Letters: 'A complete failure for victims of sexual assault'

Maclean's readers write in

He said, they said

As aptly demonstrated in R. v. Ghomeshi the Canadian judicial system is a complete failure for victims of sexual assault (“What Ghomeshi did,” Society, April 11). It begins with inadequate police investigations, continues with inept prosecutorial performances, and ends with misogynistic court decisions. We urgently need separate sexual assault courts with specially trained judges, a burden of proof on a balance of probabilities, and reduced penalties. As is the case in other specialized separate courts, restorative justice and alternative dispute resolution methods ought to be incorporated as potential remedies.
—Sandra G. Mitchell, President, Regina Sexual Assault Centre, Regina

Demonstrations against the Ghomeshi verdict were organized in Toronto and elsewhere. Are these concerned citizens trying to take away the presumption of innocence in these cases? Are they hoping for some kind of government interference in introducing extreme measures, such as when dealing with terrorism, in detaining a suspect without a fair trial? Defence lawyer Marie Henein fulfilled her duties in defending her client to the best of her ability. Going after the lawyer as if she had committed a felony or demanding the elimination of the presumption of innocence is simply wrong.
—Abubakar N. Kasim, Toronto

I went to York University at the same time as Ghomeshi. I admired his rise to fame and I was a dedicated listener to Q. I was shocked when the CBC fired him. However, when I found out why, my views of him changed completely. I just do not understand how, as a feminist, he can admit to enjoying inflicting violence on women for his own pleasure. He may have been exonerated in the justice system but I cannot ever forgive him for wanting to physically hurt women, “consensual” or not.
—Karen Lopez, Surrey, B.C.

Henein did a masterful job, with integrity, as was her obligation. The judge made the only decision possible given the evidence that she meticulously uncovered. The real danger of this trial is the portrayal of women as dishonest and calculating, and the message that the method to keep women coming back is through mistreatment, violence and assault. A deeply disturbing message for our young people and a totally irresponsible play by the complainants.
—Nonny Rankin, Montreal

After Ghomeshi’s acquittal, the CBC should consider rehiring its fallen star. Consensual sexual sadism is a private matter. Who better to speak for cultural proclivities in its various and questionable forms than a self-disclosed practitioner whose function was to promote cutting-edge culture and outlier dispositions? Ghomeshi’s “leftist, hip” insouciance was his trademark, promoted and exploited by his employer’s relentless marketing. Rather than damaging the CBC’s brand, reinstating Ghomeshi would polish the broadcaster’s image, demonstrating its vaunted message of compassion.
—Arthur Ellis, Winnipeg

It is entirely believable that the witnesses in this trial continued the relationship for complicated psychological reasons, as stated: in an attempt to normalize the relationship and the willingness to believe the defendant was acting out of character, and possibly, they were somehow to blame. The witnesses’ lack of timidity and self-blame will be, hopefully, an inspiration to the thousands of women who are raped or sexually assaulted every year—and also to those in more permanent relationships who believe bad psychological and/or physical treatment is normal, or what they deserve.
—Doris Wrench Eisler, St. Albert, Alta.

Farewell to Ford

Mark Towhey’s article about Rob Ford (“We’ve got to let you go, buddy,” National, April 11) brought tears to my eyes. Ford was someone very rare, an enigma. He was a politician who was a mensch! Despite his flaws, I think he’s raised the bar, for other politicians.
—Joseph Paluch, Hamilton

“The meaning of Rob Ford” (National, April 11) fails as an honest, mature and wise dissection of the man. Ford acted like a little boy constantly seeking approval. He bullied his way through life with a mean streak. The one photo of his wife, head bowed and eyes downcast, tells the true story. Rob Ford made his wife stand beside him in humiliation, publicly discussed their private sex life, and the police visited his home numerous times on domestic calls. It is 2016 and the things Rob Ford did, said and acted out are not “acceptable” flaws. They are a shame and speak sadly to the ability of a liar to get as far as Rob Ford did—all encouraged by media hunger for the sensational.
—Susanna Uchatius, Burnaby, B.C.

