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Gary Almond paddles along the Credit River in Mississauga on Tuesday. A day earlier, Mr. Almond was stopped by police and searched because they didn't want him paddling past a barbecue Prime Minister Stephen Harper was playing host to at a nearby park. (Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail)
Gary Almond paddles along the Credit River in Mississauga on Tuesday. A day earlier, Mr. Almond was stopped by police and searched because they didn't want him paddling past a barbecue Prime Minister Stephen Harper was playing host to at a nearby park. (Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail)

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Aug. 16: Frisked in a canoe, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Frisked in a canoe

A Canoeist Stumbles Into Harper’s Cookout (Aug. 15) and the paddler contrasts “the days of Pierre Elliott Trudeau” and his outdoor adventures with Stephen Harper’s cycling police.

You don’t think Trudeau had legions of armed coureurs de bois securing his pristine paddles? He was, after all, the Northern Magus, and all that implies.

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Lesley Little, Lethbridge, Alta.

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I ended up on a Madawaska river raft with Pierre Trudeau in the early 1980s. I had no idea he would be on the boat, and we weren’t searched or questioned beforehand. We all wondered if there was a Mountie in the boat with us, but the only person my group didn’t know, who claimed to be a gardener at the governor-general’s house, was actually later found working in the garden there.

Lewis Auerbach, Ottawa

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New definition of a Canadian: Someone able to be frisked in a canoe.

Ken DeLuca, Arnprior, Ont.

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Peace, balance?

Shimon Fogel of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs says “One must simply commit to advancing peace through balance, mutual obligations and reconciliation – rather than coercion and the singling out of one side for blame” (Boycott Would Damage Reputation For Peace – Aug. 14). High thoughts that should be looked at individually and realistically.

What kind of balance can be imposed if one party wants to destroy the other through attrition or war? What mutual obligations can one have with an enemy that defames and wants to destroy you? What kind of reconciliation is possible if one side does not want peace? If one side is to blame, shouldn’t that be a factor to consider, not something to be ignored? Should not the legality of the situation be considered?

Shimon Fogel has the solution for peoples who seek conciliation and peace, but if they don’t, then all the nice words in the world will not only not be helpful, but will benefit the aggressor.

Jonathan Usher, Toronto

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I’m a practising Jew whose paternal grandparents left Poland for Palestine in the early 1920s. Shimon Fogel misses the point entirely: Israel has continued to expand its Jews-only “settlements” for 45 years. If it really wanted peace, it wouldn’t have hundreds of thousands of its people living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The time has come to apply a strong, non-violent challenge to the situation. The time has come for the United Church to raise its credibility and lead, just as the Presbyterian and United Methodist churches have done in the United States.

Bernard Katz, Toronto

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Appeasing powers

Being a university today means being at the beck and call of the richest industries and political leaders. This can throw a nasty wrench in the flow of democratic participation, which requires well-informed people to criticize unsound political activity. This is hard when you have to appease the powers that be for funding.

Kudos to Angela Merkel for promoting science and research (Merkel Plays Harper’s Climate Foil – Aug. 15). It would be swell if the Prime Minister changed his tune on climate change, scientific research and independent environmental assessment.

Of course, the Conservatives are funding some research – but Dalhousie’s claim to environmental championship is eroded by the fact that the Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response grant includes a mandate to look for oil revenue under the melting Arctic.

Cate May Burton, student, University of King’s College and Dalhousie University, renewable energy researcher, Sierra Club Atlantic

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Driving Rob Ford

Re Hire A Driver, Police Tell Ford (Toronto edition, Aug. 15):

I’m busy too. That’s why I’ll admit to texting and taking calls while driving. The only difference is that I’ll get ticketed and the mayor will get a driver.

Vicky Tobianah, Richmond Hill, Ont.

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Rob Ford clearly enjoys being behind the wheel, so perhaps he should have a reader instead of a driver. Many people would volunteer, as long as we got to choose the reading material. The mayor has a very large vehicle; he could also have someone to monitor his cellphone and someone else to keep an eye for stopped streetcars. There might even be room for someone whose job is to give the finger to unsympathetic citizens.

Nicholas Pashley, Toronto

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On health care

The federal government’s failure to grasp the important role it plays in the delivery of health care in Canada is mind-boggling (Health Minister Stands By Ottawa’s Role – Aug. 14).

We agree wholeheartedly with the Canadian Medical Association that equity and fairness are central tenets of our health-care system. Nurses and physicians also know there are gaps in services between rural and urban areas across this country. The results of a survey released this week by the CMA offers further proof that aboriginal communities and people living in poverty aren’t getting the attention they deserve when it comes to their care needs.

Nurses call for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq to come to the table and engage premiers, territorial leaders and the public in a serious dialogue about a new health accord so we can chart the right direction for our system.

Doris Grinspun, CEO, Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario

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Assumptions that the private sector would lead to more efficient health-care delivery have been proven false time and again (Politicians Must Heed The Public Need For Two-Tier Health Care – Aug. 13). Simply repeating irrational arguments is no relief for Canadians on waiting lists for care.

Lengthy wait times and overcrowded hospitals are due to a chronic shortage of trained and experienced health-care workers. To claim our system can be improved by dividing already scarce resources defies common sense.

Creating a second for-profit tier of care would worsen accessibility, increase costs, and lower quality for the majority of people. Instead, we must focus on finding innovations that strengthen the public system.

Paul Moist, national president, Canadian Union of Public Employees

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Low profile

Now I’ve heard everything. In Social Studies (Life – Aug. 13), the entry “No Profile? That’s Suspicious” made my jaw drop. It’s now “suspicious” to crave privacy in one’s life, to not be a navel-gazer, to not need to one-up everyone all the time?

No profile? Commendable.

Lynne Hannusch, Thunder Bay

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Myths and priorities

How can the question of who does more around the house even be an issue (Gender Myths – letters, Aug. 15) when the average Canadian has been found to spend 18 hours a week on the Internet and 16.9 hours watching television?

Doug James, Calgary

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