Today's letters: Make the Prince of Wales Bridge safe, or tear it down

Saturday, Oct. 24: On the tragic death of Vimy Grant; transit costs; the lessons of Abdirahman Abdi; and a parliamentary confidence vote. You can write to us too, at:

OTTAWA -- Oct 15, 2020 -- Vimy first met his dachshund, Chesil, at the hockey rink two year ago. His parents brought the dog to the rink as a surprise.   Vimy Grant, 14, died as the sun set on the first Friday in July: He leapt into the water from the Prince of Wales Bridge and never resurfaced. His family and friends are now trying to come to terms with that terrible accident – and navigate their river of grief. handout photo

Make the bridge safe or tear it down – now

Re: The Boy Called Vimy, Oct. 19.

Thank you, Andrew Duffy, for bringing this incredible tragedy to the public’s attention. I have rarely read a story that left me feeling so bereft for many days. My heart and soul are breaking for his family and friends. I remotely “COVID-hug” my 15-year-old grandson tighter.

My raw tears turn to flaming outrage over the deliberate negligence of multiple levels of government to do the right thing: simply make a decision and either tear down the bridge or turn it into a safe pathway for all to enjoy.

Right now, the Prince of Wales bridge is merely another grave marker for a lovely boy whose life was needlessly and carelessly lost through our “public safety” failure. A groundswell of public outrage is the only way to get action now, for Vimy and for all the other lives that can still be saved.

Cut through the red tape that constantly constrains and ties Ottawa in knots, leaving so many critical decisions unmade – such as who’s in charge of the COVID-19 response or how to fix the safety of long-term care homes, to name but a few.

The list is dangerously long. Some issues are decades old and all of them negatively affect our lives and erode our trust in government competence.

Kate Harrigan, Ottawa

We need better, and fare-free, public transit

Re: Public transit in post-pandemic trouble, Oct. 21.

Columnist Randall Denley may want OC Transpo to be a business, but what we need is for it to be a public service designed to meet society’s needs. Already some 25 to 30 per cent of Ottawa’s residents depend on public transit to meet all their transit needs, from getting to work or school, to various appointments, to visiting family and friends. They struggle with the costs, gaps and unreliability of the service.

It is also vitally important that this number grow. The transportation sector accounts for roughly 40 per cent of the province’s greenhouse gas emissions.  Close to 90 per cent of these emissions are generated by private automobiles and the reduction needed to address climate change is impossible without getting people out of cars and into public transit. The single most effective measure for accomplishing this shift is to make transit fare free, although the quality of the service is extremely important as well.

Such a transit system would require increased taxes, but these would be offset by savings elsewhere. A transit system that made owning a car, or a second car, unnecessary would save people $8,000 a year on average. With fewer cars, there would also be savings resulting from fewer victims of car accidents, and from reducing the ever-growing costs of efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Donald Swartz, Free Transit Ottawa

Stop glossing over racial injustice

Re: Policing problems, not bias, Oct. 21.

It is incomprehensible to me that, in the aftermath of a controversial whitewashing of police violence, this newspaper chose to vindicate any element of racism in the justice system. Tell that to the Somali and Black community of Ottawa who watched as an emotionally distraught and confused member was beaten and died in front of their eyes.

And it’s hardly the first incident, in these racially charged times, and hardly the way to soothe anti-justice sentiment that has been festering over four-and-a-half years since the incident occurred. Accepting a judge’s ruling on a very complicated case that blunted the charges of the police’s own Special Investigative Unit is one thing, but glossing over the predicament of what we already know about racial injustice is another.

Peter Haley, Ottawa

This is how the cops take care of us?

2020 is sure proving to be an interesting year. How long before Const. Daniel Montsion is commended for trying to save Abdirahman Abdi’s life?  Perhaps a few blows to the head are actually good for everybody … even better if administered with a tactical glove.

I am sure that the citizens of Ottawa are reassured that the police will take proper care of them. How about making room in the police budget for some training in Hong Kong?

Larry Ladell, Ottawa

What about mental health problems with the police?

There seems to be a strong consensus that we have to address the mental health problems that afflict many people, and some of these people come in conflict with the law. Apparently the police are not properly trained to deal with them.

Do we also consider that there could be a mental health problem with some of the police that have to deal with these people? We talk about PTSD. If ever there were a profession that could bring about this condition, policing certainly ranks high.

Are our police properly evaluated psychologically when there are signs that they might be suffering from these symptoms? We all deal with stress in different ways, aggressive behaviour being one of them. And in some circles this is admired and encouraged.

Fred Theberge, Orleans

The prince shows he’s just another amphibian

Re: Canadians dodge snap election as Liberals survive confidence vote with help from NDP, Greens, Oct. 21.

I was reading a fairy tale centred in a land of ice and snow ruled by an evil king named Stephen who blocked access to information from his subjects and was lacking on transparency on most issues of the day. It was said that he even prorogued Parliament.

Along came a white knight named Justin and as he approached this land the sun came out. Justin said if the people made him king, Parliament would never be prorogued and information would flow as freely as the water in the mighty rivers of the kingdom.

Sadly, as in many fairy tales, Justin turned into a frog.

John McAuley, Kanata

Conservatives made a tactical blunder

No one wants an election during a pandemic. That much is clear. It was simply a tactical bunder for the Conservatives to push forward with the motion to create a special committee to investigate the WE scandal during this time.

All political parties should be working together to fight COVID-19 and focus on helping Canadians and businesses most affected by the pandemic. There will be another day to deal with the WE controversies and maybe bring down the government.

Dono Bandoro, Ottawa

Important lessons this Halloween season

With Halloween fast approaching, perhaps it’s time to evaluate our priorities.

As a mother of three and grandmother of five, I can honestly appreciate the the fun of wearing costumes and collecting candy. No child should be denied it, you might think. But we need to put all this in context.

One hundred years ago, Halloween as we know it was not even an event. And until more recently, it hadn’t become the exciting time for children that it is today. When one looks at the sheer volume of purchases – decor, costumes, candy – it’s easy to see that it has been driven to a great extent by marketing.

Now the pandemic has put restrictions on all of us. Children could benefit from understanding these restrictions and learning about safety, not just for themselves, but also the safety of friends, family and even strangers. Perhaps one can organize games in the home or find some other way to give the children at least part of the Halloween experience. Perhaps you can put “treats” in their mailbox to be found the next day. Perhaps you can Zoom the costumed children.

No, it would not be the same as going “trick or treating,” but not only can good lessons be learned by staying home, it just might save a few lives.

Anne Doak, Ottawa

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