Defector a crass opportunist
Tarek Fatah's decision to quit the NDP for the Liberals (NOW, July 20-26) should be called what it is: crass opportunism. On the one hand, Fatah goes out of his way to establish his left-wing credentials and commitment to social justice. On the other, he explains that joining the Liberals will help him achieve those goals.
Are we talking about the same Liberals who sent troops to Afghanistan, tried to send troops to Iraq, imprisoned five Muslim men without charge on security certificates and presided over the Maher Arar affair?
Faith-based politics is nothing new in the NDP. In fact, it dates back to its precursor, the CCF, which welcomed thousands of Christians, including Baptist preacher Tommy Douglas.
That large sections of the Muslim community are moving toward the NDP is not a bad thing. Why shouldn't they be included in struggles for peace and justice just because they're motivated by their faith? It's hypocritical and Islamophobic to dismiss as "fundamentalist" religious Muslims who want to join the NDP.
Hezbollah's mug's game
Glenn Wheeler reports that za- far Bangash, who represents the Muslim Unity Group (MUG), asserts that Hezbollah (the Party of God) enjoys "widespread popular support and, were it not for the country's political system, would be running the country" of Lebanon (NOW, July 20-26). What a pity for God's Party on Earth that its malignant rule is being thwarted by democracy. But then again, what can anyone expect from such "weapons of Hamas destruction"? It's a MUG's game.
Canada's Gaza silence
As jewish health professionals, we are gravely concerned by the extent of human devastation in Gaza. Almost as appalling is the silence of our government. According to reports from Dr. Mona El-Farra in Gaza, there are 112,000 patients in Gaza with chronic diseases who are dependent on refrigeration for medications. The 22 hospitals are currently running alternative electrical power, but even that is running out because of the total siege that is blocking fossil fuel. The lives of 250 renal dialysis patients are threatened because the supply of dialysis solution is running low.
At least 30,000 children suffer from malnutrition, and this number will increase as diarrhea spreads as a result of the extreme shortage of clean water. As well, premature babies on life-support machines are awaiting certain death.
All this adds up to a humanitarian disaster that is happening before our eyes, and our response is near-total silence. Where are our values, our voices, our humanitarian actions?
Judith Rosenthal Deutsch
Taking lead on homeless
The street needs assessment seemed to be an innovative idea to help the needy (NOW, July 20-26). Personally, I can relate to this issue, having been among the "hidden homeless."
As you stated, the problem is not that the city is unaware of these people; it is that they are not being offered useful, welcoming support services (training, counselling, transition support, etc). In Bayou Blue, Louisiana, a local Habitat for Humanity is making efforts to provide non-costly housing to families in need, especially to those displaced by the hurricane. Homeowners are being given no-interest loans and being instructed to work on their own homes and the homes of others for 350 hours (promoting a forward movement in ending homelessness).
In addition, their monthly mortgage payments go toward financing the construction of more homes. Now, if only we could follow their lead.
Your newspaper suggests that if this were not an election year I would not be opposing the significant pay increase recommended by an outside consultant and confirmed by a blue-ribbon review panel (NOW, July 20-26). I have always opposed any salary increase for councillors above the cost of living. I was the one to discover the under-the-radar pay increase attempt by Councillor Howard Moscoe. I urged the integrity commissioner to review the matter. He agreed it was wrong and called it a "collective lack of integrity by council."
I only support cost-of-living increases. And I have already stated that if I become mayor of Toronto I will reopen the decision and recommend going back to the cost-of-living policy that has served us well since August 2000.
Councillor Jane Pitfield
Don Valley West
See Jane run - for the Tories
RE councillors on the cheap. i'm sure mayoral wannabe Jane Pitfield can be counted on for more self-serving statements in the next few months. Her chances of unseating Mayor Miller are slim to none, and the only reason she's entered that race is to raise her profile city-wide while John Tory finds a GTA riding for her to represent the Conservatives in the next provincial election. I doubt she'll outdo Rob Ford and that gang for silly statements between now and November, but she'll be a close second.
