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Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair in his office late last year. (Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair in his office late last year. (Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)

WHAT READERS THINK

Aug. 1: A top cop, a city – and other letters to the editor Add to ...

A top cop, a city

As a Toronto expat living in New York, I am surprised to see Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair referred to as “yesterday’s man” (Blair’s Only Fault Is That It’s 2014, Not 2004 – July 31).

I remember when the chief took over. The force was out of touch with multicultural Toronto. His appointment and tenure came as a breath of fresh air.

The events of his career are standard problems for a large city police force: controlling crowds at a world summit in the post-Seattle riot era, dealing with use-of-force scandals. I doubt any other big-city chief would have done much better.

What I remember the most is his outreach to the Muslim community after the “Toronto 18” terrorism arrests. He patiently stood in front of an angry crowd in a town hall, reassuring these Canadians that the Muslim community at large was not going to be blamed for the actions of a few. He didn’t have to walk into that hall and face the stress of such grilling – but he did.

I think we have been fortunate to have such a chief. If we had continued with the previous style of policing, we would be looking back on a big mess over the past decade, and racial tensions would be higher.

Mike Larsson, New York

.........

Hotshot new hires, executives who are experts at selling themselves, may sometimes take their mandate to cut and overhaul to disastrous results. Chief Bill Blair may not be the one to move forward at this juncture, but the Police Services Board should use good judgment and consider the pitfalls if it strays too far in its selection. A candidate who alienates the hard-working men and women who serve and protect society would undo much of the good that was achieved before.

Cassandra King, Clementsport, N.S.

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I have a suggestion for a new police chief. How about a woman?

Mary d’Eon, Toronto

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Neutralize the threat

Re Intelligence Sweeps Often Intercept Private Data (July 31): As the news of a recent cyberintrusion on the networks of the National Research Council by a Chinese state-sponsored actor demonstrates, Canada is not immune from the activities of hackers, criminals and state-sponsored-threat actors.

These malicious actors are constantly probing government of Canada systems and networks for weaknesses. One of the jobs of the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) is to monitor Canadian government networks for malicious activities. When we detect e-mails or other communications that contain malware or other threats, we block, collect and analyze them. We work with appropriate departments to take action to neutralize the threat.

In doing this work, we take strict measures to protect the privacy of Canadians. For starters, we only use, analyze and retain communications if they contain malware or other threats that could disrupt government networks or lead to the theft of valuable Canadian information. Personal information that is not relevant to protecting government networks is not retained.

All of CSE’s activities are reviewed by the independent CSE commissioner to make sure we act lawfully and protect Canadians’ privacy, and we have never been found to act unlawfully.

John Forster, Chief, Communications Security Establishment

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That sweet whistle

Re A Cardinal Sin – Every Morning (Facts & Argument, July 31): I really miss my singing duel with the resident cardinal in my backyard in Willowdale, Ont. He’d whistle and I’d whistle back. We did this repeatedly until my lips were puckered out. What a delight, one of nature’s miracles.

Since I moved to Calgary, no more cardinals. In fact, many fewer song birds but lots of waterfowl and birds passing through.

Recently, our neighbourhood has been taken over by crows and magpies. If you want a really annoying alarm clock – starting at 5:30 a.m. – try a bunch of young magpies screaming incessantly “Feed me! Feed me!” Oh, for the sweet whistle of the cardinal.

Lorne Bogdon, Calgary

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War’s suffering

Re Conflict Marks Milestone As Longest Israeli War In Gaza (July 31): After 13 paragraphs focused on the death of Palestinians at a school designated as a UN refuge, we read “Hamas rockets and other weapons are often hidden and launched near such facilities.”

What if the article had begun with this information?

Justin Jaron Lewis, Winnipeg

.........

More than 1,300 dead in Gaza and thousands more injured, at least 80 per cent of them civilians. Compared with three dead Israeli civilians. Never mind the extreme difference in infrastructure damage. Simply put, this is not a fair fight. No rationale can excuse this kind of beating.

The world needs a system of policing and forcing countries to comply with standards for rights, equality and fairness in the same manner that countries expect citizens to treat each other.

Jim Houston, Oakville, Ont.

.........

The AFN replies

Re Too Many Chiefs, Too Few Voters (editorial, July 26): Reform and revitalization of the Assembly of First Nations is important, but does not call into question the AFN’s role or existence.

Evolution and revitalization is healthy for an organization that’s been active for more than three decades representing more than 630 First Nations governments and a million citizens living in a broad range of social, economic and cultural conditions.

First Nations value the AFN, witnessed by tremendous participation in our Assemblies, gatherings, committees and councils. Our goal is to make a strong organization stronger.

The AFN does not replace First Nations governments or regional organizations. It advocates to advance the collective aspirations of First Nations as directed by First Nations.

AFN stood against the government and with First Nations by intervening in important Supreme Court cases such as Tsilhqot’in and Keewatin. We hold marches and rallies. We’re pursuing a Human Rights Tribunal complaint against the federal government on First Nations child welfare. These activities are not funded but we do them because they’re important.

The AFN plays an important national role and will evolve. This work will be directed and driven by the wisdom, leadership and diversity of First Nations. This is how we will ensure a strong, representative organization.

Ghislain Picard, National Chief, Assembly of First Nations

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To air is divine

Re The Fine Art Of Air Guitar (Arts & Life, July 31): Bob Wagner, the air guitarist you profile, appears to be playing left-handed in one photo and right-handed in another. In a third, he seems to be playing bass guitar, left-handed, with great panache.

If, beyond raw talent – to air is divine – the Air Guitar Canadian Championship judges admire versatility and ambidextrousness, Mr. Bob should be a shoo-in.

Gerry L’Orange, Montreal

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