Not-so-welcoming mat

Your infographic “Settling in” (National, April 4), showing per capita rates of Syrian refugee settlement in Canada, was very informative. However, I am unsure if “settling” is the appropriate word for those poor refugees who find themselves in Vancouver. Not only are they poor financially relative to the unaffordable rents in Vancouver, but also because many of them are being shuffled from hotel to hotel. Some have even asked to be relocated back to their refugee camps. Such is the untenable situation, a result of a poorly conceived idea (not even a plan) by the Liberal party, by promising to move 25,000 refugees in such a short time frame, for purely political gain. Shame on you, Trudeau. I wish all our refugees a better beginning to a new life in Canada, than that being experienced by so many.
—Peter Coxon, Kamloops, B.C.

The historic Jesus

Bart Ehrman’s questioning of Jesus’s existence, with memory as the basis of his position (“Did Jesus really exist?” Society, April 4), attracts serious challenges. The proximity of the Gospel manuscripts to the actual events is unprecedented: other manuscripts from that era are centuries older than the time of the events. Yet no one seriously questions the integrity of text of historians such as Thucydides, or Plutarch. While it is healthy to question what may have occurred 2,000 years ago, perhaps we should also try to do so with less smugness, as we can’t even resolve who killed John F. Kennedy only about 50 years ago.
—F.J. Delibato, Hamilton

Who you calling boutique?

As a retired teacher, I take exception to your editorial negatively characterizing recent tax credit to teachers for school supplies as “boutique” (The Editorial, April 11). That has nothing to do with whether they should or should not be allowed to deduct expenses: Doctors, lawyers, accountants and managers are allowed deductions in spite of their huge incomes because that is considered a legitimate expense. Non-reimbursed expenses are real; it is high time a government in Canada recognized that.
—Sukh Dev Walia, Milton, Ont.

Your April 11 Editorial is off-target when comparing the volunteer firefighter tax credit and the tax credit for teachers in the Liberal budget. The vast majority of the 127,000 volunteer firefighters in Canada receive zero financial remuneration for their services, unlike the teachers who, as you note, are well paid. Volunteer firefighters also do not receive compensation for their personal expenses, nor their often-ruined clothing and effects. Volunteer firefighters spend hundreds of hours of their time training and then practising their craft; many lose salary when called away from their regular jobs to attend a fire scene. The difference between some paper and crayons and a full set of bunker gear ($1,500) or a thermal imaging camera ($2,000) is obvious. Given the dangers involved in both professions, comparing teachers and volunteer firefighters is disingenuous at best.
—Murray Mills, Volunteer Firefighter, Pugwash, N.S.

How on earth does the fact I’m a widowed senior—making me eligible for a so-called “boutique” tax credit—mean that, in the words of your April 11 Editorial writer, I’m one of the “individuals or families pursuing activities deemed beneficial by the Conservatives”? The death of my husband was definitely not beneficial, unless the implication is that the Conservatives no longer had to provide him with his CPP and OAS.
—Lesley O’Neil, Peterborough, Ont.

Praying for freedom

The closure of the Office of Religious Freedom is tragically, more “head in the sand” behaviour from our current Liberal government, who quietly think that somehow religious terrorism from ISIS or others won’t be a regular reality in Canada’s future (“Getting religion,” Evan Solomon, April 11). The Office of Religious Freedom wasn’t just about knowing our enemy better, it was about understanding those who are different, who practice religion, on a deeper level. Isn’t that in itself, a way to describe tolerance?
—Chris Woodland, Barrie, Ont.

Not a great job

Your April 4 Editorial quotes a 2004 University of Toronto study showing that 100,000 jobs were lost after the 1987 Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, but productivity improved by 15 per cent in sectors that lost their tariff protection. What has one got to do with the other? The 100,000 jobs lost were in the high-paying manufacturing sector, while the increase in production only made big business (not the workers) more money. Employment grew nationwide—in the minimum-wage jobs. Consumer prices fell—only because we were buying cheap Chinese junk that ended up filling our landfills. I say the outcome was hugely negative for Canada.
—Lawrence Walker, Celista, B.C.