MP Brent Rathgeber is being referred to as “The Hill’s unlikely maverick” (National, Jan. 20), a dissenter and a rebel. Why? All Rathgeber has really done is uphold his integrity and self-respect by adhering to his principles and beliefs.Whether you agree with his views or not, he at least escapes being referred to as a “trained seal,” which, unfortunately, our flawed parliamentary system promotes.
Glen T. Waugh, Richmond Hill, Ont.
The Lola complex
Cathy Gulli’s “Boys will be girls” (Society, Jan. 20) was a great article. I am a transgender woman and transitioned in my 50s. There was so much collateral damage done to my family as I finally became myself. Even though young people have a difficult time in transitioning, they will not endure what a transgender will go through transitioning later in life. There is emotional damage when, as a six-year-old, you feel like you are a female but hide it to be accepted by parents, siblings and society as a whole. The lie I lived for most of my life hurt my ex and children, as I could never be honest with them and it was something that was there but always hidden. I can totally relate to 11-year-old Olie, but in the ’50s and ’60s, it just wasn’t possible to do.
Rachel Andrus, Vancouver
I grew up in the late 1950s and early ’60s and, for many years, felt God had made a mistake making me a girl; I played and acted like a boy. My mother sighed tolerantly and referred to me as a tomboy. I was perplexed and uninterested in interacting and playing with girls. When I hit puberty, my sexual orientation became clear (heterosexual), and when I went to university, I finally “found myself” and became more confident and social. I married in my late 20s, have now been happily married for nearly 30 years, and have two happy, successful, grown children. I shudder to think how my life might have turned out if I had embarked on gender-reassignment interventions at the time of my prepubescent fantasies of being a boy. I think the watchful waiting, or “Dutch approach,” as outlined in the article, sounds like the most appropriate, least potentially damaging approach for children with gender dysphoria.
S.E. Mills, Perth, Ont.
I am very disappointed to see the front-cover picture of an 11-year-old boy who thinks of himself as a girl. By presenting this topic to the public, I feel you have an agenda in mind, wanting to show support for this kind of thinking. I fear that, by pushing this topic in the face of so many more people, they may think it’s normal and consider joining the gang.
John DeVries, Harriston, Ont.
What to do when your child rejects her gender? It seems rather obvious. Get her the best psychiatric help you can afford. And, if you are entertaining her objections for even a moment, you might consider some help for yourself, as well. If I have always wanted a pet elephant, but have a puppy instead, it does not become an elephant because I repeatedly call it one. If I insist that my puppy is an elephant, I am delusional. We need to have compassion for these kids and their families and get them proper help, but we don’t need to reconstruct our public buildings for them.
Pete Ypma, Brownsville, Ont.
Mulcair is the man
In my lifetime, Tom Mulcair is performing as the best official Opposition leader since John Diefenbaker (“Can you hear me now?” National, Jan. 20). His ability to skewer Stephen Harper in question period is matched by his impressive ability to discuss a wide range of issues and policies. Harper is not a happy camper when Tom grills him like a barbecued chicken. A Mulcair government with clear, practical, pro-Canadian policies and programs will unite a fractured and unjust society desperately in need of sound economic, environmental and social policies for the 21st-century knowledge-based economy and society.
R.L. Faris, Victoria
I doubt Canadians are looking for a resident chief prosecutor to lead the next government of Canada. Tom Mulcair, in his efforts to tarnish Harper, is wasting time on the Senate scandal. He needs to take advantage of every opportunity in question period to show he is capable of running a government with moderate policies. He is all over the map when it comes to pipelines. How is moving oil from the west to the east via pipeline any safer? How is using railcars to move oil any safer? Mulcair is a socialist who believes that government is the answer to everything.
M.J. Hollingsworth, Saskatoon
Tom Mulcair is smart, experienced, in command of his brief and knows how to build good policy, but is as appealing as a formidable headmaster. However, his one serious weakness is his front bench. A first-class union negotiator Peggy Nash may be, but that does not make her finance-minister material. The Liberals could field John McCallum, Scott Brison or Ralph Goodale for Finance, and the Conservatives have Flaherty. Both the Liberals and Conservatives will attack the NDP as inexperienced, business-hostile tax-and-spend socialists and, right now, Mulcair has no real comeback.
Tim Segulin, Halifax
Hockey: not just for Canadians
Let’s face it: The rest of the world’s hockey nations have caught up to Canada in hockey skills and talent, as we will see again in Sochi (“Obsessing over the wrong goals,” The Columnists, Jan. 20). Don’t bet the farm on Canada achieving a gold medal in men or women’s hockey. The likes of the U.S., Russia, Sweden, Finland, Slovakia and others are just as good as any Canadian team. Like Emma Teitel, I chuckle when I see a sign in the audience that reads, “Hockey is Canada’s game.” It is just not true anymore.
