The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on September 20, 2000 · 37
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The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada · 37

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Wednesday, September 20, 2000
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37
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LETTERS THE OTTAWA CITIZEN WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2000 C5 Snake's squeeze did not endanger me I. Alexander Young (age u), would like to respond to a letter in the Citizen ("Snake stunt was dangerous," Sept. 18, by Wendy Brig-gsjude) that said I did a very dangerous thing by wrapping a constrictor-type snake around me at Gloucester's 150th anniversary party. I would like to inform everyone about constrictor snakes like the Burmese python that I was involved with. Constrictors will only attack another creature if they are hungry, or if the creature is small enough for them to swallow. I wasn't in danger because "Big Squeeze" (the snake in the photo that ran in the Citizen on Sept. 11, page D3) had iiist been fed, and she did not laave enough energy to ' Squeeze me. I'm also too big to '.?at! ;"The well-trained staff from Tittle Ray's Reptiles, who Brought the snake to the Gloucester birthday party, did a great job educating everyone about snakes and other reptiles. Many people fear or hate snakes because they don't Jtnow enough about them. I Hdiink they're great! ;Alexander Young, " Gloucester Diverse board will aid growth of United Way The Sept. 17 article, "United Way ignoring minorities, group says," is critical of the manner in which the United Way responds to minorities. It might be that the timing of this criticism is unfortunate because the United Way has just launched its campaign. However, we would urge the United Way not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. National Capital Alliance on Race Relations (NCARR) was informally approached over a year ago by a member of the United Way board, to put forward names of qualified minorities who might be willing to sit on the board and to improve its outreach to various communities in Ottawa. Some members of the United Way board have obviously noticed the very weaknesses in representation that were criticized. At the very least, there exists an issue of perception and communication. We urge the United Way not to give up in its efforts to become as representative as possible of the population it serves. This can be an opportunity to open the organization and to build it, rather than to batten down the hatches against attack. The region is indeed changing and its increased diversity must be reflected in our community and political institutions if they are to thrive and grow. Sonia Brereton, Ottawa Executive Director, National Capital Alliance on Race Relations Write to us We welcome Letters to the Editor, which must be exclusive to The Ottawa Citizen. Please include your home address, as well as home and business telephone numbers, for verification. Please cite the page and. date for articles mentioned. Due to space limits, letters of 300 words or less are preferred. We reserve the right to edit, condense or reject submissions. Although we are unable to acknowledge letters we cannot publish, we value the views of all readers who take the time to send us their comments. Mail: Letters to the Editor Ottawa Citizen, 1101 Baxter Rd., Ottawa, Ont. K2C 3M4 Fax: 596-8458 E-mail: lettersthecitizen,southam,ca The Citizen Online: www.ottawacitizen.com Letters Editor: Brian Sarjeant, 596-3785 Copyright in letters and other materials sent to the publisher and accepted for publication remains with the author, but the publisher and its licencees may freely reproduce them in print, electronic and other forms. mm :w'4- "m m Alexander Young, 11, says he was Gloucester's 1 50th birthday party attacking him. Recommendation to close school shows folly of board's planning The Lamira Dow Billings school council applauds the Citizen's coverage of the school closure debate and wishes to announce that we have prepared a report to be presented to the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board on Sept. 28. Our report is not an emotional plea to keep LDB open rather, it is a factual rebuttal to the board planning department's nonsensical recommendation to close this particular school. We realize that not all taxpayers can afford to spend their free time attending meetings in an effort to stave off their school board's lopsided and chaotic approach to school closures, so we encapsulate our report for you here. Built in i972,Lamira Dow Billings is a fully utilized, efficiently designed, classroom-style school in good condition, surrounded by a large schoolyard, in a mixed residential commercial suburban neighbourhood of family-style homes, condo-townhouses and apartment buildings. Because LBD in no way meets the province's criteria for closure, we question not only whether the board has a mandate to close this school, but why on earth elected trustees would vote for such a wasteful and poorly conceived recommendation. Taxpayers are being told they must indulge the board's illogical demand that a perfectly good school building be closed in order that it can obtain access to the provincial money tree our money tree to build new schools. All of us, wherever we live in Ottawa-Carleton, are paying for this expensive bit of folly, and we will continue to pay for years to come. Lamira Dow Billings is the proverbial bird in hand the taxpayer hand. Why is the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board letting it go to pursue two in the bush? Kathryn Howitt, Gloucester Lamira Dow Billings school council Unjust formula I would like to thank both you for your excellent editorial on school closures and the funding formula ("Our schools How Every year, the latest weapons-delivery systems descend upon Ottawa for a degenerate carnival celebrating war technology. These mass cultural events, though euphemistically called air shows, are actually war shows. These