Sean Kilpatrick/CP

Take the good with the bad

What a bipolar experience the events captured in your June 3 issue is for Canadians: our unreserved pride in our astronaut’s execution of his responsibilities (“The wonder of Chris Hadfield,” Society) and our total disgust with the sleaziness in our Senate and the Prime Minister’s Office (“Outgunned and under fire,” National)!

W.J. Lomax, Durham, Ont.

Still debating the Senate

I know the temptation is to abolish the Senate (“Hall of dishonour: why the Senate must be scrapped, part II,” From the Editors, June 3). But since our prime minister is only elected by the people in his or her own riding and voted into office by his or her party, and the PMO essentially runs the county, we need as many checks to this quasi-elected power as we can get—and the Senate is one of these. If we start electing our prime minister directly, then we can have a different conversation.

Steve Elson, London, Ont.

We here in Ottawa, we mean it in every sense when we say “Go, Senators, GO!”

Donna Kricorissian, Ottawa

It is very important not to denigrate the Senate itself for the failings of a few and not use the current crisis to fundamentally change an essential institution or, as your editorial suggests, to scrap it. The public needs to appreciate that most senators work very hard to oversee government legislation; this work is vital in ensuring that bills passed through the House of Commons, often without proper debate, are thoroughly analyzed in the Upper Chamber. It would be wrong to rush to judgment here. We should all wait for the evidence and then apply our own “sober second thought” to the situation.

William M. Trudell, Chair, Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers, Toronto

I am proud to be a Canadian citizen, I am proud to have served in the army reserves and even more proud to have served in the British Columbia fire service—and I am affronted by the financial scandal that has emerged in our Senate. When I read that some senators are scamming the system while my wife and I live on a modest pension as the result of emergency-service-related health issues, I am angry. My colleagues and I discharged our obligation, often to the detriment of our health, lives and families, but we do so with pride and commitment and no expectation of financial largesse. To discover financial chicanery at this level supported by our taxes is a slap in the face.

Pat Hampson, retired fire chief, Oliver, B.C.

Who’s got the crack?

Regarding Nicholas Köhler’s description of Rob Ford (“Rob Ford’s appetite for destruction,” National, June 3): “A near-constant lamina of sweat lends him the appearance of something that’s just crawled up from the ooze, half-formed and shapeless.” Really? Sounds like Köhler may be no stranger to a little crack cocaine himself.

Launa Palset, Toronto

When the Sun’s man sets

Barbara Amiel’s articles, not always easily digested or understood, summarized Peter Worthington’s life in a succinct, poignant and moving way (“Paying tribute to a Canadian original,” Opinion, June 3), her words paying tribute to an ethical and principled man not given to pomp and pretense. She notes that he was not of the intelligentsia cadre—cheers! For many years, I have enjoyed Peter’s columns: less bafflegab and more “brilliant reportage and analysis of the modern world,” as Amiel puts it.

Ed Ronsyn, Ottawa

Play all day

Charlie Gillis’s article on full-day kindergarten (“The munchkin invasion,” National, May 27) made some great points on the expansive economic cost. However, he does not address the fact that full-day kindergarten is a play-based program that allows students to grow in so many more ways than just academic development. Students are allowed to pursue their own interests in an open-ended setting that encourages creativity, problem solving, thinking outside the box and imagination—resulting in students who are effective contributors to society in more ways than just academic pursuits. Now if only the rest of the school system would create curricula reflective of the same principles.

Andrea Gastle, Norval, Ont.

A life well-loved

I am compelled to respond to the sadness and joy I feel after reading Adam Michael McLernon’s obituary (The End, June 3), so beautifully crafted by Nicholas Köhler. Adam’s adoptive parents, Nora and Mike, represent the many unsung heroes who quietly rise above obstacles with no acknowledgement of their bravery. To them, I want to say that I am sad because your son has died. I feel joy because people like you inspire me to be the best human being I can be. I feel the joy that you brought to Adam’s life. Your kindness, your unselfishness and your love gave sustenance to my soul.

Doug Spencer, London, Ont.

