I was surprised and frankly disappointed by “Her Way” (April). Katherine Ashenburg mentions Alison Redford’s attire and physical appearance a total of five times, ultimately crafting a profile of Alberta’s first female, and perhaps our “first post-political,” premier that fails to elevate the national conversation. Distracting and demeaning details, in The Walrus no less, prevent readers from appreciating Ashenburg’s argument about post-politics politicians—a provocative idea that I’m now too flustered to contemplate.
Why is it that female politicians of intellectual prowess, political power, and expertise are undermined by the frivolous and irrelevant discussion of what they are wearing? Who cares? Male politicians are never given the same Seventeen magazine treatment. Katherine Ashenburg did herself, and the premier, a great disservice.
Alison Redford is a chameleon who shifts her position to match the realpolitik of the day. She entered the PC leadership race as a “progressive” Tory who strongly supported health care and education. A year later, she was at war with the doctors and the teachers. This past March, she delivered Budget 2013, which protects her oil and gas supporters from increased taxes and royalties by plunging Alberta into debt. She has been a chameleon for so long that she has completely lost her way.
Je me Souviens
I am most intrigued by the mental block that would cause a sophisticated Canadian editor to “overlook” the premier whose passage had perhaps the deepest effect on our national life (Editor’s Note, April). I single out René Lévesque, missing from your list of “household names.”
Nicholas Hune-Brown’s “Grow Industry” (April) neglected to address some crucial issues. I would like to see an article that examines the success of legalization or decriminalization of marijuana in those nations that have tried it: Portugal and the Netherlands, for example. The most important question now is, how does Canada implement this while avoiding negative effects, and what other measures are needed to make it work effectively here? We seem reluctant to use the experiences of others.
Donald J. Kerr
The proposed Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations make it clear that Ottawa is moving toward commercialization. But personal production should exist alongside a commercial market. Taking the power from patients’ hands would be devastating for many.
J.W. Jessy Forsyth
On the Money
Bryne Purchase’s “Mortal Hazard” (April) should be required reading for all thinking persons. Politicians of every stripe, senior bureaucrats, and even academics in the Queen’s University economics department should read, understand, and assimilate his thesis. Then governance in the public interest might become a reality.
In “The Hunger Game” (April), Nick Saul points out the deficiencies of food bank culture, stating that “we not only can do better, we must do better.” It was because of the deficiencies and a search for a better way that Operation Sharing, in Woodstock, Ontario, closed its food bank seven years ago and began issuing food cards. Money for the program is raised by grocery store clerks asking shoppers to donate twenty-five cents to the Foods for Friends program, which brings in between $70,000 and $80,000 a year.
With the food cards, which are controlled, non-transferable, and good for non-taxable items only, users can shop for themselves and make healthy choices. But it’s not just about the food; it’s about giving them a measure of dignity. Instead of lining up at the food bank, they can line up at the checkout counter and pay with a card, as most people do. It is not the whole answer and at best a penultimate solution. It does not address the question that Saul raises about the lack of political will to address the problem of poverty in this country, but we see it as one small but significant step along the way.
Descriptions of IKEA-sized warehouses of food and the involvement of big corporations make food banks sound like monolithic organizations similar to large government departments. Most Canadian food banks are in small rural towns or poor urban neighbourhoods, and are run independently by a handful of volunteers working a few hours each week. At our local food bank, almost half of clients come in just once or twice a year, and roughly 20 percent come monthly. This means that most only take advantage of the service when they’re hungry.
The argument that closing food banks would shame governments into doing something to solve hunger is patently unrealistic, and it jeopardizes the lives and health of thousands of needy people.
Deep River, ON
A rallying cry to end bandaid solutions: thewalrus.ca/the-hunger-gam…
—Ashifa Kassam (@ashifa_k) March 13, 2013
As a commercial aviator out of Vancouver who has lost five pilot friends in separate plane crashes, I must respond to Carol Shaben’s “Flight Risk” (April). When it comes to smaller airlines, there is a massive lack of care, as well as low pay, maxed-out hours (which should not even be legal), and managers known for pushing the boundaries. The Safety Management Systems policy is a small part of the picture.
The March issue of The Walrus identified Mark Jaccard as a Nobel laureate. While he was part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, individual members are not recognized as laureates.
This appeared in the June 2013 issue.