sanitized blood sports exemplifying military culture are propagandists theatres of war, battling for the public's hearts, minds and pocket books. War shows proudly orchestrate high-flying drama to breed youth on the art of war. By romanticizing and glorifying the ultraviolent tools of military culture, they serve the in no danger while Big Squeeze, an 80-kilogram Burmese python, wrapped itself around him during on Sept. 10. Big Squeeze had just eaten, and Alexander is too big for the python to consider can't follow this formula," Sept. 7), and Brian Gifford for his thoughtful response ("School funding formula is unworkable," Sept. 12), but I must add one further comment regarding the provincial funding formula. General Vanier Public School, like few other schools in the city, has a high (over 60 per cent) population of English as a Second Language (ESL) students. We are required, and rightfully so, to provide these children with ESL withdrawal: special classes designed to help them with their English proficiency and cultural adaptation. Unfortunately, due to the reduction in provincial funding, we now have only one teacher to provide ESL withdrawal to 134 students. This requires the withdrawal of large numbers of children at the same time and utilizes one full classroom all day, every day. The funding formula does not recognize the requirement for a classroom for ESL withdrawal and so this classroom is effectively loaded at zero. The same scenario exists for our special-education children. We are required to provide a special education learning centre, yet the formula does not recognize the use of a classroom for this purpose. As a result, the province has determined that General Vanier is at 73 per cent capacity. If the two classrooms we are required to use for withdrawal purposes and which, therefore, cannot be used as regular classrooms are removed from our capacity, we would be at 93 per cent capacity. Unfortunately, the use of classroom space for the withdrawal of large numbers of students is not a big problem board- or province-wide. General Vanier is a square peg being hammered into the funding formula's round hole, and is being penalized accordingly. To further exacerbate this problem, many of the families affected are new Canadians and are unable to speak up about this injustice. It is bad enough that the significant reductions these children have seen in their programs is sufficient to affect the quality of their teaching: even can a war show' be delightful? military-industrial complex. They cultivate militarism and "manufacture consent" for war. On the front line of the military's propaganda machine, air shows blatantly encourage public revelry in war technology- Instead of inspiring fun, the 50 "performing" warplanes at Ottawa's National Capital Air Show last weekend should remind us of the past 50 years of wars, state terror and repression: Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Iran, Lebanon, Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala, Grenada, Iraq, Turkey, and so on. War-planes disturbing Ottawa's worse is that these programs are not recognized and must be taught in whatever space can be found. It is time for the province to realize that not all schools, indeed not all school boards, are the same. Pam Lewis, Ottawa, Chair, General Vanier Public School parent council One major flaw Chris Bradshaw is bang on in his vision for the new city ("New city will gain if it helps neighbourhoods thrive," Sept. 15). However, there is one major flaw in his logic. The one feature of all neighbourhoods that are fundamental to their survival, and are a prerequisite to the establishment of a community in the first place, are its schools. Here, the new Ottawa council has no jurisdiction. Mr. Bradshaw has the experience and wisdom to see that the key to sustainable growth for our city lies in focusing on the core needs and services of its citizens, and ensuring those are readily available where they live. For the young families flooding into the region, the item at the top of that list is schools. In what can only be characterized as an act of sheer desperation, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board has recommended the closure of nine vital community schools inside the Greenbelt in order to qualify for funding to build badly needed schools in the suburbs. The provincial government holds the purse strings and couldn't care less about community needs. As a result, local government is virtually powerless when it comes to managing growth effectively. Unfortunately, the staff at the board are so overworked they have become delusional when it comes to planning, and forecast a reduction in school-age children inside the Greenbelt of 20 per cent in the coming years. The crisis in education that former education minister John Snobelen called for over two years ago is here. Is there anyone out there to manage it? Owen Mahaffy, Ottawa skies last weekend have struck fear in millions of hearts. Indeed, they have crucified millions of innocents. Why do such vehicles of mass destruction bring delighted smiles to our fellow citizens? The nuclear-capable F-117, which bombed civilian targets in Panama, Iraq and Yugoslavia, brought joy to Ottawa children. During the 1960s and 1970s, the B-52's cargo of bombs and landmines helped murder three million in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. The B-i nuclear bomber was also a great crowd-pleaser at the air show. The joy experienced by chil GORD CARTER. THE OTTAWA CITIZEN Overwrought Hedda as comedy As Barbara Crook points out ("Lack of subtlety mars Hedda Gabler," Sept. 15), the audience at the Great Canadian Theatre Company's current production of Hedda Gabler tends to laugh at the wrong places. This leads me to an idea which future re-writers, directors and companies attempting this outdated play might consider Hedda Gabler as comedy. Hedda exterminates the two villainous trouble-makers, Eil-ert Lovborg and herself, leaving Tesman, the gullible widowed husband (as romantic lead) with no one competing for his professorship, with Lovborg's