Let’s pair richer schools with poorer onesRe: Rich school, poor school: Private money affects Ottawa’s public education system, Aug. 8.As a retired English teacher and a parent, I am saddened by the disparity among schools in Ottawa. Ontario’s public school system ranks among the best in the world but it is disheartening to see how significant a role the neighbourhood’s wealth plays in important parts of a school.Better government funding would certainly improve this: libraries are not a frill. You cannot overestimate how important reading books other than textbooks is for children. However, the cynic in me also believes that affluent parents would continue to provide extras for their children regardless.One of the best suggestions in the article was the idea of pooling or sharing some of the fundraising. I challenge schools like Broadview to pair themselves with places like Arch, especially with those schools that have no council.You will benefit, they will benefit and society will benefit when disadvantaged children don’t feel so left out.Cathy Haley, OttawaWe need a better plan for play structuresThe formal play structures at Ottawa schools are closed to students during the school day from mid-November until the end of April (and sometimes longer) because of safety issues related to the hard surfaces in winter conditions. That is five months where they are off-limits. We need to provide something for kids to do during these months, places where students can balance, formed into shapes they can traverse, berms to run up and down, logs to sit on etc. that would be available all year long. A large, simple covered outdoor space would allow kids to spend time outside when the weather is wet or hot. Spending money on formal plastic structures is a waste of resources. We should find more creative and natural solutions to keep kids active. Nancy Ross, OttawaPara Transpo’s management could use an overhaul Re: Letter, City hall won’t fund Para Transpo properly, July 13.The letter about the serious underfunding of Para Transpo hit home with me. After two-and-a-half frustrating years using Para, I said good-bye to a chronically dysfunctional system, except in exceptional circumstances.I heard many stories from Para drivers about their supervisors, the obvious conclusion being that unless there is a complete makeover of the administrative level at Para, the system will continue to be dysfunctional. Lack of funding is one factor; another just as important are the managers who see no reason to change the manner in which they treat drivers and passengers.Janet E Harris, Ottawa
Mandy Green and her son Chase pose outside their Kemptville home on July 31. Chase suffered from second stage Lyme Disease and bacterial meningitis.
Tony Caldwell /
Give us more information and a Lyme disease vaccineRe: Kemptville mom warns parents, doctors to keep Lyme in mind as potential diagnosis for sudden illness, Aug. 2.I don’t get it. Actually, I might have it. But I still don’t get it … and I truly empathize with Mandy Green and her son.On a recent Monday, I found a large, itchy, red circle on my leg. There was no visible tick, but there was severe aching, cold and tiredness on Tuesday. I got a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday, with blood work and antibiotics for two weeks. Tylenol and Calamine Lotion helped.Ten days later, all those symptoms are gone, the blood work is negative for Lyme but a severe painful foot rash occurred. Tick infection? Antibiotic reaction? Plant allergy?Who knows? Cortisone treatment helps.The point of all this, and with Mandy Green’s case, and with the many more people I have spoken to who also have been bitten by a tick, is twofold: 1) we need more research and information dissemination on Ticks and Lyme; and 2) we need a vaccination policy.Personally, I’ve only lost two weeks of my life while convalescing, and hopefully my next blood work will also come back negative for Lyme. But what would have happened if no rash had appeared and it went undetected? Lyme is very serious.And to suggest checking for ticks (I never found one), and wearing long pants (I do), and spraying Deet (I do) is a shortsighted and ineffective attitude. Ticks are everywhere, even your city backyard. They can be the size of a poppy seed and impossible to find. This is only going to get worse as the Ticks spread.George Fisher, Lanark HighlandsCity’s procurement strategy is flawedRe: SNC’s Trillium Line bid is best deal: city manager, and Council criticism mounts over lack of disclosure on LRT vote, Aug. 6.Notwithstanding the lack of transparency, the city’s procurement process seems to