No more fat jokes
I am extremely disappointed in the story about Rob Ford by Nicholas Köhler (“Too big to fail,” National, June 10). All that was needed was to write about the issues (which, by the way, have so far not been proven and/or were struck down in court) and not to stoop to the childish level of name-calling. Köhler bullied and attacked someone’s personal appearance and he did it with venom.
Austin Arney, Hamilton
Shame on you for the photo you used in the June 10 article on Rob Ford. You would never have taken a photo from that angle of a man without a weight problem. This kind of mockery is why there is some public sympathy for him. He may be a mess, perhaps even with a Chris Farley-style, self-destructive substance-abuse problem, but to me it seems like the media is picking on the “fat kid” and I am inclined to root for him—which would not be the case if he were your typical Bay Street lawyer type. No more Augustus Gloop-y pictures of Rob Ford. Things are bad enough there in Willy Wonka land.
It’s time to quit bullying Rob Ford. Has he been charged with any criminal activity? I live in B.C., home of occasionally bizarre politicians, but I have never seen such pack cruelty toward anyone in the public eye. Even in Maclean’s latest issue, politicians, an ex-military officer and Senate appointees have acted much more disgracefully, and they receive far nicer treatment than Rob Ford does. He is cruelly attacked as buffoonish and worse, but he has killed no one and not cheated on his expenses. Be nice. Or is this a Toronto thing?
Donna Wakefield, Duncan, B.C.
Getting crowded under the bus
I am delighted to see Colby Cosh has expressed suspicions that I have had since the Mike Duffy scandal broke (“Why the Senate is the least of our concerns,” Opinion, June 10). By all means, these misdeeds should be processed thoroughly and punishment doled out where appropriate. However, as usual, the government wants to change the channel. The real issues, such as denying citizens their vote—using the Conservative CIMS personal-data software to select robocall targets—is being forgotten by the press and public in favour of juicier scandals about some individuals bilking taxpayers of a few hundred thousands of dollars. The actors in these scandals are aware when they get political support from the king that they will be sacrificed to take attention away from a king in trouble. Unfortunately, most of the press and public don’t appear to have noticed this repeating pattern. It’s getting crowded under the bus!
Cam Trudel, Peterborough, Ont.
The hush of Harper’s agenda
In Paul Wells’s recent article “One party’s brutal hangover” (National, June 3), he takes Stephen Harper to task for saying his government has an “active and important agenda.” Wells then goes on to try to belittle that agenda by listing several agencies, councils and institutes that Harper has (quietly) shut down. (The fact that they could be quietly shut down tells me a lot about their actual importance.) Nonetheless, Wells concludes his attempt at ridicule by stating that Harper’s “goal is to last long enough in power to durably limit the federal government’s ability to intervene in Canadian public life.” What’s the problem? That sounds like an “active and important agenda” to me!
Darin Latham, Vancouver
I think it is time the Harper government takes a very firm hand on the Senate scandal, especially regarding the wrongdoings of three specific senators. Never mind expelling them from the Conservative caucus. Give them pink slips. A lot of Canadians would be fired for far less wrongdoing.
Jeannette Landry-White, Bathurst, N.B.
The giddy celebration of cheap energy described in “The golden age of gas” (Special Report, June 10) provides nary a hint of the many industry analysts who view the “fracking revolution” as a classic bubble. Fracked wells require massive infusions of capital, steel and water, and then yield nearly all of their modest outputs of oil or gas in the first few years, thus requiring incessant drilling just to maintain production. And when the fracking bubble blows up, the leftover “toxic assets” will be more than metaphorical.
Bart Hawkins Kreps, Port Hope, Ont.
The use of gambling operations, particularly casinos, slot machines and video lottery terminals, although a particularly expedient method for provincial governments to raise revenue (“Doubling down,” Business, June 10), is morally reprehensible. The estimate of one million people with a gambling problem, who provide a disproportionate share of the revenue, understates the crisis, as it does not count immediate family members who can also be grievously impacted. Unfortunately, provincial governments are addicted to this revenue stream. They are preying on the very people whom they have been elected to serve and protect.
Trig Smith, Milton, Ont.
