Hmm, about 1713
Re Gloves Dropped In Fight For Gibraltar: ‘Play Time Is Over’ (Aug. 7): Any Nova Scotian or Newfoundlander thinking of jumping on the knee-jerk and fashionable bandwagon of taking sides against Britain should take note that the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, in addition to ceding Gibraltar to Britain from Spain, also ceded Nova Scotia and Newfoundland to Britain from France.
Halifax and St. John’s ruled from Paris, anyone?
Peter S. Badenoch, Windsor, Ont.
Rather than “a chunk of Spain claimed by Britain,” Gibraltar is a chunk of British territory claimed by Spain, in defiance of the clear wishes of Gibraltar’s inhabitants.
Gibraltar is British under the treaty of Utrecht of 1713 and has been British ever since, some 300 years, which is longer than the period under Spanish rule after the expulsion of the Moors in 1462.
The origins of the present row lie far more with the pressing need for the Spanish government to divert domestic opinion from its desperate economic meltdown and appalling unemployment rate, than with a few blocks of concrete dropped into the sea.
David Brewer, Puslinch, Ont.
Re France Debates Extending Headscarf Ban To Universities (Aug. 7): Russia’s recent legislation regarding gay “propaganda” has, appropriately, garnered media attention and international condemnation. France’s proposed ban on headscarves in universities is drawing far less scrutiny. This latest affront to a minority group’s rights ought to be met with similar outrage and protest as the situation in Russia.
Simon Frank, Halifax
Members of the International Olympic Committee must uphold their own rules and “act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement.” The IOC has done so before, banning South Africa in 1964 for its apartheid practices – a ban that was not lifted until 1992.
Since the IOC cannot ban a host country from its own Games, would it be impossible to move the Sochi Winter Ganes to another country, one with existing facilities? Even if the Games were not the same, that would be better than turning a blind eye to discrimination and thuggery, something that the IOC, inexplicably, seems prepared to do.
Denise Rudnicki, Port Hope, Ont.
There are proposals to boycott the Sochi Winter Olympics because of Russia’s anti-gay campaign. If all Canadian participants, gay or straight, marched into the Games wearing rainbow armbands, I think we’d be making a statement for tolerance.
Manfred Jager, Winnipeg
Pot as priority
Re Game Changer? (letters, Aug. 7): It’s wrong to dismiss the subject of marijuana legalization as merely a distracting soft issue.
The far-reaching effects of the criminalization of Canadian citizens for the possession and use of a substance that is arguably less harmful than tobacco or alcohol is no small matter. Of equal importance to our economy are the millions of dollars spent to enforce marijuana prohibition policies that are out of line with changing Canadian attitudes.
Justin Trudeau is showing leadership by publicly questioning the continued pursuit of drug policies that have proven to be both costly and ineffective.
Suzzanne Fisher, Calgary
Re Ottawa Tries New Measure To Prevent Overheated Housing Market (Aug. 6): If the federal government is serious about cooling the housing market, it can’t keep ignoring the elephant in the room – the impact of foreign purchases.
There is considerable evidence that this is a major driver of the Vancouver and Toronto markets. Tightening mortgage rules has no impact on the “offshore” cash buyer of a block of Toronto condos, or a Vancouver home or two for children who are students.
The people affected by these government actions are those who live, work and pay taxes in Canada and are struggling to compete in a market where they are increasingly disadvantaged.
Ronald McCaig, Port Alberni, B.C.
Ready, aim …
Re Still Waiting To Ban The Bomb (Aug. 6): Nuclear weapons (about 17,000 of them) are held by states that continue to deem them essential for their security; faced with this, non-possessor states will reason that it is also essential for them to arm themselves with nuclear weapons. Instead of eight nations in the nuclear club, the number will be much larger and at least some of those governments will be unstable.
As long as nuclear weapons exist, they will be used one day, by accident or by intention.
The only answer is complete abolition. There is nothing wrong with the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament policy of the Harper government, but its pursuit of these goals is narrow in scope. The efforts applied need to be much increased.
A group of Canada’s most knowledgeable and respected citizens – over 690 members of the Order of Canada – are asking the Harper government to convene an international meeting to deliberate on the means of achieving a ban on nuclear weapons. Canada, a non-nuclear nation, is in an excellent position to take this first step on a very difficult but necessary pathway.
Adele Buckley, past chairman, Canadian Pugwash Group
They aren’t pets
Re Boys’ Deaths Fuel Debate On Possession Of Exotic Animals (Aug. 7): The death of these two boys has affected us all. To lose one’s life so young in what was clearly an avoidable circumstance is beyond tragic.
However, I do not understand why the python was killed. It was just being a snake. Its death appears to be an overreaction. The punishment, if that’s what it was, serves no purpose. Presumably, it could have been placed in a suitable zoo.
Peter D. Hambly, Hanover, Ont.
Exotic pets should be banned.
It took the killing of a B.C. woman by a captive tiger in 2007 for the provincial government to finally prohibit a long list of dangerous exotic species.
While such bans help address public safety concerns, they do not address the welfare of many other exotic species that present little threat to humans but suffer terribly in captivity. These animals were not meant to live in cages or tanks in suburban basements. Even if they are captive-bred, they retain the same biological and behavioural needs as their wild counterparts.
They should never be pets.
Peter Fricker, Vancouver Humane Society
Pass the Grapes
Re How Holidays Get Their Names (Aug. 5): To honour a (somewhat) iconic Canadian, I propose Don Cherry Day for the name of the August holiday.
Celebrants would dress in loud clothes and shout in the ears of those who ignored the dress code.
Greg Moulsdale, Toronto