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Commentary

2015-09-19. Even if we were not unalterably opposed to the privatization of Hydro One—partial or otherwise—we would be opposed to the paying of bonuses to Hydro One executives.

We guess that you’re not paid a bonus if you do your job well. Neither are we.

If the executives of Hydro One can’t be counted upon to perform their duties well, without the promise of bonuses, they should be replaced with others who can so perform.

And if the Ontario government can’t find the financial resources to fund the cost of repairing and improving the sorely neglected provincial infrastructure without selling off the furniture, it should marshall the political courage to raise the necessary taxes. To offer but one example: during the tenure of the Ontario Liberal party, the federal government has reduced the GST rate by 200 basis points; the provincial government could move into that taxation space, if only it had the resolve.

It’s time for the government to better steward the resources of Ontario.

2015-09-14. The Globe’s grammatical tic which sees it using “for” when “of” is called for—the funeral for actor X; the trial for politician Y; the CEO for corporation Z—reached a new low with the reference to “a professor for medicine at U of T” (The price of being pain free, 2015-09-14).

2015-09-10. We’ve always been republican, but we found Globe letter-writer Yvonne Pelletier’s snide observation, that it’s the Queen of “English Canada” who marked a special anniversary, disdainful, disrespectful, and ignorant of the constitutional realities of our nation. Like it or not, more than 250 years ago, France was defeated and surrendered Québec to the British Crown. In 1867, the British Crown became the Canadian Crown, so it is in fact and in law the Queen of Canada who recently celebrated a special anniversary. Tant pis, Madame Pelletier.

2015-09-03. Over 3 million Syrians have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq, and more than 6 million are internally displaced. Before looking to North America and Europe for a solution, it’s surely fair to ask how many refugees have been accepted by Saudi Arabia (GDP per capita of US$52,200 in 2014) and the other wealthy Gulf states.

2015-08-30. We agree with the Globe letter writer that “with interest rates at an all-time low, common sense tells us to invest in needed public works,” but the responsibility for this investment can’t be dumped only at the door of the federal government. Provincial and municipal governments must do more than cry poor; they have to buck up and raise the taxes needed.

Years ago, the federal government lowered the GST rate by 200 basis points. Whatever the (dubious) merits of that action, it did leave the provinces room to raise their own value-added or sales taxes by a corresponding 200 basis points. This would have maintained the status quo ante and provided billions of dollars in revenue.

As commentators cleverer than we have pointed out before: there’s only one taxpayer. So we say: tax us and provide the infrastructure upon which our future prosperity depends.

2015-08-29. We agree with Garth M. Evans, writing in the Globe and Mail, that “we need an organized worldwide response to [the Syrian] humanitarian crisis,” but we don’t believe that “the answer is to set up camps, provide humanitarian aid, and move the refugees to new homes where they can be resettled.” Rather, because of the Responsibility to Protect—a doctrine developed and promoted since 2001 by Canada—the answer lies in deposing the Syrian president and his regime, war criminals all.

2015-08-27. A learning curve represents learning acquisition over time, so a steep curve represents rapid learning and a shallow curve represents slow learning. This means it’s not true, as the Globe and Mail reported today, that “the steep learning curve has resulted in delays navigating the [new Toronto jail], according to staff.” The conflation of steep learning curves (learning was easy) with steep hills (climbing was hard) is constant at the Globe and is a practice which should stop. As regards this bit of scientific literacy, the Globe’s learning curve is regrettably shallow.

2015-08-26. Why does action against the Syrian president, who Anne-Marie Slaughter (President and CEO of the New America Foundation) calls “a mass murderer and war criminal,” depend upon the United States? Don’t Turkey, Iraq, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia—near neighbours all—have substantial armed forces? Are they not concerned by the murder, maiming, or displacement of half of the Syrian population, most of whom are fellow Muslims?

2015-08-13. The Globe and Mail reports that Conservative candidate Stephen Harper “vows to track foreign home buyers.” So, we’re to have a federal housing registry, but not a federal gun registry?

