Lil Tay's mom should 'sock away' money 'for counselling and bail'

Letters to the editor, June 18, 2018: Maclean's readers weigh in on B.C.'s middle class, rapper Lil Tay, Trump and trade, and boycotting the U.S.

The real estate war on the west coast that’s tearing Vancouver neighbourhoods apart

In June, Joe Castaldo reported that with garish wealth, scarce rental housing and a government that sees the middle class as stinking rich, Vancouverites are at each other’s throats.

As a lifelong New Democrat who has worked for decades to make life better for working people, I was surprised to see your publication’s claims regarding the focus of our government’s efforts. I was surprised because one of the first things our government did after taking office was to reverse the last government’s tax cut for the top two per cent of income earners in our province. We are reinvesting those dollars into supporting public education and other programs so important for the middle class. The last government chose to raise revenue by doubling regressive Medical Service Plan premiums. These fees fall disproportionately on working and middle-class British Columbians to the benefit of the wealthiest in our province. Our government is taking the enormous step of eliminating this regressive fee altogether. At $2.6 billion, this is one of the largest tax cuts for families in B.C. history. We’re putting up to $1,800 a year back into the pockets of middle class families in our province.

We have eliminated bridge tolls, reduced prescription drug costs for those with lower incomes, invested in seniors care and team-based health care, tacked the opioid crisis, hired 3,800 more teachers, improved benefits for those on social assistance, and made the largest investment in affordable child care in B.C.’s history. Our child-care fee reduction benefits all families with children in licensed care while our affordable child-care benefit provides up to $1,250 per month for families earning up to $45,000 and up to $910 per month for those earning as much as $80,000 a year. Middle-class British Columbians tell me they are seeing the difference in their pocket books and they have hope for the first time they will be able to get ahead.

Our government is also strongly committed to tackling the housing crisis across the urban centres of our province. We have made the largest investment in housing supply in B.C. history  along with targeted tax changes to help moderate demand. These are actions that academics, advocates, municipalities and the public have called for so people can afford to live and work in their own province. These measures are strongly supported in poll after poll by the vast majority of British Columbians.

We are moving forward with a bold, new speculation tax targeting non-resident owners, satellite families, and those with homes sitting empty in B.C.’s hottest housing markets. We are increasing the progressivity in the school tax by asking the top two per cent, those that have benefitted most from skyrocketing housing prices, to pay a little bit more on the value of homes over $3 million. Not only does this help fund the services that people rely on, but it will help to moderate the market so that middle-class families can afford a place to call home.

Our government is taking exactly the kind of bold action needed after 16 years of neglect from the last government. Our actions support the middle class and they support our economy. Our government will continue to work hard to deliver on our commitments to British Columbians. — Carole James. B.C. Minister of Finance, Victoria

Lil Tay talks like she’s the family breadwinner, and that’s disturbing

In May, Joe Castaldo profiled Vancouver’s foul-mouthed nine-year-old rapper, who is L.A.-bound.

At a time when often I feel the only thing standing between our cherished tradition of a true democracy and a world of demigods, tyrants, autocrats and their enabling sycophants is a credible free media. You choose to feature a semi-literate foul-mouthed nine-year-old on your cover. Who ever made that brilliant decision should give himself or herself a shake. It plays into the hands of those who would destroy the credibility of the media—the “fake-newsers.” I am old enough to remember when Maclean’s dealt with important matters to Canadians on their covers and did not try to compete with the National Enquirer, a true fake-news publication. If you don’t wake up, you too will be relegated to the irrelevant fake-news dustbin, and that is a true and present threat to our democracy. — Alan Goddard, Grimsby, Ont. 

The mother, Angela Tian, holds the view that money defines success, ergo, her daughter is successful. Full stop. Lil Tay’s statement “Y’all be hating on me” made me laugh out loud. You can’t stuff this genie back in the bottle; if this charade persists for too long, this kid will be essentially unemployable by any standard except as co-host on The Howard Stern Show. The mother had better sock away some of the excess for counselling and bail. — Paul Barré, Winnipeg

Why would MacLean’s even consider putting such a poor role model for kids on the cover of the magazine? Even an article buried deep inside is questionable. — Ken Collum, Fort Qu’Appelle, Sask.

Donald Trump and Justin Trudeau: The empire of diminishing returns

In June, John Geddes reported on Trump’s post-G7 summit tantrum.

