I found economist Paul Krugman’s declaration that the chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, is “un-central-banker like” to be an observation surprisingly full of hope, boding well for the future of people in high places (“A human touch,” Newsmakers, Dec. 15). Pope Francis also seems decidedly “un-Pope-like.” How refreshing that these people of power show a marked understanding of the daily struggles of the greatest number of the people they serve. Such knowledge and compassion can only add to their truly becoming servants of the public good. If this is a trend, let it continue.
Greg J. Humbert, Crystal Falls, Ont.
While Janet Yellen certainly has the noblest of intentions, they are ultimately irrelevant. Politicians and bureaucrats have long been feeding the public all sorts of grand economic promises, and they have a long history of failing to deliver. They are not divine beings. They cannot, with the stroke of a pen, control a massive, complex economy. The Federal Reserve played a major role in the last financial crisis, and its current policies are leading America (and the world) toward another. The Fed’s policy of rock-bottom interest rates is once again leading to artificially high consumption and debt, while discouraging savings. One only needs to look back to 2008 to see what happens when people spend too much and save too little. When the next crisis hits, the government will no doubt blame everyone but itself (again). It will blame it on greed and the “free market” bogeyman. I hope the public is wise enough to look past the rhetoric this time. The economy cannot, and should not, be controlled from the top down. It must be freed from the bottom up.
Corey MacDonald, St. Catharines, Ont.
Paul Wells reports that the statement, “Politics has a tendency to corrupt otherwise honest people,” was presented to respondents of a poll (“A no good, terrible, very bad year,” National, Nov. 24). Might it be equally—or perhaps even more—likely that politics attracts individuals for whom corrupt or unethical behaviour is a viable option?
Bill Jarrett, Port Charlotte, Fla.
In your article on Laureen Harper’s cat room at 24 Sussex Drive (“House of Purr-liament,” The Power List, Dec. 1), you fail to mention that, in 2011, she opened the new Humane Society building in John Baird’s riding. The building received $3.5 million in funding from Canada’s Economic Action Plan.
Carol Faulkner, Wakefield, Que.
No speedy way home
Housing prices here on the Lower Mainland of B.C. are always a hot topic of conversation (“Location, location, location,” Business, Nov. 24). I can’t thank you enough for providing what will give my friends as big a laugh as it gave me: your writer’s blithe comment that prices here drop an average of $20,600 per minute, “as one speeds over a bridge or two.” Speeds? Seriously? There are three ways one can get from the north shore to downtown Vancouver, two involving bridges, the other a ferry that requires leaving the car at home.Your writer makes it sound as though one simply pops over the bridge and arrives in the heart of the city, smile on face, and $20,000 richer. In fact, if your commute involves “a bridge or two,” you are likely battling traffic for hours. For those living in Port Coquitlam or Fort Langley, both cited in the article, the trade-off for affordable-ish housing is hours spent stuck in traffic, no speeding allowed.
Kim Wooder, North Vancouver, B.C.
The reporting by Statistics Canada on the depletion of our non-renewable resource of arable farmland should be viewed as a warning (The Editorial, Dec. 1). As a lifelong farmer growing up on the edge of a mid-sized town in Ontario, I have experienced the urban sprawl that consumes the best land in the country. There are thousands of acres of land on the Prairies, but a lot of this land is semi-arid and supports a fraction of the production that can be achieved on the land in southern Ontario, Quebec and parts of the Atlantic provinces. Although Ontario is a huge land mass, only a fraction, mainly below Highway 7, is agriculturally viable. We cannot simply “create rolling greenbelts that slowly shift outward as cities’ needs change.” You cannot create more farmland. If Canadians want to continue to buy local, if they want to know that their food is being produced by some of the strictest regulations in the world (yes, that’s Canada), then take the StatsCan report for what it is: a warning that we are losing the most valuable natural resource we have: arable farmland.
Paul Burnham, Cobourg, Ont.
Your recent editorial on the “problems” associated with preserving Canada’s scarce and rapidly declining farmlands was appalling. B.C. has had a provincial agricultural land reserve (ALR) in place for 40 years, which has drastically reduced the loss of agricultural land to non-farm uses. Most responsible land developers have long since redirected their activities away from farmland. The ALR is also credited with helping to keep the price of farmland within reach of new farmers. Yet your editorial totally ignored this homegrown success story. Once farmland is gone, it is irreplaceable. Most people are way ahead of their lawmakers in understanding this, as the current B.C. government discovered during its recent actions to weaken the ALR. Rather than focusing on the “problems” associated with protecting farmland, your editorial should have asked what options we are leaving our grandchildren if we continue to destroy the only lands we can rely upon to grow our food.
