Mixed Feelings; Researching on Empty; World War Green; Summer Lovin’; Half-Baked
Richard Gwyn (“The Contender,” July–August) perpetuates a significant misconception, namely that Conservatives know best how to manage the economy. If we consider three important factors, the Harper Conservatives’ record is dismal: unemployment is up, the surplus has become a deficit, and income disparity has increased drastically.
I also take issue with Gwyn’s reading of Justin Trudeau’s accomplishments. When Harper was elected leader of the Canadian Alliance, his education and experience were arguably unimpressive. But let’s face it: not every candidate can have the exceptional resumé of Trudeau the Father.
Ruhi E. Tuzlak
Richard Gwyn nailed it. No one would give a hoot if Justin Trudeau were indeed all brawn and little brain. The fact is, he is savvy and hyper-connected, and he has tremendous potential as a leader. Canadians are tired of the lies, the unaccountability, and the bullying of the current government. We are desperate for change, and for transparent leadership. Trudeau has my vote already—cold shower and all. Trudeaumania? Bring it on.
Comparing Margaret Thatcher to Kanye West is mind boggling. Emotions and celebrity worship have taken over, and I despair for the thinking heads of this country.
Powell River, BC
Spinning Trudeau’s lack of experience and his histrionic delivery of corny platitudes as “emotional intelligence”? All I can say is, good try.
J. D. Lees
Researching on empty
I began my scientific career at the Freshwater Institute, at the University of Manitoba, just as the Experimental Lakes Area was getting under way (“Troubled Waters,” July–August). Though I never worked at the ELA (the Arctic was my beat), my colleagues and I were excited by the potential of whole-lake experimentation.
It is tempting to blame the current government for the area’s demise—and surely the prime minister is no friend to basic research, especially any that might create difficulties for industry—but the Conservatives were not the first to take aim at the ELA. They simply delivered the latest blow to an institution already injured by successive budget cuts.
For such a wealthy country, Canada has a history of niggardliness when it comes to research and development. Our total expenditure is less than 2 percent of GDP, right up there with Luxembourg. Finland spends twice that, and war-torn Israel two and a half times as much. Ottawa perpetually whines that Canadian industry does not spend enough on R&D, but industry funding already far outpaces that of the government. Strangling public support will not encourage further private investment.
Why is Parliament so uninterested in, and even antagonistic to, basic research? The public does not demand a strong agenda for R&D, so it is an easy target for cuts. Sadly, the government can chip away at R&D for decades to come, and most Canadians will not notice any effect on their lives. As with the arts, basic research is an important thread in our cultural fabric. The more we lose, the more threadbare our society becomes.
I was puzzled by the question in the subtitle: “The Experimental Lakes project has influenced environmental policy around the world. So why would the Harper government abandon it? ” The article fails to address the question.
It would be useful to understand Stephen Harper’s resistance to science, outside of any immediate commercial applications. It has been suggested that his Protestant evangelicalism and his affiliation with the Christian and Missionary Alliance underlie his attitudes. Canadians need to be better informed about the Church’s values, if these are truly driving government decisions regarding research and science.
World War Green
In 1910, William James argued that “war has been the only force that can discipline a whole community.” We now have the moral equivalent of war, as John Macfarlane clearly expressed in his July–August Editor’s Note: “Learning to think and behave as citizens of the world, not just of our own nation-states, is what we must all do if we’re to avoid environmental havoc.”
James wrote that we must intensely commit to a moral cause to achieve disciplined organization. It is the responsibility of artists, writers, journalists, and bloggers to nurture that intensity—the commitment of all people and all nations to make saving the environment the moral equivalent of waging war.
Every issue of The Walrus is a satisfying read, to be savoured slowly and digested thoughtfully. I particularly enjoyed this year’s Summer Reading package (July–August), and I look forward to reading more fiction by Jill Sexsmith (“Somewhere, a Long, Happy Life Probably Awaits You”) in your magazine.
What a bland, superficial look at the Shambhala music festival (“The Safety Dance,” July–August). No discussion of the history, the farm, or the music? How does this get published in The Walrus?