Summer 2010
Letters to the Editor

Readers weigh in on Toronto police chief Bill Blair, the idea of a “birthright levy,” and congestion fees

Balancing Act

John Lorinc’s profile of Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair was well done. But the article failed to mention Chief Blair’s expert handling of the Tamil protests in 2009. For several months, impassioned protesters, galvanized by grief at events in Sri Lanka, disrupted Toronto’s streets. Blair’s measured response preserved the balance between public safety and every citizen’s right to free speech. It ended up being a lesson to all in the latitude we must offer, and the occasional inconveniences we must accept, if we want to live in a free society.

Cecilia Kennedy
Brampton, Ontario

Birthright Is Complex

I read law professor Ayelet Shachar’s ideas about citizenship with incredulity. Does Professor Shachar truly think a “birthright privilege levy” should be paid by people according to whether they happen to be born in, say, Canada rather than Haiti?

For one thing, nobody gets to choose where they are born. For another, simply being born in a particular country isn’t a guarantee of lifelong good fortune, even in Canada – as some of our aboriginal people can attest to.

Moreover, living conditions can rise and fall drastically within a single lifetime. While I have yet to read Professor Shachar’s book, your account of it suggests that the issues she raises are more complex than she may realize.

Anne Thackray
MA 1974

Stealth Tax

The researchers John Lorinc cites in “The Better Way? Not so Fast” are sadly misinformed about the gridlock-reducing scheme erected in London. I say “erected” due to the phenomenal expense of intrusive cameras and 50-foot masts now placed at every street and lane entering central London.

Tolls to pass London city gates were appropriate in medieval times, but not today. The London Congestion Charge is a stealth tax on the general public – who are not getting into their cars, vans and lorries every day for the pure pleasure of rush-hour traffic. They need their vehicles. Public transport doesn’t carry a load of lumber, and bicycle lanes don’t help the infirm. Take note, Toronto!

Nancy Bezoari
London, England

Kenyan Labour Shortage?

I was somewhat puzzled by Dr. Alison Kelford’s description of her trip to Kenya to work on building a school. Experiences such as Dr. Kelford’s with Free the Children are a wonderful way for Canadians to learn about a country very different from their own. But to suggest that they foster community development is a bit of a stretch. Local people benefit more from being paid to build their own schools than from smiling at imported workers from privileged countries. There is no shortage of general labourers in Kenya.

Lise Watson
BA 1987 VIC, TESL 1992 WOODS, MA 2002 OISE

No Nobel in Economics

I know that I’m being picky and trying to fight common (mis)use, but the reference in “Is Life Getting Better?” by Kurt Kleiner to “the Nobel Prize-winning economist” is just wrong. No one has won a Nobel Prize in Economics because there is no such prize.

An acceptable short form for the prize is Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences but the correct title is Sveriges Riksbank (Swedish Royalbank) Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. The latter is quite a mouthful, so the former is acceptable.

Dick Swenson

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