Aboriginals knew it
Re Unknown Country? Try Discovery Day (July 31): The idea of renaming the August civic holiday Discovery Day is an insult to all indigenous and aboriginal people in Canada.
It has been the contention of our elders that this land was never discovered by Europeans, it has been occupied since time immemorial. I am ashamed that a history teacher would not critically reflect on what the use of a name like this would do.
In the past few days in the media, we have been debating the use of the term “genocide” to describe the interaction between Europeans and aboriginal peoples in Canada. I could equally suggest from my Cree perspective the naming of the holiday National Genocide Day.
Words are so important and we must be very thoughtful before we speak. We need a holiday that will bring all Canadians together. The August civic holiday should be cancelled and placed in June. All Canadians should celebrate three holidays in succession which will define what Canada is as a nation of communities and peoples: National Aboriginal Day, June 21, St-Jean-Baptiste Day, June 24 and Canada Day, July 1 – a truly national celebration for Canada’s 150th.
Robert-Falcon Ouellette, program director, Aboriginal Focus Programs, University of Manitoba
Decision to shoot
In the wake of the Sammy Yatim shooting, Globe readers have suggested the police are in need of more education and training (Quick To Shoot. Why? – letters, July 31). I think they are mistaken.
There are many past examples of excessive use of force. Police-shooting deaths of the mentally ill include: Reyal Jardine-Douglas, 2010; Byron Debassige, 2008; Antonio Bellon, 2004; O’Brien Christopher-Reid, 2004; Edmond Yu, 1997; Tommy Barnett, 1996; Wayne Williams, 1996; Albert Moses, 1994; Dominic Sabatino, 1992; Lester Donaldson, 1988.
There were investigations after each death; a coroner’s report, issued following the Edmond Yu shooting, detailed at least a dozen specific recommendations for police procedures and training.
Whatever the root causes for Const. James Forcillo’s behaviour, it strains credibility that inadequate training could be among them.
Janet McKenzie, Toronto
Sammy Yatim’s behaviour was hardly that of a young man who was getting his act together.
Nine shots was excessive, but Mr. Yatim played a large role in his own demise.
Alice Mawhinney, Toronto
Re Witness Recalls Streetcar Scene: ‘The Knife Was Sticking Straight Up’ (July 31): Would that the police who arrived at the crime scene would have had the sensitivity of witness Aaron Li-Hill: “We walked, locked in this moment. I was staring at his eyes and his hands the whole time … His eyes were extremely wide open, his jaw was really clenched … Very intense. But my initial impression was, ‘What is this young kid doing? What is going on in his head right now?’ ”
Would that Const. James Forcillo had been armed with such powers of observation, rather than a semiautomatic pistol.
If this had happened in Phoenix or Orlando, some other passenger might have “stood his ground” and shot to death Sammy Yatim, and who knows, one or two other passengers.
Ron Charach, psychiatrist, Toronto
Your articles brought to mind an incident in Barrie in 2009, where a man with a knife sent two police officers to hospital with serious injuries.
Jim Willis, Barrie, Ont.
We should consider the merits of adopting a system such as Britain’s, where only specially trained officers carry firearms; rank-and-file officers do not.
This may somewhat delay the resolution of a situation, but at least only highly skilled officers are put into a situation of having to use deadly force.
David Morgan, Moncton
Re Breathing Room For Gay Catholics (July 31): Pope John has been reincarnated as Pope Francis, truly a humble and honest teacher/leader. It feels okay to be a Catholic again. Thank God for this.
Lorne Bogdon, Calgary
One of the slickest tricks of the Catholic Church in the modern era is the ability to sound more liberal without changing one iota. Imagine if I said: “There is nothing wrong with being a Catholic; it is only the practice of Catholicism that is a grave moral disorder and an intrinsic evil.” Would you consider me a tolerant person or a flaming bigot?
Yet when the Catholic Church and the Pope espouse that very position relative to gays, it is supposed to represent tolerance and broad-mindedness.
In answer to Pope Francis’s rhetorical question, “Who am I to judge?”, the answer is: “Sir, you are the head of a reactionary, conservative organization that uses its money and power to block equal-marriage rights of same-sex couples, though your church does not even recognize civil marriages.”
Michel Cléroux, Gatineau, Que.
Case for the defence
Re The Man Who Told Too Much (July 31): It looks like Bradley Manning will be going to jail for defending the values expressed in the American Constitution. In fact, two of America’s founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin make an excellent case for Mr. Manning’s defence.
Hamilton makes the point that “When a government betrays the people by amassing too much power and becoming tyrannical, the people have no choice but to exercise the original rights of self-defence – to fight the government.”
Franklin argues, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Private First Class Bradley Manning deserves both.
Geoff Ondercin-Bourne, Hamilton
After the summer we’ve had – Calgary drowned by flood, Toronto drowned by a month’s worth of rain in two hours – I was disheartened to read your editorial on the need to tout the economic benefits of Keystone XL (No Mere Blip , July 30). You repeat ambassador Gary Doer’s (opportunistically timed?) argument that pipelines are safer than trains for transporting petroleum, while in the next few pages, an article recounts how a burst pipeline in Thailand created an “environmental disaster” (Cleanup Operation).
You write that the Canadian government should be concerned that, in his final term, Barack Obama “may be increasingly militant on the environment.” I think Canadians should be encouraged that at least somebody is.
Sean Anderson, Mississauga
All together now
Re A Fourth Player’s Fine, If The Game’s Played Fairly (July 31): It’s nice to see Bell, Telus, and Rogers working together so closely to demonstrate that Canada’s wireless industry is competitive.
David Arthur, Cambridge, Ont.