Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Sept. 13: Populism and the spoils of ignorance. Plus other letters to the editor

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here: letters@globeandmail.com

...................................................................................................................................................

Spoils of ignorance

Story continues below advertisement

Re Ford, Bannon And Conservatism (editorial, Sept. 12): Populism is not a belief system. It is a political takeover of a belief system. It installs itself in the hearts and minds of those who don't know history, but have been convinced they are on the brink of it.

Will the spoils of ignorance go to left-wing or right-wing populism? That is the real question Steve Bannon should be asking.

Canada has known its share of populist leaders, apart from the Fords. Depression-era Alberta elected "Bible Bill" Aberhart and his funny-money Social Crediters. Tax-weary Ontario of the 1990s elected the Common Sense Revolutionaries of Mike Harris. Stephen Harper could never have become PM without the populist Reformers. But he knew how to keep them at bay while retaining their support, which resulted in a decade of relatively moderate Conservative government.

Canadian conservatism, while being exposed to the elements of the extreme right, has managed to date to remain on the lee side. And for every Ugly American, there is a smug Canadian convinced it can't happen here. That conviction could be our undoing. Complacency is not an option.

Howard Greenfield, Montreal

...................................

Ethnic nationalism

Story continues below advertisement

Re Turmoil In Myanmar (letters, Sept. 12) Aung San Suu Kyi's ethnic nationalism was already evident in 2013 when, in an interview on BBC by Mishal Husain, she refused to accept that Rohingya Muslims faced discrimination and deflected by saying, "Global Muslim power is very great." Subsequent to the interview, she was reported to have muttered "no one told me I was going to be interviewed by a Muslim."

It is naive to imply that her collaboration with the military will, over time, strengthen Myanmar's democracy. Experience in many countries has shown that politicians' expediency has, instead, institutionalized the military's role in national governance.

Masud Sheikh, Oakville, Ont.

...................................

Paging high school lit

Re School Board Promotes Literature Diversity To Reflect Student Body (Sept. 12): Good for the Peel District School Board for making an effort to give high school students books about characters who look more like them or better reflect their world.

Story continues below advertisement

There are extraordinary and diverse Canadian books for young readers that fit the bill. Try Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis, Paul Yee's short story collection What Happened This Summer or some of the powerful books about residential schools published in the past 15 years. Compare and contrast Deborah Ellis's The Breadwinner with Rukhsana Khan's Wanting Mor. Explore vampire/First Nations fantasy in Drew Hayden Taylor's The Night Wanderer. There is plenty more for secondary reading – books about kids in the Greater Toronto Area; books about kids on hockey, soccer or cricket teams; books about city kids learning tribal dances, books about kids with disabilities.

Institutional inertia – class sets are expensive to replace, selecting new books requires research – has meant that many students read the same books (The Giver, The Outsiders, Lord of the Flies, To Kill a Mockingbird) once, twice or even three times in their middle and high school years. It's time to change that, not just for kids in Peel District high schools, but across all Canadian schools.

Gillian O'Reilly, writer and editor, Toronto

...................................

And B.C.'s poorest?

Re NDP Promises Major Spending In B.C. Budget (Sept. 12): There are many positives in British Columbia's 2017 NDP budget, but it is very disappointing that the poorest of the poor have been forgotten. The province's social assistance rates fall well short of any poverty threshold; the Caledon Institute on Social Policy reports that they are lower in constant dollars than in 1994. The NDP budget contains no rise in these rates, even though the last Liberal budget included such increases. How committed are the B.C. New Democrats to poverty reduction?

Sid Frankel, associate professor, Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba

...................................

Persuaded on pot

Re Ontario's Pot-Store Plan Is Legitimate – And Pathetic (Sept. 12): In his fondness for customer service and "pot sommeliers" in a newly legalized cannabis market, André Picard brushes aside the public-health disasters of free-enterprise management of the tobacco and alcohol markets.

From these experiences, we can predict that branding and salesmanship will only increase experimentation and regular use of a drug that carries a one-in-10 chance of dependency, and exposes users to disease-causing chemicals. Rather than decrying the Ontario proposal, we see it as a model that should be extended to tobacco.

Cynthia Callard, executive director, Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada

...................................

Closing the illegal cannabis dispensaries is an absolute "must" where there is a lack of quality control (as The Globe and Mail has so extensively reported). Yes, there is good customer service (young, hip, good-looking people sell almost anything well), but that does not exclude the shadowy intentions of retailers in luring youth to become regular users.

If demand exceeds supply when the 40 state-run stores open next year (with more to follow), then the market will adjust accordingly over time. Putting safeguards in place should not be viewed as "stupid." But placing a potentially dangerous substance in the hands of youth with minimal oversight, education and treatment is not only stupid, but irresponsible.

Thea Weisdorf, Toronto

...................................

Eat Your Green (Life & Arts, Sept. 6) emphasized issues of "control" over the flavour, quality and effects of edible cannabis products. Where was "control" when Colorado saw rates of marijuana-related hospital admissions increase for children by 225 per cent when recreational cannabis products, like sweets, went on the market? THC levels in cannabis can be extremely difficult to measure, not to mention that overconsumption of edibles is a serious risk, especially when cannabis is disguised in chocolate, candies and sauces.

Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines help minimize a wide range of harms. With legalization fast approaching, we must address how to reduce harm and prevent children from early use of a substance proven to impact healthy growth and development.

Pegeen Walsh, executive director, Ontario Public Health Association

...................................

Missing Kansas

Re Politics Of Winter (Sept. 12): If, as a letter writer contends, it is the Americans who voted for Donald Trump who represent the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, and Donald Trump alone remains the Wizard, presumably to ultimately be exposed for the brainless, heartless, spineless fraud that he is, my question would be: Who then is Dorothy, who is Toto, and when do they get to go back to Kansas?

Nelson Smith, Toronto

Report an error
Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