Thrown off track
Re Autistic Runner's Dreams Thrown Off Track By Technicality (April 18): I had the honour of coaching autistic runner Andrew Towle one summer when I was president of Glebe Little League in Ottawa. What a delight it was to have him on our competitive team: attentive, diligent and profoundly generous of spirit. As I said at the time, baseball was good for Andrew, but Andrew was even better for baseball.
It's a shame that he is being denied a chance to compete because the extra time he needed to get through school ran out the clock for his eligibility. But ours is a caring nation. And a creative one. Let's find a way to accommodate his dream of competing for his high school. The sport will be good for him. And he'll be even better for the sport.
J. Phillip Nicholson, Ottawa
Andrew Towle's personal triumph and rise to athletic and academic success exemplifies the positive effects of sport in kids' lives. The additional dimension regarding his autism is even more inspiring.
Yet at their showcase athletics event, the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations is somehow equally determined to stand behind flawed eligibility rules. A rule that excludes by starting the eligibility stopwatch on academic participation, not athletic, seems pretty myopic. Starting high school and starting high school sports aren't necessarily related.
It is a shame Mr. Towle's inspiring efforts won't be showcased further by the very organization that exists to do so.
Chris Wightman, Ottawa,
I think it's fair to say that the OFSAA's main issue with Mr. Towle competing after his eligibility has expired is that he has gotten to the point where his physical maturity has surpassed that of his competitors due to his age, thus allowing him an unfair competitive advantage.
However, it is unfortunate that an individual who credits running as such an important part of his social and emotional development has to be sidelined as a result of stiff rules, especially if he did not technically use his eligibility in Grade 9.
Sadly, OFSAA is such a competitive system that people would likely have an issue with an older individual competing regardless of his autism.
Emily Driedger, Guelph, Ont.
Re Where's Laurier When You Need Him? (April 16): I very much enjoyed the warm tribute paid by Jeffrey Simpson to our seventh prime minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier. What a contrast to the shabby treatment given Helena Guergis by the current, and 22nd holder, of that office!
Craig Kamcke, Ottawa
Duceppe as PM
Re Here's A Coalition Scenario: Duceppe As Prime Minister (April 18): Congratulations to Neil Reynolds on concocting the ne plus ultra of Conservative fear-mongering what-ifs: Prime Minister Gilles Duceppe! However, the outcome of the scenario he proposes is much more likely to be - I shiver to mention it - a coalition.
As Mr. Reynolds and the current PM, a former president of the National Citizens' Coalition, know full well, Canada and many other countries have survived and thrived with government by and for the people. Instead of government by and for the corporations.
Beverly Akerman, Montreal
There is a lot of talk on the election trail about the need to vote strategically in this election. What isn't being talked about very much is the reality that with our first-past-the-post electoral system there is no one strategy that works for all Canadians.
In most ridings, the race is between two parties. In some places the NDP and Conservatives were neck in neck in the last election with the Liberals receiving less than 15 per cent of the vote. If you are a Liberal in one of these ridings, surely you should vote NDP.
If you vote Liberal, you know that your candidate cannot win, but if the Conservatives win, yours may be the riding that gives them a majority. In other ridings it makes sense for NDP supporters to vote Liberal for the same reasons.
Until we have an electoral system where the actual number of votes cast across the country determines the number of seats each party gets, the only way to make democracy work is to vote strategically in your own riding.
Brett Hodnett, Gatineau, Que.
Why not now?
The last time gas prices were this high, Stephen Harper was running for the job of prime minister against a Liberal incumbent. He railed against the Liberals for unfairly taking advantage of us by means of "windfall profits" resulting from the application of the GST to gas in the $1.30 per litre range.
Mr. Harper was so adamant in his criticism of this tax grab that he promised if he were elected he would peg the GST to apply to a maximum of 85 cents a litre. That seemed to me to make sense then. What is different now?
Doug Appt, Oakville, Ont.
Not to take away …
While not wanting to lessen the valuable work of Olive Dickason, the statement that at the time she joined the University of Ottawa in 1970 and began her PhD in native history "not a single Canadian PhD candidate in history had ever written a dissertation on aboriginal history" (She Wrote The Book On Native History - April 16), is not accurate.
The award-winning PhD (McMaster) thesis of the historical geographer Conrad E. Heidenreich: The History and Geography of the Huron Indians 1600-1650 had already been recognized as a masterpiece and awarded the Saint-Marie prize in history for 1971 as the work best embodying original historical research and interpretation of 17th century Canada. The prize was awarded by the historical sites branch of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the thesis published under the title Huronia by McClelland and Stewart Limited in 1971.
Richard Hawkins, Bailieboro, Ont.
Evil in disguise
Re The Killer Hidden Inside Him (April 16): Contrary to the reviewer, I believe that it is essential that we be reminded of and acknowledge the kinder face of Colonel Russell Williams. For our own understanding and security, we do not have the luxury of dealing in Hollywood stereotypes.
True evil is not among us carrying a pitchfork and wearing a tail. It appears in disguise, smiling and seducing us with one face and icily chopping us down with the well-hidden face. If we accept this unpleasant reality, we may be more capable of picking up hints of disturbed personalities and avoiding at least some future tragedies.
Nigel Martin, Montreal
About those hoods
Re the picture of the hooded penitents in Seville, Spain, in Monday's Globe ('Abandon The Pride Of Wanting To Become God'- April 18), I have a few questions:
Would they be banned in France? How would they go over in the U.S. Deep South? How would Klan members feel about being out pointy-headed?
Would a hooded penitent and a woman in a niqab intersecting with a Mennonite at a curling rink cause a tear in the multicultural time/space continuum?
Or would they be considered the ultimate ethnic costume prop behind Stephen Harper?
Doug Paul, Toronto