Backlash on Black
That Conrad Black, a prominent, wealthy white man and convicted criminal, should receive exceptional treatment from the Immigration Department is one thing (Minister Faces Legal Uprising Over Conrad Black Visa – Aug. 2). To witness the attempted intimidation of lawyers who criticize the government for this, and to state that they “debase the legal profession” is another.
Clearly, there are two issues here. One is how we treat some Canadian citizens differently from others (such as is the case with Maher Arar, Abousfian Abdelrazik and Omar Khadr), and the other is how the Harper government attacks its critics.
Both are disturbing, since the fundamental duty of a government is to defend its citizens, no matter their ethnicity or beliefs; further, as a democracy, we are allowed to criticize our government for actions we perceive are dubious.
One case, two serious issues, and both relate to the federal government’s conduct on our behalf, which, in this instance, is discriminatory and authoritarian.
Michael Slattery, Toronto
With no evidence to support its claim, a group of lawyers accuses Immigration Minister Jason Kenney of political interference in the decision to admit Conrad Black to Canada. According to these bien pensants, a right-thinking civil servant could only have decided to keep Mr. Black out. Ergo, the Immigration Department’s failure to do so must have flowed from political influence.
Conrad Black’s U.S. trial was an outrageous abuse of process, start to finish. His contributions to Canada as a man of letters, including one of the best biographies of Franklin Roosevelt ever written, are substantial. Perhaps these competing considerations carried the day in the Immigration Department’s analysis.
The smug, intellectual arrogance embodied in the lawyers’ letter is what keeps so many reaching for their cheque books when Conservative Party fundraisers call.
Ted Cape, Vancouver
Who is running the shop at Immigration Canada? Surely a government minister has the duty to conduct a full review of unusual or extraordinary decisions made by his officials and not to hide behind their bureaucratic skirts.
And what could be more extraordinary or unusual than expediting and approving the jailhouse application of a convicted felon and foreign national for admission into Canada?
Jack Gemmell, Mississauga
There’s an easy solution to the standoff between the large group of immigration lawyers and the Immigration Minister’s denial that political influence played a role in the government’s granting Conrad Black a temporary resident permit. Let the minister release the advice he received from senior advisors in the department. Any sensitive information could be deleted, although preferably at the request of a non-partisan third party.
This solution would be much better than the minister’s personal assistant’s ill-conceived complaint to the Law Society of Upper Canada.
Jacob Ziegel, professor of law emeritus, University of Toronto
Western messes first
While David Bercuson (After Kandahar, It’s Judgment Day – Aug. 2) may be right in saying that the powers involved in Afghanistan should refrain from criticizing each other, he would do well to remember another well-known saw: “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”
Mr. Bercuson called this a necessary war. I call it an illegal war and occupation. The attempts to bring democracy to an essentially tribal society were doomed to fail from the start. With our limited hindsight, we can see that already. Maybe the Western powers should decide not to intervene in other societies before they have cleaned up the messes in their own.
Nigel Bennett, Stratford, Ont.
All too familiar
Having lost my mother, Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, in the shooting at Virginia Tech in the U.S., the situation described by Kenneth Epps sounds all too familiar (Farewell to Arms Treaty, For Now – Aug. 1). I follow debates on gun control closely in both Canada and the U.S. The parallels are indeed too close for comfort.
Misrepresentation is a key part of the gun lobby’s messaging in both countries. Just as it knew that the Arms Trade Treaty would not affect domestic controls, yet fought for a weak treaty anyway, the gun lobby knew that requiring dealers to keep records of firearms sales was standard practice in most countries, including the U.S. These records are a key measure to ensure that gun dealers follow the law and to prevent illicit trafficking of firearms.
As Ontario’s Chief Firearms Officer said when he testified before Parliament, gun dealers have no restrictions in the volume of firearms they sell. It only takes a few shady dealers to do serious damage. No records of sales, no mandatory licence validation and no registration make this far more likely.
Francine Dulong, Vancouver
A national treasure
Re Hughes Comes Up Short In Final Olympic Race; Exits Sporting World As One Of Canada’s Most Decorated Athletes (Aug. 2): After finishing fifth in what will be her last Olympic competition, Clara Hughes remarked, “I’m just really, really thankful I had the chance to do this one more time, that I was good enough to represent Canada.”
I’m sure Canadians are very thankful that we have had someone of her class to represent us to the world, whether that be in speed skating and cycling, or life in general. She is a national treasure.
Simon Rosenblum, Toronto
Clara Hughes introduced the humanitarian Right to Play organization to Canadians and has been a courageous spokesperson for mental health. All Canadians should be proud to share citizenship with this outstanding athlete and human being.
Ed Shannon, Toronto
If the eight badminton players who were disqualified were indeed trying to lose a particular match, could it not be considered a reasonable course of action in light of the strategic consequences of successfully doing so: namely, a better opportunity to win the tournament (Sport’s Dark Thread: Cheating – Aug. 2)?
Disqualifying these athletes is the logical equivalent of disqualifying a marathon runner who does not sprint off the start line. The only reason these athletes were disqualified is that the IOC is embarrassed that it did not understand or anticipate the serious design flaw of the tournament so exposed by the now-disqualified athletes.
The dubious round-robin format stems from a desire to maximize revenues and entertainment value. This unfortunate circumstance is a classic case of business intruding on the integrity of sport.
Sandy Mackay, Toronto
The World Badminton Federation has only itself to blame for allowing competitors to abuse a flawed system. The WBF certainly shot itself in the shuttlecock this time.
Jon Heshka, Kamloops, B.C.
Losing games to secure a more favourable draw?
It’s nothing new. The Leafs do it every year.
John Grimley, Toronto