If you know why you’re not happy
Your article promises to tell us “Why you’re never happy” (Society, March 14), but I don’t even have to read it to give you the nutshell answer: global warming ended our enjoyment of life. Now you can’t take a hot bath without feeling guilty about it, then you’re hit with sin taxes to affirm your madness. Blessed are the non-caring and the ignorant because they are probably happy. Worrying might indeed be futile.
Rob Graham, Pickering, Ont.
Evan Solomon spoke of cost as being a critical barrier to education (“Free tuition? OK, but it’s just a start,” March 14), but the biggest barrier to post-secondary education is hope, or lack thereof. My children and I were fortunate to grow up in homes where post-secondary education was a given. Growing up in poverty, the discussion is rarely on the table. Post-secondary education is seen as unachievable. Without hope, it’s hard for children to be motivated to complete high school, much less college or university. With tuition becoming “free,” or at least far more obtainable, all kids can have the same conversations that mine did, and the same hope for the future.
Michelle Conor, Brantford, Ont.
It is not that, as Evan Solomon claims, “our society values the health of seniors far more than the education of our youth,” it is that seniors vote. Give youth the vote, and you will finally change the balance of power.
Ursula Litzcke, Vancouver
Education is good and too much debt is bad, but free tuition is not the solution. While it is true that society should “aspire to educate its citizens to the highest possible degree,” universities need to be at least partially funded by the students themselves, or they cease serving the students and only serve their governments and corporate donors. For universities to remain important defenders of free speech and promoters of critical liberal thought, they need to be free to oppose the government. If they are beholden to the state for their funding, universities become a tool of the state, and thus academic freedom is severely threatened. Rather than continue to pursue free university tuition, which the Quebec experience has proven to be a losing and divisive issue, Ontario should consider drawing upon Quebec’s more successful model of CÉGEP: the final year of high school is replaced with a two- to three-year college program where students can choose to either prepare for university or directly prepare for a career.
Jeremy Andrews, international studies student, Bishop’s University, Lennoxville, Que.
Allen Abel’s explanation of “How Trump happened” (International, March 14) is excellent but he does not mention Trump’s other success: he makes Tea Party candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz look acceptable. Most informed observers do not consider these first-term senators suitable material to grace the White House. Yet Trump’s big mouth makes these two right-wing extremists look like saviours from heaven.
Sudhir Jain, Calgary
Trump for president? Could it be worse than George W. Bush and his predecessors? Trump may be the mad voice of the American people who can’t take it anymore, the voice of revolution. Personal attacks and criticizing his style—however ugly, vulgar and bigoted it may be—simply does not address the fundamental and grave societal problems affecting the U.S. Nobody, especially the American establishment, should ignore this reality show. Revolutions are ugly and messy; ask the French and the Russians.
André Simard, Laval, Que.
Trump happened because the American people lost trust with their government and they’re mad. They’re mad at the dysfunctional system that has been ruling the country for the last 10 years. They’re mad at governments for not addressing illegal immigration. Mad at promises that never come. They have lost confidence in their government and Donald Trump is their revenge.
Brian Mellor, Picton, Ont.
Peter Shawn Taylor’s article “Rock and a hard place” (Economy, March 14) hit the nail on the head: cement production uses up lots of energy contributing to carbon emissions. Emission control and reduction is a big issue. Concrete is the No. 1 building material in the world. Used correctly, it can last many years longer than other materials; that has to be part of the consideration. Canada can’t ignore the carbon issue but it can’t simply tax carbon so high that it stops the Canadian industry allowing greater imports from countries that do not have the same goals. Canada can be a leader, but it can’t be a sucker by killing a Canadian industry so other producing countries can step in and take Canadian jobs.
Greg Moore, Odessa, Ont.
Peter Shawn Taylor is incorrect in his assertion that climate change will reduce the use of concrete as a primary building material. In fact, it will remain the material of choice due to its unique ability to provide innovative solutions in building a low-carbon and climate-resilient future. Our track record of consistent and significant investment in lower-carbon manufacturing and product innovation is something of which we are proud. We are also among the very few heavy industries that have long advocated for a price on carbon. We believe carbon pricing, if done right, is the pathway to low carbon innovations in our sector and for the economy as a whole. Does carbon pricing mean we will face competition from other materials? Yes, and this is a good thing because it will drive innovation and GHG reductions across the building sector. Concrete is often the lowest-cost and lowest-carbon solution for buildings, highways and other above- and below-ground infrastructure. These are among the many reasons why the vast majority of engineers, architects and builders confidently continue to choose concrete as their building material of choice.
