Feminism’s eternal fight
I was absolutely delighted to see Anne Kingston’s story, “New girl, go girl” (Society, Oct. 6) on the front page of your magazine. As a 17-year-old feminist, I am so glad you published such an intelligent article on the subject, referencing Lena Dunham, Tavi Gevinson, Malala Yousafzi, Lorde, and other individuals who have become such great role models. I grew up constantly feeling like an outcast because my own interests (literature, history and politics) were never the typical pursuits for a young girl; no girls like me were ever portrayed legitimately in the mainstream media. Thanks to Rookie magazine and the people mentioned above, I no longer feel as isolated; instead of hiding my passions, I revel in them. I often find myself in pointless arguments with those who have no idea what feminism actually stands for and how relevant it really is. Thank you for such a thoughtful article that makes it clear as day.
Ainsley MacDougall, Calgary
It’s been a little while since I’ve been a teenager, although it seems just the other day I was trying my best to speak out in class without the boys snickering at me. Not that much has changed since those days, but I’m glad these young women are still fighting to stand up for what they believe in and are striving to just be themselves. By now, standing up for equality and acceptance for being a woman should not be thought of as “feminism.”
Alana Rayman, Toronto
The light that never goes out
Thank you for your article about Jeff Tremblay and his father, who helped to prove that “vegetative” patients are entirely conscious (“Light in the dark,” Society, Sept. 29). It was like reading what my late brother, Gerald, went through, and what disdain my family was subjected to. Like Jeff, my brother suffered a devastating head injury; his brain was also deprived of oxygen for a time. He could not speak, move voluntarily or eat. Initially on a ventilator in intensive care, he was soon able to breathe on his own. He was hospitalized for the next 28 years, but he was both alert and aware. At no point did anyone in the family question whether or not he could see, hear and express emotion. He loved to watch TV, listen to music, and would smile broadly if he found something amusing. He’d blink once for “no” and twice for “yes” in response to questions. Medical professionals and lay people alike did not take any of this seriously—ever. My father spent virtually every day, for close to 30 years, ensuring that his only son be cared for, and cared about. Gerry passed away in March 2013, succumbing to pneumonia. He was 56. It is my hope that people will cease being quick to judge those who are vegetative. In the case of my brother, there was always “someone home.”
Janie Chernabrow, Montreal
Who doesn’t earn what
You claim a kindergarten teacher makes up to $81,489 (Who Earns What, Sept. 29)—but that is clearly a kindergarten teacher who has been teaching for 25 years or more. It is not the reality for those of us who have graduated in the last five years or so, and are lucky enough to get an interview for an occasional teaching job with a school board when it eventually opens its list. Then, you must get at least 30 days of teaching in to remain on the list—no small feat when full-time teachers get only nine sick days per year—and must work for 10 months before you can apply to get onto the long-term occasional (LTO) teaching list before being “slotted” into an LTO job. Then, you must hope that, when the list of full-time jobs comes out the next year, you can apply for a permanent contract position. Guess what? After all that, the grand starting salary is $40,524, which is where most new teachers end up, teaching full-day kindergarten. Please come back to Grade 4, where I can teach you some real research skills and we can talk about the impact of media literacy.
L.N. Burke, Burlington, Ont.
In your Who Earns What issue, an article titled “Housework that pays” claimed that a “home sale land surveyor” makes $52,650. Only an Ontario Land Surveyor, licensed by the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors (AOLS) to perform cadastral (legal boundary) surveys, can provide a property survey for the public. The AOLS recently completed a salary survey of its licensed members, and the median salary for a private surveyor is in the range of $104,000.
Maureen Mountjoy, Deputy Registrar, Association of Ontario Land Surveyors, Toronto
So Justin Bieber made $88 million last year. Hmm. That’s about $1 million per brain cell.
Janet Pole, London, Ont.
Media reports understate the fact that innocent Syrian civilians are now being hit by U.S. air strikes (“The unwinnable war?” International, Sept. 29). That is the real terror. This, all in the name of fighting Islamic State. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has become an active participant in this inhumanity. Here in Canada, we are bombarded with fear-mongering about subway attacks and homegrown terrorists in an effort to shift the political focus. Is our national security any less diligent than it was a week ago?
Robert Fitzpatrick, Sicamous, B.C.
What cheap oil means for oil sands
Jason Kirby’s Sept. 29 column “Give cheaper oil a chance” points out that the growing abundance in world oil has resulted in calls from many sides to lift the current ban on American crude oil exports. This would lead to greater supply in world markets, thereby pushing crude prices down, as well as prices for consumers at the pump, to say nothing about boosting the U.S. oil sector. It would produce jobs, and it would deal a serious blow against Islamic State, as well as Russia, both of whom depend on oil exports. Dropping the export ban would see a fall in oil prices per barrel with estimates running from US$5 to $25 lower. With prices below $100 today, in spite of global uncertainties, what would this mean to the high-cost oil-sands projects? Many oil companies have mothballed them, and many more are carefully reviewing their plans in light of high costs and other global oil alternatives. While we all may wish to crush Islamic State brutality using any means available, what would the impact mean for the future of Canada’s oil sands?
