Time to replace this Ottawa eyesoreRe: Let’s bulldoze 24 Sussex, July 23.It really does not matter which government decides to fix 24 Sussex Drive; it will face criticism and ridicule. Past prime ministers have realized that pushing for a new 24 Sussex would be next to political suicide.The fact is, however, that this place is a disgrace to the country on so many fronts. It is a complete mess and not functioning to serve the needs of the prime minister and family. Why can’t a new home be built in a similar style? Surely the money that has been wasted in the past four years would have built more than one new residence.It is time to stop the dilly-dallying and the small talk and get this eyesore torn down and replaced with something of which we can be proud.Elizabeth Slump, OttawaWhere’s our self-respect, Canada?Chris Selley’s column on 24 Sussex Drive amply illustrates the cheapness and pettiness that prevails within our political parties with respect to the upkeep of the prime minister’s official residence. It also reflects on the total disregard we have for ourselves as a nation to allow this situation to fester to the extent where destruction appears to be a more viable alternative than preservation.Now is the time to pressure our politicians to stop spending millions of taxpayers’ dollars on international programs designed to brand Canada as the “savour of the planet” and instead invest some of our money on saving our institutions and the things that make Canada such a nice place to live.Ed Storey, NepeanWe know just the people for this tear-downTear it down? What a great idea, and perhaps we could hire the wonderful architects who designed the addition to the Château Laurier.Sharon Mintz, OttawaPlease keep this firm away from 24 SussexOK, fine; it must be done! Canada must have a home which proudly and respectfully houses our prime ministers. Recreate the exterior heritage look, gut the interior and start over.But please – do not let Larco Investments anywhere near the designs!!!Helene Doucet, OttawaNot everything that is old is valuableYes! Get rid of the unattractive money-pit built in this beautiful location. Not everything that is old is valuable, historical or interesting and – in the case of 24 Sussex Drive – well-made.Build something modern and exciting that takes advantage of the locale. A new build with Canadian wood, stone and glass is much more reflective of this northern country and would be a showcase for Canadian talent that we can all be proud of.Cathy Haley, OttawaModernize but remember the massesI don’t really get all the heritage brouhaha; sooner or later, the future overtakes the past.My first choice: bulldoze it. Second: Number all the bits, disassemble it, sell the parts to Disney for “the Magic Kingdom.” Big bucks for taxpayers.Then, start from a clean slate, say, LEED-certified with solar panels, a ground-source heat pump, no asbestos, everything state of the art, as befits a prime minister.Of course, final design will have to be approved by the hoi polloi, as per the Château Laurier.Pete Pierce, SpencervilleFuture scenarios for the Château LaurierRe: Château Laurier fight shows Canada’s heritage sites are defenceless, July 24.As Christophe Rivet wrote, our national historic sites are not protected, so one may imagine the following scenario: It is 2025. The addition to the Château Laurier has been operating for more than a year and the owners are delighted. They see the benefits in running an up-to-date building and decide to replace the old structure. They apply for a demolition permit…Peter Moy, OttawaGun control not just about street crimeRe: Gun ban debate leads board to ask Ottawa police for report on how to curb gun violence, July 18.As a person who strongly supports stringent gun control, I feel that the approach of the City of Ottawa is missing the mark by treating firearms as a problem of street crime while ignoring the other areas where the majority of gun deaths occur.In Canada, 75 per cent of firearm deaths are self-inflicted, caused by suicides. Another five per cent are caused by accidental discharges of firearms in the home. Additionally, it is reported that 22 per cent of women in abusive relationships are killed by guns.If we restrict the parameters of gun control solutions to street crime, we are missing a valuable opportunity to create legislation that will effectively save more lives. Gun control has been shown to reduce deaths, but we must expand our scope of treating it simply as a crime issue, and address it instead as a public health epidemic.Rob MacDonald, Ottawa
Capital ward Coun. Shawn Menard wants changes to city hall committees.
