Letters: ‘Canada has an extensive history of drama and murder’

Maclean’s readers write in

Save the teenage brain

I am a recently retired secondary school teacher, and I have become convinced that the education system has to know as much as possible about brain development (“Inside your teenager’s scary brain,” Society, Jan. 12). I believe that teaching teens this material can only help them to be more “mindful” of their own development. If at first the students I have worked with asked me, “Aren’t you supposed to be teaching us English?” they didn’t wonder for long. Thanks to Maclean’s for carrying on that work.

Anne Newington, Clinton, Ont.

Don’t join ’em, beat ’em

We need an effective opposition in Alberta, and the Wildrose were providing that (“In defence of the Wildrose defectors,” Colby Cosh, Jan. 12). Jim Prentice talks a good line and I can easily support his fiscal policies. However, we need an effective opposition to see that the PCs stay on the straight and narrow. Wildrose was providing that and could have continued to do so through to the next provincial election in the spring of 2016. I see no purpose accomplished in Danielle Smith and her gang crossing the floor just because their fiscal policies happen to line up. Wildrose could even have taken advantage of this by stating that the PCs just borrowed all the Wildrose ideas and couldn’t come up with their own. Our province could easily support two conservative parties to keep each other honest.

Glenn P. Davies, Calgary

Sir John A.’s complicated legacy

While toasting “the complicated, visionary Sir John A. Macdonald on his bicentennial” (“They say it’s your birthday,” National, Jan. 12), historian Richard Gwyn says, “We are not dramatic, we did not kill people.” Ridiculous. John A. himself informed Parliament that it would be Canada’s goal “to do away with the tribal system and assimilate the Indian people in all respects with the inhabitants of the Dominion.” Just because that was the mindset of the day for white Canadians, does it have to be dismissed that easily? Canada has an extensive history of drama and murder. Yes, there is a lot for us to be proud of, but at the same time there are more stories to tell, especially stories that are contrary to the veneer of Canadian niceness.

Charise Bates, Calgary

Let’s talk it out

As a professional mediator with extensive experience working in the field of restorative justice, I don’t subscribe to the “off with their heads” approach to the situation at Dalhousie University’s dental school being advocated by many, including Emma Teitel (“The classless kind of gentleman,” Jan. 12). There are great ramifications in expelling those involved in a grossly misogynistic Facebook group. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Restorative justice can absolutely be effective, and those who dismiss it outright—Teitel calls it a “sick joke”—are speaking from a place of ignorance. Restorative justice is used in many parts of the world and has brought a measure of peace and understanding to the lives of many. All too often, individuals who have been victimized in some way find themselves caught up in some judicial process and leave unsatisfied with the process—if not further victimized by it. Individuals who have voluntarily participated in a restorative justice process typically report high levels of satisfaction, and those who have been charged or found to have committed an offence are much less likely to reoffend than had they been dealt with by a more traditional, retributive justice process.

Finn O’Brien, Halifax

Emma Teitel perpetuates the stereotypical notion of Halifax as a sleepy, backwater community where “jaywalking is encouraged.” With over 254 car-pedestrian accidents in 2014, up from 176 in 2013, crossing Halifax’s streets now is more a frantic dash for safety than a leisurely stroll. As well, saying that Dalhousie is a relaxing place to matriculate ignores the suspension of the women’s hockey team in 2013 for hazing as well as the men’s rugby team in 2014 for the same offence. I’m not sure the people involved in those cases found the campus to be as relaxing as the author suggests.

Joe Macdonald, Dartmouth, N.S.

Even Poloz can’t afford Vancouver

It is disappointing to see someone of Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz’s stature dismiss Vancouver’s outrageous housing costs as nothing more than the product of nice scenery and low interest rates (“ ‘What gives me hope,’ ” Economy, Jan. 5). When housing prices pass 10 times annual household incomes, it is surely time to acknowledge the obvious: prices are not being driven by people who earn their money in the city but by those who bring money from elsewhere. In the case of Vancouver this includes not only wealthy Chinese anxious to get their money out of that country, but those from all over who have been allowed to obtain Canadian citizenship or residency despite maintaining their primary business, financial and personal interests elsewhere. Senior governments seem untroubled by the fact that Vancouver housing is largely out of reach of those who actually live, work and pay taxes in Canada.

Ronald McCaig. Port Alberni, B.C.

What Bill Cosby should say

Thank you, Bill Cosby, for opening up the discussion in Kitchener, Ont., about sexual assault and for giving victims of this crime a reason to openly speak up for themselves (“Should the show go on?” National, Jan. 12). Thanks for allowing an opportunity for caring people to conceive of an alternative venue to your show so they could fundraise for the support of local victims. Thanks also for inspiring our elected officials, police chief and other community leaders to vocalize their support for women who have been raped or abused. Mr. Cosby, if you are truly innocent, you have the additional power of your celebrity status to declare that sexual assault is wrong and to influence change. Why haven’t you?

Chris Wellhauser, Kitchener, Ont.

Spreading the blame around

Chris Sorensen went far too easy on the various players in recent pipeline politics (“Oil’s worst enemy,” Economy, Jan. 12). TransCanada’s Russ Girling incredibly bungled the routing of Keystone XL. Prime Minister Stephen Harper had a wilfully blind focus on Keystone jobs after U.S. President Barack Obama had categorically announced that the sole issue was the environment. Alberta politicians and Enbridge greedily antagonized both B.C. and the Aboriginals over Northern Gateway. And all of the above let environmentalists off the hook for totally unfounded attacks on the oil sands. All Harper had to do was articulate the facts: if greenhouse gas emissions (GGEs) were the problem, Canada is a very minor contributor, with the real villains being the massively spewing U.S. and the BRICS countries. The oil sands contribution of under 0.2 per cent is so small that if the sands ceased production, the world GGEs would remain unchanged. Far more environmental damage is being done by the destruction of the world’s tropical rainforests. Indeed, the U.S. shipping of coal to environmentally dirty China results in far more GGEs than Canada’s total. Incredible that so many people could have been so dumb.

Donald McKay, Calgary

Stephen Harper has so antagonized a large proportion of the country with his simplistic view that we must develop the oil sands at any cost. If only he had learned from Stéphane Dion. Unfortunately, Dion—a thoughtful policy wonk, not a political bully like Harper—couldn’t sell his carbon tax to the country above the noise of the negative attack ads. Based on data from a recently implemented carbon tax here in B.C., the Canadian public, the oil industry and anyone who cares about the environment can only dream of how much better our environment, our economy and Canada’s reputation around the world would be if Dion had been able to get his message across in 2008. The good news is that Conservative MPs and oil industry executives seem ready to get on board with some form of carbon tax or trading system—they just have to work together to get it past Harper and the boys in the PMO.

Graham Tarling, Victoria

Let’s get together and feel all right

The federal Liberals and New Democrats are closer today in their approaches to public policy than at any point in their histories (“A split down the left,” National, Jan. 12). But each treats the other as if they carried the plague and swears to the high heavens that they would never, but never, join together as a coalition government if the next election does not grant any party a majority. Sigmund Freud, with his talk of “the narcissism of small differences,” would fully understand their childish behaviours.

Simon Rosenblum, Toronto

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