Letters to the editor, October 6, 2016

These are the letters and comments from the print edition

Elect democracy

Having participated in a public meeting on electoral reform in Sackville on September 29 called by the federal MP, and though not an expert on all the details of the voting options, I came away somewhat shocked by the apparent lack of awareness and knowledge of relevant facts that I had witnessed.

It was clear Conservative supporters who didn't want to change the current first-past-the-post method were also understandably upset that the Liberals had won every Atlantic seat in the last federal election. What was not apparent, however, was that most who felt this way were aware the Liberal sweep had been the result of the distortions and shortcomings of the first-past-the-post voting method.

Had a more democratic and inclusive voting system—in the form of a properly designed proportional representation method—been in place last time 'round, that better reflected voters' wishes, instead of being shut out in Atlantic Canada, Conservative supporters would now likely also have Conservative MPs representing the region in Parliament (though not a majority, because too few voters had voted for the Conservatives).

What was also clear was that myths about proportional representation (PR) are still rampant, an important instance of this being that adopting PR would mean having unstable governments, when the evidence is that countries using PR can enjoy stable governments and robust democracies, with more than 80 percent of the other OECD countries using some form of PR. Another myth is casting one's vote under the PR method is too complicated, even though millions across the world do so without difficulty.

Whether or not it is the Liberal government that's responsible for the present electoral reform initiative, this wonderful country now has the opportunity to be an even more inclusive and democratic place. And to those opposed to voting reform or who are just uneasy about change, is it too much to hope that rather than taking at face value what can so often be bad-faith propaganda and instead check out more thoroughly what the facts actually are and where the best evidence points in cases of things appearing a bit murky? —David Blackwell, Eastern Passage

Thanks, Canada

On September 26, I celebrated the 60th anniversary of my family's arrival to Canada. My mom, dad and six kids (15 years to nine months) left Rotterdam and came to Pier 21 in Halifax in search of a better life. This got me thinking about my former Conservative parliamentary colleagues Kelly Leitch and Tony Clement, and about their recent comments stating that new immigrants should be screened to adhere to "Canadian values."

But let's look back at Canada in 1956, to what would be considered Canadian values. It was OK to beat the Indian out of the Indigenous child, and rip those children out of their homes to have many of them suffer from sexual and physical abuse at the hand of so-called religious and government institutions. It was acceptable to openly discriminate against our African brothers and sisters. It was OK to jail gay or lesbian people, and fire them from their place of employment. It was commonplace to sexually harass women in the workplace. It was standard practice to openly pollute our air, soil and water—to have one drink for the road, and to smoke openly in public places.

My thanks to the government of the day, for not asking my parents on behalf of my family, to accept our so-called Canadian standards at the time. You see, Kelly and Tony, Canadian values have changed in 60 years. And even though we're nowhere near where we should be as an equal society, we are moving forward. But we trust the day will come, where Canada (and the world, for that matter), reaches respect, equality and dignity for all persons. As J.S. Woodworth once said, "What we desire for ourselves, we wish for all." —Peter Stoffer, NDP MP 1997-2015, Fall River


In last week's paper, the listing for the launch of the book Burnley "Rocky" Jones: Revolutionary said Rocky Jones would be at the event, when the legendary lawyer sadly passed away three years ago. The Coast sincerely apologizes for this error.

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