Kevin Sullivan, Ottawa
Banks pass on risk to us
Jason Kirby wrote about how historically low interest rates have led to “Canada’s fatal attraction to debt” (Economy, Jan. 13). Banks traditionally offered higher interest rates on savings to attract enough consumer cash to invest and, hence, make tidy profits. They then realized, if they could start charging consumers for every service they provided, their profits would soar. Why not let consumers take the risks by lowering interest rates to such ridiculous levels that consumers would have to find other investments outside of savings plans? Banks would now charge to advise consumers where to direct their investments but take no risk. Instead, they would charge consumers for every transaction they could. Now all they have to do is sit around the boardroom and decide how much profit they need and raise fees accordingly. No risk.
Tom Sudak, Orangeville, Ont.
Where evil lurks
You praise a “progressive” Pope Francis for his “olive branch,” reaching out to atheists, gays and marginalized Catholics (“Slaying its demons,” Bad News, Jan. 20). Yet you take him to task for training “a new generation of priests to perform exorcisms,” something you deem regressive: “because possession by the Devil is apparently real.” I am a minister in the Presbyterian Church in Canada, a branch of Christianity known more for its sobriety than spirituality. Yet, I am acutely aware of the power of evil. Ask any minister in any denomination or church, and you will likely be told that the unseen spiritual battle between good and evil is pervasive and powerful. It is not a myth. Demonic possession may be at the extreme end of this battle, but it is real nonetheless.
Rev. Andy Cornell, Chatham, Ont.
Not safe at all, in fact
I am one of the thousands who has recently lost his job (“How safe is your job?” Economy, Jan. 13). My former employer of almost nine years, ExxonMobil, recently started shutting down its customer service operations in Saint John and Moncton, N.B., to save a few nickels, cutting more than 200 decent jobs. This was not mentioned in your article: I guess the fact it’s happening east of Montreal, and that this corporation makes more than $10 billion in profit per quarter, would make it hard to justify its “cost-cutting measures” or use “market forces” as an excuse to cover up pure, unchecked greed. It’s sickening that this multinational, and others, make a fortune on Canada’s natural resources, but are not forced by our leaders to keep and create jobs here. I don’t agree with the Pope on much, but his recent statement calling capitalism in its current, unchecked form as being the “new tyranny” is correct. All those geniuses in Ottawa, and other leaders of Western nations, had better start making necessary changes by standing up to these conglomerates for their citizens, rather than slinging mud at each other.
Michal Sokolowski, Moncton, N.B.
I almost fell out of my chair when I read Maclean’s thumbs-up for the tentative approval of the Northern Gateway project (Econowatch, Jan. 13). It’s environmentally irresponsible to advocate for a tar-sludge transportation network that would desecrate pristine regions of northern British Columbia, culminating in a deep-water port that would have supertankers threading through a labyrinth of channels adjacent to a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Why not enhance existing infrastructure along an existing route to Vancouver? Because Enbridge and the federal government have shrewdly calculated they would meet less resistance from the mainly Aboriginal inhabitants along the proposed Northern Gateway path than to square off against the combined populations of greater Vancouver and Seattle.
Charles Hero, Pinantan Lake, B.C.
Flaherty’s spotty record
I do not understand why anyone believes Jim Flaherty when he promises a balanced budget by 2015 (“A long and painful balancing act,” National, Jan. 13). Flaherty was the Conservative finance minister of Ontario in 2003 when his party lost to the Liberals. The Conservatives had campaigned on a so-called balanced budget, but, once the Liberals got to power, they found a hidden budget deficit of $5.6 billion. That immediately prompted the new premier to slap a health surcharge on all Ontarians. It could be that the Liberals would have found a way to enhance taxes without the Flaherty deficit, but the deficit gave them the perfect reason to apply it at the time. Consequently, even though Flaherty is promising a balanced budget by the next election, it would be foolish for anyone to believe them until we have all seen the books and have confirmed it as fact.
June Mewhort, Woodville, Ont.
Jonathon Gatehouse writes, “International law only allows countries to extend their territory 200 km offshore” (“Looming battle: Canada vs. Russia,” The Year Ahead, Jan. 6). Umm, no. Under the old law, countries could extend their exclusive economic zones (EEZ) 200 nautical miles offshore, which is a tad larger than 200 km (370.4 km, to be precise). Under the Law of the Sea rules ratified by Canada in 2003, countries can extend their EEZs to the measured base of their continental slopes, up to a maximum of 350 nautical miles (648.2 km) from the shoreline. Where two countries’ claims overlap, the boundaries between them should be equidistant from their respective shores. The farthest reaches of Canadian shoreline on northern Ellesmere Island get up to about 83 degrees north, which is about 420 nautical miles from the North Pole (each degree of latitude equals about 60 nautical miles). That presents a problem for Harper’s wish to claim the North Pole as an exclusively Canadian entity.
Brian Altheim, Halifax