As Adam’s natural mother, I would like to share my feelings and opinions on the passing of my first-born child, my son. When Adam was born, he was a “blue baby,” unable to make his own oxygen. I had just turned 17 and was told that he was not going to live to be three months old. The next four years were a blur: Other than the six weeks I had my son home with me, he was in the hospital, hooked up to a respirator and fighting for his life. He was born with a congenital heart disease that caused him to develop chronic lung disease. Within those four years, I had two other children, my son, Mike, and my daughter, Shaylene, who passed away at the age of seven months from SIDS. I spent every available moment I could to be with Adam and to care for him. When he was four years old, I lost my parental rights in a court battle and Adam was adopted. Now I understand that it was in Adam’s best interest and the family who adopted him were wonderful. I will never take away what they did or the life they gave my son; he turned into a wonderful man. I always had contact through the Children’s Aid Society regarding Adam’s medical condition. In November 2007, I was able to sit down and have lunch with Adam and it was amazing to see that there was still a bond and that family traits had carried on even without any influence. I will truly cherish that day forever and I thank his “mom and dad” for allowing Adam to make that choice to spend time with me. I have always loved Adam and always will. There was not a day throughout his whole life that I never at least once looked at his pictures and told him, “Hey buddy, Mommy loves you.” Your article was a beautiful tribute to a miraculous man who was not ever expected to live three months, let alone almost 29 years. I thank you for allowing me to have this time as a moment to remember what my son was to me and to his natural family.

Theresa Fodey, Brockville, Ont.

Gambling leads to ghost towns

In 1994, Ontario’s first casino opened in Windsor with high hopes of stimulating the economy (“Playing our cards right,” National, June 3). There were dreams of fine dining establishments and visitors taking in the tourist attractions. Quickly, we learned that gamblers come to gamble and not to see the sights or dine. Within short order, Detroit built three casinos, which obviated the need for Americans in Michigan and Ohio to cross the border. The passport requirements for Americans to return home put an end to their Canadian trips. Today, downtown Windsor is essentially a wasteland of empty storefronts. Fine dining has moved to suburbia. An exciting, vibrant downtown does not exist. If Toronto wants to ruin its waterfront, it will find too late that gamblers do little more than gamble. Ontario casinos truly are tax collectors exploiting the poor, who dream of hitting it rich, and the addicted.

Dorothy Madge, Windsor, Ont.

The high cost of cheap culture

While on a recent humanitarian trip to Cambodia, I asked our organizer about the garment factories in Phnom Penh. I, like most Canadians, had always heard that the female workers in these sweatshops were underpaid and overworked. Our organizer had a simple answer for me: “If you don’t support garment factories, you are supporting prostitution.” According to your article “What does that $14 shirt really cost?” (Business, May 13), there are four million women working in factories in Bangladesh. Can we expect that, if consumers are charged more for the shirt, the extra money will go to the workers? Highly unlikely. In the wake of the disaster, what is needed now is safe working conditions, not putting more money in the pockets of the factory owners.

Leia Spencer, Ottawa

The ‘Rite’ stuff

Lev Bratishenko’s article “Enough already with the Rite of Spring” (Music, June 3) brought back memories of comments made by the conductor of the opening-night performance, Pierre Monteux. During my senior year at the Eastman School of Music in 1962, I was part of a special set of Q&A sessions with visiting musicians in the student lounge. One of these was with Monteux. After a few very insightful exchanges, a junior student asked, “Sir, you were the conductor for the first performance of the Rite of Spring. What did you think of it?” The famous conductor replied, “I didn’t like it.” We were recovering from this unexpected response when the same student followed up by saying, “Well sir, now that many years have passed and you have conducted it so many times since,what are your thoughts?”Monteux quickly responded, “I still don’t like it.”

David Graham, Toronto

That’s no officer

While there are probably many people who are interested in what happened to Russell Williams’s home in Tweed (“House of horrors,” National, June 3), I doubt the story rates two full pages, but that is not the point. Williams is a convicted murderer serving life in prison for the terrible crimes he committed. He is, at best, a disgraced ex-member of the Canadian Forces, but he is certainly not now, nor ever again, entitled to be shown in a picture where he is wearing the uniform. As a retired member of the Canadian military who served honourably for more than 35 years of service, I take personal offence each time I must look at a picture of this evil thing in his uniform.

Phillip J. Rody, MMM, CD, Miramichi, N.B.