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Dec. 3: Letters to the editor Add to ...

Stats and brickbats

Congratulations to federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson (Though Few Fear Crime, Conservatives Move Ahead With Bill – Dec. 2). His statement that “we don't govern on the basis of statistics” sets a new standard for honesty in government. At last, something we can truly believe.

Ian Porter, Halifax

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Can we now look forward to signs posted in Halifax and Vancouver harbours warning that those proceeding beyond the horizon risk falling off the edge of the Earth?

Jim Reynolds, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

Chopper spin

So I see that Defence Minister Peter MacKay ordered a military helicopter to transport him from a Newfoundland fishing resort to Ontario to catch a plane (E-Mails Contradict MacKay's Explanation For Chopper Request – Dec. 2). Presumably, the cost of the operation will be added to Mr. MacKay's taxable income since the rest of us must pay tax on employment perks such as use of a company car. Or helicopter.

Perhaps there really is a hidden agenda behind the Harper government's intention to spend billions on military craft.

Frank Kimantas, Nanaimo, B.C.

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It's ironic that the Defence Minister was taken out of a luxury fishing resort “in a hoist” to begin this controversy and may end with him being hoist by his own petard.

Jeffrey Peckitt, Oakville, Ont.

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Doesn't Peter MacKay realize that, when you go on a fishing trip, you're supposed to talk about “the one that got away,” not about how you travelled?

James Race, Edmonton

Shame on us

The Real Shame Of Attawapiskat (Dec. 2): While politicians wring their hands over an auditor-general's French skills, reserve kids burn fingers trying to stay warm.

Douglas L. Martin, Hamilton, Ont.

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All our failures, all our guilt, all our prejudices are on the table once again. In the rush to blame others, we tend to forget this is a problem that generations have failed to solve. So we must try again. Let's put aside the posturing. Let's just acknowledge we've been both sincere and wrong.

Here's a plan. Do whatever's necessary to save the people in Attawapiskat. Simultaneously, the Prime Minister should form an ad hoc committee composed of himself and the leaders of all parties in the House of Commons. This committee should arrange for a hasty compilation of all the treaties, commissions and accords necessary to make new decisions. Then it should appoint a representative group of Canadians – including aboriginal leaders and provincial representatives – to make recommendations to Parliament. A short timeline should be imposed.

The media, meantime, should be challenged to play an educative role. We need to understand how we arrived at this point. Citizens and their representatives must solve this problem.

Joel Britz, Toronto

No double game

Re The Pakistani Tail Is Wagging The American Dog (Nov. 30): Pakistan has been in the front lines of the global war against terrorism and seeks to disrupt and dismantle all terrorist entities on its territory. Both al-Qaeda and the Taliban have declared a war on Pakistan that has resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent Pakistanis.

Why, then, would Pakistan play a double game as your article alleges?

If there are differences with the U.S. and NATO, they relate to outside operations on our soil that we believe are counterproductive. While Pakistan will continue to support international efforts against terrorism, actions such as the recent NATO strike against our border posts are inexcusable.

I have to reiterate that Pakistan is a true and sincere friend of the West.

Nazia Khalid, press counsellor, High Commission of Pakistan, Ottawa

The poop on e-snoop

Re Tories Have Yet To Prove Case For E-Snooping Bill (online, Dec. 1): Technology is a critical aspect of the way Canadians do business and communicate with each other. But as technology advances, criminal activities become easier. The government will propose legislation that strikes an appropriate balance between the privacy rights of Canadians and the ability of police to enforce our laws.

We will allow police to access “phone book”-type information from Internet service providers. If it becomes necessary to find a suspect's name, address, phone number or other similar identifier, ISPs will be required to disclose that information. ISPs will be required to have the capacity to allow police to investigate – strictly with a warrant – all communication methods.

Let me be clear: No legislation proposed will create powers for police to read e-mails without a warrant. Our proposed approach of linking an Internet address to subscriber information is on par with a phone book linking phone numbers to a residential address.

Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety, Ottawa

The spirit of RIDE

Thank you for your editorial Justice Impaired Is Justice Denied (Dec. 2). The abuse of individual rights under the guise of enhanced alcohol enforcement is reaching epidemic levels.

Last Saturday afternoon, in rural eastern Ontario, I was stopped in a RIDE spot check. After ascertaining that I'd had nothing to drink, the officer asked me where I was coming from – and I told him. I'd been at the Mohawk Plaza on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, buying cigarettes.

The officer told me to give him the cigarettes, which I did. He inspected each of the four cartons, and seemed disappointed when he agreed they were all “banded” (federal taxes paid). He then returned them to me.

The fact that I was randomly stopped in a RIDE spot check (approved by the Supreme Court), then searched for possible contraband strikes me as an abuse of the spirit and intent of the RIDE program.

Malcolm Elston, Lonsdale, Ont.

Supply dirge

Jeffrey Simpson's call for an end to Canada's orderly marketing system as a loss-leader promotion to be tossed into current free-trade talks would trigger a depopulation dirge for a vanishing rural Canada complete with organ music courtesy of agri-business giants waiting in the wings (It Hurts Dancing To Supply Management's Tune – Dec. 2).

How well has the family farm done since the implementation of the Canada-U.S. free-trade agreement? Market forces unleashed over the past two decades have resulted in the loss of some 80,000 farms.

Given the upheaval in global markets, Mr. Simpson could have made the point that, for the year following the 2008 crisis, the U.S. had to pump $1-billion into their (deregulated) dairy farm sector just to keep it afloat, while Canada spent not a penny, thanks to the existence of supply management. You can bet that if and when Canada ends orderly marketing, foreign agri-business giants will end up orchestrating a higher priced melody.

Rick Arnold, Roseneath, Ont.

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