Columnist should authenticate his assertions

Dear Editor:

As a loyal reader of Indo Caribbean World, I was appalled to read Kerry Ramirez’s column (July 7/04) in which he chose to make accusations and propagate his own Liberal biases in this community paper. In his column, he draws upon his wild imagination and postulates that a man would not have been able to introduce the Rape Shield Law in Canada, which a woman Justice Minister did. The writer fails to provide any facts or state why a man, as Justice Minister, would not have done the same. 
Furthermore, in the article, Ramirez states “that if the Conservatives were to get a majority, that there was an agenda to diminish the power of the Supreme Court and its ability to protect minorities under the Charter.” The columnist went on to state that “South Asians within the Party were silent on this important issue.” 
This is just utter nonsense. First of all, Ramirez repeats a lie, then goes on to suggest that South Asians within the Conservative Party were silent on this issue, inferring that they were too stupid to speak up and defend themselves. 
Mr. Ramirez should clearly provide the quote with appropriate references to indicate that the Conservative Party was seeking to diminish the rights of minorities. He may also wish to tell us which rights and how they planned to do it. If Ramirez cannot find such a reference in the party’s election document, from Stephen Harper, the leader of the Conservative Party or from the member of the party he referenced, I would suggest that the author (a) retract his false accusation, and (b) apologise to the large and growing population of Indo-Caribbeans who voted for Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party.
It is clear that in Mr. Ramirez’ world, it is inconceivable that people from the Caribbean would have grown sick and tired of the great Liberal Party and its deliberate actions to make it difficult for us to bring our relatives and family to Canada whether it be for a visit, medical help, to attend a family wedding or for simple immigration. 
Mr. Ramirez may wish to note that many Indo-Caribbeans and South Asians are unwilling to affiliate with a party which does not share their values and treats them as a voting block worthy of being ignored during elections.
Naresh Raghubeer
Executive Director,
Canadian Coalition for Democracies.

Dev’s take on EU sugar pricing policy vindicated

Dear Editor:

When Mr. Ravi Dev began speaking and writing way back in 1998 and 1999 about the instability and unsustainability of Europe's preferential price regime for our sugar, and urged that Guyana should seek to diversify many of the estates away from our main crop before it is too late, he was ridiculed for these views by the then Minister of Finance, Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo (in a letter to Stabroek News). 
Given the current panic about the proposed overhaul to the EU subsidies regime, I wish to clarify that this letter is not about gloating "we told you so". It is an expression of concern about this current administration's continual lack of vision and refusal to confront in a timely manner global economic realities. 
The Wall Street Journal (07/15/2004), in a news article devoted to the EU subsidies regime, quotes the European Union Agriculture Commissioner, Franz Fischler as saying, (in remarkably similar language to that of Dev’s), "artificial sugar prices in the EU, which are three times higher than the world market price, are not economically viable".
President Jagdeo has recently complained that the EU was negotiating in "bad faith" and that, "suddenly this new surprise was sprung on us, as soon as we start this negotiation on the new economic partnership agreement we are faced with this proposal which will be presented to the European Commission to cut the price that we receive in Europe (for sugar)..." (SN, July 3rd 2004). 
But if the President's Foreign Affairs staff and Economic advisors or even he himself had done just a cursory study of the political climate over the last few years in Europe regarding agricultural subsidies, the President would not have been sprung this "new surprise". 
The WSJ article reported that "for years, critics have complained that the EU's sugar regime allows its farmers to undercut competitors, glutting markets and depressing prices while shutting producers in many other countries out of the protected European market."
Competent and alert government bureaucrats would have seen the writing on the wall, and would have factored into their economic forecast the alarming fact that the preferential programmes were costing European taxpayers US$1.9 billion in direct subsidies and US$9.5 billion in higher food prices each year!
Also, according to Mr. Fischler, an indication that the subsidies regime was not working was the fact that 17,000 'sugar' jobs have been lost and the number of sugar mills have been reduced from 240 to 135 over the past decade alone. Confronted with these facts the president may have questioned the going assumption among CARICOM leaders, Guyana included, that the protocols are of "indefinite duration." 
Dev Prakash, New York

Visible minority MPs have some tasks cut out for them

Dear Editor:

The newly elected visible minority M.P.s have shown that a political career can also be a great service. Only those who have walked in the shoes of immigrants can feel their pain, and only elected lawmakers can ease that pain.
Due to a decline in childbirths, immigrants are needed to replace an aging work force and to increase the tax base. Yet, many politicians only pay lip service to the newcomers because they have no political power. Visible minorities in particular, face huge obstacles in their soc-ial, economic and political integration.
Many new members of the Canadian family are exploited as cheap labour. Some are not even paid for their work. Often, industries and businesses circumvent the labour laws and take advantage of the newcomers as workers from agencies and subcontractors. Underemploy-ment and exorbitantly high rents put many new settlers and their families in perpetual poverty.
In the 70s, as a landed-immigrant of British Commonwealth background, I voted in the provincial and municipal elections. Instead of extending this right to all immigrants, it was taken away even from the Commonwealth citizens. The waiting period between applying for and receiving the Canadian citizenship has also increased considerably.
The visible minority M.P.s can empower the vitally needed immigrants by introducing legislation to give them the right to vote in the provincial and municipal elections. The landed immigrants can work in the provincial and municipal services but they cannot vote. If the new Canadians are good enough to work and pay taxes, they are also good enough to vote.
Jeff Ram, Toronto


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