2015-08-12. We hope that today’s report in the Globe and Mail was erroneous and that Toronto’s mayor did not say that “the last thing we need is more politicians.” A representative democracy, such as ours, is merely an approximation of a true democracy: one in which each citizen is eligible to vote on all public matters. As such, the more representatives we have, the closer we are to a true democracy.

2015-08-03. The press would serve their readers well to note explicitly that news of the terrorist firebombing of a Palestinian home were not met in Israel by dancing in the streets, the firing of guns into the air, or the distribution of sweets to children.

2015-07-17. Globe and Mail letter-writer Bill Piket’s snide reference to Israel's “illegal nuclear weapons” implies a symmetry which simply doesn't exist. Israel has never threatened to wipe Iran off the face of the earth.

2015-07-17. Globe and Mail letter-writer Al Kwan’s lament that Bank of Canada Governor “Stephen Poloz has put the final nail in the coffin that was [his] dream of home ownership” doesn’t bear scrutiny. Aside from those which could be described as “hipster,” there are many neighbourhoods of Toronto where houses are available for sale at prices ranging from $300K to $600K. We know this because one of our editors lives in one such neighbourhood which is well-served by public transit, expressways, parks, libraries, schools, and shops—and whose sidewalks are ploughed by the city in the winter!

2015-05-14. Globe and Mail letter-writer Kate Doyle asks why the Hydro One employee who lost his job thought that vulgar heckling of an on-air reporter “was even remotely okay in the first place.” Could it be because he was taught in Ontario’s public schools that behaviours have no consequence and that legitimate authority need not be heeded?

2015-06-25. If, as The Globe and Mail reported, all 10 of Canada’s sitting provincial premiers have requested an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women, why don't they hold one? Nothing prevents the premiers from agreeing on terms of reference, appointing commissioners, and funding a pan-Canadian inquiry.

2015-01-18. We caution the National Post letter writter who says that “as a Jew, … I am unaware of any Jews rioting or terrorizing over this (or any other ‘blasphemy’),” that it’s dangerous to live in a glass house while watching ultra-Orthodox Jews constrained only by a sizeable police presence at Tel Aviv’s gay-rights parades from rioting and throwing bags of shit at marchers, to say nothing about the sustained harassment of women in short skirts and others conducting their own affairs on the Sabbath in Jerusalem.

2015-01-10. In response to The Globe and Mail report that the Halton Catholic school board is under fire for banning gay-straight alliances, we ask why we continue to fund publicly the discrimination and division which are Catholic school boards.

2014-11-03. The Globe and Mail headline reads “Fundraising clout gives rich schools wider edge.” Here’s a thought: tax citizens at an appropriate rate and fund all schools according to their needs, thereby obviating the need for bake sales, pizza lunches, and student fees.

2014-10-10. We were disappointed and saddened to hear Anna Maria Tremonti of CBC’s The Current address the Turkish ambassador with the Americanism “Mr. Ambassador.” As she should have known, in conversation ambassadors are addressed as “Your Excellency” or “Excellency.” But don’t take our word for it: read what the Ministry of Canadian Heritage has to say about styles of address.

2014-09-24. We wish it were true that, as The Globe and Mail’s columnist puts its, Stephen Harper’s “base, by and large, is … disinterested in climate change.” Disinterested voters—those who have no vested interest one way or another—can be engaged and persuaded; voters who are uninterested (which perhaps is how Jeffrey Simpson meant to characterize the prime minister’s base) are disengaged and unwilling to consider evidence which confronts their prejudices. Alas, we think that Conservative supporters are in fact interested voters: interested in the status quo, interested in their privilege, and interested in short-term benefits.

2014-09-16. Why isn’t it the responsibility of the major military powers of the region (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, to name just three) to deal with Islamic State? What makes IS the responsibility of America, Britain, France—and Canada?