Michael McSweeney, President and CEO, Cement Association of Canada, Ottawa
Apropos of Charlie Gillis’s story about Balbir Singh Sr. (“The greatest hockey player ever,” Society, March 14), I would like to add my two cents. Leslie Claudius, a diminutive Anglo-Indian, won three Olympic gold medals alongside Singh Sr. in 1948, 1952 and 1956. Claudius, however, added yet another string to his bow, when he bagged a silver medal in 1960 when, under his captaincy, India suffered a heartbreaking loss to archrival Pakistan. The London Times declared him to the finest player in the world. He has also deservedly earned a spot in the Guinness Book of Records. As a longtime personal friend of Claudius, I had the good fortune of viewing his collection of four medals in his modest abode.
Neville Perris, Mississauga, Ont.
Patrick Blennerhassett, the author of a book about Sikh Indian Balbir Singh Sr., claims that Indians deny and react in anger when asked if Singh Sr.’s marginalized role in India’s sports history has anything to do with religion; he believes this is a “sure” sign they’re not telling the truth or trying to hide something. This is laughable. It is also sure sign this journalist has tried to bring a religious angle to this issue to garner attention to his book. If Singh Sr. donated the jacket “decades earlier” to Sports Authority of India (SAI) and it was misplaced by the bureaucrats, it is unbecoming to blame the present government and its prime minister. Instead, you should appreciate that Narendra Modi’s sports minister had the courtesy to visit and apologize to Singh Sr. for a mistake done by SAI, decades before the present government came to power.
Nagendra Krishnamurthy, Mississauga, Ont.
I appreciated Sarmishta Subramanian’s insightful commentary on the hypocrisy of challenging racism and sexism with media quips expressing moral outrage (“ ‘Ban men ha ha throw them in the garbage,’ ” Society, March 14). She showed how absolutist denouncements of other viewpoints express bigotry, not “correctness,” to promote media attention, not diversity of voices. Better progress could occur if more media embraced the real complexity of understanding, appreciating, independently evaluating, and sometimes accepting opposing views. The ability to see and question one’s own bias is not namby-pamby at all; it is fundamental to rational thinking as well as to democracy.
Colleen Cassady St. Clair, Edmonton
We can work it out
Australia, Britain, Canada and the U.S. are the only Western countries still clinging to the system of first-past-the-post voting where citizens’ votes are wasted (The Editorial, March 7). Yes, determining the assignment of seats using proportional representation is a little more complicated than first-past-the-post, but come on, this is 2016. We land space probes on comets. Counting votes doesn’t require calculus, just simple arithmetic. We can do it. Canadians are just as smart as the Germans, Danes and Dutch—all of whom have successfully used proportional representation for decades.
Bob Jonkman, Elmira, Ont.
A not-so-novel take
Without trying to take anything away from the brilliant Miguel de Cervantes and his classic, Don Quixote, I take issue with your review of The Man Who Invented Fiction (Books, March 7) in which you claim it was the world’s first novel. Should we not give some recognition to the lesser-known The Tale of Genji, written by Lady Murasaki centuries earlier? Let’s not ignore literature, or any art for that matter, created outside of the Western world, especially art created by women.
Halle Hendrickson, Edmonton
After eight years overseas one of the ﬁrst things I did upon my return to Canada was subscribe to Maclean’s. I wasn’t disappointed. The recent magazine with articles on Mike Duffy, “Why you’re not happy,” and Canadian refugees amongst others are worthy of awards. I simply do not remember the last time a magazine absorbed my attention for over two hours. Keep up the excellent work. It’s great to be back in Canada
D.L. Sheehan, Ottawa
We welcome readers to submit letters to either email@example.com or to Maclean’s, 11th floor, One Mount Pleasant Road, Toronto, Ont. M4Y 2Y5. Please supply your name, address and daytime telephone number. Letters should be fewer than 300 words, and may be edited for space, style and clarity.