be cumbersome and somewhat flawed.First, the entire procurement process seems to be delegated to the staff. Why? After all, councillors are elected by ratepayers and staff are not. Second, council does not appear to have a full oversight role on the process. Third, are there any checkpoints in the process where the council could at least exercise some oversight role? Fourth, why is the council not represented on the procurement “executive steering committee?” Fifth, it would seem that the council has no authority to overrule a staff decision.The public deserves to know the accountability relationship between the council and the staff in discharging their respective responsibility in the city procurement process.Dono Bandoro, OttawaCity of Ottawa could feature on The SimpsonsSuppose, as you are about to undergo heart surgery, and as the gas puts you to sleep, that the cardiac surgeon tells you he didn’t finish at the top of his class in medical school but he works cheap.This is not too far from what the taxpayers of Ottawa are experiencing. We have an engineering company designing an LRT system who aren’t really clear on the technical aspects but showed really, really good financials, possibly because they don’t know or appreciate the complexity of the task at hand and underbilled.The City of Ottawa should be featured in an episode of The Simpsons. Jim Quimby … you’re looking fine.Craig Butler, OttawaTrillium Line: What could possibly go wrong?Many taxpayers might not share the city manager’s confidence. A bid that failed to achieve a satisfactory technical score? What sounds like a very – possibly unrealistically – low financial proposal? A less than stellar performance by SNC in Stage 1 of the LRT?What could possibly go wrong in Stage 2?Richard A. Beattie, OttawaWhat does three per cent really mean?Much is being made of SNC-Lavalin scoring 67 per cent in technical requirements for the LRT Stage 2 contract; three per cent below the 70 per cent required. That’s somewhat surprising since they were involved in Stage 1. But if they were the lowest bidder, what do we make of three degrees of separation?Technical score plus lowest bid may well have been an appropriate contract award decision. It depends on where they fell short in meeting technical requirements, how bid costs were to be built up and compared, and just how much latitude there may be for add-ons or cost adjustments once second phase construction is under way.Then, let’s not forget that Stage 1 did not go exactly according to plan. Has anyone assessed and applied the lessons learned from that? Let’s hope when they flip the switch, the system works well and reported deficiencies have been remedied (at least, the important ones).Trevor Shaw, OttawaDollars spoke larger than technical abilityThe three bidders for the Trillium line extension received 85.8 per cent, 84.91 per cent, and 67.27 percent respectively as their technical scores. The difference between the lowest score and the next highest score is significant, not to mention that the lowest score implies that that bidder, SNC-Lavalin, met only a dismal two-thirds of the technical requirements.As well, the closeness of the two top scores implies that those bidders, Trillium Link and Trillium Extension Alliance, both have a better understanding of the factors involved in the projectIn the end, the city decides to go with a marginal technical bid because of financial considerations. A thought from Dr. Norman Augustine, a well-experienced aerospace engineer and executive, comes to mind, namely that disaster has not been left to chance.John C Bauer, ManotickCity practises the ‘new math’Only in the bizarro world of Ottawa municipal politics can 67 per cent equal 70 per cent. This must be the new math or more likely an alternative fact. Compliance is a black and white result, not grey: You meet the requirement or you don’t.Apparently it’s not so when bidding on the LRT. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead or risk the wrath of our LRT-focused mayor. Or, even worse, maybe have to stand up to possible legal challenges.Why bother having requirements? Instead, make it up as you go. Perhaps the other bidders should have been given the chance to lower their bids by eliminating those items that caused them to greatly exceed the surprise 67-per-cent technical compliance number. The public will never know what impact that would have had on the final choice.Stephen Asherman, Ottawa
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with Sophie Gregoire and their children, pay respects at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on Feb. 21, 2018.
NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images
Proud of the prime minister in IndiaRe: An Innocent Abroad, Aug. 3.I read with interest the excerpt from John Ivison’s new book Trudeau: The Education of a Prime Minister. While I agree with most of the excerpt, I disagree completely with a statement that our prime minister made himself look foolish in India. On the contrary, India’s populace embraced his and his family’s Indian costumes, which included sherwani for men and boys and braided sarees for women and girls. I must compliment Sophie Grégoire Trudeau for doing such a wonderful job in persuading her family to wear them. Trudeau had good intentions of his visit to India, but unfortunately politicians on both sides, in India and here, took advantage and sadly blew things out of proportion for their own political gain. I am an Indo-Canadian who came to Canada in 1967 with my parents at 18 years of age. Family and friends in India had positive views about the visit. Many were surprised to see the prime minister of Canada and his family eagerly volunteering (seva) in preparation of making rotis (Indian bread) served with the meal to everyone at the food kitchen hall of the temple. The Indian people had never seen anything like it from any other country’s dignitaries before.I am very proud that our prime minister still continues to show kindness, compassion and respect for other religions, cultures and traditions even after the opposition’s dogged attempt to brand him as a lightweight.Daljit Nagpal, NepeanMost Canadians accept progressive principlesI believe John Ivison got it wrong. Justin Trudeau’s New Age routines are not the essence of the man but mere cosmetics. His and his party’s core values are founded on diversity, equality and respect, and they are reflected not in superficiality but sound principles that I believe are Canadian values.And this is a progressive country. We do elect Conservative governments, especially when they are Progressive Conservatives, and we do so in times of economic struggles. That’s ironic, because the “best of times” financially have been under Liberal governments. But the core social values are mostly accepted.Alberta is struggling, like most economies primarily based in non-renewable resources. And Albertans are loud complainers, treating Trudeau as if he is the reason they are not in that 2011 boom economy when oil was selling at over $100 a barrel. A rebatable carbon tax is fundamentally a Canadian solution, it’s applied equally to all provinces and has a scientific basis, but has turned political. They degrade Trudeau, but he is not the enemy; it’s unrealistic, non-progressive provincial governments.Peter Haley, OttawaThe Queen tried local customs tooI had to chuckle when I saw that full-page photo spread of the Trudeau family in India trying to “fit in,” but I expect, as with most families, that they also were trying to have a little fun, especially with the kiddies. This is all pretty old news, although still worthy of a few laughs.I do recall photos of a young Queen Elizabeth, then Princess Elizabeth, doing square dancing at a party hosted by then governor general Viscount Alexander in 1951. There she was, with her brown chequered blouse and flared blue skirt.I also recall photos of Prince Charles and Lady Diana in Edmonton in 1983 dressed up in period costume and strolling down the wooden sidewalks on their way to a Klondike barbecue, trying to beat off the blackflies. Good fun.I enjoyed Prince William and Kate in their “grubbies”’ doing dragonboat racing in Prince Edward Island in 2011 and having a great old time.I guess when people of note travel to foreign countries, they like to have fun and fit in, sometimes to please the locals and to give the press a few headlines.But what really made me roar with delight was watching Andrew Scheer and Doug Ford squeezed into cowboy shirts with too small stetsons sitting on their inflated heads, flipping flapjacks while trying to “fit in” at the Calgary Stampede this year. Sort of like a Laurel and Hardy version of Bonanza gone bad!Francis Kenny, Ottawa
Artist Claudia Salguero with her latest mural, on Montreal Road. (Photo: Tony Caldwell)
Tony Caldwell /
Immigrants bring Canada such wealthMy wife and I were absolutely delighted with your photo of Claudia Salguero with her mural in Vanier honouring the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa.I want to remind readers of the contribution immigrants have brought to Canada. Both Claudia and her spouse, Juan Vasquez, respectively, came to Canada as immigrants from Colombia and Chile. We know them well. We’ve seen them both contribute so much to our country and community: he as an upstanding citizen and now a senior public service employee; she as a visual art professional, singer and show producer, with many of her creations staged at our National Arts Centre.Claudia and Juan Luis have probably contributed as much to our culture and economy as many of us born here. Sadly, and based on today’s convoluted “entry” requirements into Canada, outstanding applicants like them would probably be denied entry. Our loss, some other country’s gain.Jacques Dufault, Orléans