Your cover story for March 25 (“Parole on trial”) asks the question: should convicted killers be allowed to rejoin society? My answer is unequivocally no, they should have been hanged long ago to save the rest of their unsuspecting and trusting victims, and their families who have suffered since.
A. N. Harrington, Sherwood Park, Alta. H
In answer to your cover story question “Should they get out early?” No, no, a thousand times no. In my opinion, convicted murderers’ sentences are not long enough. This is no time for bleeding hearts. If they must bleed, let them bleed for the innocent victims of these criminals—who will never get a second chance.
Marion Hale, Toronto
A life sentence should be exactly that. Even parole after 25 years is too early; life should mean life. The mandatory sentence should read: life imprisonment, with the possibility of parole when the victim walks the face of the earth again.
Norm Everett, Porters Lake, N.S.
The “Parole on trial” article does not address certain facts pertaining to the “faint hope clause” debate. First, serial murderers like Clifford Olson and Paul Bernardo will never see free society again, so they should be left out of the equation. Second, most acts of murder are committed in the heat of the moment by stable individuals who become embedded in grossly unfortu-
nate circumstances. There are many murderers who have been paroled and have built productive and fruitful lives after 10 or 15 years of incarceration. Third, the mistakes made by the National Parole Board are mistakes of human judgment and are not inherent in the Criminal Code. Our prisons create nothing but marginalized, unqualified and frustrated human beings. What good will repealing Section 745 do? It will not cure the threat of § murder or any other crime. The £ movement to abolish it is based j= on fear, vengeance and the uned£ ucated persuasion of the public. If Canadians want to examine the parole debate with an open mind, we must first see through the political and media rhetoric that only perpetuates hate and anger.
Vice-president, Criminology Students Association, University of Ottawa, Ottawa
Your report on Education Minister John Snobelen’s mission to cut funding in Ontario schools was informative (“A test of wills,” Education, March 25), but you did overlook one factor. School boards across Ontario are not equal. Many areas with a high tax assessment have offered programs and services that were never available to their smaller rural counterparts. For years, school boards such as Kent County and Kent County Roman Catholic have been cutting, redefining jobs and sharing services to make the educational system as efficient as possible. Many of these same measures have been suggested by the education minister as ways in which costs can be reduced. What is unnerving is that these same efficiently run school boards have not been recognized for their cost-saving measures; rather they have had additional cuts imposed upon them. Where is the common sense? Snobelen should consider making financial cuts to the boards that have money to cut.
Frank Lazzarin, Chatham, Ont.
The decisions to cut classroom staff, rather than other less damaging cost areas, have been made by the same elected bodies that have been the main contributors to local tax increases over the past sev-
eral years—the school boards. The boards should be cutting head-office staff: superintendents, consultants and their supporting bureaucracies, and other head-office expenses. But most important, they should eliminate themselves and their cost. We do not need this extra political level. The job could be done by a committee of municipal/regional council members supplemented by parent volunteers. Teachers and teaching assistants, the real frontline educators, should be the last to go.
Frank Heaps, Toronto
I hadn’t thought of Bull’s Head ginger ale for years, till I saw your article “Fighting Anglo angst with a drink” (Opening Notes, March 11). Whenever we could find a quarter for it in the ’60s, we’d dangle it, with a piece of string, in the milk cooler on our farm in Waterville, Que. I can still feel that delicious cold, tingly drink going down a parched throat on a hot haying day.
Linda Jennings, Long Sault, Ont.
A PR game
Your story on car manufacturers not painting the inside of ashtrays to save 34 cents on a $30,000 car (“Squeezing costs,” Business, March 18)—for us, the customers—almost made me sob. Those PR guys are really good. I call the high sticker price of new cars pure greed, based on a cynical assumption that people will have to buy a car eventually. Stripping cars of features is just another gimmick to get more in the end. Car pricing is a game, played by experts on us, the customers.
Tom Barczyk, Ottawa 11
The first madness
The thought of cows eating the entrails of sheep (“A disturbing link to the ‘mad cow’ disease,” World, April 1) makes my stomach queasy, and leads me to the conclusion that scientists, feed-lot operators and government bureaucrats were the first to go mad. I have grown up believing that cows munch on grass and other plant products. Turning cows into carnivores is surely tampering with the natural order, and, like the sorcerer’s apprentice, we humans are unleashing unknown forces that may end up destroying us all.
Max Ewart, Prince George, B.C.
According to Ross Laver, “few people would like to see governments tell bosses how to run their business,” as if doing so were to breech some profound etiquette (“Corporate bashing,” Personal Business, March 4). The real issue, and the reason for public outrage directed against corporations, is that the sacrosanct bosses of business are running everything else, including governments. Canadians are finally catching on to the fact that populations, workforces, nature and democracy itself, are all at risk under the corporate thumb. So his feeble attempt to provide an apologetic for an equally feeble corporate initiative involving “50,000 one-year jobs” is simply pathetic in the face of the ominous dimensions of this new tyranny.
Beth James, Nakusp, B. C.
Defining a terrorist
Barbara Amiel’s diatribe “The stream of anti-Israeli vitriol,” (Column, March 18) is a stream of vitriol in itself. What she, in her fanatical pro-Israeli stance, totally ignores is that the Palestinian terrorism is a realistic reaction of a people who were be-
trayed by the British in 1948 in achieving nationhood, since they and their land were handed over to the Israelis with the strong support of the United States. Israel must decree full independence for Palestine soon. PLO Leader Yasser Arafat is a minor sideshow to all this.
The solution is in Israeli hands.
Hendrik S. Weiler,
Thank you Barbara Amiel for telling the truth about Arafat. Arafat was, and continues to be, a terrorist thug.
