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WHAT READERS THINK

Sept. 13: Political promises vs. actions, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Promises? Right …

Thursday’s Globe and Mail included these articles: Chopper Deal Already Cost Ottawa More Than $1-billion; Toronto, Province At Odds Over Subway; In Ontario, Electricity Bills Are Reason To Weep.

Each story chronicles the seemingly never-ending reality of mismanagement, incompetence and waste of taxpayer dollars at each of the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government.

Every politician and party makes election promises to be a watchful shepherd over taxpayer dollars. But the sad reality is that, once elected, the concept of prudent money management goes out the window.

Instead, taxpayers are left to pay for the negligence, bumbling, confusion and incoherence that seem to be the only things governments are actually adept at delivering in Canada.

Frank Malone, Aurora, Ont.

.........

Jolted by power costs

Re In Ontario, Electricity Bills Are Reason To Weep (Sept. 12): Konrad Yakabuski has accurately described the mess Ontario’s electricity sector is in and the ever-higher prices that result. Like Toronto-transit planning, the root problem is short-term political involvement in long-lived essential infrastructure.

To bring down the cost of renewable energy, all contracts with generators should be competitively tendered. They once were, but the 2009 Green Energy Act (GEA) removed that requirement and triggered today’s simultaneous excess in supply and prices.

Political influence can be tamed by going back to pre-GEA arrangements where the Ontario Power Authority prepared plans and the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) approved them.

Since their decisions can be appealed to the courts, the OEB exercises a rigour and discipline that governments don’t need.

Jan Carr, former CEO, Ontario Power Authority

.........

The blame for increases in the “Global Adjustment” portion of customers’ electricity bills should not be laid at the feet of the province’s renewable-energy initiatives. An analysis of the costs of the Global Adjustment last year concluded that costs related to nuclear energy accounted for 42 per cent of the total; natural gas-fired generation, 26 per cent; and coal-fired generation, 15 per cent.

Renewable energy sources, including not just wind and solar projects developed under the Green Energy Act and earlier initiatives, but also a number of major hydro-electric projects pursued by Ontario Power Generation, accounted for 17 per cent.

However fashionable it has become to blame green-energy initiatives for rising energy costs, these figures suggest that doing so does little to inform the debate on energy policy.

Mark Winfield, chair, Sustainable Energy Initiative, York University

.........

Gender inequities

Margaret Wente, in her column Why Don’t Women Care?” (July 9) was dismissive of the social barriers that discourage women from engaging in politics, and ended by saying that at least women can tell you “which has more calories, a grilled chicken sandwich or a hamburger.”

On Thursday, in her column Rape On Campus – Is It An Epidemic?, she wrote that “slight and overblown” incidents of sexual assault and rape are not evidence of “widespread moral rot.”

I am an 18-year-old Canadian woman. I have grown up in a country where the fraction of women MPs representing us has never surpassed 25 per cent.

Statistically, several of my female friends can expect to experience sexual assault before they graduate from university.

Ms. Wente’s attempts to discredit the gravity of these trends do a disservice to women across the country. We must acknowledge and work together to reverse the reality of gender inequity so our next generation can grow up in a safer, fairer Canada.

Sophie Harrison, Vancouver

.........

Strategy on Syria

U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt’s modus operandi was to talk softly and carry a big stick. President Barack Obama’s is to talk big – and carry a soft stick.

Rod Yellon, Winnipeg

.........

Let’s talk ‘values’

My Canada has always included Quebec; living in Alberta, I’ve had to defend my position many times over the years. Diverse, yet united and, importantly, tolerant: just a few of the traits that make our nation great.

But seeing the proposed Quebec Charter of Values makes me rethink my position on la belle province. These so called “values” are shameful.

An electoral strategy to lead to a majority and maybe even to another referendum, perhaps, but for the first time in my life, I might be happy to see Quebec go (Ostentatious Electoral Strategy – editorial, Sept. 12).

These are not the values I want in a country where my children are growing up. My Canada includes tolerance and religious freedom; I cringe when I hear Pauline Marois say she is proud of the charter.

And Albertans are the ones who get called rednecks.

Ingrid Littmann-Tai, Calgary

.........

Suppose I put a six-foot cross be-hind my office desk? Too much? How about a 15-inch cross on my desk? Still amiss? Apparently we all hold unspoken limits, even for sacred cows and third rails.

While most internalize a personal standard of appropriateness, there is no general societal consensus on the limits of religious accommodation. Rather than criticism, Quebec should be applauded as the only jurisdiction discussing a topic that resonates widely.

Polls indicate many Quebeckers support the charter. This may hold true countrywide. The stigma of opposing this issue may silence rebuttal. The topic is closely related to the never vote-tested adoption of a multicultural, rather than melting-pot, approach to new citizens.

Canada is replete with seldom-discussed social infrastructure.

We need to talk.

Gary Vickers, Nepean, Ont.

.........

Bernard Drainville, the minister on the Quebec charter, pointed out that Nebraska and Pennsylvania have laws restricting religious garb in public schools. His aim was to suggest that other jurisdictions in North America were dealing in comparable fashion with the issue of secularism.

Not so. Only two U.S. states have such laws on the books; others have been repealed or amended. For example: The Pennsylvania law, passed in 1895, was part of a growing nativist sentiment in the United States. The law, promoted by the Ku Klux Klan, targeted Catholics, Jews and immigrants generally. There are moves in Pennsylvania to repeal it.

Morton Weinfeld, professor of sociology, McGill University

.........

I think we’re long overdue for a fashion revival. The lowly head scarf used to be an item no woman would be without. Practical, serviceable, it protected from wind and weather. Worn with style and panache by the likes of Jackie Kennedy or Grace Kelly, it was a fabulous fashion statement.

To kick off the revival, I’d be happy to send Pauline Marois the first one. Of course, that might be construed as an altogether different kind of statement.

Bill Hall, Toronto

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