I’m ashamed to say that I’m a U.S. citizen. Trump and this entire U.S. administration do not represent me. I would like nothing better than to see a global boycott of Trump and everything associated with this vile SOB as well as a boycott of this entire U.S. administration. — John Vogel, Destin, Fla.

Trade sanctions against America won’t work. Sanctioning Trump himself might.

In May, Scott Gilmore argued that instead of taxing American goods, Canada and the Western allies should pressure the only pain point that matters to this president: his family and their assets. Meanwhile, in June, Tom Yun provided a patriot’s guide to shopping during a Canada-U.S. trade war.

Brillant idea, maybe we need to have a tariff on all the Fox News advertising companies. Not just a boycott  which would be lovely but an actual tariff on the companies that underwrite this propaganda. Just a thought. And not satire. — Christopher Zimmer, Halifax

read with interest your article entitled “A Patriot’s Guide to Shopping during a Canada-U.S. Trade War,” which discussed, among other things, where our Heinz Ketchup is made. While it is true that our ketchup production moved to Ohio, our plant in Leamington, Ont., never closed. We transferred ownership of the plant to local ownership and Kraft Heinz is still the primary customer of that plant. The plant still employs more than 500 people today and produces tens of millions of dollars of food for us every year. Kraft Heinz Canada has been in Canada in one shape or form for more than 100 years and produces more than two- thirds of our products worth more than $2 billion right here in Canada. We employ directly and indirectly thousands of people. What’s more, over the last 5 years alone we have donated more than $50 million in cash and kind to communities through our Kraft Hockeyville and Project Play programs as well as to local area food banks. In short, Kraft Heinz is part of the Canadian fabric, and to suggest we are on one side of the U.S.-Canada trade dispute is misleading. As a global food company, we strongly favour free trade. — Av Maharaj, Vice President, Corporate & Legal Affairs, Kraft Heinz Canada, Toronto

I want to say thank you to Scott Gilmore for the article on boycotting companies that carry Trump-branded products. It is so convenient having the list of links! I have already written to several of them informing them that I will not patronize their businesses as long as they continue to carry Trump products. It is obvious the man is no friend to Canadians and does not deserve our respect or our dollars. — Dianne Douglas

If you read the origin of the produce in our supermarkets you can see what is from the U.S. and what is not. I live in Ontario, so I am not sure if this is the case in other provinces. All we have to do is stop buying U.S. produce. It’s a small thing but if everyone pitched in, pretty soon the trucks would stop rolling north and it may get noticed. While this is not sanctioning trump but the U.S. as a whole it’s something everyone can do. On a personal note, it’s been several years since I bought an apple that was grown in the U.S. — Barry Giles, Delaware, Ont.

I feel targeting Ivanka Trump’s products will hurt Trump (P.T. Barnum) more, as he doesn’t care about his money. His ego is more important. Second, I am in the process of purchasing a new car am purposely avoiding American cars, even if they are assembled here in Canada. I also think a trade war would be good—I’d like to see how much the U.S. is willing to give up its standard of living. The world cannot be a slave to America.  It needs to learn a lesson. — Nick Lee, Toronto

Want common ground on First Nations issues? Start by fixing the water supply

In June, Angus Reid reported that its new survey on Canadians’ attitudes to Indigenous rights are deeply divided.

Why is Maclean’s promoting the Angus Reid survey on Indigenous rights when it is not a valid survey? It is genocidal propaganda perpetrated by wealthy old white men who still think they can destroy the land rights of Indigenous peoples. The survey questions mislead Canadians into thinking that Indigenous rights can be ignored or dispensed with, and that Indigenous peoples can simply be absorbed into the Canadian population: “In modern Canada, Indigenous people should have no special status that other Canadians don’t have.” That is not a valid question because it is not a legal possibility in Canadian Constitutional law: it is a violation of the Constitution, in which clause 35 (1) states: “The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal people in Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.” Regardless of anyone’s opinion, in Canadian and international law the intent to destroy Indigenous peoples “as such” is genocide, and advocating genocide is a crime in Canada. Why is Maclean’s promoting the propaganda of Mr. Angus Reid and his wealthy old white men cronies? — Connie Kidd, Hamilton, Ont.

