Letters to the Editor: July/August 2023

On injustice for the dying, eternal renters, and the future of publishing

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Live and Let Die

In “Too Easy to Die” (June), Meagan Gillmore refers to reports that “people have considered applying for or have died by MAID for reasons such as insufficient housing and meagre social supports that have left them in perpetual poverty.” Anyone can apply for MAID, but they won’t be found eligible unless they meet all of the requirements. It is worth noting as well that, according to a 2022 Ipsos Reid poll conducted on our behalf, 86 percent of people with disabilities were in favour of MAID’s legalization in 2016 and 83 percent supported removal of the “death reasonably foreseeable” requirement. Canada desperately needs to increase support for people with mental illness and disabilities. We must make it possible to live with dignity as well as to die with dignity. But in the meantime, as health columnist André Picard wrote in the Globe and Mail, “no one should be denied either. You don’t resolve one injustice by creating another.”

Kerrie Hale,
Co-Chair, Calgary Chapter of Dying with Dignity Canada
Calgary, AB

Rent-Free in Your Head

In “Rent for Life” (May), Brad Badelt investigates why fewer Canadians are able to afford homes and looks into how to make lifetime renting a desirable alternative. Using one aspect of post-WWII Germany’s housing policy as an example, he suggests that taxing capital gains on homes might curb demand for ownership and direct funding toward affordable housing. However, the fundamental problem driving the crisis is housing shortage, not demand. Artificial reductions in demand could dampen the construction sector’s willingness to build more housing units. Instead, the government should invest more in social housing. It should also fast-track the development approval process, particularly for rental housing. And as housing shortages are most pronounced in big cities, the government should invest more heavily in transit systems so that people can commute more easily. Doing so would optimize Canadians’ ability to actualize their housing preferences and needs.

Kate H. Choi
Toronto, ON

Neither a Borrower Nor a Lender Be

I sympathize with the conflicted feelings around library accessibility and the effect on a writer’s career and income that Tajja Isen explores in “In the Internet Archive Lawsuit, a Win for Publishers May Come at a Cost for Readers Everywhere.” But I caution against conflating the Internet Archive’s interests with the struggles and concerns of genuine libraries. The IA is not a library in any traditional sense. It is a Silicon Valley–adjacent mass-digitization service provider that has for many years worked on the acquisitions model of grab first, apologize later, if at all. The Open Library then puts writers in the absurd position of having their own work compete with itself, with the unauthorized product priced at $0. Authors are not in the business of hiding our works from the public, but we must earn a living. Instead of relying on the IA, we must fund real libraries properly.

Rhea Tregebov, Chair, Writers’ Union of Canada
Vancouver, BC

Hack Jobs

Steven Beattie’s article “The Indigo Cyberattack Is a Warning of Things to Come” could not be timelier as companies globally struggle with cybersecurity. Recently, I received a letter from Mackenzie Investments stating that one of its third-party vendors, InvestorCom Inc., was compromised by a cybersecurity incident related to its technology suppliers, GoAnywhere. InvestorCom uses GoAnywhere’s services for “secure” data transfer. This incident occurred in January and was reported to Mackenzie only two months later. The organizations we rely on are at risk of cyberattacks not only directly but also through the chain of companies to which they outsource, and private individuals are the ones who pay.

Aina Liepins
Tiny, ON

“The time has come,” The Walrus said, “to talk of many things.” Send us a letter or an email (letters@thewalrus.ca) or tag us on social media. Comments may be published in any medium and edited for length, clarity, and accuracy. Mail correspondence to: 411 Richmond St. E., Suite B15, Toronto, Ontario, Canada  M5A 3S5