Errol McGihon /
Independent councillors being held backRe: Let’s bring back real democracy at city hall, July 19.Coun. Shawn Menard has nailed it with his account of the pro-development bias that has been in place in Ottawa for decades, and which has become even more pronounced during Jim Watson’s first two terms as mayor.By the end of Watson’s second term, advisory groups had been neutered, respect for community groups and citizens at committee meetings was a thing of the past, and citizen engagement had all but disappeared. However, by the beginning of the current term, Watson was antsy because council now had a core group of councillors with brains, opinions and track records. What to do to keep control, and especially in the downtown area with all kinds of developers seeking approvals?Simple. Keep these smart people with opinions and track records off planning committee, and stack it with non-downtown-core councillors whose constituents do not live with the results of their decisions on a daily basis. Moreover, make sure that most councillors who are appointed are short on pertinent credentials, lest they challenge development applications which do not satisfy the principles and practices of good planning.The current committee structure created by Watson is a farce, and needs to be changed immediately before Ottawa goes any further down the proverbial planning road to hell in a handcart.For my part, I will seek a word with my councillor, Rick Chiarelli, to ascertain if he disagrees with anything in Menard’s statement, and why.Barry Wellar, Ottawa, president, Information Research Board Inc.
Watch out for ticks in Eastern Ontario.
Don’t be scientifically lazy about Lyme diseaseRe: Ottawa classed an ‘at risk area’ for Lyme disease, July 19.Throwing up your hands and saying education is now the preferred path forward on Lyme disease is scientifically and intellectually lazy. The city needs to properly map out the tick density across its territory but also examine (by trapping and analysis) wild animal hosts to show the presence of the infected ticks in those populations.The City of Ottawa’s citizens deserve to know which areas have been examined and what the results of host testing indicate. There is too much at stake from a human health perspective to allow shoddy science to inform public policy. We need data to make informed decisions on where we should or should not go to minimize personal risk.As an aside, I found it telling that there was no mention of an anti-Lyme disease vaccine previously approved for use in Canada. It seems that lobbying for re-entry of this vaccine into the Canadian market would be a useful effort by Medical Officers of Health across Canada.Eric R. Stephen, Ottawa, M.Sc. (MCPM)To improve health, tackle our alcohol problemRe: Alcohol consumption tied to increase in ER visits. July 22.If we are serious about improving health we have to do something about alcohol access and consumption. If we are serious about addressing the runaway costs of associated hospital care (estimated at more than $4 billion in Canada in 2014), we have to do something about the current culture of excessive drinking.I was shocked by the statistics revealing unbelievable increases in serious illness: in 16 years there was a 240-per-cent increase in ER visits due to alcohol in young women. This statistic does not include the serious contribution of alcohol to some mental illness, to chronic diseases such as cancer, and to associated problems including assault, unwanted pregnancy, fetal alcohol syndrome, motor vehicle collisions and falls. It does not include social issues related to workplace productivity, personal relationships and family breakdown.Action must happen at the individual level. Adopt the 10/2 (women) or 15/3 (men) week/day low-risk guidelines. Think prevention. And if there is one policy issue that screams out for action it is this one.Sherry Nigro, Ottawa, RNDefinitions differ for learning disabilitiesRe: There’s always love’; British TV series depicts the trials of parenting with plenty of honesty, July 22.The review of David Tennant’s new TV series “There She Goes” deals with difficulties encountered by parents who are raising a child with severe learning disabilities, born with a chromosomal disorder. As a professional who has worked in the field for 40 years, I believe it is critical to point out that this is a series originating in the United Kingdom, and that, in the UK, the term “learning disabilities” is used very differently than here in Canada and in most of the rest of the English-speaking world.In the UK, it refers to individuals with global developmental delays who experience significant challenges in all aspects of their development, including intellectual, emotional and behavioural. Here in Canada, the term “learning disabilities” refers to Individuals who have at least average intellectual ability – sometimes even intellectually gifted – who experience specific challenges in certain areas of academics, usually reading, written expression, and/or mathematics.While frequently challenging and frustrating to parent and teach, these individuals have areas of strength and talents that can be used to help them compensate for relative weaknesses in their general learning profile, and who, with appropriate accommodations and support, are more than able to graduate from high school and to be successful in higher education and in the workplace. I do hope your readers, especially those parents who have children diagnosed with LD, can appreciate the differences.Maggie Mamen, PhD, CPsych, vice-chair, Learning Disabilities Association of Ottawa-Carleton
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro: No saint, but neither are the nations that oppose him.
