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April 20: Letters to the editor Add to ...

Spinning Khadr

Re Khadr Return A Tale Of Two Spins (front page, April 19): You can spin this Khadr tale in many ways, and here's mine.

Young man goes to war. He shoots and kills, in an engagement where others are shooting and killing. He's captured, imprisoned, subject to extraordinary legal and penal penalties and, years later, pleads guilty. You call him a convicted terrorist. I call him, partly, a victim of Canadian/American political spin. Hundreds of other combatants, on both sides, have acted similarly.

I hope Omar Khadr gets his freedom soon and a chance at a new life away from the glare of our incessant self-righteousness.

Kenneth Hill Morgan, Nanaimo, B.C.

Merit, shmerit

Your editorial Is It A Coincidence They're All White? (April 19) is either very naive or sadly tolerant of our federal system for appointing judges to Superior Courts. Every lawyer and judge knows that politics is the primary factor in selecting judges at the federal level. Under all parties. This isn't a secret. It's an embarrassing fact of Canadian life.

Dan Ferguson, retired Ontario Superior Court justice, Peterborough, Ont.


The issue of visible minority representation in the judiciary raises a thorny question in my family. My wife (white) and I (brown) have four children. Two are white and two are “visible minorities” (genetics is weird – go figure!)

Should I encourage the pale ones to become lawyers because the status quo favours their appointment to the bench? Or should the dark ones become lawyers because they're likely to be head-hunted to fill a quota?

Perhaps the phenomenon of siblings with different levels of melanin should lead us to dispense with the notion that skin colour is a proxy for culture.

Kishore Visvanathan, Saskatoon

The spoilsport

Letter writer Daniel Barichello (The Goon Show – April 19) asks, “Why don't the Neanderthals just switch over to the Ultimate Fighting Championship and leave hockey for the rest of us?” Hockey is, was and will always be an aggressive and, occasionally, violent game. This fact in no small way contributes to its popularity among players and fans alike.

That this should upset some people is understandable. But people of good conscience who abhor this aspect of the game are free to not watch. Since hockey has long featured the rough stuff, is it possible that Mr. Barichello actually doesn't like the sport?

If that's the case, the “nose in the air” crowd should leave hockey for the rest of us.

Gordon MacFarlane, Winnipeg

Bullying and suicide

While studies indicate that bullying can lead to depression and anxiety and/or worsen feelings of isolation, rejection and despair, it's important to note that the vast majority of teenagers who experience bullying don't become suicidal (Bullying Kills – Or Does It? – April 19).

Bullying can be a trigger. But suggesting a direct cause-and-effect link between bullying and suicide can have serious unintended consequences. Perpetuating the simplistic narrative that bullying alone causes suicide may inadvertently lead bullied youth to view suicide as a way to stop the bullying. Rather than normalizing suicide as a response to bullying, we should be normalizing help-seeking behaviours.

Research shows the leading cause of teen suicide is untreated mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar illness and substance-abuse problems. The best way to prevent youth suicide is early recognition of the symptoms of these disorders and getting the appropriate treatment.

Robert Gebbia, executive director, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, New York

Water into whine

In her article Anthem-Singing, Bottled Water Up For Debate At Catholic School Board (online, April 19), Kate Hammer quotes Toronto Catholic District School Board trustee Maria Rizzo as saying that municipal water “comes out of our taps and it's free” and being supportive of a ban on the sale of bottled water because it's a matter of “environmental and social justice.”

Tap water is not free; it's funded by Toronto ratepayers. As for social justice, I encourage Ms. Rizzo and other board trustees, as well as educators, parents and students, to read C.S. Morrissey, a Catholic assistant professor of philosophy at Redeemer Pacific College in Langley, B.C.

In a recent series on bottled water in The B.C. Catholic newspaper, he said “the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church states only that public agencies ‘traditionally' distribute water, but it does not teach that this is necessary or even preferable. Instead, it leaves room for prudence to decide locally how justice may be done to ensure the right to water. It outlines how water distribution may be justly ‘entrusted to the private sector.' ”

He also said “it is worth taking a step back to ask why an overt political activism about water is being sanctioned in our churches. … Let me put the question starkly. Do we become sinners or lapsed Catholics, or opponents of peace and justice, simply because we drink bottled water? The answer is a resounding no.”

John Challinor, director of corporate affairs, Nestlé Waters Canada, Guelph, Ont.


The conclusions drawn by the David Suzuki Foundation on Saskatchewan's greenhouse-gas emissions are misleading (Suzuki Foundation Names Provincial Leaders And Laggards – April 12). Saskatchewan is committed to reducing emissions by 20 per cent below 2006 levels by 2020.

Our GHG policy framework is designed to maintain industry competitiveness while reducing emissions. Initiatives include $1.24-billion for a world-leading, commercial-scale, clean-coal power plant; $618-million to double wind and other renewable energy sources; $459-million to biomass energy development; and $60-million for a public-private partnership to test emerging carbon and mercury emissions capture technologies.

We note that, despite strong growth, emissions declined by 2 per cent between 2008 and 2010.

Dustin Duncan, Environment Minister, and Rob Norris, minister responsible for SaskPower, Regina

Winnipeg milestone

I read with interest Marcus Gee's column on Toronto's Community Foundation (Toronto Leaders Invited To Show Their City Some Love – April 17), but I was surprised to see that, in providing a brief history of community foundations, he looked only south. The Winnipeg Foundation was established in 1921, beating Toronto by 60 years.

Lindsay Shaddy, Toronto

Waiting for openness

It's not often I laugh out loud while reading a news item in The Globe. The one that set me off (Canadians To Wait Year For News On Cuts – April 19) was Treasury Board President Tony Clement's presence at a conference in Brazil on “open government.” I hope he's a fast learner.

Gordon Hall, Toronto

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