Nelson Riis, Ottawa
Of Jews, LGBT, and LGBT Jews
Aside from Emma Teitel’s questionable understanding of why the term “Israeli apartheid” is offensive, it is her own “touchiness” that is most evident in her article (“A tale of Tory, Tories and Torah,” Oct. 6). Toronto mayoral candidate John Tory’s inclusion of Tel Aviv as a gay rights leader at a debate was neither a personal nor political reply, but rather a statement of fact based on Tel Aviv’s designation in 2011 as the “best gay city” (not just “gay-friendly,” but the best) in an international American Airlines competition among LGBT tourists; the Israeli city won by an overwhelming margin, beating out high-profile destinations such as New York, London and Toronto. A statement of fact is not “pandering,” and Tory’s willingness to respond to a direct question—no matter what the topic—is simply what should be expected of any politician.
Avi Benlolo, President and CEO, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, Toronto
Age is a battlefield
I am one of the people quoted in “Old and loaded” (Economy, Sept. 15) by Tamsin McMahon. She notes that it is “easy to blame seniors for stacking the deck in favour of their own generation.” Unfortunately, however, this is precisely the trap that the article as a whole falls into by identifying the central issue as a generational war between an affluent senior generation and younger Canadians. I am opposed to greater equity in the treatment of younger Canadians being achieved at the expense of the living standards, medical care and benefits currently enjoyed by seniors. Closing the generational spending gap should be viewed as an intergenerational priority, a social investment that directly contributes to the overall health and strength of Canadian society. My hope is that McMahon’s article, for all its “battlefield” imagery, will draw attention to this.
Martin Petter, Comox, B.C.
You propose to fix society’s economic woes by taking from the “rich, spoiled” seniors and giving to the needy. That’s like stealing from Peter to pay Paul. The few seniors who have money owe it mostly to frugal living when they were young. Why don’t you look for funds from the one-percenters who sit at the controls of the economic machinery? In the hands of these so-called wealth creators, money has become stupid. It circulates in the stratospheric heights of betting operations like hedge funds, commodities, options and currency trading; money begetting more money instead of working for society. A one per cent tax on currency trading could, reputedly, eliminate world poverty, as Nobel laureate James Tobin once suggested. Economic conditions won’t improve until the excessively rich people make their wealth work for all of society.
Reinhard Rosch, Ottawa
Universal child care now
Your Sept. 29 editorial suggests that the affordable child care system in Quebec is too rich in an era of fiscal restraint, and that the province should switch to fees based on family income. In Canada, we have a progressive income tax system, so parents who earn more are already paying more to support public services. A system of income-testing parents to determine their child care payment on a sliding scale is administratively onerous and unnecessary. We don’t income-test for public education or health care, libraries or emergency services, so why for child care? Currently, outside of Quebec, child care services exist in the marketplace. This is an abject failure for families: Fees are sky-high, often a family’s second-highest expense after housing; quality spaces are too few, resulting in long waiting lists; and early childhood educators (mostly women) earn poverty wages. The Quebec system is massively popular with parents there for a good reason. Parents and grandparents in Canada know we have a child care crisis and it’s time for an affordable, publicly funded, high-quality child care system from coast to coast to coast.
Sharon Gregson, Vancouver
PM Big Steve Standing Ready
Scott Feschuk’s characterization of our Prime Minister, a.k.a. Big Steve Standing Ready, and his opening speech to Parliament is right on (“We are angry, and we have adjectives,” Sept. 29). It is said that the mark of a good speaker is, if you feed him a dinner, up comes a speech. With Harper, it’s a bit different: He feeds you a speech and up comes your dinner.
Emer Gudmundson, Mozart, Sask.
What a clearly deluded man Jacob Richler is (“How to catch a bear,” Taste, Sept. 29) if he thinks that baiting bears and taking advantage of their need to fatten up before hibernation is the way “real” hunters do it. Has Richler heard the phrase “shooting fish in a barrel”? That is what he did, and now has the nerve to crow about it. I would like him to tell us how what he did is any different than jacklighting or pit-lamping for deer, which is illegal. Real hunters stalk and kill their prey as they find it. They don’t do the sure thing and lure it with bait. And by the way, bears don’t “infest” the woods. That’s actually where they’ve always lived.
Pamella Grover and Christopher Clutchey, Chilanko Forks, B.C.