Harper and Boston
Re Tories Target Trudeau’s Stand On Terror (April 20): If our friends and neighbours to the south knew that the Canadian government was exploiting their tragedy in Boston to attack the new Liberal Leader and fend off his move to amend rules on backbench MPs’ ability to speak freely in the House, would they be as disgusted as I am?
Peter Watts, Winnipeg
Stephen Harper has criticized Justin Trudeau for wanting to understand the root causes of terrorism so we may better fight it. Mr. Trudeau has articulated a proactive position that advocates prevention and strategic thinking; Mr. Harper is content with reacting after the fact and squeezing cheap political capital from a tragic event. So who has our best interests at heart?
Kevin Hanna, Waterloo, Ont.
Trudeau and Boston
Re Justin Trudeau And The Problem With ‘Root Causes’ (online editorial, April 19): The new Liberal Leader’s trite remarks about the Boston bombings – “There is no question that this happened because there is someone who feels completely excluded” – were positively scary. But exactly how did the Boston Marathon marginalize Chechnya?
David Lieber, Montreal
Your editorial takes Justin Trudeau to task for defending the virtues of preventing terrorism by focusing on its root causes. But that’s precisely what the Harper government has been spending billions of our tax dollars on in Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of Africa.
Indeed, the global war on terror was premised on dealing with the root causes of terrorism, and major players such as the World Bank and the U.S. Agency for International Development have all contributed to these initiatives.
David Carment, professor of international affairs, Carleton University
I think I can safely say that everyone in the English-speaking world wants to know the root causes of the Boston bombings, with the notable exception of Stephen Harper.
Tony Taylor, Victoria
In your article Trudeau Stumbles Over History And His Father’s Legacy (April 19), the Parti Québécois, after referring to the fact that René Lévesque refused to sign the 1982 deal that made it possible to patriate the Constitution and adopt the Charter of Rights, notes that “no premier since, federalist or sovereigntist, has agreed to do so.”
There has been no occasion since for any premier to sign anything to approve or disapprove patriation and the Charter.
But as a member of the federal delegation, I can assure the PQ that I saw the nine other premiers, on Nov. 5, 1981, sign an accord approving these measures. Later, 71 out of 75 Quebec MPs – as well as all the parties – approved them in Parliament.
To this day, the Charter remains most popular in Quebec.
Barry L. Strayer, author, Canada’s Constitutional Revolution, Ottawa
Your editorial Newtown Bogs Down In Filibuster (April 19) claims that “even if a [gun-control] bill like this one were to save only a single life, it would be worth it.” While this emotional appeal may seem reasonable, it is, in fact, a distraction.
One can always find a case where a single life might conceivably have been saved by some measure, since the counterfactual can never be known.
The problem with applying this argument to gun control measures is that it works just as well for the other side: If some person denied a gun under the measure had had one to protect himself/herself, perhaps their life would have been saved.
The issue of gun control is contentious enough without adding fuel to the fire.
Teri Jane Bryant, Calgary
Kudos to Jeffrey Simpson for pointing out the ridiculous rhetorical corner into which politicians have painted themselves regarding taxes (So Many Promises, So Little Money – April 19).
I think people of all ideological stripes can agree that taxes shouldn’t be unnecessarily burdensome and that taxpayers should get value for the money they do give to government.
That said, it’s time for Canadians to stop listening to the tax hysteria of the political right and to realize that good roads, schools, hospitals, health care, social services etc. come from having to pay taxes.
The phrase “you get what you pay for” applies to standards of living as well.
Scandinavia gets it. Will Canada?
Paul Rowe, Ottawa
Dief the Chief
It’s hardly surprising that Lawrence Martin (We Come From A Long Line Of Great Prime Ministers – April 16) and J.D.M. Stewart (Uncle Louis – letter, April 17) dismiss John Diefenbaker as a cantankerous failure. Despite his foibles and frailties, he surely deserves better than that.
It was Mr. Diefenbaker who brought people from minority communities into the mainstream of Canadian life.
Standing against discrimination embedded in our history, he gave human rights and freedoms a place of honour in our parliamentary system, and promoted a climate of opinion that ultimately led to their enshrinement in our Constitution.
Because he reached out, we got Ellen Fairclough as our first female federal cabinet minister. We got Ralph Steinhauer as lieutenant-governor of Alberta and James Gladstone as a senator, Michael Starr as a federal minister, Doug Jung, Ed Nasserden and Lincoln Alexander as MPs, and Louis Rasminsky as governor of the Bank of Canada – two Crees, a Ukrainian, Chinese, Lebanese, black and Jew, all of them setting a precedent.
These were Mr. Diefenbaker’s “unhyphenated Canadians.”
Standing against apartheid and suspending South Africa’s membership in the Commonwealth were part of his diffuse but very real struggle against dependence and oppression. So was his ostensibly quixotic campaign in support of the “captive nations” of Eastern Europe.
Mr. Diefenbaker’s deep commitments, a folly to some in his own age, surely merit some celebration in our own.
Eric Bergbusch, Ottawa
Margaret Wente once again tells us to stop worrying about global warming, because the environment will be just fine (Can Enviro-Optimists Save The Move-
ment? – April 20). In the long run, she’s right. Life goes on: All of the great mass extinctions have been followed by recovery.
But I don’t think this observation would have made the dinosaurs feel better about the massive asteroid impact that doomed them to extinction.
Bryson Brown, professor of philosophy, University of Lethbridge