Joan Sawicki, Stuie, B.C.
The government that uses convenient parts of our history (the War of 1812, the Franklin Expedition) to whip up patriotic fervour is the same government that is gutting our historical records (“Locked from public view,” Society, Dec. 1). It is not a surprise, however. The Conservative party has no interest in maintaining anything that can’t be used to keep its hold on power. I hope there is something left to be salvaged when it leaves office. I’d prefer to have all of our history available to everyone, not just those parts that advance the Conservatives’ aims.
Christopher R. Ford, Calgary
The deterioration of service in libraries and archives across Canada, especially at Libraries and Archives Canada (LAC) in Ottawa, is shocking and profoundly depressing. Alarming budget cuts and staff layoffs are said to be the cause, but they are merely the symptoms of a prevailing attitude in government that such institutions no longer matter. I strongly concur with a recent report from the Royal Society of Canada, which begins with this statement: “Libraries and archives are Canada’s collective public memory. They represent a cherished repository of how, and why, we have become the Canada and Canadians we are today.”
Dr. W. Gillies Ross, Canton de Hatley, Que.
Quebec has never had it so good
The sense of entitlement in Quebec is astounding! Quebec parents protest “rumoured changes to the province’s universal child care program, namely, a sliding pay scale that would see wealthier families pay double the current rate of $7.30 per day” (“The price is right,” National, Dec. 15), even though Quebec parents pay one-tenth what other Canadian parents pay strangers to raise their children. Pretty good deal for a perpetually impoverished province, eh?
Jerry Steinberg, Surrey, B.C.
Ease up on the throttle
As an avid car enthusiast, I was pleasantly surprised to see your article on the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat (“Hellcat on wheels,” Economy, Dec. 15). Although the article was well done, SRT stands for street “and” racing technology, not “street-racing technology,” as stated in your article. I’m almost certain all the good folks at Chrysler do not promote street racing.
Randy Hicks, Sherwood Park, Alta.
Oh no, Ontario
Thank you for keeping Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s feet to the fire on the Ontario government’s inability to get the province’s finances back to balance. Your Econowatch charts (“That’s just gross,” Dec. 15; “That sinking feeling,” Nov. 3) show that Ontario is out of step with the rest of the nation. Wynne’s unwillingness to deal with the bloated size of the Ontario government is going to cost Ontario residents down the road in the form of higher taxes and a much smaller social safety net. We’ve been down this road before, in the 1970s and early 1980s, resulting in a serious structural-deficit situation. It took successive Conservative and Liberal governments almost 15 years to get things back into balance, achieved mostly through very tight budget controls, the imposition of the GST/HST, and reduced health care transfer payments to the provinces. It wasn’t fun for anyone. Wynne needs to step up and make the hard decisions now, before the next recession hits us—due any time now. And maybe she could take a basic economics course or two.
Bruce Lamb, Lucan, Ont.
Emma Teitel writes in her Nov. 24 column (“Gay men, an audible minority?”) that gay filmmaker David Thorpe was repulsed by the sound of other gay men’s voices, and attributes it to his “internalized homophobia” making itself known to him. It is so tiring to hear the whipping boy of “homophobia” trotted out to attack every slight, perceived or real, that gay people identify as threats to their lifestyle or identity. Maybe instead of “internalized homophobia,” which sounds like an anti-gay, societal attitude, what David Thorpe was experiencing was a natural male aversion to effeminate characteristics.
Mark Woods, Winnipeg
Not the only native tree nut
Pecan isn’t “North America’s only native tree nut” (The Quiz, Nov. 24). There is walnut (black and white or butternut), as well as beech and chestnut—both diseased since the 1920s, but native and present. To be picky, one could include native oaks and chinkapins, whose fruit is a modified nut, of which there are scores of native species.
Gary Saunders, Clifton, N.S.
“An important issue is finally getting the full airing it deserves,” you state in your editorial of Nov. 17, about sexual assault. That editorial revolves around the alleged sexual misconduct of Jian Ghomeshi and his more than a dozen possible victims. This reminded me that, not so long ago, you wrote about the thousands of annual cases of sexual misconduct in the Canadian military, which you’ve written about extensively in the past, as well (“Our military’s disgrace,” National, May 5). The topic received a lot of airing on those previous, considerably more serious occasions, yet the powers that be have not responded in any noticeable, useful way. What can we do to get our legislators to respond?
Axel Klenz, Prince Albert, Sask.