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Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird Mr. Baird says an anti-gay Russian law enacted in June is hateful and mean-spirited. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird Mr. Baird says an anti-gay Russian law enacted in June is hateful and mean-spirited. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

WHAT READERS THINK

Aug. 9: REAL Women’s criticism of John Baird for backing gay rights, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

REAL divided

Re Right-Wing Group Chides Baird For Backing Gay Rights (Aug. 8): I was dismayed to read about the attack by REAL Women of Canada on Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird for his defence of global civil rights for gays.

REAL Women contends that this policy is out of step with Canadian conservatives. Since the vast majority of Canadian women, conservatives included, support human rights – gay rights are human rights – I recommend REAL Women change their name to something less ingenuous: I suggest REAL Bigots.

Michael Patrick Albano, Toronto

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Call me cynical, but I believe John Baird engineered this controversy about defending gay rights in an attempt to gain support for the government. As far as I’m concerned, the Conservatives’ record on human rights is abysmal.

Rita Pollock, Coquitlam, B.C.

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It is never easy for a politician to take a stance that alienates his or her political base, which makes John Baird’s position all the more admirable. I will continue fighting to change the Harper government’s policies on immigration, criminal justice and the environment. But on this issue, Mr. Baird has my support and, I believe, the support of most Canadians.

Scott Pearce, Toronto

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John Baird should stop lecturing other countries on how to behave. We’d be none too pleased if we were on the receiving end of another country’s sanctimony.

Greg Rogers, Regina

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In the mid 1980s, Gwendolyn Landolt, speaking on behalf of REAL Women, was making observations about Canadian society that were as uninformed as those she recently made about gay rights. My university classmates and I had buttons made up declaring “I am a FAKE woman” (Feminists for All Kinds of Equality). Perhaps it’s time for a second edition?

Trish Crowe, Kingston

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Call it for Canada

Re Close The Loopholes Before Opening The Border (Aug. 8): As a wireless user who would be grateful for the price reductions that apparently occur with greater competition (a true victory of hope over experience), I agree: Close the loopholes, create a level playing field, and open the doors to all comers.

Joanne Steadman, Ottawa

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The 700 MHz spectrum has a wide reach; it’s ideal for servicing rural communities. Current regulations for foreign bidders do not require them to provide rural service, or to build infrastructure.

By attaching service regulations to the use of spectrum, rather than manipulating the platform for competition, the federal government would be doing what it was elected to do – ensuring all Canadians receive a benefit from the sale of a resource owned by the people of Canada.

Margaret Barr, Courtenay, B.C.

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Faulty time machine

Re Tensions Escalate As Obama Cancels Summit With Putin (Aug. 8): We must be in a time warp, back in the 1950s. An intelligence operative reveals his country’s spying and seeks asylum with the other side; his employers, furious, are trying to get him back where punishment awaits. But wait: The time machine is getting rusty.

It’s reversed the roles!

Andrzej Derkowski, Oakville, Ont.

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$100,000 firefighters

Re A Nation Of $100,000 Firefighters (Aug. 8): When Margaret Wente complains of firefighters’ high pay for a “part-time” job, she should consider some facts: Ac-cording to a 1999 study, firefighters’ lifespan on average was 55 years, compared with 74 years for the average Canadian. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, firefighters are three times more likely than other workers to die on the job. This is due to physical and mental stress which can cause heart attacks, and exposure to toxic chemicals and carcinogens released in smoke.

As for the “part-time” job, she could say the same about paramedics, and emergency department doctors and nurses. They are paid to be on hand and be prepared for emergencies.

Judy Haiven, associate professor, Department of Management, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax

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Recently, London’s lower crime rate was explained by our current police chief as the result of keeping local gangs in check and that, of course, no reduction in staff could be considered. This is somewhat like offering elephant insurance to a homeowner: You may not see any now, but if you don’t buy it, you’ll have herds of elephants tromping through your living room!

Whether it’s fire or crime, what keeps city councillors – and most other citizens – from repairing this obviously broken model is fear that if you ever have a fire or break-in, these first responders may just be too busy to reply.

Congratulations to Margaret Wente for having the courage to address this situation. She better make sure she has lots of fire extinguishers (and maybe a few guard dogs) on her premises.

Gino Nicodemo, London, Ont.

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Taking my head out of the sand, and realizing awful stuff doesn’t always just happen to the other “guy,” here’s what I expect from my local firefighters.

I want them trained and ready to come to my aid, no matter where, no matter when, no matter how dangerous and life-threatening the situation. I want them to show up quickly, prepared to help extricate me from whatever dilemma I’ve found my sorry behind in. Because if I’m in that kind of trouble, you can be sure that I’m scared and possibly hurting down to my very soul.

If I had to put a value on what it’s worth to get first responders who are willing to risk their own lives to come to my aid, I would have said “priceless.”

Certainly $100,000 a year.

Kathie Booth, Calgary

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Brazil as exemplar

Re Toward A More Brazilian Canada (Aug. 7): Brazil is a strikingly beautiful country. It is also big: in size, population, political weight. Like Canada, in some ways. But does it, as Jennifer Jeffs argues, provide important lessons for Canada? I doubt it.

Poverty is the first thing you see arriving in Rio. On the way to the city, you pass a massive favela – and there are many more. With serious overcrowding, unemployment and crime, these are no advertisement for the country’s policies. As the recent protests have shown, it’s not just the very poor who have questioned the country’s social and economic policies. Ms. Jeffs dismisses these protests as the result of rising expectations and the fast pace of development. This is pure spin: The country has serious problems to overcome.

In the long run, with luck and good management, Brazil will become a wealthy country. But for now, it has few lessons for Canada.

Charles Draimin, Montreal

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Brethren sharks

Re Dead Shark Found On NYC Subway Car Leaves Riders Puzzled (online, Aug. 8): What’s the mystery? The subway line in question runs right past Wall Street.

Ken DeLuca, Arnprior, Ont.

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