Refugees: How can we help?
Sir: In the recent federal election Canadians supported the generous acceptance of Syrian refugees. The terrorist attacks in Paris have caused some to question this policy.
Most Canadians want to help.
Calgary’s respected mayor Naheed Nenshi says the desire to help is the most common response he hears from Canadians. Quite understandably some are seeking assurance that there will be adequate screening. CSIS and the RCMP both assure us that a thorough screening process is in place.
A few oppose taking any refugees. A tiny minority performs hateful racist acts such as setting fire to the mosque in Peterborough, attacking a Muslim woman in Toronto and vandalizing a Hindu temple in Kitchener. These are the ways the so-called ‘Islamic State’ wants the world to react.
Most Muslims worldwide oppose the term ‘Islamic State’. Arabs call it Daesh, meaning ‘one who sows discord’. It is not a State anywhere; it is a terrorist organization trying to become one. It is no more Islamic than the Ku Klux Klan is Christian.
Daesh fears Canadians’ inherent decency and our generosity in accepting all cultures. In the Peterborough example, ordinary citizens contributed more than enough to repair the damage to the mosque. They are true neighbours to their fellow citizens.
How can we help the thousands fleeing Daesh? We can support both government and privately sponsored refugees with our friendship and concrete help.
We can also contribute to privately sponsoring a family as individuals or through a church or another organization.
Muslim and other minority communities are upset that people are eyeing them suspiciously. How can we help?
We must treat them with warmth and friendship. We must assure them that they are valued and respected neighbours. Our community is stronger and safer when we help and support each other.
Nov. 11 should be a statutory holiday
Sir: I noticed on Nov. 11 that school buses were still running, taking kids to school so that their teachers could tell them about the part Canada played in the two World Wars, Korea and Afghanistan.
The could have studied this all year, but only had one day to be with their families to attend any ceremonies they wish. Many of their parents also had to be at work, not getting a day off.
One young student interviewed said it was much more important to be at the ceremony than taking a math test at school.
Quebec and Ontario are the only two provinces that do not have legislation in place to make Nov. 11 a Statutory Day of Remembrance. This was taken away in 1982 by the Conservative government of Bill Davis and Education Minister Better Stephenson on the advice of the Provincial Commander of the Royal Canadian Legion.
Their stand was that children should be in school on Nov. 11 to learn about Canada’s history.
The Canadian Legion does not speak for all military services, groups or Veterans.
If government offices, municipal offices, banks, libraries and other services can be closed on Nov. 11 then businesses, stores, schools and other public facilities should be closed also.
Two minutes of silence is not long enough for a nation to remember their dead and honour the living.
It is time that Nov. 11 be reinstated to a full Statutory Day of Remembrance for all Canadians.
In Flanders Fields the poppies still grow.
A wonderful and terrifying world
Sir: It has been a bad two weeks for this old earth.
First there was the downing of a Russian passenger plane with everyone on board losing his or her life.
Then a terrorist massacre in Paris that claimed over 100 lives and a terrorist group called ISIS claiming responsibility for both incidents.
The day after the Paris massacre our new Defence Minister, Harjit Singh Sajjan, said ISIS is a threat but Canadians shouldn’t be afraid.
I wonder if this was his own personal opinion, or one obtained from our own anti-terrorist group?
He had been in the job ten days, and an anti-terrorist group is only as good as the intelligence it receives. Ask France.
I have decided not to worry about this because our new Prime Minister has vowed to legalize the sale of marijuana. Now instead of worrying about anything I will go out, buy some pot, roll a joint, take a couple of puffs and become a happy hippy grandpa.
There is a wonderful children's book in which a character called Alice says to a character called the Mad Hatter, "It's a very strange world."
There are times when you have to ask yourself how this wonderful world we live in can sometimes be so terrifying.
Your kindness made my day
Sir: It is not every day that one goes shopping and receives an unexpected gift. On Friday the 13th I was shopping at a local grocery store. I got in line to pay for my purchases and I started to talk to the lady (a stranger) in front of me. We talked about the things she does and idle chitchat. Both of us commented on the lovely roses that were on display besides us. She opted to purchase the roses.
We proceeded through the checkout, and since I only had a few items, I was ready to leave before she got all her items packed up. She handed me the roses and said, "These are for you."
I was so surprised I don't think I thanked her properly.
I hope that you are reading this. You must be an angel, with what you do, and your generosity.
I just wanted to tell you, thanks very much for your act of kindness. You certainly made my day.
How about a sliding tax on homes?
Sir: I liked Keith Patrick’s letter in a recent issue. I don’t closely follow the machinations of Council and wasn’t aware of a proposed property tax increase of 7.98%. It does seem high.
Even with an increment like that I am of the understanding that there are not enough monies to do everything that needs to be done.
Many of us believe it is extremely important to maintain and enhance infrastructure, and that suggests that all of us are going to have to hurt a little bit eventually, one way or the other.
I am more inclined to positively consider such an increase if the recommendation is coming from city staff, rather than a blundering Council. Is there any way to mitigate it?
One consideration might be a sliding scale of tax surcharges. Initially for example, homes appraised at more than a million dollars could pay an extra 10% or 15%, on the theory that those who have, can afford to pay more.
However, in our community there are likely many retired homeowners that are property-rich but income-poor. Such a scheme likely would hurt them. Thus, they might be able to appeal to the City to have any additional tax accumulate with interest at whatever the city’s borrowing rate is, and be discharged on the eventual sale of their home. City staff might be able to determine the feasibility of this suggestion.