Autumn 2014
Letters to the Editor

Praise for mindfulness, a new ultra-cool record, concerns about the hidden labour pool

2014 Summer Magazine coverA Legacy Worth Preserving
Thank you for the wonderful tribute to Dr. Norman Bethune (“New Sculpture Honours Norman Bethune’s Legacy,” Summer 2014). I wanted to let you know that, for the last 13 years, the School of Health Sciences at Humber College in Toronto has provided a modest annual award in Dr. Bethune’s name to recognize a health sciences student who has contributed to humanitarian work and demonstrated a commitment to publicly funded Canadian health care – while maintaining academic excellence. We all need to do our part to ensure that Dr. Bethune’s record of humanitarian work and innovative efforts for universal health care is never forgotten. Equally important: we need to emulate his efforts when possible.

Joe Grogan
CBus 1967 Woodsworth, OCE, 1969, MEd 1981,
Bolton, Ontario

The Best Teachers
I’d be more hopeful about our schools and the welfare of our children and students if, rather than forcing them to jump through the hoop of the master’s degree, OISE (“OISE’s New Direction,” Summer 2014) screened candidates for their suitability as teachers and accepted only those who like children, can create a constructive classroom atmosphere, and can appreciate the psychodynamics of developmental stages and the impact of the home and cultural environment on student learning and well-being. We don’t need more educational theoreticians or policy wonks. We need vibrant human beings who will engage enthusiastically and sensitively with our children in the classroom and introduce them to the complex challenges of the world with generosity, empathy and encouragement.

David Schatzky
BEd 1973 OISE, Toronto

Resources for Enforcement
I enjoyed the interview with Prof. Jeffrey Reitz about Canada’s temporary foreign workers program (“Labour Troubles,” Summer 2014), and was particularly drawn to the following statement: “Then there’s the challenge of enforcement – of the rules of the program, but also the rules of labour relations in Canada. Workers without permanent resident status tend to be more compliant. It’s easier for employers to ask them do extra work for low or no pay.” As a retired employment standards officer with 23 years’ service with the Ontario Ministry of Labour, I found this statement to encapsulate a true dilemma for enforcement. Enforcement officers know what the problems are but are helpless when it comes to enforcing basic employment standards. I suspect other jurisdictions experience similar problems. Ontario dedicates few resources to proactive investigation of any kind – only reacting to complaints from those willing to complain. Until there is sufficient legislative support for both administrators and enforcement officers provincially in employment standards, the hidden labour pool will experience continued abuse.

H.G. Goodwin
CLaw 1986 Woodsworth, BA 1996 Woodsworth
Peterborough, Ontario

High Hopes for UC
As a UC undergrad some 20 years ago, I thought then that the main University College building could be so much more than it was (and it was already a great building). I’m very pleased to hear there are concrete plans to have it be even more of a home to UC students and staff (“Restoring UC’s Glory,” Summer 2014). I hope it doesn’t take a full 10 years to realize those plans, but I look forward to visiting again soon.

Stephen Porter
BSc 1993 UC, Edinburgh, Scotland

Even Cooler
I enjoyed reading “The Biggest, Boldest, Best Story Ever Told About U of T” (Summer 2014, but your factoid that 4.2° Kelvin (or 269° Celsius) is the coldest spot on campus was off by about seven orders of magnitude. I believe that this honour goes to Prof. Joseph Thywissen’s ultra-cold atoms lab, where they routinely cool atoms to below 100 nanokelvin, or 0.0000001° K.

Stephen Julian
PhD 1988
Chair, Department of physics, University of Toronto

How to Prevent Stress
We have now benefited from the Buddha’s wisdom and pragmatism in finding a cure for our stresses (“The Science of Mindfulness,” Spring 2014). So how about if we were to prevent them? Isn’t an ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure? In his teachings on mindfulness meditation, the Buddha insists that meditation be grounded in self discipline. These “training principles” are: “I say no to taking life; no to taking what is not given; no to lying, backbiting, gossiping and foul language; no to sexual misconduct; no to binge drinking and addiction.” These are not God-given injunctions, nor are they externally imposed. These are the principles that guide the life of every Buddhist. Is there anything in them that a practitioner of any religion or no religion would find objectionable? To be self-watchful and socially responsible, as we practice mindfulness meditation, will make us happier and healthier, and will lead to a more productive and creative workforce.

Suwandah H J Sugunasiri
MEd 1971, PhD 1978, MA 1993, TORONTO

Celebrating Canadian Writers
I applaud PhD student Sara Angel as she tries to increase awareness for Canada’s visual artists (“Beyond the Group of Seven,” Spring 2014). Sadly, there is also a lack of knowledge about Canadian writers, as reported by Wendy Donawa and Leah C. Fowler in their book Reading Canada: Teaching Canadian Fiction in Secondary Schools. Canada is blessed with many talented artists of all types, but our school curricula and commercial art outlets are dominated by foreign content. Canada needs to develop, inform and celebrate its own at every opportunity.

Martin Gagné
BASc 1984, Toronto

The Boldest, Biggest, Best Story Ever Told about U of T” (Summer 2014) named Hazel McCallion and Craig Kielburger as the oldest and youngest people, respectively, ever to have received honorary degrees from U of T. In fact, they are the oldest and youngest living people to have received honorary degrees awarded by U of T’s Governing Council (which does not award honorary degrees on behalf of Victoria, Trinity or St. Michael’s colleges, or the colleges of the Toronto School of Theology). “Farewell to the Master” (Summer 2014) incorrectly referred to “Old Souls of Canada.” It should have said “All Souls,” in reference to the Oxford college. U of T Magazine regrets the errors.

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Reader Comments

# 1
Posted by Karina Huising-Torrese BSc%201987%20New on November 6th, 2014 @ 7:55 pm

Thank you for including those unsung heroes of war, the animals, in the Autumn 2014 issue (“Forgotten Warriors”). Many people do not realize the number or variety of animals have been used during in war or the contributions these animals have made, many giving the ultimate sacrifice, their lives. Many people also are not aware that not only did many of these animals not survive but those that did often were not brought back. Sadly, I understand this practice still goes on today.

I have heard many stories of these animals from around the world, including that of of Gander, the Newfoundland dog with the Royal Rifles of Canada, who died picking up and carrying away a grenade that had landed next to his platoon during the Battle of Lye Mun on Hong Kong Island, but I had not known the story of Bonfire.

Kudos for reminding people of the “Forgotten Warriors” because as is written on the Animals in War memorial in London, England, “They had no choice”.

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