Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer owes Canadians an explanation of his reasoning in allowing the Harper government’s omnibus bill to go forward as a single entity (The Tale Of The Budget Omnibus – June 12).
The government claims that its myriad provisions are intended to move the Canadian economy forward. How does, for example, allowing U.S. federal law enforcement agents to arrest Canadians on Canadian soil relate to the economy? How is the elimination of the office of the Inspector General of CSIS just a budget matter?
Still more urgent and unanswered is Elizabeth May’s concern that a government could simply move a single bill at the beginning of its term, claiming that all of its provisions were intended to advance their agenda. Why bother with parliamentary debate at all when the needs of the economy are “urgent”?
John Ibbitson (Even This Bill Is A Product Of Democracy – June 12) may be content that the omnibus bill is still democracy, but many of us are concerned that is more about trying to still democracy.
Kevin Flynn, Ottawa
With more than 60 per cent of Canadians who voted having cast their ballots against this government, there is a more important concern than whether the omnibus bill is legal, and that is: Is it just?
Martin Hyde, Ottawa
Arguments about expediency and efficiency hardly justify pushing through the omnibus bill without proper debate. Our parliamentary system is not intended to provide efficiency, of which the best examples can be found in one-party dictatorships, but rather to provide the opportunity for proper consideration of issues affecting us, and protecting us from autocratic governance.
Stanley Greenspoon, North Vancouver
Surprise all around
Emmanuel Alviar can rest assured that many others are as surprised as he is at his one-month sentence for participating in Vancouver’s Stanley Cup riot (One-Month Sentence Surprises Rioter – June 12). The cost of the riot should be prorated among those convicted. If that were the case, Mr. Alviar would realize his sentence was a light slap on the wrist.
Ed Bird, Victoria
Jack Granatstein (Cuts To Our Past Harm Our Future – June 12) has it exactly right when he uses the term “vandalism” to describe the recent changes to Library and Archives Canada. I simply cannot fathom why a career bureaucrat who has, as best I can tell, no professional background in either history or library science, was appointed the Librarian and Archivist of Canada.
I first walked through the doors of 395 Wellington St. in 1977 and, for more than three decades, I have used its marvellous resources to write or edit 18 books and dozens of articles. Unfortunately, LAC has declined so much since Daniel Caron was appointed to lead it that I could not contemplate undertaking such a body of work today.
Mr. Caron should remember the words of his eminent predecessor, Arthur Doughty, Dominion Archivist from 1904 to 1935. Doughty believed that archives are “the gift of one generation to another and the extent of our care of them marks the extent of our civilization.” What is happening at LAC is more than a national disgrace – it is a national tragedy.
Donald E. Graves, Balderson, Ont.
That the Conservatives, on the one hand, are doing all they can to celebrate the War of 1812 but, on the other, are subjecting the archive to sheer “vandalism” (Jack Granatstein’s word, well chosen) shows why the task of minding historical documents – the real value of which may not be known for decades, even generations – is a task properly left to disinterested experts rather than to politicians and their fleeting, self-aggrandizing needs.
Noah Richler, Toronto
All about reform
Margaret Wente (Why Bad Apples Don’t Get Fired – June 12) joins the chorus attacking teachers’ unions as the chief obstacles to education reform. Education reform has been ongoing in the U.S. since George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act. Reform efforts have played out in two ways: increasing standardized testing, all the way down to the kindergarten level, and weakening public schools through public funding for charter schools.
Neither testing nor charter schools have been reliably shown to improve U.S. educational outcomes, although they can be an economic windfall for private interests. Before we follow the fiddler down the anti-union/pro-reform path, let’s give some thought to the meaning of “reform” and whether it really serves the children about whom politicians claim to care.
Rachel Brickner, Wolfville, N.S.
I can confirm many of Margaret Wente’s observations regarding the Ontario College of Teachers. I was appointed as a public (non-teacher) member of the Governing Council of the OCT from its inception in 1997 until 2004. In the elections for teacher members of the council, a slate was drawn up by the various teacher unions prior to the vote. Invariably, those whose names were on the slate were elected; they did indeed caucus before every council meeting.
I tried to persuade several ministers of education that there was a serious problem regarding conflict of interest, to no avail. Many elected teachers wore many different hats. It really was as if the inmates were running the asylum. Teachers’ interests always usurped the public and the students’ interests. This is why the OCT today is so dysfunctional.
I applaud the proposed reforms and can only hope that they are implemented.
David J. Somer, former member, Governing Council, Ontario College of Teachers, Hamilton, Ont.
As a cardiologist, I wholeheartedly agree that doctors need to be part of the solution to the current impasse between the McGuinty government and the Ontario Medical Association (Doctors Should Be Part Of The Solution – editorial, June 11). Ontario physicians have tried on many occasions to recommend responsible, patient-centred measures to curtail the spiralling cost of health care. The Ontario Association of Cardiologists has presented the government with detailed guidelines for responsible usage of echocardiography which would likely save millions of dollars. Ontario’s doctors are dedicated to being part of the solution. We hope government will see this and return to the table to work out the best possible agreement for government, doctors and, most importantly, patients.
Eric Gangbar, MD, Toronto
Apropos of nothing, where have all the urban skunks gone? In other years, skunks set up house under a neighbour’s shed. No sign of them this year. I cycle to work past a memorial garden and often smell them. Not a whiff – not that I’m complaining, although, on a dreary March morning, it’s a harbinger of better weather to come. Are they just locally extinct? Or should that be ex-stank? How widespread is this dearth?
David Godman, Toronto