Wednesday, February 8, 2023
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Today’s letters: Charity begins right here, Ottawa


Saturday, Dec. 31: At a time when the need is greatest, we shouldn’t scrimp on charitable donations, a reader says. Write to us at letters@ottawacitizen.com

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Boost support for local charities

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Re: Charitable giving in Canada dips to record low, Dec. 16.

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The holiday season is a time to unplug and take stock of everything we have to be grateful for. This is especially important during these challenging times of record inflation and economic uncertainty.

I am a proud Ottawa resident and native who considers our city to be a caring and generous community and a great place to live and raise a family. So it was with some surprise that I read the article describing how despite demand spikes facing so many of Ottawa’s charitable organizations, Canadians (and by extension Ottawa residents, I presume) are choosing to give less than they ever have — both in terms of the percentage of individuals giving (19 per cent) and as a percentage of income donated (0.49 per cent).

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These are astounding numbers. Fewer than one in five taxpayers is donating anything at all and less than half of a per cent of income was donated. By way of comparison, the state of Utah is leading the way with its strong Mormon giving community, donating more than five per cent of income.

Ottawa may not have the Mormon tithe tradition of giving 10 per cent of income but certainly we can do better than one twentieth of that amount as a city. When you think about it, we all live in a community, in one way or another, and we all have an opportunity to make it better in some way. It’s easy to get caught up in our personal lives and forget that we have an obligation to be responsible members of our communities.

Please take a moment to consider what you can do today in terms of giving to support you favourite Ottawa charity. I promise you, it will be very grateful.

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Michael Wilson, Ottawa, BGC Ottawa board member, 2022 AFP Ottawa Philanthropist of the Year

Thanks to those who helped travellers

Severe weather conditions disappointed many travellers trying to get to family or friends at Christmas. I was lucky: my family all got to me on time and safely. I do sympathize with everyone who waited and worried at airports, bus stations, were trapped in trains, or stuck in cars waiting to be dug out of ditches or snowbanks.

However, I think it behooves us all to thank and respect the workers who did their best to help solve the multitude of problems, from  delayed trips to lost baggage. it was chaotic!

So from so many of us lucky ones, thank you to airline staff; emergency crews; Hydro crews; snowplow drivers; rescue workers; and all the volunteers who just did their best to help. Please know that we are grateful. Bless you all for being kind and patient and helpful in a crisis.

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For those who suffered, I hope you eventually got to hug your loved ones and perhaps made a new friend or two! You will have a story to tell about the Christmas of 2022.

Dawn Cooper, Manotick

Don’t fight back-to-office policy

Re: Fortier rejects calls for negotiation, Dec. 28.

Treasury Board President Mona Fortier is right in saying that the return to a hybrid work model for the public service is a management and employer issue. Once the logistics are figured out — she has offered everyone until March to do so — what is asked of the employees is a fair compromise. The unions would be better off to put their pettiness behind them and support this move for the betterment of their union members and the welfare of the entire nation.

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Fighting this initiative is a waste of time and energy for all Canadians. Happy energized New Year to all federal employees.

Nona Nalley, Orléans

The workplace can help your brain

Re: Manager’s get flexibility in feds’ office return plans, Dec. 29.

One fact that supports working in the office is its impact on brain elasticity. Social interaction is among the most important factors in maintaining brain health and can reduce the risk of dementia. There are many ways to socially interact and returning to the office is just one of them.

As I continue to investigate ways to improve my own brain health, I wanted to ensure this fact is included in the discussion. The government policy does not impact me personally; I share it out of concern for my fellow citizens. After over a decade of working from my home office, I wish I had known this earlier.

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Diana Thibodeau, Gloucester

It’s not a waste of time or money

Re: Letter, PS deserves innovative thinking, Dec. 24.

As a retired federal public servant who went into the office for 35 years, I am dismayed by a letter-writer’s statement that workers who go back will be “wasting their own time and money for no reason.” By this logic, every Canadian who goes to a workplace other than their home is “wasting their own time and money” to get to work.

Who does the letter-writer and federal public servants sharing the same sentiment think they are and why do they consider themselves above others who are making a commute to work every day? A federal public servant has many perks and benefits that most Canadians don’t have. So please get off your cushy couch and and get back into the office now.

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Cathy Turner, Stittsville

Let’s return to normal worklife

Call old-fashioned, but during my career, we “went” to work. That is what we did to pay the bills: we went to the office, the plant, whatever, and worked.

I appreciate the efforts of all the folks who worked from home during the pandemic, but hopefully that is over and it is time for normalcy to resume.

Joe Spence, Ottawa

Birds, wind turbines don’t mix

Re: For the birds: Ottawa absent on list of bird-friendly cities, Dec. 26.

Thank you for the article on the bird-friendly cities list. Questions about the role of buildings and green space are timely, but people may be unaware of a new danger to birds in Ottawa: industrial-scale wind turbines. The city’s Energy Evolution plan calls for potentially as many as 700 of these 60-storey machines, which kill birds.

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The American Bird Conservancy estimates that because of poor siting of wind turbines, as many as 1.4 million birds will be killed each year, in addition to deaths caused by buildings and power lines. Worse, the turbines kill raptors such as hawks and eagles that are so important to the ecosystem.

