalists etc. – now know all too well).

Rather than blaming aboriginal communities, perhaps Gary Mason (Are Native Leaders Ready To Be Part Of The Solution – Aug. 29) and Jeffrey Simpson (You Can’t Just Denounce Ottawa – Aug. 29) could examine how the federal government approaches, and is accountable for, aboriginal issues in Canada.

Or would that be committing too much sociology?

Isabella Tatar, Toronto


Not protectionism

It is important to clarify some misconceptions around the qualifications that Infrastructure Ontario looks for in the teams that want to bid for large, complex public projects we deliver, such as hospitals, courthouses, public transit and roads (Saskatchewan’s Wall Threatens To Retaliate Over Ontario Protectionism – Aug. 27).

Among other things, we require that teams demonstrate local knowledge. Local knowledge is not Ontario ownership or control. It is a demonstrated understanding of critical project management expertise, such as municipal permitting, utilities, building codes, health and safety requirements and skilled trades. These things are clearly spelled out in our qualification materials and are critical ingredients to well-managed and delivered projects.

In the past two years, we’ve had teams qualified to bid on our projects with lead contractors from throughout Canada, the United States and other jurisdictions.

We have a reputation globally as one of the most open infrastructure programs anywhere. We go to great lengths to make sure that our projects enjoy the benefits of national and international best practices and expertise.

Ultimately, the winning team is the one that delivers to the public sector a high quality asset at a fixed price, where the risks of delivering the project are borne primarily by the private sector.

Bert Clark, president, Infrastructure Ontario


Show some courage

Re Russian Incursion Opens New Front In Ukraine Conflict (Aug. 29): This latest display of aggression by Vladimir Putin simply shows that sanctions and words are having no effect.

Both Stephen Harper and John Baird have called him everything but a running dog (with apologies to the dog). This may play well for the Canadian Ukrainian vote, but obviously has no impact whatsoever on the Russians.

Let’s show some courage and firepower: Withdraw our diplomatic presence in Moscow, send the Russian diplomats home, ban Canadian travel to Russia and abort any and all commercial relations. This may lead the way for other Western powers to finally do something meaningful.

Martin C. Pick, Cavan, Ont.


Edmonton. In winter

Re Downtown Edmonton’s $2.6-billion Gamble (Report on Business, Aug. 29): Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz says: “It is our hope that people from the north [in Alberta], instead of going to Las Vegas for the weekend, they’ll decide to come into Edmonton. Stay at the hotel, go to an Oilers game, be at the casino, see some movies.”

Right. And I hope that from November to March, there’ll be no snow and the temperatures in Edmonton will be around 25 C – but I know they won’t. After working outside in the oil fields in winter, I think a weekend in the warmth of Vegas will beat anything Mr. Katz can put up.

The definition of insanity is hope over experience – and northern Alberta winters are an experience most of us want to escape.

Adam Wetstein, Toronto

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