FEDERICO PARRA /
Glavin ignores damage of sanctions on VenezuelaRe: Damning UN report on Venezuela’s brutality must not be ignored, July 10.Terry Glavin’s one-sided opinion ignores the international chorus of concerns over Michelle Bachelet’s UNHCHR report critical of Venezuela.The Weisbrot/Sachs Washington report, hardly Glavin’s “progressive and impeccably left-wing” supporters of Nicolás Maduro, shows U.S. economic sanctions inflicted as many as 40,000 deaths from 2017 to 2018, sanctions illegal under international conventions the U.S. has signed.UN Human Rights rapporteur Alfred-Maurice de Zayas’ 2017 Venezuela report found internal factors hit Venezuela hard, but “economic warfare practised by the U.S., EU and Canada are significant factors in the economic crisis.” Bachelet largely ignored Venezuelan submissions and 80 per cent of her interviews were conducted outside Venezuela, raising serious methodological questions. De Zayas called Bachelet’s report unbalanced and unethical.The United Nations Human Rights Council on July 13 adopted a resolution condemning by 28-to-14 the imposition of illegal unilateral coercive measures (sanctions) by the U.S., Canada and others. Venezuelan academic Edgardo Lander, a critic of Maduro, notes that four years ago, Venezuela had imports of $52 billion which have dropped to $12 billion, resulting in economic collapse.A serious crisis envelops Venezuela, and the Maduro government’s authoritarianism and corruption are indeed factors, but it’s far more complex than Glavin postulates. His failure to comment on the contribution of U.S. destabilization or opposition politician Juan Guaidó’s corruption, or opposition killings, denies readers a complete picture of a complex morass, ignoring U.S. and Canadian interference in Venezuela, including obstruction of Norway’s efforts to bring opposition and government together.Bob Thomson, OttawaThis alliance could boost the SensThe Ottawa Senators have been predicted by experts to finish last in the coming NHL season. Ticket sales will go down, the current owner may want to sell.One way to save the team would be to create a common Ottawa-Québec team, the Nationals. They could play half the season games in Ottawa and the other half in Québec City. Both cities need one another.What an occasion for great rivalry and marketing: two mid-sized great cities competing against the bigger guys Montréal, Toronto, Boston, New York. As we say in French Canada, there would be electricity in the air!Gilles Marleau, OttawaGreenhouse gases in the key of CWith one classical music festival wrapped up in Ottawa and another in full swing, it doesn’t take very long in an interview before they talk about the extensive international air travel necessary for their careers bringing Bach, Beethoven and Brahms to the masses scattered about the planet. Seriously, these are persons who can tell you what airport they will be landing at two and three years from tomorrow. As a flutist of some ability, the lifestyle of that kind of career never really appealed to me, especially after a chat with flute superstar Sir James Galway, who learned early on to have his manager remind him of what city he was in before dashing onstage.I was at uOttawa around the same time as perhaps Canada’s busiest touring classical musician, Angela Hewitt. Residing in London and Italy, she must cross the Atlantic dozens of times in a year.Given the overriding issue of our time I am curious: There must be some sort of carbon offset program for international touring classical artists, right?Or are we, those scattered masses, left to deal with their “Classical Gas” when the curtain closes?Thomas Brawn, Ottawa, Bmus flutist