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‘A dagger to the heart of democracy’: Letters

Maclean’s readers write in


 

CANADA-story

Dearth of a nation

Thank you, Anne Kingston and Maclean’s, for that well-written, well-documented report on the erasure of public knowledge and memory through government cutbacks and closures (“Vanishing Canada,” National, Sept. 28). How can citizens, and the people who try to represent their concerns, pursue the public interest if the means for tracking what is in the public interest, and what might be threatening it, are being destroyed?

Heather Menzies, Ottawa

In my almost 80 years on this Earth, I must say, unequivocally, that I have never read a scarier article than “Vanishing Canada.” This surely is a dagger to the heart of democracy. Will we ever reverse this trend toward fascism?

David Boese, St. Catharines, Ont.

The revelations in “Vanishing Canada” of the erasure of federal records and information are mind-numbing and exceedingly frightening! How is it possible, or even conceivable, that Stephen Harper should be allowed to do this? Is this not sinister? Is this not illegal and even criminal, as well as treasonous? Is there no law to protect our collective human rights? It’s a mystery why so many Canadians cannot see what is happening to Canada’s democracy!

Brian MacKinnon, Winnipeg

I have become more and more annoyed about the use of the word “Ottawa” in place of a specific person or thing. The Anne Kingston article pushed me right over the edge. “Ottawa” has not destroyed data, done away with the census, deleted historical records or anything else, for that matter; the current government has. I happen to live in “Ottawa.” “Ottawa” is a very pretty city that happens to be Canada’s capital. A city is not a sentient being, capable of doing things on its own. I’m not saying Maclean’s is the only publication guilty of this sloppy habit, but your editors should know better. Much better.

L. Peter Feldman, Ottawa

Thanks to Anne Kingston for the great article exposing the slow-motion train wreck that Canada has become under the Harper government over the last decade. I hope everyone in Canada reads this. I try to explain these things to Conservative supporters, and the responses are the likes of, “Well, they lowered my taxes,” or, “But they got rid of the gun registry.” Short-term thinking like this is what Harper counts on. Everyone needs to understand the irreversible damage done here. Harper’s Conservatives might go down as the worst government in Canadian history—but, given our current course of wilful ignorance, we won’t be able to tell.

Tim Norman, Ottawa

As much as I dislike the loss of data, I am tired of complaints about the loss of the mandatory census. While I don’t normally mind talking about my sex life and kitchen renovations, I draw the line at what kind of dish soap I use, and I told the government so on my last census. People realized the government was just doing market research for corporations, hence the dish soap question. Sadly, deleting the other databases means there is less info available from other sources, but we need to stop whining about forcing our neighbours to respond to telemarketer questions.

Myles S. Hildebrand, Winnipeg

Unreliable and missing data is a danger to responsible government and good governance. Canadians have only themselves to blame for surrendering their current and future welfare to silver-tongued snake-oil salesmen. The dangers of ISIS and the niqab pale in comparison to the real risks to the security of this nation. Please, Maclean’s, never go off-line! This article is the only reliable piece of information currently available to all citizens on the subject.

Alain Gravel, Montreal

Wolf in moderate clothing

You found someone, Greg Wool in Edmonton, who swallowed the line that “the NDP has moved closer to the centre” (“Turning red and blue to orange,” Election 2015, Sept. 21). We bought into that line in Nova Scotia, when Darrell Dexter was presented to us as a moderate socialist. We voted him in, in 2009, and he turned out to be a hard leftist, ran the province for the unions, added 33 per cent to our debt ($9 billion to $12 billion) after promising to run balanced budgets, and drove our electricity rates up to the highest in the country with hard mandates for renewables (40 per cent by 2020). “Closer to the centre”? Not likely.

– Dave Burris, Beaver Bank, N.S.

Save the wild salmon

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s pledge of $15 million to protect the salmon habitat on the West Coast is a joke (“Coastal politics,” Election 2015, Sept. 14). The federal government could save many more millions of dollars by simply changing its policy on salmon fish farms on the West Coast, reducing the number of farms, and insisting that they move to land-based operations. The current fish farms are a disaster. Why both federal and provincial governments support and encourage an industry that can kill wild salmon, pollutes the sea, employs 5,000 people and is 94 per cent foreign-owned and -controlled (by Norway) is incomprehensible. There are almost 300,000 sports fishermen in B.C.; they buy licences, boats, fuel and oil, fishing equipment, and bait. They also pay moorage and add hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy to fish for wild salmon. This does not include the millions in revenue made by the commercial fishing industry. The actions of both governments regarding salmon farms on the West Coast is sheer folly and must stop, or wild salmon will disappear completely.

Del Horn, Nanaimo, B.C.

