Letters to the editor for November 2017 - Macleans.ca

Letters to the editor for November 2017

Maclean’s readers write in to respond to our stories


Farewell Mr. Feschuk

It was with great disappointment that I read in your latest issue that Scott Feschuk had written his final column. No reason was given. We can only surmise:

  1. His pay was cut by 75 per cent since he only needed to write one-quarter of the columns since you went digital.
  2. Trump is not providing enough gaffes to fill a column (not likely).
  3. He is trying to find out how many subscriptions will be cancelled by his leaving.
  4. He is tired of single-handedly providing humour in a world of chaos (see b).
  5. He is concerned he cannot be taken seriously when he must follow The Quiz.
  6. He is tired—sleep-deprived by working non-stop producing great work.

He will be greatly missed. Maclean’s and Canada need him.

F. MacTaggart, Mississauga, Ont.

The opioid crisis

When Insite first opened its doors in September 2003, it received pushback from everyone from the RCMP to the Bush administration (“2,816 dead Canadians and counting,” National, November 2017). As the years have gone by and legal battles have been fought and won, the numbers do not lie, and certainly Insite now has overwhelming support. As the opioid crisis and the resulting fentanyl crisis escalate, places like Insite have recorded no deaths from overdose. But how do we halt this crisis we have created? B.C.’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy has suggested the Trudeau administration decriminalize illicit drugs. Trudeau has responded that his administration is battling the fentanyl crisis through other means, such as border control and increasing naloxone access, but that clearly is not enough. Dan Werb, director of the Toronto-based International Centre for Science in Drug Policy, is also calling Trudeau out for being “short-sighted.” I don’t believe that Canada is ready for the decriminalization of illicit drugs and probably won’t be for a couple of years as the provinces scramble to enforce regulations on weed. So what do we do about all this? Currently, a number of community pharmacies in B.C. are carrying naloxone kits and providing training. Go out and get educated—education also goes a long way to destigmatizing the subject matter.

Jane Kim, Victoria

Broken inquiry

I am deeply concerned and appalled by the disjointed and muddled nature in which the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women is being conducted (“Lost and broken,” National, October 2017). Doomed from the start, and seemingly more about political optics and posturing, this article gives us a rare look into something that has been carried out mostly behind closed doors. While the legalities of what entails in an official inquiry need to be followed, and despite all the challenges, commissioners, government and all those involved are beholden to seeing this through. If there was ever a time to move forward unanimously, that time is now.

Jessica Jones, Red Deer, Alta.

This article, which documents the apparent movement of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls toward the dismal destiny of so many previous national inquiries, has reignited simmering flames of frustration and anger in me. Time after time we read reports of how these inquiries either strangle on process difficulties, disintegrate in discouragement or disagreement, face conflict with establishment will or have their work discouragingly neglected. Why? I feel the title of the article too fittingly describes how our political and bureaucratic structures fail not only these inquiries but Canadian society and each of us as citizens. Who are the individuals or what are the inadequate processes responsible? With so much that is positive and abundant about Canada in a world faced with so many disturbing challenges, why do we tolerate these critical issues in our country being managed with such disregard and incompetency?

Greg Elliott, Guelph, Ont.

The Legion’s larder

I was feeling a little melancholy when my Thanksgiving dinner plans fell through, and then I picked up my October issue of Maclean’s and read about the revitalized Kensington Legion No. 264 here in Calgary (“Fine dining at the Legion,” National Notes, October, 2017). Suddenly and fortuitously I had a Plan B. My young daughter and I not only had a delicious meal; we were honoured to admire the Canadian war memorials and armed services crests that decorate the new building. What a special way to give thanks!

Connie Lyndon, Calgary

The science minister on the government progress

Science touches nearly every aspect of our lives; it is research that leads to new cancer therapies, breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, even the screen you’re reading this article on at this very moment. It all starts with science.

For our government, it started with an appreciation for the role that science and evidence-based decision making play in building a better society. This core value stands in stark contrast to the Conservatives. Where we seek evidence, they rely on ideology. Where we encourage scientists to speak freely, they muzzled scientists. Where we invest in the full spectrum of research, they tied funding for science to commercial outcomes.

Canadians can be confident our government is making every effort to right the previous government’s wrongs and bring science back to the federal table. The evidence lies in our two federal budgets which saw billions of dollars invested in science and innovation programs.

In fact, Budget 2016 included an increase in annual funding for the three federal granting councils. Contrary to a claim made in Maclean’s (“Science in Canada needs funding, not photo ops,” Macleans.ca, Nov. 5) this investment was the largest in over a decade and is part of the more than $3 billion already disbursed each year through the granting councils to support all sciences.

Our government’s investments complement the actions I am taking to strengthen science in Canada. One of my first steps to achieve this goal was to commission the Fundamental Science Review. I am now implementing many of the review panel’s recommendations to improve the research experience in Canada.

For example, I recently launched the new Canada Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC) and capped renewals of Tier One Canada Research Chairs, a program that has seen more men than women appointed into these roles. The latter move is one of several I have taken to bring greater equity and diversity in academia. I firmly believe we must welcome all minds if we are to realize our greatest potential in research.

Frankly, the moment to seize that potential is at our fingertips. In my recent travels abroad, my G7 counterparts remarked on how Canada is a “beacon” in a world where support for science, facts and evidence is fading in some quarters.

We are open, socially progressive and ambitious country that is putting a spotlight on science. What is revealed in that bright light is a future full of discovery, opportunity and immense possibility for all people.

Kirsty Duncan, Canada’s Minister of Science

Government’s debt to society

There are two factors that play into personal debt on a far greater level than the costs of home ownership or household lines of credit (“How Canadian homes became debt traps,” macleans.ca, Nov. 13, 2017). One is an almost complete lack of education starting at the earliest levels as to how to manage debt and the costs associated with maintaining a debt load. This lack of education is a reflection of the “cheap and easy” credit model that is relatively new in both Canada and the United States. The second is the accessibility of high-interest credit cards and abundance of credit limits well beyond what most can reasonably expect to pay back. Instead of focusing an article on people who are extending lines of credit to, in most cases, pay off those punitive credit cards and bad decisions made by a lack of knowledge or self-control, you instead chose to look at the lowest rate loans as the villain.

The article, while hinting at the true issues, wound up pointing the finger at the wrong target: If you educate more and limit the actual available credit limits these credit cards provide, then the home equity line of credit issue largely resolves itself. The government would be doing its citizenry a huge favour by focusing its eyes on the banks and credit card companies and actually addressing the debt issues at the root. Constantly trying to shift blame away from the banks and the billion-dollar profits generated by these interest rates is protectionism at its worst.

Pete Taylor, Kelowna, B.C.

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