What has become of the Canada of two decades ago? Some excellent letters to the Editor in today's Toronto Star:
"Re: Death that shames us all, Editorial July 13
Death that shames us all, Editorial July 13
Forcing Edward Snowshoe to spend 162 days in isolation is cruel and barbaric punishment — something that we expect in the torture prisons in the Middle East but not in Canada. Unfortunately until someone dies we don’t seem to give a damn.
To someone who has volunteered in prisons for 15 years it is not surprising that the prison system has killed off another prisoner. Since the Harper government came to power, prisons have become crueler and meaner places, imposing longer sentences and denying parole to as many as possible. The parole board is now totally stacked with Conservatives whose only qualification is they are card-carrying party members who donate to the party.
These are no longer “correctional” institutions, they are punishment centres. Correction and restorative justice have been killed off and buried inside the razor wired walls.
The Christian fundamentalist philosophy of spare the rod and spoil the child is now being applied to adults. Punishment can be physical, attitudinal and mental, but it is all meant to break the prisoner.
I fear it is only a matter of time until they bring back the lash and the death penalty. Getting even is now more important than treatment and rehabilitation. Many of the staff in these prisons also deplores what is happening.
Unfortunately the government has succeeded at turning the public against all prisoners, convincing us to not give a damn what they do to these bad, bad people. The mantra, “If you’re not with us you’re with the criminal” is nonsense, but it works.
The real problem is, Stephen Harper is devoid of compassion and empathy and the trained seals in his caucus blindly follow. The history books are full of people who were “only following orders.”
We and the people we are trying to help rehabilitate deserve more.
Jim Purdie, The Toronto Star"
Another good one related to CRA & Charities:
"Re: Tories intimidate charities into silence. Who's next? Opinion July 16
Tories intimidate charities into silence. Who's next? Opinion July 16
We should all be concerned at the Conservative government’s latest attempts to silence charities that oppose its views, by triggering the Canada Revenue Agency to audit them for political activity.
It’s ludicrous and unfair that taxpayers can claim on their income tax returns a higher percentage of their donations to political parties (whose activities are 100 per cent political) than what they can claim for donations to charities (only a portion of which can be used for advocacy/political purposes), especially given that charities are doing so much of the work that should really be undertaken by government.
Several charities such as Greenpeace and the Council of Canadians already refuse to accept any support from government and don’t issue their donors income tax receipts. This allows them the freedom to express their views without having to endure “advocacy chill” by this government, which seeks to silence what it labels as “radical environment groups” and accuses them of “laundering offshore funds for inappropriate use.” How paranoid is that?
Should any of the groups to which I donate have their charitable status revoked for such undemocratic reasons, I will do everything in my power to actually increase the amount I donate to them and would urge other Canadians to do the same.
Diana Hooper, Willowdale"