Ottawa’s rural areas are habitat for many birds and at-risk species of bats, and Ottawa is on the pathway for migrating birds.

Wind turbines also introduce noise into the environment, which can harm both wildlife and people. We need to demand a proper impact assessment of the city’s wind turbine proposal to protect the environment and wildlife.

Jane Wilson, North Gower

We need to test visitors from China

Re: A slew of other countries are tightening rules for China travellers, but no plans from Canada, Dec. 28.

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Why has our federal government not instituted mandatory tests for COVID for all individuals arriving on flights from China?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had no trouble demanding these tests from Canadians returning from abroad earlier, yet his admiration for China persists and he simply cannot force himself to do what is right.

Stan Painter, Kanata.

City may have to crack down on sledding

Re: Some sledders are still using closed Mooney’s Bay hill run, Dec. 22.

The fact that people are still using the hill at Mooney’s Bay for sledding despite the fact a child was killed there last year — and despite the city putting up signs, fencing, padding on trees and sending in bylaw officers — is beyond belief.

There seems to be a current and disturbing societal trend to ignore authority and freely do whatever one wants as if it’s all right. The real problem is most likely the parents who think that it’s perfectly acceptable to let their kids on this hill.

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If parents aren’t going to grow up and educate their children to the dangers of such activities, then the city is going to have to get tougher and start implementing fines and other measures in order to deter this alarming occurrence.

Children just want to have fun, but they also assume that they’ll live to express their joy and recall those precious memories when they are older.

Douglas Cornish, Ottawa

Parents abdicate role to teachers

Re: Defiant students, fearful teachers and an elementary school in disarray: What really happened at Pinecrest Public School? Dec. 18.

Jacquie Miller correctly describes a situation that exists at several schools. One element missing in this discussion, however, is the role of the parents. It’s their job to teach their pre-school and school-age children the notion of right and wrong and that actions have consequences. And that in order to live in a secure and effective society, rules and authorities are required.

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Too many parents have abdicated their parental responsibilities, a sad state of affairs. The schools have become the last resort to teach students proper behaviour in a group.

School boards are handcuffing teachers and should get out of the way. Administrators are imposing concepts related to diversity, inclusion and ethnicity and indicating these concepts are an acceptable excuse for bad behaviour. All this at the expense of the first priority of competent teachers: to provide a safe and good learning environment.

More than 15 years ago, my brother attended a parent-teacher meeting where a male parent told the female high school teacher that, according to their culture, his teenager son did not have to obey a woman. Looks like violence and bullying have been added to other wrong concepts. A sad state of affairs, indeed.

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André Corriveau, Stittsville

Discipline is basic to learning

As a former long-time teacher at all levels of the “educational spectrum,” I have learned that discipline is fundamental and foundational to learning.

There is simply no excuse for tolerating misconduct or misbehaviour and most certainly no excuse for shifting the blame to teachers. Perhaps some school boards should reflect on their mission and accountability.

Don Pajot, Constance Bay

Schools must learn to combat hate

Re: Jewish groups call on Ottawa-Carleton board to act against antisemitism in schools, Dec. 20.

During the 1930s, German schoolteachers had a captive audience ready to be indoctrinated in the art of learning how to hate. With the help of National Socialism, they succeeded in helping to create a climate that then attempted to bring about the liquidation of 11 million Jewish people. Day after day, youngsters were encouraged to worship the Nazi party and with the help of parents there was no shortage of Jew haters.

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More than 80 years later, here in Ottawa we have 16 organizations pleading with educators to combat antisemitism in our schools. It is time to train teachers in how to combat hatred on a regular basis, starting with Grade 1 and continuing persistently every grade thereafter.

School boards paying lip service is not good enough. The problem has to be formally addressed as a part of education for students and parents. If our educational system is not up to the challenge, nothing will change for the better.

J.A. Tasseron, Carleton Place

Please, give turkeys their freedom

Re: Turkey is the flavourless chicken of the desert. Holiday meals should spice it up, Dec. 21.

I couldn’t agree with Bruce Deachman more. Set the turkeys free.

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Just because turkeys were the only protein slow and stupid enough to get eaten on the first Thanksgiving, why should we all be doomed forever to spend out holidays stuck in the kitchen stuffing, basting and trying to produce unlumpy gravy?  Thanks for saying what we’ve all been thinking.

Scott Sponder, Orléans

A compelling tale of families

Re: Remember how fleeting time with loved ones can be,  Dec. 24.

Fariha Naqvi-Mohamed has provided much to reflect upon, folding in the realities of multi-faith communities, how immigrants’ lives are impacted and how friends became “family” to them. I particularly appreciated how she highlighted the “free activities” her family enjoyed. She also spoke of the complexity of families, citing the case of a friend declining a parent’s call.

The beauty of the article is that there is something in it for everyone to relate to and reflect upon. This article is a keeper and one to refer to from time to time; you may be inspired to act upon it as you deem fit.

Steve Georgopoulos, Orléans

Best foot forward in 2023

Just before the gong goes off to ring in the New Year, go and open the front door, then stand on your left foot and take a step outside. In doing so, you will start the New Year off on the right foot!

Pat McAlpine, Kanata

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