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Dec. 6: Letters to the editor Add to ...

Paper Tiger

An above-the-fold front-page photo of Tiger Woods in full roar (Tiger Tastes Victory – Dec. 5)? Just because he finally won a golf tournament? You put me off my coffee and my day.

Patti Robson, Ottawa

.......

Even if Tiger Woods were more than a golfer, notorious adulterer and spoiled multimillionaire, I wouldn't want his photo on the front page of the newspaper, then on the front page of the Sports section, then inside the Sports section. Slow news day?

Gerry Hill, Regina

Birthright

I couldn't help but compare the future of Poonam and her fellow students in Stephanie Nolen's feature A School Called Inspiration (Focus, Dec. 3) with that of the fictional Tommy, Ruth and Kathy at Hailsham, the school in Kazuo Ishiguro's dystopian novel Never Let Me Go.

All of these students – real and fictional – have tremendous potential but will be stymied not because of any personal failure but because of the unfortunate circumstances of their birth.

Debbie McKeil, Burtts Corner, N.B.

Climate stand

Canada's position at the Durban climate talks that it won't participate in any global deal until all the players are included (China's Flexibility Fails To Soften Tory Stand Against Kyoto Climate Pact – online, Dec. 5) is like saying I won't drive safely until my neighbour drives safely, even though I have a more expensive car, more money to keep it tuned up, and was driving unsafely for years before my neighbour.

Maude Barlow, Council of Canadians, Ottawa

Protecting people

Re Doug Saunders's This May Be Peace – It Won't Be A Lasting Calm (Dec 3): While memories of the tragedies of Rwanda and Bosnia are vivid, they have inspired revolutionary change in the way the United Nations does peacekeeping, and can no longer be trotted out as arguments for Canada's lack of participation.

UN peacekeeping missions have played a role in helping countries such as Timor-Leste, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Burundi stay on track, and the current slate of 16 UN missions cost in one year just half of the $16-billion Canada alone has spent in Afghanistan, where insurgency still reigns.

Arguments will continue whether the use of “responsibility to protect” in Libya will be an exception or a precedent. But it's now acknowledged by the UN's decision-making bodies that our responsibility to protect people takes precedence over the centuries-old doctrine of sovereignty.

This represents a major shift in the international legal environment, and should improve how we deal with dictators.

Carolyn McAskie, former UN assistant secretary-general for peacebuilding, Wakefield, Que.

Luxury indulgences

I find it hard to believe that, in these tough times, you would publish a “luxury gift guide” (Gifts That Dazzle – Style, Dec. 3). Given the message of the Occupy movement, the atrocious living conditions in Attawapiskat and the presence of war, famine and disease in many parts of the world, it seems obscene to encourage “luxury indulgences.”

As you say, “In uncertain times, luxuries big and small hold extra-special value.” If I try hard, I think I can see what you mean. If you're rich, you can have a diamond-studded watch. If you're an aboriginal child living in a tent, you can have a sleeping bag.

Richard Fuke, Kitchener, Ont.

Headline variations

When I grow up, I want to be a headline writer. They'll get you coming and going (Little Variation In Policies Of Nine NDP Leadership Hopefuls – Dec. 5). Of course there was little variation; they're all members of the same party and, as leadership contenders, one might hope they have some mutual commitment to the agreed policies of that party.

Imagine the headline writer's delight if profound divisions had arisen: Layton's Legacy Laid Low By Leadership at Loggerheads!

Jim Young, Burlington, Ont.

Lawful access

Let's get this straight: It's not phone-book information! We must dispel the myth that Public Safety Minister Vic Toews continues to perpetuate relating to the new powers that would enable warrantless access to much more information than an individual's address and phone number (The Poop On E-Snoop – letter, Dec. 3).

In total, 11 fields of identifying information could be collected about an individual in the proposed “lawful access” scheme. In my view, there's little that should be considered “lawful” about this. Indeed, I would describe the scheme as a system of “surveillance by design” – the opposite of the Privacy by Design approach.

Privacy by Design allows multiple functionalities to operate together in a positive-sum, not a zero-sum, paradigm. This means it's possible to design these new powers to assist law enforcement and also respect the rights of our citizens – we can, and must, have both, for the sake of our fundamental freedoms and liberty.

Ann Cavoukian, Information and Privacy Commissioner, Ontario

Local museums

Your editorial on government support for museums (A Core Requirement – Dec. 5) is bang on. While “core” support for provincial museums is very important, it's even more critical at the “local” level. These museums are too dependent on volunteers and are faced with too little funding, yet they're at the heart of preserving our cultural heritage.

As time moves on, more and more items become artifacts and should be saved. An excellent example of a local museum doing this well is the Dufferin County Museum and Archives, an hour northwest of Toronto.

Ottawa's commitment to the new Royal Alberta Museum is a great start. Now it should finish the job at the local level.

Morley Brown, Primrose, Ont.

Monoplane footnote

In your obituary of Tadeusz Sawicz (Polish Pilot, Who Died In Toronto, Has State Funeral – Nov. 28), you describe the plane he flew in Poland in September of 1939 as a P-11 “biplane.” The Polish armed forces of 1939 may not have been the most modern in Europe at the time, but their first-line combat aircraft were exclusively monoplanes.

The P-11 was a gull-wing monoplane, the most advanced fighter in Europe in its day (1934) and, even in 1939, far superior to the German Henschel 123, British Gloster Gladiator, Russian Polikarpov I-153 and Italian Fiat CR-42 Falco biplanes.

Michael McGowan, Toronto

Mens rea

Re your front-page pointer Why Our Chairs Are Killing Us (Dec. 5): I think what you mean is, how our chairs are killing us. Who can really know a chair's intentions?

Alex Heydon, Ajax, Ont.

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