Why we should pay Canadian donors for their blood plasma donations

In June, Chris MacDonald and Peter Jaworski wrote for Canadian Business that a new bill that would ban paying for plasma donations nationwide is both counterproductive and hypocritical.

Jaworksi and MacDonald try to make the case that paid plasma is safe, and since it’s already happening in the U.S. there’s no reason for us to be concerned about allowing the practice in Canada. In fact, there are many reasons to oppose the paid collection of plasma at private, for-profit clinics (proponents always seem to leave out the private for-profit bit). While research does suggest an elevated risk level when donors are paid, the primarily concerns are not about the safety of the present blood supply, but about threats to the security of domestic plasma supply and the retention of voluntary donors. There is no reason to believe that these private clinics will increase the domestic supply of plasma in Canada, and in fact Canadian Plasma Resources has plans to sell the plasma it collects in Europe. In addition, Canadian Blood Services (CBS), Canada’s public blood collector, is already reporting a decrease in voluntary blood donation in Saskatoon, the site of the first for-profit collection centre. Jaworksi and MacDonald take us on a meandering journey through moral philosophy to argue that it is ethically inconsistent to forbid paid plasma: if we accept paid plasma from the U.S., how can we possible criticize the use of paid plasma in Canada? Since when did the existence of a morally dubious practice in one jurisdiction prevent us from seeking a higher standard elsewhere? Paid plasma collection anywhere is a less-than-ideal situation, a fact clearly articulated by the leading international health organizations, which all advocate for 100-per-cent voluntary blood and plasma donation (another fact the proponents of paid plasma usually forget to mention). One thing is clear: Canada needs to increase its domestic supply of plasma, and the best way to achieve that is by supporting CBS’s plan to increase the capacity of the public donation system. Plasma donated in Canada should be public, voluntary and guaranteed to contribute to Canada’s public health-care system. — Amanda Wilson, PhD, National Director of Policy and Advocacy with the Canadian Health Coalition, Ottawa

The triumph of Doug Ford

In June, Paul Wells wrote that while governing is hard, ushering in a new era when you aren’t really sure what the new era will look like is even harder

It’s strange that a province that prides itself in having world-class research facilities, transportation systems and investment bankers as well as forward-thinking entrepreneurs and innovative start-ups, and in being the virtual epicentre of the country’s performing arts scene, chose a stodgy, socially awkward, backward-looking bunch of Conservatives, led by a rather dim-witted populist, to run it. With pollsters egging them on, irate Ontario taxpayers, exasperated with the litany of Liberal policies draining the public coffers, demanded Kathleen Wynne’s head as a blood sacrifice. Her admission of defeat led to a pitched battle for the keys to the provincial treasury between forces loyal to Doug Ford and Andrea Horvath. Although the NDP did manage to win a few important skirmishes and gain some high ground in the process, they were no match for the Team Ford juggernaut. So now, the self-professed man of the people will lead the next provincial government. Then we’ll see if the  Conservative’s campaign mantra of “We’ll do more with less” can balance the budget, or if the books will simply be put on the back burner as everyone gears up for the beer and barbecue circuit and head for the family cabin in Ontario’s rather pricey cottage country. And if the books aren’t looked at with any real intent for the rest of the summer, until well after Labour Day, then no one will really care. That’s because sliders, hot dogs and heaping plates of wings, coleslaw and potato salad will be on the menu. That’s the way it is and always has been. Get as fat as you can off the summer fare for the fall session could see some serious belt-tightening. — William Eady, Edmonton

Why does Andrea Horwath want to eat the rich?

In May and during the run-up to the Ontario election, Mark Milke wrote that the province’s top 1 per cent earns 12 per cent of all income but pays 26.5 per cent of all income tax.

What a disgusting and horrifying image—”eat the rich.” Shame, Maclean’s! What does it even mean? Even in its Gage Canadian Dictionary definition of “destroy, use up or waste,” that’s an outlandish stretch. If anybody’s being “eaten” in our society, sorry, but it’s not the rich. I just worked out that an unmarried millionaire wage-earner owning a $4-million home in Toronto with no dependents, and claiming no deductions whatsoever other than personal deductions, would still have about $474,000 in after-tax income after federal, provincial and municipal taxes. A 10-per cent rise in total taxes would leave this assailed and battered person with little more than $420,000 a year to scrape by on. Eaten? No way. — Alan A. Ross, Toronto