Don't just oppose, propose
counter to what glenn wheeler claims (NOW, June 14-20), as I read it, the proposal for a new left politics (www.newpolitics.ca) goes far beyond the political platform of the existing NDP. Here are some of the ways in which I think it does so:
Rather than merely proposing to protect social programs, it takes an explicit stance against large corporations and banks' intensifying absorption of resources and wealth -- permitted by governments of all political leanings globally since the early 1980s.
It recognizes that state-funded social programs result from the efforts of people who have mobilized themselves around particular needs and demands over time, and not the good intentions of politicians and parties, as NDPers and others looking up to Tony Blair's "third way" tend to believe.
It dares to open ground-shaking debates within the party at November's NDP party convention, rather than the usual convention agenda with its perennial items: leadership races, fundraising, barbecues and other campaigning strategies.
Instead of commenting, criticizing or adding to the meat of the proposal, Wheeler, like writer Naomi Klein in the Globe and Mail, spends most of his/our time identifying what the proposal is missing.
Wheeler demands a "political fusion that will pique the interest of those who were in Quebec City and those who go to St. Lawrence Market" without telling us anything about the possible political content of such a fusion.
Stop waiting around and complaining while simply imbibing the political protestation of performance artists. Take it upon yourself to cull from those poems and papier mâché butterflies the policy proposals that will put those whom you see as lofty old-time radicals to the test.
Salimah Valiani, Oshawa
Need to doff rough edges
re party invitation (now, june 7-13). Judy Rebick, Svend Robinson and Jim Stanford are once again putting the proverbial cart before the horse. Incidentally, so is the Canadian Alliance. First you get proportional representation, then you can have all the splinter parties you want.
The futility of the Green party in BC recently -- 12 per cent of the vote, zero (0!) seats -- illustrates that point.
Glenn Wheeler is right when he writes of proportional representation: "Alas, the federal Liberals, benefactors of the unfair system, will never change it" ( NOW, May 31-June 6, 2001).
It has been written that the one thing that came through loud and clear from Quebec was the power of unified protest for one goal.
Maybe we all need to compromise and take the rough edges off each of our respective positions -- in the interest of achieving proportional representation. Surely that is the one goal we can all agree on.
The party invitation I'd be a fool to turn down is one based on democratic reform -- without the ideological baggage from any side.
Max Blanco, Toronto
Pot laws make sick suffer
enzo di matteo's article detailing the travails of medical cannabis users (NOW, June 14-20) saddened me. It was precisely this type of bureaucratic mess that the Ontario Court of Appeal criticized in handing down its ruling in R. v. Parker last July 31.
The Court gave the federal government one year to fix the situation or face legalization of marijuana -- for medical and recreational users alike -- in Ontario. Since the feds did not appeal this decision, nor did they change the law in any meaningful way, I fully expect that any possession charges brought after August 1 will be easily quashed by citing this ruling.
Just something for your readers to keep in mind in case they are nabbed with a little bud this summer.
Timothy J. Meehan, Toronto
If pot could be patented
cannabis has no lethal dose and its pharmacological effects have never caused a single death in over 5,000 years of recorded history.
The (unseen) driving force against medical (or unrestricted adult) legalization of cannabis is the fact that cannabis can't be patented. This precludes the need for big business to be involved, and that fact makes cannabis commercially unattractive to the pharmaceutical, tobacco and alcohol industries (lobbies). It seems that if it can't be successfully made profitable, the government can't justify legalization even for the sick and dying.
Furthermore, the war on cannabis drives the war on drugs. Without cannabis prohibition, the drug war would be reduced to a pillow fight. This is the politics and the economics of cannabis prohibition.
Myron Von Hollingsworth
Fort Worth, Texas
Tom Cruise missile a joke
while keith henson may choose to reply to the unkind and inaccurate remarks about him that appear in the letters of Al Buttnor and Dolores Potter (NOW June 14-20), I wish to do so as well, just in case Henson doesn't.
Anyone who bothers to find out where the accusation that Henson made bomb threats against the Church of Scientology comes from can easily discover that it's based upon Henson's rather obvious joke when he threatened to attack the cult with a Tom Cruise Missile. It's possible to accuse Henson of making a bad pun, but that's the extent of his crimes.
And of course, the Scientologists know perfectly well that there has been no bomb threat (or ICBM threat, as previously reported). It merely serves their purposes to misunderstand Henson. His real crime, the one that the organization cannot tolerate, is that he has told the truth about Scientology.
David Palter, Toronto
Protect us from hate crime
i have a few comments to make regarding the article Unorthodox Arrest (NOW, June 7-13) by Enzo Di Matteo. Painting the picture of Keith Henson as a frail old man who "asks for his blood pressure medicine" and who "should be in a backyard somewhere pruning roses" minimizes the hate crimes he has been charged with and convicted of in California. He must be made to take responsibility for his crimes and appear for sentencing, and not be given refugee status in Canada.
Canada has always been known as a country that welcomes outsiders with open arms and gives refuge to those who need and deserve it. I strongly believe in this policy, but I do not believe this should extend to those who would harm others because of prejudices and hatred or who have been charged and convicted of crimes.
Pat Whitmore, Toronto
In defence of a superstar
i'm writing you my own review on Benjamin Boles inaccurate piece (NOW, June 14-20) reviewing one of the many DJs at the North By Northeast block party. First off, I'd like to state on behalf of all DJ Keoki's fans that we are truly embarrassed for such a half-assed review.
"Anyone who insists on calling himself Superstar' needs to be knocked down a few notches," Boles writes. I think anyone who insists on being a writer should do a little research before trying to whiplash us with such pathetic and non-witty lines. DJ Superstar Keoki was given that status by the underground, now mainstream ClubKID movement in New York City. You probably wouldn't know such a thing exists because you're too busy trying to be an overindulgent writer for a shitty, overwritten and under-read section called Pulse without even getting the facts before letting your big-ego reviewer pen write the whole review for you.
Dan Lavoie, Richmond Hill
Credit union isn't a bank
i fully agree with concerns raised about free parking (NOW, June 14-20). I'm annoyed by free parking. It subsidizes pollution. It subsidizes polluters. (I'm even more annoyed when it's the city of Toronto doing it. But that's another debate.)
However, I will not be burning my Metro Toronto Credit Union membership card over it. Last week a writer wrote that he "might as well deal with the chartered banks." I would not.
Chartered banks make money wherever they can -- financing massive hydro-electric projects in Asia, making new roads possible in the Amazon forest, reaping the rewards of oil drilling on all three Canadian coasts. Odd that environmental concern would take someone to the banks.
The credit union takes another approach. Its micro-lending encourages small business and self-employment. More importantly, at the credit union I am a member, not a client. I can participate in the decision-making process. It is ironic that passionate concerns were raised, yet the writer's response was to turn to a structure that does not allow for the engagement that is at the very centre of the credit union movement.
David Smaller, Toronto