How he became the darling of the Western press is beyond me.
One can only hope that opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu will be elected prime minister of Israel, and will be able to negotiate with the Arabs from strength, unlike the dovish Prime Minister Shimon Peres who concedes everything before negotiations even begin.
Mark Kaiman, Bellingham, Wash. ®
Wayne Kennedy’s idea of an independent republic of Quebec, carved out of the actual Quebec territory, is not new (“Separation: negotiate terms now,” The Road Ahead, March 11). But when Mr.
Kennedy proposes that “if the separatists win, they could move to this area, while federalists already living in it could move to other areas within the old boundaries of Quebec,” I have flashes of ethniccleansing solutions. Why do the discriminated-against always have to fit into smaller spaces designed by a majority, while this same majority is largely responsible for creating an unequal situation in the first place? The will to establish boundaries along ethnic or political purity is one of the most racist, frightening things we’ve been hearing in Canada lately.
Eve Gaboury, Hull, Que.
In Montreal, the Eastern Townships and western Quebec, the partitionist movement
continues to prosper. The fear of the Quebec nationalist elites is palpable and the reason is obvious to anyone who listens to what they had to say during the referendum campaign: independence will be seamless and easy. Talk of partition gives lie to all of this. It is a signal and warning to potential supporters of independence that the rendering asunder of nations can never be painless or easy.
Norman Lazare, St-Laurent, Que.
Despite the Supreme Court’s final ruling reconfirming hatemonger James Keegstra as a wilful purveyor of hate, I cannot rest easy because I recognize that hate is a chronic sickness requiring chronic care, which may as well be termed active vigilance in perpetuity (“Guilty as charged,” Canada, March 11). The greatest friend of the hatemonger is passive silence. No person of conscience can ever rest easy.
Mendelson Joe, Toronto
Business of jobs
The letter from John Cross was almost too unbelievable to be true (“Confronting a jobs emergency,” The Road
Ahead, March 4). If governments in past centuries had not allowed employees to be laid off because of technological improvements, we would still have people copying manuscripts by hand, and then delivering them by horse. If his letter had been the only one of that nature, I would have merely laughed, but it was the second one in two weeks that has suggested that employers not be allowed to lay off employees. Do he and his ilk think that private companies are in business to supply jobs to the public? If this is what Canadians are truly starting to believe, then I might just stay over here in Asia forever, where people still know the meaning of self-reliance.
Steve Kirby, Vientiane, IMOS
Trouble with peace
Your article “Back to the ‘madness,’ ” (World, Feb. 26) points the finger directly at British Prime Minister John Major for the recurrence of the bombing in London. Rev. Gerry Reynolds, a mediator between the IRA and the government, says: “The British government is making things altogether too difficult for themselves” and, “This is an Irish problem that will only be solved when the two traditions here sit down with each other and create a new deal.” Well, maybe. Is it not more likely the true reason that the vio-
lence was restarted is because the ceasefire allowed the people of two traditions to enjoy happiness, peace and harmony, quietly among themselves without all the trappings of the talks?
Lawrence C. Hansen, Delhi, Ont.
As the daughter of an Irish immigrant, I can assure you that the attitudes of deep suspicion and hatred associated with “the Troubles” are deeply ingrained in the very fabric of Irish culture. In many ways, it does not surprise me that the IRA has returned to its pattern of violence. I am sure that many of these individuals have built their careers, if not their very lives, around the misguided romanticism of terrorism and civil conflict. But the British government is not blameless. Their refusal to “talk to armed groups” is, while ideologically admirable, totally unrealistic and, I feel, tantamount to saying that they will not talk at all. I fear that they will only confirm what many people believe to be true, that there will never be peace in Ireland.
Maureen Ann Nadin, Thunder Bay, Ont.
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There is something wrong with “Targeting terror” (Cover, March 18). When Stalin kills eight million Ukrainians, he’s our glorious ally in the war against fascism. When the United States incinerates 200,000 Japanese, it’s to save lives. When the United Nations kills 560,000 Iraqi children by using sanctions on food, it’s a triumphant sequel to Desert Storm. When Israel kills 20,000 Lebanese and innumerable Palestinians, it’s peace for Galilee. When the oppressed Palestinians react by killing a few dozen Israelis, it’s terrorism.
Sofya Gordon, Ottawa
Diane Francis has heard that some hardliners in the Parti Québécois (the party, not the government) would be pressing for further linguistic restrictions at a policy meeting in April. Has she never attended a policy meeting or convention, regardless of political affiliation? Dozens of ideas and resolutions are presented, some are debated and fewer are adopted. Couldn’t she, at least, wait until the government takes a position with regard to any changes to Bill 101? No, the venom must flow (“Challenging Quebec’s language law,” Column, March 25). And while she is busy defending minority rights, why not let her know that French-speaking minorities in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland are before the courts to gain the odd school and the right to govern them, a far cry from the size of lettering on bilingual signs in Quebec. If too many Canadians hold views as narrow and meanspirited as Diane Francis, Canadian unity is toast.
Armand Bedard, Winnipeg
Diane Francis hits the nail squarely on the head with her comments on how unjust and disgraceful Quebec’s language laws
are, but why has it taken her so long to state her views? For 20 years, Quebec minorities have been discriminated against, not only with French-only signs, but with, among other things, civil servants who refuse to speak English, and language police who have the power to determine whether a particular environment is “French enough.” Quebec has flagrantly disregarded the spirit and intent of the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. And the federal government has done absolutely nothing of substance to clearly defend the rights and freedoms of Quebec minorities. We are long overdue for the media to take up this issue and help ensure that neither government continues to get away with it.
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