Dodging the pipeline debate
Given the huge investment already made by corporations in the oil sands and government expectations of huge revenues, it is simplistic for anti-pipeline activist Sam Avery (Interview, June 10) to suggest that blocking the Keystone XL pipeline will have any effect on development. In the short term, it will only promote greater use of railroads, which have many more (though typically smaller) spills than do pipelines. In the longer term, it will contribute to arguments for constructing the Northern Gateway pipeline, which is far more dangerous in all respects and should never be built.
David B. Brooks, associate, International Institute for Sustainable Development, Ottawa
Based on Sam Avery’s answers during his interview with Nancy Macdonald, his only purpose is to stop the development in Alberta. Notice he ignores the question about the Missouri coal plants and dismisses the new jobs for Aboriginals in the area. His agenda is clear. It has little to do with the environment and much more to do with his politics.
Kit Grant, Calgary
Let’s talk about French
Perhaps Martin Patriquin and his editors at Maclean’s should venture out West to Alberta and talk to us before telling us out here in the regions how we feel about the “French fact” (“Tongue-tied no longer,” National, June 10). Amazing as it may seem to self-absorbed Quebecers and their central Canadian media propagandists, we are not the least bit impressed with the $2.4 billion per year that our “taste of worldliness afforded by Canada’s réalité francophone” is costing us. We would much rather keep our money, please, and you can keep your language, merci.
Sharon Maclise, Edmonton
So nearly 60 per cent of Canada’s federal civil servants are from Quebec and Ontario. The article suggests that this is due to policies on bilingualism. However, since Quebec and Ontario account for slightly more than 60 per cent of the population, would one not expect them to contribute about 60 per cent of the civil servants—no matter what policies are in place?
G.H. Fraser, Ottawa
It is true that the Official Languages Act has played an important role in making the federal civil service reflect the bilingual nature of the country, but the sea change for francophone communities outside of Quebec happened after 1982, because of section 23 of the Charter. It gave francophones in the rest of Canada the right not only for their children to attend a francophone school, but the right of francophone parents to govern these schools. That is the real reason there are vital francophone communities outside of Quebec, which might also make francophone migration out of Quebec a little less daunting: Young workers with families know that, if nothing else, the kids can go to a francophone school.
Lucien Chaput, Bélair, Man.
Calling all doctorates
Charlie Gillis’s article on the plight of the Ph.D. degree (“An academic dead zone?” Society, June 10) seems to be premised on the assumption that students’ motivations to pursue this degree are essentially vocational. While one cannot dismiss the importance of a career, those who pursue studies at the doctoral level typically do so because of a strong intrinsic interest in a field and a desire to work on the cutting edge of knowledge development in their area of study. Of course, the possibility of continuing to be immersed in a university setting as a professor will appeal to many graduate students; however, Gillis’s limiting of a Ph.D.’s “job opportunities” to university teaching reveals a rather narrow view of advanced studies and ignores their inherent worthiness. By analogy, consider the case of athletes who dedicate years of their lives at often-significant financial sacrifice to maximizing their performance. I have yet to hear any statistics related to the degree to which high-achieving athletes are employed in positions that are “below” their level of athletic achievement.
Edwin Buettner, Ph.D., Winnipeg
Thanks to Chris Sorensen for “Carnucopia” (Business, June 10), describing the great things going on in Canada’s retail auto industry in 2013. He correctly points out that more and more consumers are taking advantage of record affordability in the market for new cars. I take issue with one small aspect of the article, however: the characterization by one dealership owner of auto finance as “subprime loans.” This is a term loaded with connotations of unqualified buyers securing loans worth many multiples of their annual income. This is patently not the case in Canada’s automotive finance industry. Auto-loan delinquencies are at historic lows: Consumers taking on debt to finance vehicle purchases can easily afford that debt, and the vast majority of it is held by higher-income Canadians. This is hardly the performance of a so-called “subprime” auto-lending market.
Michael Hatch, Chief Economist, Canadian Automobile Dealers Association, Ottawa
A legend before his time
In Kate Engelhart’s article on Richard Wagner (“Hold your applause, please,” International, June 10), it states that “18th-century doctors worried that Wagner’s music caused ailments.” Considering that Wagner was born in 1813, he was fortunate that none of those prescient doctors took steps to prevent his future conception.
Joe Varesi, Williams Lake, B.C.