Can't forget Jersey Girl
Regarding your Kevin Smith cover (NOW, July-20-26). I loved Jersey Girl. Jennifer Lopez got killed off. Liv Tyler sang. The little kid had the same Ikea bedspread as me. Great flick.
Forest City getting no love
I was very surprised that there was no mention of Forest City Lovers' CD release at the Boat on July 14. They are one of the best bands surfacing in Toronto, and their new album is awesome. When will bands like this start getting more recognition?
Mix no coincidence
Just wanted to mention that both "one of the best records of the year" (Kevin Hearn and Thin Buckle, The Miracle Mile) and "one of the best Canadian releases of the summer" (Shout Out Out Out, Not Saying/Just Saying) in last week's CD reviews (NOW, July 20-26) were mixed by the same person, Toronto's own Michael Phillip Wojewoda. Coincidence? I think not.
Supermarkets energy pigs
As the letters continue to re- flect, a lot of folks care about the unconcealed sight of energy-wasting retailers with doors open and air-conditioning on (NOW, July 20-26). Forget about Queen and take a walk through the freezer aisles of your local supermarket, like Dominion or Loblaws. These energy pigs run refrigerators and freezers without doors on them! Deny Mr. Piggies the irresistible, barrier-free abundance of ice cream flavours and take action on these unashamed retail wasters of energy.
Don't blame feds for flab
I was disappointed to read wayne Roberts's column feeding us big fat lies (NOW, July 13-19) in a magazine that has always been an outspoken proponent of freedom of choice. Roberts's assertion that the unhealthy eating habits of Canadians are the government's fault is not only ludicrous but insulting.
His claim that people who think they eat badly because they made the conscious decision to do so are "brainwashed" is merely an easy way out of accepting personal responsibility for ones own actions.
His column reinforces the attitude that if something is wrong in your life, rather than try to remedy the problem, [you should] just find the nearest scapegoat.
If only 2 per cent of Canadian farmland is dedicated to fruits and vegetables, I certainly haven't felt the sting of this apparent shortage.
With approximately 10 farmers markets in Toronto, anyone with a preference for locally grown or organic fruits and vegetables has the opportunity to buy them, and I haven't noticed a dearth of produce at grocery stores and fruit stands around the city either.
I'm afraid Mr. Roberts is making excuses. The basics of a healthy diet are known to everyone and, with a little will power, anyone can bypass the fast food chains and make a healthier choice.
Pot makes Canada great
Re we love porn and pot, by alan Young (NOW, July 13-19). Good beer? Maple syrup? Politeness? Geography? Are these the things that make Canada great? You bet they are. But Canadians' attitude toward marijuana is the thing I am celebrating this year. The government and police may still have a problem with pot, but Canada is the only country that has a federal licence program for medical marijuana users. Sure, the program is expensive, dysfunctional and unconstitutional, but quite despite itself it has managed to provide hundreds of sick and dying people with medicine. This program has helped keep my friends, my epileptic wife and me alive for a few more years, so for that I would like to thank all Canadians.
Trojan takes Pride
Regarding letter-writer amanda McCabe's Trojan's Sweet Nothing (NOW, July 6-12). Trojan is committed to supporting Pride Toronto. This year alone, Trojan distributed 50,000 free condoms during Pride weekend as well as directly to community organizations. This is the fourth year that Trojan has worked with Pride Toronto as a sponsor and as the official condom supplier. Every year we hand out more than 1 million condoms through various initiatives that encourage people to protect themselves. Through these contributions, Trojan hopes to encourage people to practise safe sex while celebrating their diverse sexual and gender identities, histories, cultures, friends and lives.
Church and Dwight
Negative cop spin. Not again.
I'd like to congratulate now for your continuing streak of negative stories about Toronto police. I just can't wait to see the negative spin you put on the next story.