Libs and religious schools
as usual in complex public debates, positions are misrepresented. In my phone interview with Enzo Di Matteo (NOW, May 24-30), I attempted to make it clear that my disappointment with the Liberal position on school tax credits, indeed my disappointment with all the political parties' positions, is that none of them has advocated a healthy public debate on this difficult and divisive issue.
In Ontario at this time we have a public education system that is in crisis, suffering under the weight of successive and ill-thought-out reforms, underfunding and bad planning. These are our immediate concerns.
A higher-level and, perhaps for some of us, less vital issue is the fact that in Ontario people of one faith get preferential treatment in the school system. This situation is historical and, as such, has become part of the fabric of our society. Because it is part of our history, however, does not mean we cannot question or examine its validity. That is precisely what the United Nations has asked us to do, and that is exactly what I advocate.
To my mind, the only rational response is to develop a set of principles forged in public debate on which to base a decision. It would not be easy to come to agreement on those principles, but why should that stop us from trying? Why would we expect a deep-seated practice could be changed and the conflict resolved simply?
I do not believe that the Liberals should have taken a position on one side of this issue or the other. I believe we should have raised the issue as a societal question that needs to be discussed. We need sane, rational discussion of the adequacy of resources currently available to fund public education, the expectations that would be imposed on funded parochial schools, the merits or problems that would flow from the creation of one public school board, the historical commitments to the Catholic community and the promises inherent in our commitment to diversity in this country.
When I made that suggestion to fellow Liberals, I was dismissed as way off base. Now, once again, we Liberals are forced to react to one of Harris's destructive, divisive pieces of legislation. What's worse, we have to pretend that we think there is an easy, simple answer to this question.
Public School Trustee, Ward 8
NDP too weak to stop Tories
enzo di matteo's hysterical, partisan attacks on Dalton McGuinty and Liberal education policy reveal how low the NDP has sunk.
The NDP is irrelevant both to those on the left who have faith in the electoral system and tp those who believe in a more "active" democracy, like participatants in the demonstrations in Quebec City. Articles in NOW itself frequently draw attention to this, yet NOW writers continue to slag the best hope we have of getting the Harris Tories out of office.
But the activist left has a history of cutting off its nose to spite its face -- no doubt Di Matteo is hoping for another pyrrhic victory for the NDP in the next general election, à la Ralph Nader.
Dean Rivando, Toronto
City council to be cut to 22?
from 106 to 56 to 44 -- such are the cuts in the number of Toronto city councillors ordered by Mike "the knife" Harris since he came to power six years ago. Now there is a rumour that later this year Harris will want to achieve his previously threatened goal of 22 councillors (NOW, May 31-June 6).
With 22 councillors for a megacity of 2.5 million, each councillor would have around 114,000 constituents, more than the population of most cities and towns in Ontario. Would it not then be logical to have all cities with fewer than 114,000 inhabitants -- for example, Mike Harris's North Bay -- run by one person?
As a matter of fact, since the province has absolute power over all municipalities and likes to exercise it, why not take the next logical step: abolish city councils altogether and have cities run by provincially appointed commissions?
This would fulfill Harris's dream of less government, less time wasted in unproductive debate and more efficiency. It would be the ultimate victory of his remarkable common sense.
Stig Harvor, Toronto
Don't practise this at home
i was horrified at what i read in the Grow Your Own Stone article, not because it advocates growing pot -- I couldn't give a rat's ass about that. No, the thing that horrified me is the advice you give to neutralize the plants' smell: "Wrap aluminum foil around a piece of plywood. Take a piece of electrical wire, strip both ends. Tape one end to the tin foil, and ground the other. You can do this by removing the plate from an electrical outlet and wrapping the wire around the middle screw of three you'll find on the side...."
Were you people indulging in a bit of the ol' ganja while writing this article? The fact is, what you are giving is potentially lethal advice. The white wire in house wiring is not the ground, which is in fact green. The white wire is the "neutral" wire, the black (or any other colour besides green or white) being the "hot."
In many situations, such as where the house wiring is not balanced properly, the neutral is anything but, and can carry a significant voltage and current. Connecting this or any similar apparatus up to this wire is just asking to be electrocuted. Not the kind of "fried" you probably had in mind.
Martin Mraz, Toronto
EDITOR'S NOTE: Oops, what we meant to say was remove outer plastic casing from electric plug and wrap wire around middle screw. Don't put in wall outlet!
Don't write while you smoke
I was surprised and pleased to see your article How To Grow Your Own Stone (NOW, May 31-June 6). However, in reading it, I was amazed at how little research was put into such a promising topic.
The light requirements of plants in the vegetative stage were incorrect. Eighteen to 24 hours of light a day is optimal (as opposed to "no more than 16"). You ignored the bloom-stage light requirements of at least 10 to 12 hours of darkness per day.
In the harvesting section, you mentioned drying the buds in your oven until they start smoking. Wouldn't you rather smoke the pot yourself? Or have you become so lazy that you let the oven do it for you? Also, the males are not the "taller plants." They're identified by the shape of the flower (looks like a small cluster of grapes).
Next time, try writing the article before you get high.
Name withheld by request, Toronto
Sex work is not exploitation
NOW has continually failed to provide comprehensive coverage of the sex trade and its workers, limiting reports to disparaging commentary and the occasional prurient article.
As a long-time sex workers' rights activist, I am therefore not surprised that my position on prostitution was misrepresented in Sweep The Street (NOW, May 31-June 6). I was misquoted as stating, "Prostitution isn't just (sic) a form of exploitation, where there's a pimp with a big, floppy hat and a predator seeking fresh flesh."
You managed to bungle the basic tenet of the prostitutes' rights movement, which I must now restate: prostitution is not sexual exploitation, but a job. Unfortunately, this does not mean that sex workers are entirely free from exploitative practices -- an obvious example is NOW's policy of charging us almost three times your standard classified rate.
Kara Gillies Maggie's
Montreal no transit bargain
As a former resident of Montreal, I wish to differ with your opinion that Montreal transit fares are a bargain compared to the TTC's (NOW, May 31-June 6). You consider only out-of-pocket costs, and not the tax burden on individuals and businesses.
It has been a political policy to keep Montreal transit fares low, to the extent that only about 40 per cent of the cost is recovered from fare collection. The taxpayer pays the rest through municipal property and business taxes. The province withdrew its operating subsidy several years ago.
Taxpayers in Quebec and Montreal in particular are figuratively bled to death. Real estate taxes in Montreal are far higher than in Toronto. Municipal debt in Quebec is 10 times per capita what it is in Ontario.
Simple arithmetic reveals that the true fare is much higher in Montreal. On the basis of the TTC's fare recovery ratio of 83 per cent and a $1.80 token assumed to be the average fare, the true fare is $2.17 per ride; in Montreal, with a fare recovery of 44 per cent and a ticket price of $1.41, the true fare is $3.20 per ride.
Your point about the relative cost of the Metropass is, however, well taken. It is cheaper for many users to buy tokens than to buy a Metropass, with the break-even point being 52 rides per month. In Montreal, the Metropass is priced at 35 rides per month at the ticket price.
John M. Thompson, Toronto