Media needs to get past the smart-pretty dichotomy 

Dear Navigator,

I would like to draw your attention to recent events in the media and how they have been covered by other newspapers and blogs.

First, South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius has recently been charged for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. These events have made headlines due to Pistorius’s Olympic fame, but the media have also reported the story in other, more troubling ways.

For instance, Steenkamp was a successful activist, model, and earned a Bachelor of Laws that lead her to work as a paralegal. However, many news outlets such as the Observer and the Telegraph have chosen to solely highlight the fact that Steenkamp was a beautiful woman, posting slideshows of her modeling portfolio on their respective websites. While this was certainly a part of Steenkamp’s life, it is saddening to see her other intellectual accomplishments pushed to the side.

It is almost a dichotomy in the news discourse these days—either you’re smart or you’re pretty.

A 16-year-old teen, Lauren Marbe, from Essex, England, recently scored 161 on a MENSA IQ test—one point higher than Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein. Marbe also happens to be beautiful, and everyone seems to be surprised by the fact that she is smart and pretty—even her teachers, who told Marbe they didn’t realize “how smart she was” in an article for the Daily Mail.

This dichotomy is predominantly cast upon women in the media, and it is harmful. It states that if you are beautiful, you couldn’t possibly be smart, and vice-versa.

I encourage the Nav. to keep getting all of the angles—in the news stories it covers, and from the people it interviews.

Délani Valin


Will Lunney fix the Last Post Fund? 

Dear editor,

Politicians of all stripes claim to support our veterans, yet our country is quietly letting them down when they pass away after a lifetime of service.

The federal government’s Last Post Fund is supposed to ensure that no veteran is denied a dignified funeral and burial because of their financial means. Yet it is underfunded and uses outdated eligibility criteria, depriving veterans and short-changing their families when their loved one passes away.

The fund will pay up to only $3600 to cover veterans’ funeral costs, which does not come close to covering the actual cost of a proper funeral. All but a few veterans who have served since the Korean War are excluded from the program. Families who do apply have faced a staggering rejection rate of over 60 percent. Over 20 thousand veterans have been excluded over the past six years. Families of veterans must pay the full cost themselves unless they are nearly destitute.

The Veterans Affairs department has the gall to claim this is “one of the most comprehensive programs.” No amount of political spin can change the reality that far too many of our veterans are not getting the respect they earned and deserve when they pass away. The Veterans’ Ombudsmen, Royal Canadian Legion and department officials recommend that access to the program be expanded and funding be increased so it can meet the needs of veterans and their families. After years of frustration, the Legion has started a letter-writing campaign to MPs.

We agree, and introduced motion M-422 in Parliament to fix the Last Post Fund. We invite our colleague and your representative, Member of Parliament James Lunney, to fix the fund and vote in favour of M-422 later this year.

When MPs say we support our veterans, we should mean it. It is long past time we give our veterans the respect they deserve.


Judy Foote, MP,

Sean Casey, MP

Liberal Party of Canada