Mulroney's tax rap
In Mulroney's Big Green Con (NOW, April 27-May 3), Wayne Roberts proves that ignorance need not get in the way of invective. Arguing that "any corporation that bucked the trend to lower wages or dirtier production methods went belly up" misses the fact that the Canadian economy by many measures is at full employment.
To say that "the GST is regressive" is a vast oversimplification: it ignores exemptions for food, shelter and prescription drugs and credits for lower-income taxpayers. Ironically, though, it does align Roberts with Stephen Harper and put him squarely at odds with the Liberals and NDP.
If the old manufacturer's sales tax benefited Canadians because it allowed us to tax consumers "in foreign lands," why wouldn't all advanced economies be using one? The answer, of course, is that in the real world one country cannot tax another. May I suggest some remedial economics courses for Roberts?
One sellout after another
Wayne Roberts's well-written commentary on the green legacy of Brian Mulroney offered some insight into the recent softwood lumber deal - namely, the notion that we can find a quick solution to our problems without examining history and paying attention to the details. Ask yourself, how did the Harper government come up with a deal so quickly?
As the skeptics often say, "The devil is in the details." I only wish our elected officials would stop jumping up and down and read the Softwood Lumber Agreement.
As Mulroney's government did in the free trade deal, the feds have sold us out.
With friends like these...
Re Look Who's Pumping Up Harper (NOW, April 27-May 3). It's not just Stephen Harper who has connections to the deep pockets of PR company Hill & Knowlton. Our very own minister of national defence, Gordon O'Connor, worked for the company as a defence industry lobbyist, representing such notables as Airbus Military, United Defense and General Dynamics Canada. Now that he's in charge of increasing military budgets and pushing for more spending on weapons, hardware and vehicles, he can pay back his corporate friends with lucrative contracts. What's more, Hill & Knowlton is the same company that put together the front group Citizens for a Free Kuwait, which sold the first Gulf War to the American public with the "babies-from-incubators" hoax.
With friends like these, it's safe to say that Afghanistan may be just the beginning!
Hard nuke safety questions
Now that we've commemorated the 20th anniversary of the accident at Chernobyl, perhaps we could demand from the McGuinty government a full disclosure of the safety hazards of the nuclear plants he is planning to refurbish or build (NOW, April 27-May 3). We in Ontario depend on nuclear energy for 40 per cent of our power, and will continue to do so despite the legacy of Chernobyl, the strides made in alternative energy technologies, the proven success of enforced conservation standards, the million-year life-span of nuclear waste and the trend in Europe to phase out nuclear.
Let's open up a dialogue and ask the hard questions about nuclear safety. Why do we need to consume quite so much power, and for what?
Jacobs's other winding road
Re Jane Jacobs (NOW, April 27-May 3). Besides the efforts you mention to stop the Spadina Expressway, Jane Jacobs also had a real role in fighting the Front Street extension. While all stripes of council voted for going ahead with the costly gift to 905 cars called the Front Street Expension, Jacobs saw through it to call it "dumb."
If pursued as planned, the road would be another barrier to the lakefront. Strength from her principled observations helped the road-fighters persevere.
Springsteen: anti-war hero
I wanted to send a quick comment about Tim Perlich's recent review of Bruce Springsteen's We Shall Overcome (NOW, April 27-May 3). If the writer doesn't like the music or approach on the CD, that's fine, of course. I do think, however, that his comment, "The gusto with which Springsteen delivers the many verses of Froggie Went A-Courtin' leaves me wondering if the millionaire everyman is simply unaware that his country is at war," is a bit unfair. Over the past few years, Springsteen has been one of the few artists to draw attention to the war. In fact, his song about that very issue (Devils And Dust) was recently nominated for a number of Grammy Awards. At that ceremony, he was one of the only musicians to make a direct comment about the war following his performance.
I don't usually write letters defending artists against reviewers. Everyone has got a right to his or her view. I just thought that one comment was an unfounded low blow.
Studio City, California
Eco enemy within
While I didn't think much of Sheila Gostick's hyperbolic writing - but mostly agree with her position - I think letter-writer Patrick Dineley (NOW, April 27-May 3) misses the point. He was so offended by the "men in leather jackets" comment, he stopped thinking rationally. I would argue that the driver is indeed the "enemy." Cars, SUVs, etc are inanimate objects that do not manufacture themselves or start themselves up and go for drives. Drivers make those choices: which car to buy, whether to drive or walk or cycle or take transit to the grocery store.
Everyday people and their everyday choices must be the front line of environmental sustainability.
I get the feeling that Dineley was a little miffed because he essentially got called on choices (perhaps also in the realm of fashion) that he knows are not the best ones.
Goossen better qualified
Re Erin Jacobson's letter regarding the battle to succeed Olivia Chow in Ward 20 ( NOW, April 27-May 3) and his support for Helen Kennedy over Tam Goossen. I hope Jacobson has started "looking at the qualifications each candidate has for the job." Goossen has been a former trustee, president of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations and head of the Social Planning Council of Toronto.
She is currently a member of the Ontario Press Council and the board of St. Stephen's Community House, and has been actively involved with many community organizations, including the Chinese Canadian National Council, the Kensington Residents Association, Scadding Court Community Centre, Metro Toronto Southeast Asian Legal Clinic and St. Christopher House Music School.
In this age and time, do members of visible minorities still have to work twice as hard to get half as far?
No matter if it's black, white
John Harkness calls Chiwetel Ejiofor's character in the movie Kinky Boots a "black drag queen" (NOW, April 20-26). I'm so tired of reading the reviews by these white NOW reviewers that always mention the race of a black actor. We know Ejiofor is black. I notice in the review of Roy Dupuis he wasn't called a "white Canadian actor." It really demonstrates the myopic thinking of whites that many still don't see black people as just people.
Bumpf for CIA contractor
Re Daily Events listing of iSummit at MaRS (NOW, March 30-April 5). Is it just a matter of time before big corporate events monopolize NOW's listings? Tickets for the iSummit/MaRS event were $375 on the iSummit website, where the "who should attend" section specified venture capitalists, financiers, etc. What's worse, the event was sold out before NOW listed it. So it takes the space of what small community group? NOW readers should know that MaRS is partnering with Battelle Institute, a top bio-chem nuke missile and advanced weapons of mass destruction Pentagon and CIA contractor. [Editor's note: see story, page 28.] People can contact PAML4PEACE@gmail.com for more information.
People Against Militarization of Life International