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The cover, left, and first page of a notebook bearing a portrait of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin are displayed in Moscow. (Mikhail Metzel/AP)
The cover, left, and first page of a notebook bearing a portrait of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin are displayed in Moscow. (Mikhail Metzel/AP)

WHAT READERS THINK

Aug. 6: Evils’ root cause – and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Evils’ root cause

Folks love to wag their fingers and point to religion as the root cause for the blood that is spilled in conflicts (Always The Other – letters, Aug. 5). They fail to mention those brothers-in-secularism, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao and others who managed to slaughter en masse with no theistic ideology whatsoever.

Humans wage war along fault lines of politics, nationalism, ethnicity, resources, religion etc. The problem, the root cause of these evils, is not religion but, sadly, human nature.

Daniel Joo, Calgary

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I me wed …

Re What The ‘End Of Celibacy’ Would Mean To The Catholic Church (online, Aug. 5): Amid much hopeful speculation about the possibility of marriage for Catholic priests, there are some messy consequences to consider.

In other denominations, there can be a real oppression of clergy’s spouses and children. They can become minor celebrities, watched and judged mercilessly by others in the flock. Expectations of a “two-for-one deal” often prevail, with an assumption that the spouse will volunteer for the church in particular capacities.

The spouse can easily become viewed as an extension of the cleric, and vice versa. This can create much interpersonal havoc, along with marital strain and perhaps even marital dissolution.

Speaking of marital dissolution, what would civil divorce look like for Roman Catholic clergy?

Andrew Nussey, North Bay, Ont.

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Facts, not tactics

Re Oil Sands Opponents Should Use Facts, Not Populist Tactics, To Sway Public Opinion (Report on Business, Aug. 5): Here are some facts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have increased to levels not seen in the past 800,000 years; carbon dioxide concentrations are up by 40 per cent since pre-Industrial times, primarily from fossil fuel emissions.

Yet the National Energy Board, in its Northern Gateway review criteria, excludes the impact of the oil sands on climate change. Our regulatory process is blind with respect to the biggest threat to our way of life (including, in the long term, our economy).

Dave Carson, Dundas, Ont.

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Re We Deserve Honest Climate Talk (Aug. 5): Energy economist Mark Jaccard paints a straightforward, yet incredibly frightening, portrait of the doublespeak emanating from Stephen Harper regarding climate controls.

Mr. Harper continues to demonstrate that he is the No. 1 apologist for the oil sands, even though he should be acting more impartially as the Prime Minister for all Canadians. The time to start taking incremental, pro-active steps to deal with climate change is now. We need to send a clear message when we next cast our votes.

We desperately need a real leader. What we have is a cheerleader.

Steve Sanderson, Quispamsis, N.B.

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Gender-variant kids

Re The March Of Transgender Rights (Aug. 2): Speak to the parents of transgender and gender-variant kids and they will describe their children’s determination to live as they wish. Attempts to change this lead not only to tantrums, but suicidal thoughts coming from kids as young as four.

The parents of gender-variant children in our community work hard to allow their children to express themselves and to keep them safe at school. The general course of treatment for these young people may involve delaying puberty, so gender-variant kids can have more, rather than less, time to decide if they need to make changes in order to live comfortably in their bodies.

At the Ten Oaks Project, we run a one-week camp and a youth leadership program for kids from LGBT families and queer/trans youth. We see the way these children come alive when they get to spend time in a space where their chosen names, pronouns and gender identities are respected.

They leave our camp with an extra bounce in their step – confidence we hope will help buoy them when they re-enter day-to-day life, forced to deal with doubters like Margaret Wente.

Ariel Troster, board member, Ten Oaks Project; Ottawa

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Race and housing

Re In Vancouver, Race Undercuts The Discussion On Real Estate Affordability (July 31): Blaming the B.C. Lower Mainland’s housing affordability problem on an influx of Chinese millionaires ignores much of the hard data.

Vancouver has been unaffordable by standard measures since at least the late 1970s, when there were no Mainland Chinese millionaires.

In a metropolitan area of over two million people, the 24,200 immigrants from China landing in B.C. between 2005 and 2012 under the investor program have had a much smaller effect on the overall housing market than the 302,000 other immigrants arriving during the same period.

What we are grappling with in the case of wealthy immigrants is not a housing problem, but a challenge to our perceptions. When we think of immigrants, we imagine refugees or people starting in humble circumstances and working hard to better themselves. Immigrants who come for the standard of living, whose children drive Maseratis, present a challenge to this belief.

Our reaction becomes complicated at best when their ethnicity is different than most of the population. In some cases, this leads to xenophobia, stereotyping and racist language more like that used in the early 20th century than we would like to characterize Canada’s 21st century.

Tsur Somerville, director, UBC Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate, Sauder School of Business

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A Scottish question

Re How Scotland’s No Side Was Inspired By Quebec Vote (Aug. 4): You report that the “No Thanks” slogan of the anti-independence side in Scotland’s run-up to the Sept. 18 referendum is inspired by Canada’s “Non merci” in the Quebec 1980 and 1995 referendums.

In June and July, I was in the Lowlands, Highlands and the Outer Isles of Scotland and saw very few public displays of support for either side of the debate, including by the oft-ignored Gaelic speakers. As in Quebec, so in Scotland: Those Gaelic speakers who choose to declare themselves can do so in their own language: “bu chòir” (yes), and “cha bhu chòir” (no). The impact of Gaelic in the vote and its subsequent status remain of vital concern to the culture of Scotland.

Donald J. Gillies, honorary professor, University of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland

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Hmm …

Re My Loyalty Is No Longer In The Cards (Facts & Arguments, Aug. 5): Like essayist Stephanie Griffiths, I was one of the peons whose credit card was transferred willy-nilly from one bank to another. As I said to the charming lady at the new bank, “I feel like a happy hooker who discovers the mafia has handed the brothel over to the Russian mob.”

Mick Mallon, Victoria

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