2014-08-29. Before the Harper government cut the GST by 200 basis points (from 7% to 6%, then from 6% to 5%), Canadian life was peaceful and orderly, and the country’s trains and buses ran mostly on time (save in Toronto, of course). After the cut, which was condemned by virtually every respected economist, peace and order (if not good government) prevailed, those trains and buses continued to run mostly on time, and we had proof that there was consumption-tax room of at least 2% which could be employed by provincial governments, if they so chose, without harming the economy.

If Canada’s premiers truly believe there’s a "“fiscal imbalance” in the country, they can set it right by raising their provincial sales or value-added taxes (Alberta: take especial note) by those same 200 basis points. The premiers need not be supplicants; they have agency.

2014-08-23. We don't know what to make of The Globe and Mail’s report that the final pre-election meeting of Toronto City Council has “more than 408 items” on its agenda. We'd understand “more than 400 items”; we'd understand “almost 410 items”—but “more than 408”? What does that mean?

2014-08-15. Within a span of a dozen words (Putin speech strikes conciliatory tone, 2014-08-15), The Globe and Mail tells us first that Russians are enraged over Ukraine, then that they're merely indignant. So what should we understand of the Russian mood? If we're to rely upon The Globe to be a credible source of news and analysis, shouldn't it choose its words with more precision?

2014-06-18. When Canadian oil (read: bitumen) sells at the world price, won’t the economic benefit of increased government revenues be more than offset by the substantial increase in retail prices individual taxpayers will have to pay for petroleum products selling in Canada at that same world price?

2014-06-17. Since few people read their car manuals, few people know that it’s possible to program their cars not to sound the horn when the doors are locked remotely. The rudeness lies with automobile manufacturers which make the sounding of the horn the default setting, and not—as Globe and Mail letter-writer Dan Turner complains—with those “who can’t be bothered to lock their cars as they leave them.”

2014-06-11. If Globe and Mail letter-writer Jo Meingarten really “cringes at the evolution of language,” she should know that she didn't endure the “no problem!” chirping of a “server” but of a “waiter”: someone who waited on her table. “Waiter” is no more a sexist term than is “manager.” We long ago stopped saying “manageress,” just as we (quite correctly) stopped referring to female waitstaff as “waitresses.” All waitstaff are “waiters.”

2014-05-29. Globe and Mail letter-writer Jonathan Skrimshire posits that “the real story” of the current Ontario election is "the unexpected residual strength of voter support for the incumbent Liberals,” but we’d argue that despite their disgust with the scandalous Liberals, the real story is voters’ real, reasoned, and nearly palpable fear of the damage to be wrought by a PC government led by Tim Hudak.

2014-05-15. If the label of “terrorism” is to retain any meaning, The Globe must stop using it as a synonym for violence. The seizure by armed men of a government office in Ukraine, while clearly a violent act with a political purpose, is no more an act of “terrorism” than is the seizure of an armoured truck in Winnipeg by armed men with a criminal purpose.

Terrorists seek to effect political change by terrorizing the citizenry: blowing up a mosque, a pizza parlour, or a day-care centre in the Middle East should be labelled as terrorism; so should torturing and dismembering judges and police officers in Latin America. But those seeking to overthrow a government by force of arms should be labelled as rebels, insurgents, revolutionaries—or maybe even as freedom fighters.

2014-05-14. Today The Globe and Mail reported “Oil industry on hook for future spill cleanup costs.” We think this is a step in the right direction.

Can we hope that the federal government will now see to fit to raise the woefully low ($75-million, soon to be $1-billion) liability limit which Canada’s nuclear industry enjoys?

Nobel Peace Prize-winning Physicians for Social Responsibility report estimates of the total economic losses suffered because of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster ranging from $250- to $500-billion US. Just imagine the costs that would be incurred if there were a major disaster at Ontario’s Darlington Nuclear Generating Station—fewer than 40 km from Toronto City Hall!

2014-03-17. Pierre Karl Péladeau already has a country. It's called Canada.

2014-03-08. Might we hope for an end to Globe and Mail reporters’ habit of using two words (“price tag”) where a perfectly good single word (“cost”) would serve better, the most recent (absurd) example of which is a report that Alberta MLAs “have been taking flak on the high price tag of [a] trip” taken by Premier Redford?

