Prior to Elizabeth May’s election (“House Rules,” May), her background, community involvement, and environmental achievements were nothing short of extraordinary. Once in the House, however, she virtually disappeared from public view, and her voice has been silenced.
The Green leader’s problem is that she has failed to transition smoothly into her new role as legislator. She has criticized the government in various post-budget interviews, but where has she been for the past year?
It’s unreasonable for her to be so harsh toward the government now, when she has neglected to reach out and collaborate with the Conservatives on environmental initiatives. Many Canadians, including me, expect the first and only Green Party MP to advocate on behalf of the environment. In this regard, May has failed us all.
As a freelance writer and a postie, I’ll have to go into work tomorrow and admit to my colleagues that I am not Bill Walker and did not write “The Last Post?” (May).
Postal workers can be reluctant to follow the herd. Rumour has it that fewer than one-third of union members even bothered to show up for the strike vote last year, so I guess Canada Post is right: we only have ourselves to blame for the lockout, and for the immeasurable damage to the company’s reputation and its bottom line.
Read @walrusmagazine this morning and want to sit on my porch and hug my letter carrier, possibly bring her/him cookies.
Bully for You
At the end of Rachel Giese’s essay (“Bully Pulpit,” May), she notes that we no longer tolerate bullying with the excuse “boys will be boys.” However, she begins by excusing her son’s negative behaviour at school because he is a “hothead.” So is she saying that because hotheads will be hotheads, educators are wrong to seek external authority when kids threaten or hurt others and don’t respond to schools’ interventions?
I agree that zero tolerance policies are problematic for schools, in that they leave little room to apply the spirit rather than the letter of the law. There is also a useful distinction between systematic victimization and harassment of a particular child and a bully’s inappropriate handling of conflict—the former being more motivated by power and control, the latter more situation specific.
Hothead or not, it is not okay for Ms. Giese’s child to hurt others. It is her job to teach her son to inhibit the inappropriate behaviour to which he appears prone when angered, and for the school to step in to protect others. As a parent of two children in elementary school, I expect no less.
Christine Purdon, Ph.D., C.Psych.
Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo
I was excited to read “Bully Pulpit,” as I have wondered for some time about many points stated in the article. The message delivered to the younger generation seems increasingly one sided; we need to consider all anti-bullying perspectives. Because of a distorted view, my generation has adopted somewhat of a bullying attitude toward the issue, and when we try to confront bullies we do so with intimidation and violence. Rachel Giese has enlightened me, and I am glad I’m not the only one in this boat.
The Critical Impulse
I agree with Kyle Carsten Wyatt (“Of Culture and Condos,” May) that condos offer “the illusion of community while cultivating insularity.” Arguably, they represent just one of the new technologies that serve to isolate us as humans.
There is an antidote to condo living, however, which prospective buyers may not consider, because it doesn’t get hyped by developers: the co-op, a more social and democratic lifestyle with no landlord or expensive management fees.
Two years ago, I moved from a million-dollar house in a North Vancouver suburb to a three-bedroom fourplex off Lonsdale Avenue. Within a five-block radius, I have a park, a rec centre, numerous coffee shops, too many restaurants to count, a mega-drugstore, greengrocers, a pet store, three bakeries, and public transportation. My experience has been nothing like Northrop Frye’s, or the author’s, thoughts on condo living.
North Vancouver, BC
This article from @walrusmagazine is making me think of @Metric… “I don’t wanna die living in a high rise grave.”
All Wound Up
One challenge in this evolving field (“Lost on the Gene Map,” May) is the intrinsically unbalanced support for research into the emerging ethical, legal, and social aspects. Genomic science has been granted special public funding status, through the national and regional genome organizations in Canada—partly, I suspect, because the 50 percent partnership formula is politically popular. Whether through industry or granting councils, far more opportunity exists to generate matching funds in basic and applied molecular biology than in the above fields, so social sciences and humanities researchers who could enliven the debate have little incentive to participate.
This genie is not going back in the bottle any time soon, but we need different approaches to motivating research that will inform policy discussions if we are to address the human questions raised by the technology.
Prince George, BC
This article is only the tip of the iceberg. The ethical and regulatory systems, structures, and processes that underlie this research are unstable, contradictory, and fraught with tensions between privacy and profit.
Great piece in “The Walrus” on how lost we are in genetics. So much new information, so iffy a grasp of it all.
This appeared in the July/August 2012 issue.