‘Pick him up, please’

When I saw the picture of little Alan Kurdi (“The tragedy that woke up the world,” Refugee Crisis, Sept. 21), my reaction was: “Pick him up, please. Don’t leave him there like that. Hold him gently, because he’s not just somebody’s lost boy. He’s our lost boy.” My tears are not just of sorrow; they are also of shame. In rationalizing, equivocating, turning tragedy into political talking points, delaying and not caring, we let so many down. Open the doors. Lower the gates. Move the barriers aside. Let them come. Sure, attack the root problems, though it will take decades. But until then, do we just tell them to wait? Remember: The bell that tolls for little Alan also tolls for us.

– Douglas Booth, Cambridge, Ont.

Your Sept. 21 cover stated that Alan Kurdi was “the boy who changed everything.” Regrettably, he did not. Conservative candidates Joe Daniel and Diane Watts think the refugee crisis is an ISIS plot to infect Europe with Muslims. Cabinet minister Bal Gosal doesn’t want any refugees. Peter Kent and others tweeted photos alleging the refugees to be ISIS fighters, and Stephen Harper sings the same Islamophobic tunes. He still says nothing about Bashar al-Assad, who used chemical weapons on his own people, causing the refugee crisis. Apparently, only ISIS are the bad guys, and only persecuted Christians need rescuing. When you believe in these myths, a dead kid on a beach changes nothing.

– Naeem Siddiqi, Markham, Ont.

Slow down the welcome wagon

Scott Gilmore’s article on Canada’s response to refugees (“Failure to lead,” Refugee Crisis, Sept. 21) is neither fair nor accurate. He compares Stephen Harper’s numbers for Canada’s permanent resettlement of refugees to those of countries who “host” them temporarily, only to leave them to wander the streets or languish in camps. Gilmore quotes the cost of resettling a refugee as $11,000, a number that could not conceivably cover the total over what could be many years of social support, education and health care. The $2.2 billion he would like to spend bringing Syrians to Canada is miles beyond what any party has proposed, but, if available, might be better spent helping to feed and house the four million displaced from Syria, or the millions more struggling to survive even worse conditions in parts of Africa, than in handing out the “lotto win” of a Canadian lifestyle to a relative few.

Ronald McCaig, Port Alberni, B.C

I have a number of issues with Scott Gilmore’s column “Failure to lead.” One simply cannot compare the Hungarian and Vietnamese refugee crises to today’s situation. There was no fear that those people would not assimilate into our society. There was never a thought given to terrorism. None of this can be said with certainty about today’s refugees. We need to proceed with caution. We should accept the vulnerable orphans, the abused, as well as the oppressed Christians, atheists, agnostics and gays.

– Brian Mellor, Picton, Ont.

How can we ignore the thousands of innocent souls whose lives, and those of their families, hang by a thread? Where is our compassion? Where is the leadership? I cannot leaf through this issue of Maclean’s without being reduced to tears. Let’s focus our efforts on the victims of these war atrocities and re-establish our forces as peacemakers, not warriors. I would like to remain a proud Canadian.

– Jill Doolan, St. Clements, Man.

Harper’s not a military man

It’s difficult not to agree with your call to stay in the war against Islamic State (The Editorial, Sept. 28), but Stephen Harper is not the man for the job. He remains bellicose and a tough talker, like to Russian President Vladimir Putin (“Get out of Ukraine”). But he has no clout. Our Navy is bereft of ships, our Air Force tentative and awaiting modernization, and no one in his right mind would send Canadian boots to the ground in Syria. An offer of moral support for the Americans to strengthen the anti-Assad efforts could be the best Canada can offer.

Martin C. Pick, Cavan, Ont.

The disabled demographic

Thank you for the article “Diversity among doctors” (Society, Sept. 28), in which you profiled Dr. Jessica Dunkley. Immigrants are often seen as the only source of replacement labour as our society ages. In addition, however, we need to tap into the wealth of experience and talent among people with disabilities. The spending power of this demographic is still grossly underestimated by Canadian businesses, while the costs of building an inclusive society are vastly overestimated. In 2005, a Royal Bank of Canada study estimated that the combined buying power of people with disabilities in Canada was approximately $25 billion. The banking sector has taken note, though, and efforts to increase accommodation and inclusion for customers and employees with disabilities are on the rise. Since bankers seldom venture where there isn’t a dollar to be made, their attention to those of us with disabilities should be proof enough that a market exists.

Karen Sinclair, Ottawa

It’s about time we offered people with disabilities opportunities to participate fully in society. However, we call them “people with disabilities,” not “disabled people.” A doctor with a disability is not disabled as a doctor. So we should not call them “disabled doctors.”

Don Halpert, North Bay, Ont.

Taxi drivers are next

I would think that taxi drivers and their unions will soon have more to fear than just Uber (“The human factor,” Economy, Sept. 21). Once self-driving taxis commence service, there will be no need for that profession, just as there is no longer a need for blacksmiths and, shortly, mailmen, either.

– Kerry Coulter, Ottawa


 

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