2014-02-27. It took only one pronouncement for Councillor Karen Stintz to destroy her credibility as a Toronto mayoral candidate: anyone who believes that without raising taxes the city's dismal public-transit infrastructure can be remediated—let alone improved—is clearly not fit to be Toronto's chief magistrate.

2014-01-27. We would support a mandatory Ontario Pension Plan as a supplement to the Canada Pension Plan if Ontario were to contract the governance and management of the OPP to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, an excellent low-cost performer. Then it will be a small matter for the CPP to subsume its provincial counterpart when the federal government succumbs to the inevitable and expands the CPP.

2014-01-27. If everyone complaining about the high prices of Canada's telecommunications oligarchy stopped whining and switched her/his custom to one of the smaller “upstarts,” as we did to our complete satisfaction several years ago, there’d be increased competition and lower prices for all.

2014-01-22. It was misleading [for The Globe] to report that “Canada lacks sufficient ships and resources to keep a close watch on shipping everywhere in its huge Arctic archipelago.” In fact, Canada lacks sufficient ships and resources to watch shipping anywhere in the Arctic.

2013-11-30. If we can't count on The Globe to get right the basics, how can we count on it to get right the big issues? “Mr. Mayor” is an American concoction; in Canada, mayors are addressed first as “Your Worship” and then as “Mayor [name].” And while we’re railing, allow us to add that there’s no such (Canadian) style of address as “Mr. Prime Minister” either. (See the federal government’s Styles of address.)

2013-11-17. There are many points of similarity between the stubborn, bullying, ideology-over-facts style of Toronto mayor Rob Ford and prime minister Stephen Harper, and one significant difference: one of these men is intelligent, educated, and disciplined.

2013-10-15. If The Economist continues its practice of using rage (which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as “violent, uncontrollable anger”) as a synonym for anger (“a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility”—the OED again), the most recent example of which was in its article about politics in Peoria, of all places, then how will we know when it really does mean “violent, uncontrollable anger”?

2013-10-14. A first university degree, typically a Bachelor’s, is an undergraduate degree. Those that follow, typically a Master’s and a PhD, are graduate degrees (not postgraduate, as The Economist styles them in Business education: Change management, October 12). Degrees which follow the PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) are the true post-graduate degrees.

2013-08-07. A Canadian boycott of the Olympic Games hurts only the athletes, but a rainbow flag as an integral element of the Canadian team's uniforms hurts only Russian bigots.

2013-06-21. On National Aboriginal Day, should we applaud the perseverance of First Nations or lament their naiveté? The first European explorers and settlers lied about their intentions and stole aboriginal land, and from the Royal Proclamation of 1763 to this very day, the descendants of those early Europeans (Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Government of Canada) continue to pretend that their actions are not indicative of their intentions.

2013-06-06. Our Canada includes the French-language service of the CBC. If Radio-Canada wants to drop “Radio” from its brand, why not “Ici Canada” rather than “Ici”?

2013-05-05. If Porter Airlines CEO Robert Deluce is really serious about flying Bombardier jets out of Toronto, why doesn’t he relocate his operations to suburban Downsview Airport with its 2135-metre-long runway, subway access from both the existing Downsview and the under-construction Sheppard West subway stations, automobile access from the Allen Expressway and Highway 401, a greatly expanded catchment area—and a Bombardier manufacturing facility on the grounds?

2013-04-10. They say it takes only one psychiatrist to change a light bulb, but the light bulb has to really, really want to change. How many letters to the editor does it take for The Globe to learn that our Constitution was patriated, not repatriated, in 1982?

2013-02-13. We’re sure it was an errant [Globe] editor and not the inestimable Jeffrey Simpson who wrote “overwhelming public disinterest” instead of “overwhelming public uninterest.

2013-01-24. The Globe and Mail reports the chair of the Upper Canada District School Board as saying that “to allow an outside organization which is not accountable to my community to disrupt our schools is not appropriate.” Are we certain he was talking about the elementary teachers’ union and not about the McGuinty Liberal government’s imposition of Bill 115?

