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Government House Leader Peter Van Loan speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Sept. 17, 2012. (CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS)
Government House Leader Peter Van Loan speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Sept. 17, 2012. (CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS)

What readers think

Sept. 19: Say what? on the budget omnibus bill, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Say what?

Conservative MPs showing “concerns” about the scope and size of the proposed new omnibus budget bill (Omnibus Bill Met With Backlash – Sept. 18)? Perhaps a microscopic political backbone evolving?

Pierre Trudeau once called backbenchers “nobodies.”

Stephen Harper won the War of 1812, but perhaps he will lose the War of the Nobodies. Aux barricades!

Don Macpherson, Saskatoon


Not since Jean Chrétien’s, um, enlightening “proof” explanation (“A proof is a proof. What kind of a proof? It’s a proof. A proof is a proof. And when you have a good proof, it’s because it’s proven) have I scratched my head quite so hard.

But Government House Leader Peter Van Loan’s, um, equally enlightening explanation of what’s in the budget omnibus bill (“It’s natural that a budget implementation bill would implement the elements of the budget”) continues in the same fine tradition.

Say what?

Craig Delaney, Halifax


Democracy revisited

George Brown’s squabble over Senate terms and the Senate’s relationship to the cabinet was secondary to his desire to ensure it was not an elected body with representation by province (George Brown And The Supremes – editorial, Sept. 18).

Brown was committed to the project of Confederation in order to break the deadlock of equal representation between Upper and Lower Canada. That’s why he joined forces with his rival, Sir John A. Macdonald, and sought a new state governed by a house based on representation by population.

In taking such a position, Brown angered his supporters, notably Southwestern Ontario farmers, who held to democratic principles rooted in American republicanism, British Chartism and Canadian struggles for democracy in the 1830s and 1840s.

As in the 1860s, today’s debates over the Senate are about democracy. Coming to terms with the limited, sometimes hostile attitude toward democracy held by the Fathers of Confederation brings us closer to acknowledging that some founding pillars of Confederation need to be changed.

Douglas Nesbitt, Kingston


When centuries clash

Margaret Wente hit the nail on the head (Let’s All Blame The Video! – Sept. 18). Pundits and intellectuals blame the writer, the politician, the filmmaker, or the cartoonist for creating the rage, violence and murder on the Muslim street. Will they never cease looking for tortured ways of apologizing for free speech?

Maybe they should focus on why it is foolish to derive laws for human affairs from gods and prophets in the 21st century.

Martin Gladstone, Toronto


That pain-now bit

Re How to Tackle U.S. Debt: Just Do It (Sept. 18): If only it were that simple.

The U.S. faces a fiscal problem which is in no small measure constitutional. There, the House of Representatives has a say over fiscal legislation, and that limb of government has only a two-year mandate. The Canadian experience from 1995 is that a government that can run its mandate over four years can make the necessary tough economic choices. How can the House of Representatives achieve long-term solutions to the budget deficit when its members are constantly running for re-election?

“Pain now” has never been a good campaign platform.

David Rose, Toronto


Author of her fate

Surely Kimberly Rivera knew, or ought to have known that the military’s role (in any country, not just in America) is to carry out policy, not to set it (Scruples, Conscience – letters, Sept. 18).

Ms. Rivera’s military training must have taught her that her duty was to carry out the orders of her commanding officers. She did not have the right to disobey orders or to leave the U.S. in order to avoid further deployments. She did have the option to refuse further deployment and then plead her case in a military court – an option that would have displayed unquestioned bravery.

In every way, Ms. Rivera is the author of her own fate.

Having said this, it must be noted that Ms. Rivera did serve a tour of duty and did so in conditions that I cannot imagine. The U.S. owes it to itself to treat all veterans with dignity and respect – even those who have run afoul of the law.

Laurence Weizel, Toronto


Under threat

Supporters of the potential sale of Shouldice Hospital to Centric, a U.S.-controlled, for-profit corporation, paint a rosy picture of efficiency in the private sector (Rhetorical Sparks Flying Over Hospital Sale – Sept. 18). The government funds Shouldice with an operating budget and pays for the surgeries through OHIP. Yet, patients pay at Shouldice for three nights of semi-private accommodation. The same procedures are done on an outpatient basis at public hospitals. That’s not efficiency.

Andrew Boozary, board member, Canadian Doctors for Medicare


As a former Shouldice patient, I am disturbed to read that the clinic is under threat simply because it is “for profit.” My operation there was almost pleasant, and the three-day stay compared favourably with some vacations in the South, never mind my experience of a public hospital. The difference was the minimal cost of the stay at Shouldice, and the attitude of the staff.

If the Shouldice is representative of all private health facilities, we need more of them.

Andrzej Derkowski, Oakville, Ont.


Quality standards

I challenge the negative comments about Canada’s public colleges in your editorial, The Direct Route To Canadian Experience (Sept. 17).

Canada’s public colleges function under quality standards set by provincial governments. Third-party surveys report high satisfaction for students and employers. Placement rates range from 85 to 95 per cent within six months of graduation; increasingly, university graduates enroll in colleges for education focused on employment.

International students are welcome. As pointed out, some will remain because Canada affords opportunities. Given Canada’s demographic deficit, we are fortunate to have them.

James Knight, president, Association of Canadian Community Colleges


Just asking

Re Stop Denying And Show The Proof, Mr. Mayor (Sept. 18): Here’s a quick test to gauge where Toronto Mayor Rob Ford places his priorities: How often has he ducked out of a football practice early to attend council business?

Just asking.

David Bright, St. Catharines, Ont.

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