CAMH's wall of shame
RE Stonewalling survivors (NOW, November 15-21). As members of Sound Times, a consumer/survivor initiative for people who have experienced the mental health system, we were deeply moved by Geoffrey Reaume's passionate efforts to bring our history to life.
We find it ironic that the patients of the Queen Street insane asylum (now CAMH) were forced to build the very wall that was used to imprison them.
The wall is a material thing, but it represents the real pain of people who were locked up at 999 Queen. The wall belongs to all psychiatric survivors.
Photographer Tom Lackey's use of the phrase "these people" in his response to Reaume's criticism of his exhibit shows clearly that anti-stigma campaigns, CAMH's included, are not exactly working.
This distinction between us and them lies at the heart of the issue of appropriation and the problems with non-survivors telling our stories for us in any medium, especially those who "don't know what [our] concerns are," as Lackey admits.
Sound Times Support Services, Toronto
Psych survivors sing out
Thanks for publishing the excellent and informative article on slave labour and its sanitizing at Queen Street/CAMH.
Slave labour ("unpaid patient labour") built Queen Street's notorious walls and other institutional barriers in the late 19th century - an historical, thoroughly documented fact that's been minimized, ignored or literally buried for far too long.
Thanks to the tireless and courageous efforts of Geoffrey Reaume and other members of the Psychiatric Survivor Archives in Toronto (PSAT), this history is finally being exposed and recognized.
I hope the historical plaques of patient abuse and exploitation at Queen Street written by Reaume will be prominently displayed at this notorious psychoprison, but I doubt it.
Bursting our eco bubble
RE Mine shaft (NOW, November 15- 21). It was disappointing to read the derogatory slant you placed on the Canadian mining industry.
The piece appears to be directed toward creating anti-mining sentiment.
Statistically, one out of every 43 Canadians is employed in the mineral sector, and these are high-paying jobs. Mining in Canada contributes in excess of $40 billion on an annual basis to Canada's gross domestic product.
Virtually every consumer product that is essential for life in today's society has some components that have their origin in the mines.
Most Canadian mining companies have made significant progress in reducing their effects on the environment in recent decades.
Is the story suggesting that we stop manufacturing cars and buildings, cooking utensils and other necessities to live in some eco-bubble where we all cultivate vegetables and eat with our hands?
Q is for questionable
In his letter to the editor, CAW local president Roland Kiehne attempts to rebut the unenviable safety record of the Bombardier Q400 (NOW, November 8-14). We'll await the independent investigation so urgently needed to give us the facts.
But why are the workers tying themselves to a product - a short-haul aircraft - that is doomed to a very short production run just when we are getting serious about addressing climate change?
Short-haul flights, on a passenger mile basis, are among the worst contributors of greenhouse gases. (Turboprops like the Q400 are only marginally better than jets.)
Even the Tories in the UK have recognized that fact by proposing a special tax to discourage them.
The union would be better advised to press for conversion of their manufacturing facility to help meet the growing demand for Bombardier's light rapid transit products. They're vastly friendlier to our environment.
Chair, CommunityAIR, Toronto
Public no place for privacy
RE Matthew Webbsmith's letter to the editor Snag In TTC's Security (NOW, November 15-21).
Although TTC riders may have a right to anonymity, such does not apply when on the premises of a corporation or business of any kind.
Cameras on buses and streetcars are no different than cameras in stores or shopping malls. Cabs in Toronto are being equipped with cameras.
This does not infringe on any rights, but rather protects the citizens and workers of this fair metropolis.
Farzana doctor and the brockton Trianglers boast that they are responsible for cleaning their neighbourhood in your Best Of Toronto issue (NOW, November 1-7).
Instead, they get full from attending way too many potluck suppers instead of actually getting their hands dirty and doing something.
There are a few of us who are out there regularly (not just on Mayor Miller Days) with garbage bags cleaning up the litter, shovelling sidewalks that the city does not, putting up fences from money out of our own pockets to ward off vagrants on the CN lands and planting community gardens on property left neglected - all without fanfare.
An occassional hand would be appreciated. Borrowing a lawnmower and leftover paint from neighbours is great, but life is more than a social club. Maybe less talking and more action.
Alice Klein's piece on the Dalai Lama (NOW, November 8-14) was hilarious and insightful.
Like her unapologetic approach.
NOW is shockingly good and probably the only media product in Canada that isn't insipid. It's obviously left of centre but thankfully not politically correct or shrill.
Holiness holier than thou
RE The Dalai Lama's recent visit. I'm surprised no one has mentioned his appearance on CBC's Sunday morning feel-good show, on which he called homosexuality "sexual misconduct."
This was preceded by a short talk on the highest forms of love. Having studied Buddhism for more than 20 years, I was shocked and depressed.
The Dalai Lama is not the pope of Buddhism, and he does not speak for the wider Buddhist community.
He seems more shrewd politico than spiritual leader, and it's certainly not surprising that the right is embracing him. They can keep on using each other.
Bublé one with a bullet
Read the piece on Mike Kaeshammer's new album (NOW, November 15-21), and it sounds very good.
Kaeshammer is a very talented young man. However, I'm disappointed in writer Bryan Borzykowski's disparaging remark about Michael Bublé not writing his own music. That's incorrect.
On the Radio & Record Charts for Canada's AC National Airplay today, Bublé's self- penned Lost is at number one.
His Everything spent months at number one, and Home was at the top of the charts around the globe.
Yes, Bublé writes, and writes well.
Indie music hits sour note
I play in a local band and want to address a growing problem: big corporations using dirty tricks to convert honest, hard-working indie bands into their personal dishrags.
I'm in one of the 12 groups in the Heavy.com/Virgin Contraband competition, which had bands compete online to win $5,000 and a slot at last September's Virgin Festival.
After investing countless hours creating and promoting my band's videos, I was disheartened when the winner of the contest was not even an independent band, but in fact was signed by a subsidiary of Warner (one of the contest's major sponsors).
Indie bands are hard-pressed as is to get any legitimate support. I am not bitter about losing the contest, but I am pissed about being treated like a pack mule to generate free media and valuable Web traffic for rich assholes who don't give a damn about independent Canadian music.
NOW you've got it!
I was reading your letters to the editor while on the bus. Yes, imagine that! I voted for the Conservatives and I take public transit.
Your enlightened readers have it all figured out. If only dummies like me just surrendered ourselves to the learned proletariat, the world would be a paradise.
So let me get this straight. Vote NDP, pay more tax, ride my bike to work, be pro-choice, hate all things American, assume no one could possibly be a terrorist, hate organized religion, sympathize with the incarcerated criminals who are victims of the system, embrace my inner homosexuality, reject meat, support immigration, hate big business.
Oh, what a world this would be!
Conor D. O'Hare