2010-09-25. With the appointment of Bay Street insider Nigel Wright as Stephen Harper’s next chief of staff, the prime minister and the Conservative Party of Canada are in for more of “the troubles that plagued the Tories throughout 2010” if, as The Globe and Mail reports, Mr. Wright’s “abilities to grasp the complexities of businesses he acquired for Onex will help flatten the political learning curve.”

A learning curve is the plot of learning acquisition against elapsed time. Rapid acquisition results in a steep curve; slow learning results in a flattened curve. Perhaps in this case, the country is wise to fear “Toronto elites.”

2010-09-15. One of our editors received an unsolicited e-mail message from Isabel Bassett of the George Smitherman campaign for the Toronto mayoralty touting her support as a Conservative for the pledge of Smitherman (a Liberal) to freeze taxes, freeze spending, and freeze hiring. This was our editor’s reply:

“Thank you for writing to me at an e-mail address which was provided many years ago to the Barbara Hall campaign. It’s good to know that she and her colleagues have no respect for my privacy.

Thanks, also, for the presumption of addressing me by my given name. It’s good to know that manners have little place in the Smitherman campaign.

“I won’t be voting for Smitherman for many reasons, but I’ll offer just three: I don’t want taxes frozen, spending frozen, or hiring frozen. In fact, I want to pay more taxes for better services delivered more effectively and efficiently; I want the city to stop spending in areas where it doesn’t belong; and I want it to increase spending in areas like public transit and public health which are vital for the success of our metropolis.

“I have sent a copy of this letter to many of my friends and colleagues. Thanks for providing such a precise summary of why Smitherman is the wrong person to be Toronto’s next mayor; this summary helped crystallize my thoughts and harden my resolve to oppose Smitherman’s candidacy.”

2010-09-11. Christie Blatchford is too wishful by half and too forgetful by far (With its unique brand of free speech, U.S. only place for this oddball pastor, Sep. 11). In her paean to American freedom to speak and her implied criticism of Canada’s, she tries “to imagine what would have happened if the Canadian equivalent of Rev. Jones”—he of the announced Koran burning—“from a tiny, obscure church that sounds as much like a cult, had made such an announcement” in Canada.

She need not imagine.

In the 1970s, the odious Ken Campbell, founder of “Renaissance Canada,” advocated hate and caused untold pain, suffering, and hardship in his crusade against “the homosexual agenda.” Abetted by the newspapers of the day, including the gay-baiting Toronto Sun, he gave the lie to Blatchford's contention that Canadians are too “constrained, if not constipated,” to have their prejudices pandered to.

2009-04-10. If my employer and I, each in good faith, agree that instead of increasing my salary she will make, on my behalf, contributions to my pension plan—and that she will manage that plan in my best interest—should the public be entitled to criticize our decision? And if my employer were a large corporation, like General Motors of Canada Limited, and if the terms of my employment—including terms requiring the employer to contribute to my pension plan and to manage that plan well—were established by a collective agreement between that employer and a union, like the Canadian Auto Workers union, would the public be entitled to criticize our decision with a snarky letter, like that in The Globe and Mail on 10 April 2009 (GM’s long and winding road), which implies that I am morally undeserving of the benefits of that agreement?

And what if, through no fault of my own, the large corporation which had employed me made stupid decisions about the products and services it offered for sale, fell on perilously hard times, and beseeched the good citizens of Ontario and Canada to rescue it from its folly? Would the public then be entitled to denounce me, an innocent pensioner, as dishonourable, culpable, and undeserving? Would letter writers be permitted, or encouraged, to transform me from victim to villain?

2008-09-18. The editors of The Globe and Mail (Taking back the schools) proclaim that “when gun-toting criminals feel school parking lots are a good place to do business, every high school in the city needs to take urgent steps to ensure that every inch of its grounds is protected,” but we have yet to read their explanation of whence will come the money to pay for this protection.

