i had fits of shrill amusement - the kind where you don't know whether you want to shriek, pee your pants or lash out with a sharp stick - while reading Jack Layton's whither-the-NDP musings (NOW, November 13-19). Fresh from blunting his knife in the back of his erstwhile supporter Chris Phibbs, the independent progressive lesbian AIDS and equality activist who ran to fill his Ward 30 city council seat, here he ponders "opening the door more broadly than in the past."
You had a chance, Jack, and you blew it. By imposing an outmoded party machinery on Toronto-Danforth and fostering visions of vote splitting, you ensured that the NDP brand-name hack prevailed, albeit democratically, over the progressive community candidate.
Phibbs's campaign enjoyed a diverse, fresh, left-but-not-too-doctrinaire appeal - just the sort of progressive new coalition you envision over late-night cappuccinos on Queen Street. You, Jack, are to this new movement what Al Gore is to the Internet.
Alex MacLean, Toronto
re act of cruelty (now, november 13-19). Four years ago, the Liberals rightly decided it was time, after 111 years, to update the animal cruelty law and its paltry penalties. Bill C-10 (b) had the support of all parties in the Commons and 100 humane society groups across Canada. Though passed by the House, it was tied up in the Senate for six months of unconscionable debate and finally defeated last week. We are to assume from their actions, then, that this well-paid bunch of unelected political hawks are in favour of animal cruelty? They caved in to powerful lobbying by farmers, hunters, animal products industries and researchers.
Animals are sentient beings that can feel pain and pleasure. We need stronger laws to punish those who torture them.
I urge all pet owners to express their disgust with the unelected Senate.
Clifford G. Holland, Toronto
Unions out for NDP prez?
re thumbs down for adam (now, November 13-19). Letter writer Simon Leung seems to have personal issues with Adam Giambrone. As a long-time resident of Ward 18 and supporter of Adam's, I appreciate his hard work on local issues and can assure you that he does listen. Enough citizens felt comfortable "entrusting him with a certain level of authority and decision-making" to elect him. Any truth to the rumours that some union types have been slagging Adam ever since he became president of the NDP? Naseer Ahmad, Toronto
Blame the cops, not Tory
is paul copeland trying to sug- gest that John Tory has done something illegal (NOW, November 6-12)? His blatant attempt to smear Tory for accepting the police union's endorsement is wrong. As a fellow lawyer, we both know that it is the actions of the police union that might be illegal in taking a political position. Then again, it might be perfectly legal for an organization rather than an officer to take a political stance. And it might even be legal for individual officers to do so. These questions are complicated. Maybe the Police Association has done something wrong, but it has its own lawyers, and for it to endorse John Tory is not Tory's wrongdoing. Kirk Rintoul, Markham
Crooked cop board
toronto is fortunate to have elected David Miller (NOW, November 13-19), because this will likely break the decades-long hold that Paul Godfrey and the real estate development industry have had on Toronto's government. Clearly, Miller has a great deal of work ahead of him. Among the important changes that need to be addressed is the manner in which the Toronto police are overseen. An analysis of those appointed to the police services board over the past 20 years shows the dominance of politicians and others with close ties to the real estate development industry.
There is no better means by which to gauge the decades-long impact of the industry's dominance of municipal politics than to look at the current shape of Toronto. The massive sprawl of its northern suburbs and the height of its downtown high-rise towers happened in most instances because municipal politicians gave their campaign financiers what they wanted.
Jock Ferguson, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Keep picks to yourself
re city vote 2003 (now, november 6-12). I find it irritating that NOW doesn't have enough faith in the intelligence of its readers to let them do their own research and make their own decisions. You even promote strategic voting, which to my mind is the antithesis of democracy. What was that about "Think free"? Stacey Dodge, Toronto
A sorcerer's broom
judging by david miller's queen's Park wish list, our new mayor is expecting a lot of heavy lifting from his new broom. I hope it's not a Sorcerer's Apprentice type that has a mind of its own and doesn't know when to stop. Reform is good, but too much at once might make us giddy. Geoff Rytell, Toronto
Farrakhan's odd comedy
louis farrakhan echoes popular Muslim sentiment when he says the U.S. government hates Muslims (NOW, October 30-November 5). He cites the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as examples but seems oblivious to the fact that the people of both countries are now freer to practise their chosen religion than they were before the U.S. crusaders came along. Am I the only one who finds this a little odd? Hell, Islam is the fastest-growing faith in America (and Canada, I believe), and Farrakhan is still alive to preach his comedy act all across the continent. You'd think the CIA would have closed all mosques and, at the very least, shipped Louis off to a re-education camp by now. Jan Burton, Toronto
Legal eagle no pot hero
as the first applicant for a decla ration of "no force nor effect" of the marijuana prohibition under the Controlled Drugs And Substances Act, I find it totally misleading to suggest that Alan Young is a champion of marijuana consumers (NOW, November 13-19). NOW isn't providing fair coverage of how my attempts to invalidate the marijuana prohibition have been sabotaged by Young's legal manoeuvrings.Every year, 2,400-4,600 people die due to epilepsy in Canada. It is quite evident that expecting help from Young is an illusion when it comes to protecting marijuana consumers, or else I would not be looking at jail come this spring, when my exemption runs out and I've got no doctor to sign the forms. Thanks for nothing, Alan!!! Terry Parker Jr., Toronto
The demise of farm families
as a saskatchewan farmer (dur ing our six more or less snow-free months), I'm as concerned about our oil-for-food dependency as Wayne Roberts (NOW, October 16-22). My issue is with his notion that specializing in cash crops has diminished crop rotation, when exactly the opposite is the case. The introduction of lentils, peas, canola, mustard and many other more exotic plants to the prairie farm ecology has necessitated crop rotation in order to minimize carry-over diseases and maximize nitrogen replacement.
Oil dependency in western Canada is better traced to the economies of scale and ever-larger farms forced on farmers by shrinking margins on each bushel grown. The rising cost of transportation, meanwhile, has nothing to do with marketing a single item, but rather arises from the loss of local elevators located on rail lines and the switch to a few huge inland terminals that are serviced by less efficient fleets of 1,500-bushel transports.
It is distressing enough when the Globe and the Post quote a few of my "Americanized" neighbours as spokespeople for us all in order to hasten the dismantling of Canadian family farms. Please don't add to the misinformation.
Michael deConinck Smith, Toronto
Falling for Joss
i was at the toronto show taping on October 31 expressly to see Joss Stone (NOW, November 6-12). Me, a 43-year-old white man whose record collection is swing, bebop and jump blues from 1936 to 1960. Stone's voice in person is as amazing as described in writing. However, I do want to slap your writer for slamming Joss for not yet being polished and comfortable as a performer. She's 16 years old give her a break.
Joss, when you've got a few more years of performing, I'd like to see a blues album from you. Have you heard of Since I Fell For You?
Alan E. Devine, Downsview
Give games bigger play
i am glad to see that you include reviews of computer games, though their growing popularity and cultural importance would seem to entitle them to a regular, separate section in NOW.
It's disappointing that your computer game reviewer, Matt Galloway, almost invariably writes about the latest edition of one or another of the many sports game franchises. Let's have a bit more variety, please.
Paul Bali, Toronto