Kim Jong-il, said Prime Minister Stephen Harper in response to the North Korean leader's death (World Leaders React – Dec. 20), “will be remembered as the leader of a totalitarian regime who violated … basic rights.”
Let's hope these words don't come back to bite him.
Armida Spada-McDougall, Vancouver
Stephen Harper's statement violates normal canons of protocol in reacting to the death of a leader of a country with which Canada has diplomatic relations. And it shows how out of tune Canada is with those states that are serious policy players in dealing with the transition of power in North Korea and peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
Words and nuance matter.
The one-note trumpet of condemnation may be morally satisfying, but it puts us on the sidelines in a chorus of one, irrelevant to the diplomatic and security challenges ahead.
Paul Evans, director, Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia
I'm appalled by John McCain's reaction: “I can only express satisfaction that the Dear Leader is joining the likes of Gadhafi, bin Laden, Hitler and Stalin in a warm corner of hell.” No wonder so many countries hate the Americans.
On the other hand, our Prime Minister's response was well-versed and a credit to our nation.
Don Ungarian, Edmonton
Hamas at work
Israelis have every reason to be skeptical when Hamas Declares Violence Is No Longer Its ‘Primary Option' (Dec. 20).
Only last week, Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh boldly declared in front of tens of thousands of supporters in Gaza that “armed resistance and armed struggle are the strategic way to liberate the Palestinian land from the sea to the river.”
Hamas has proved time and again that its commitment to a tactical truce – replenishing its strength during the quiet periods – is only a means to return with increased deadliness.
Mike Fegelman, executive director, HonestReporting Canada, Toronto
Health officials desperately seeking funding, hospital administrations overstuffed, union contracts protecting inefficient workers, drug costs escalating, infrastructures crumbling, emergency rooms overburdened, can't find a family doctor or a long-term-care bed – and federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says: “Our public health-care system is a source of pride to all Canadians” (Health Proposal Divides The Provinces – Dec. 20).
And some provinces believe this is sustainable – with a little extra cash!
What's everyone smoking?
Desmond Writer, Halifax
Jim Flaherty is providing sanity and common sense by linking health-care funding to nominal GDP, and thus government revenue. It simply isn't sustainable to have health-care funding increases outstrip government revenue increases in perpetuity.
Bill England, Vancouver
Once again, the provinces are whining and pointing fingers instead of recognizing that we can't continue with the existing system. I hope Canadians are as fed up as I am with this pitiful lack of leadership.
Richard Dean, Nelson, B.C.
Follow the Cup
Re In Montreal, No French Behind The Bench (Dec. 19): Perhaps Wilfrid Laurier put it best when he told Henri Bourassa in 1899: “My dear Henri, the province of Quebec does not have opinions, it has only sentiments.”
J.D.M. Stewart, Toronto
Senator Jacques Demers was functionally illiterate in both official languages when he coached the Montreal Canadiens. His linguistic limitations didn't seem to matter when the Habs won the 1993 Stanley Cup.
Christine A. Featherstone, Toronto
Fixing the RCMP
Re New Top Mountie Delivers Candid, Scathing View Of The Force (front page, Dec. 20): Forty years ago, Bob Paulson and I were in the same class in high school in Lachute, Que. From what I remember of him, Bob was a rather colourful character, though certainly not the most academically diligent student in the class. But he did stand out among his peers as a bit of a natural leader so, in retrospect, perhaps it's not surprising to see he's now Canada's top Mountie.
It's painfully obvious that the RCMP has some serious issues to deal with. But to suggest, as many observers have done, that the force is broken beyond repair is way off the mark. Disbanding the RCMP in the same manner as was the Canadian Airborne Regiment would accomplish precisely nothing. Taking such an extraordinary step would only serve to provide a humiliating demise for a great Canadian institution.
There's little doubt that Commissioner Paulson has got his work cut out for him. Redressing the malaise that has afflicted our national police force will take time and effort, and will require decisive leadership. Let's hope our political leaders and ordinary Canadians rally behind Commissioner Paulson's efforts to bring the RCMP into the 21st century.
Mike Kennedy, Toronto
Re The Anglosphere Yet Reigns Supreme (Dec. 19): Did you know that English is spreading in China like wildfire? During a recent visit, I was surprised to see how young Chinese have taken to learning English.
In downtown Shanghai, I saw a sprawling campus with a huge sign reading: “Wall Street English.” When I asked an official what it meant, he told me they're teaching business English used in American boardrooms.
According to Ted Fishman, in his book China, Inc., “China has more speakers of English as a second language than America has native English speakers.”
Mahmood Elahi, Ottawa
Table for one?
“To eat alone in a public place,” according to a New Zealand food blogger who's quoting Desmond Morris, “is to invite suspicion of personal failure at best and deviancy at worst” (The Perils And Pleasures Of Dining Alone – Life, Dec. 16). That blogger ought to re-evaluate his definition of personal failure.
Who's more of a loser, the person who opts for the company of a TV and a couch out of fear of trying something different or the person who goes out for a meal and a chance to meet someone?
As a single woman, there've been many times when I've headed to a restaurant with the intention of dining alone, only to end up not eating alone. It's too bad people are so consumed with their own insecurities that they'd rather stay home and blog.
Alexandra Gelfenbein, Toronto
Joy to the world?
Io Saturnalia will never catch on as a seasonal greeting (Pa Rum Pum Pum – letter, Dec. 19). It contains five syllables; Christmas has only two and is thus more efficient, as is humbug.
Reg Harrill, Calgary