brilliant manuscript to recreate, and Lovborg's pretty collaborator and amanuensis to hold his hand. The maid is the clown, Aunt Juliana is the go-between and Judge Brack is the lecherous authority figure. The exaggerated gestures, declamatory modes of speech and heavy-handed histrionics that Ms. Crook complains about would be perfect (except for the opening orgasm). Gilbert and Sullivan could have made it into a hilarious comic operetta. E. Russell Smith, Ottawa Glimpse of evil I also attended the opening of GCTC's Hedda Gabler. It is hard to believe that Citizen critic Barbara Crook and I attended the same production. In my seven years of theatre-going, this is the first time the characters "came alive" from the outset. There is energy, dramatic tension, and precise pacing in this piece that are all too rarely seen on Canadian stages. The character of Hedda gives us a glimpse of evil an evil mind reeking havoc as it frays around the edges. Burgandy Code very convincingly portrays Hedda the victimizer, but also Hedda the "caged animal." Paul Rainville's performance as her bumbling husband, Tesman, in a role which could easily have turned to parody, is a real gem. This production is one of the most interesting I have seen in some time and I urge theatregoers not to be deterred by one negative review. Owen Evans, Ottawa dren at our local war show is made more ironic during this the UN Year for a "Culture of Peace," which starts the UN's "International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for Children of the World." Many peace, human rights, development, labour, youth and religious groups organized a Festival of Peace outside the war show. Unfortunately, the Citizen ignored our festival and chose to promote bombers as children's entertainment. Richard Sanders, Ottawa Coordinator, Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade Taxi changes will help customers and drivers In the debate regarding proposed changes to the taxi industry, focus should be kept on the central issues, which are customer service and fairness to the ordinary taxi driver. The proposed changes will definitely produce the desired results. They will change the taxi industry from a business of speculating on the gain in value of a taxi licence to the business of providing transportation services to travellers. The central proposal is to allow anyone meeting strict but reasonable performance standards to enter the industry. In practical terms, what this will mean is drivers who currently rent a plate for $1,000 to $1400 a month will be able to buy a new, properly equipped vehicle and get into business for themselves. From cash flow, drivers will be able to afford car payments, insurance and, if they choose to work under a roof sign, even the stand rent. Presently these are all additional expenses above and beyond the plate rental. It is difficult to understand assertions that drivers will be harmed. For example, Latif Dadshani's comments are particularly confusing ("Team urges open market for cabs: Licences worth $100,000 would become worthless," Sept. 12). As the proposal is to hand over plates to people who actually drive, one must assume Mr. Dadshani is advocating taking away plates from current owners and handing them over to a different or new group of people. This merely sets the stage for exchanging one group of plate owners for another group of plate owners. Two wrongs do not make a right. His comment that current drivers should be able to buy , plates from the owners makes no sense either. One can only conclude Mr. Dadshani is currently a plate owner. If he were not, he should be happy the new proposals would give him a plate at no cost exactly what he purports to advocate. Further, the fact the city owns all the current plates is conveniently forgotten. The notion anyone can buy or sell the right to work by virtue of control of a plate is, as the report states, a questionable business decision and is the central problem plaguing the industry. Concerns that the market will be flooded with new drivers are ill-founded. Considering the investment required, new stakeholders with a vested interest will indeed join, but hardly a flood. The free market will limit participation. Businesspeople (owner-operators) will quickly decide whether an investment of $40,000 is justified. Taxi drivers have always ; been an independent and . clever bunch. They always have followed and always will , follow the business wherever it is, be that downtown or the airport or Kanata. Highly visible yellow vehicles will simply aid prospective fares in finding a , cab. If there's no money in it, they will leave. In general, good drivers will abandon absentee (or non-driving) plate and vehicle owners and get into business for themselves. Owners of dilapidated vehicles and plate renters, those who add no value to the industry, will lose their drivers. The free market will clean out the deadwood. Brokers will finally get back into the dispatch business. Current plate owners, especially the big ones, have nothing to complain about. The ex- , isting system has enabled them to capitalize their initial modest investments (as little as $7,500), turning them over many times into very successful businesses with substantial , assets (beyond the plates). No ; one should condemn this; it was business and a very successful one at that. However, , the time has now come to give , the little guy, the independent owner-operator, an opportunity to make a business of it. As to anyone who invested in a plate recently, they are on the same footing as anyone else in business who must evaluate a risk and draw the consequences, good or bad. At current plate values, anyone who made this decision in the past five or six years faces an economic hardship. The more recent their foolish investment, the greater the hardship. This group's interests are hardly the basis for allowing the taxi industry in the national capital to continue its decline. Frederick A. Schwilgin, Ottawa a r li m - r m ir - ft ft. r i ' 1 - 1 flti ff Vjii 1

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