2008-09-19. Columnist Jeffrey Simpson writes in The Globe and Mail of the search for the Liberal brand: “when it won't sell west of Ontario and throughout most of Quebec, you're in trouble.” But if the Liberal Party of Canada were to stand on a coherent, comprehensive platform of principles and policies, then it wouldn't need to search for a brand.

2008-08-30. Sexism in Canadian politics is such a problem that it’s invisible even to those who report “that Liberal Senator and campaign co-chair David Smith throws a huge ‘boys-only’ bash at his country home in Cobourg, Ontario, every summer” (Will Hargrove run against Flaherty?). Can't see the sexism in this event? Try substituting the phrase “whites-only” for “boys-only.” Does that help?

2008-08-27. Surely if Bombardier is correct, and it’s streetcars “could run perfectly well on the Toronto Transit Commission’s system with just $10-million worth of modifications to the city’s rails” (German firm looks to bid on derailed TTC deal with Bombardier), all the Montreal-based company need do is tack the $10 million onto its $1.25-billion bid (making it a $1.26-billion bid), agree to perform all of the necessary modifications itself, and guarantee—on penalty of forfeiting the entire proceeds of the contract, should it fail—that its cars will not derail.

2008-01-26. With four photographs in its large display ad in the travel sections of this weekend’s newspapers, Ottawa Tourism managed to feature five heterosexual couples. What message does OT mean to convey to lesbian and gay travellers?

2008-01-24. In reporting that George Smitherman is “Canada’s only openly gay provincial health minister” (Smitherman blasts donor rules for gays), did The Globe and Mail mean to imply that we have secretly gay provincial health ministers? And what about federal and territorial health ministers?

2008-01-05. Barack Obama, by all accounts an educated and thoughtful man, tells his supporters that “with a father from Kenya, a mother from Kansas, [mine is] a story that could happen only in the United States of America” (Our time for change has come).

How do Americans maintain their myopia in this media-saturated century? Is wilful ignorance what enables them to persist in their solipsism?

2007-11-30. It’s most interesting that “the British government assembled a large defence team” (British teacher sentenced to jail, then deportation) for the naive British teacher who allowed her Sudanese elementary students to name a teddy bear Mohammed. It’s hard to imagine our national government taking similar action in support of any Canadian citizen, regardless of the charge.

2007-11-18. The chronic underfunding of Ontario municipalities and the tax room created by the recent decision of the federal government to lower the GST rate by 100 basis points (GST/HST Rate Reduction in 2008) require Dalton McGuinty to act.

If he finds himself politically unable to raise the provincial sales tax by a corresponding amount in order to meet municipalities’ request for a one-cent share of GST revenues, he should immediately introduce into the Legislative Assembly a bill authorizing and requiring all municipalities to levy a one-percent sales tax.

Ontario municipalities need revenue sources which grow as the economy grows, and they need action by his government to provide those sources. The premier must act without delay.

2007-07-27. The Ontario opposition leader writes that students in publicly-funded Catholic schools “learn the standard Ontario curriculum from accredited Ontario teachers,” (Schooled in religion) but he neglects to mention that only accredited Catholic teachers are allowed to teach in such schools, while privately-funded Jewish schools, for example, employ teachers of all faiths. And what's the publicvalue of teaching the “standard Ontario curriculum” lesson of anti-homophobia, while at the same time teaching that lesbians and gay men are—in the words of the last Pope—“objectively disordered”?

2007-07-16. “Canada’s New Government” is not doing right by the mentally disabled veterans whose monies were mismanaged by previous federal governments. Greg Thompson, Minister of Veterans Affairs, should let stand Mr. Justice John Brockenshire’s award of damages and legal fees as confirmed by the 2002 judgement of the Court of Appeal for Ontario.

2007-02-16. The Globe and Mail’s real-estate columnist is wrong to say that “Toronto will know it has come of age as a great city when affluent home buyers have the widest possible choice of housing options” (Will Temperance Street finally get its jewel?). Toronto will know it has come of age as a great city when the poor have the widest possible choice of housing options.

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[This page last updated 2015-09-19 at 22h00 Toronto local time.]