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Today's topics: word bombs; a poet laureate; teaching math; signs ... and more (Photodisc)
Today's topics: word bombs; a poet laureate; teaching math; signs ... and more (Photodisc)

What readers think

Dec. 16: Letters to the editor Add to ...

Word bombs

I’m trying to teach my kids not to lie. I’m trying to teach them to respect the democratic process. What is the Harper government teaching them?

It’s okay to actively spread rumours (False Information Did Not Breach Cotler’s Parliamentary Privileges, Speaker Rules – Dec. 14); to silence opposition (Opposition MPs Slam Conservatives’ Private Debate Move – Dec. 15); to bully your way into legislation (just think of the crime bill or Canadian Wheat Board).

I don’t mind “unparliamentary language” (Trudeau Apologizes For Losing His Cool – Dec. 15). It’s reprehensible and democratically irresponsible behaviour and the sheer arrogance of the current regime that I find objectionable.

Angela Heck, Winnipeg

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Good on Justin Trudeau – he’s fuddle-duddle right. Peter Kent in Durban made plenty of people ashamed of the Maple Leaf.

George Sweeney, East Gwillimbury, Ont.

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The striking thing about the brouhaha over Justin Trudeau’s intemperate remarks is that Mr. Trudeau (a Liberal MP) and subsequently Elizabeth May (MP and Leader of the Green Party) were passionately defending Megan Leslie (an NDP MP). The three have a sensibility in common; they share some similar policy positions, so why can’t their parties get their act together and merge to prevent the vote-splitting that allows the Harper government to override the wishes of most Canadians?

Peter A. Love, Toronto

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In light of the vulgarity and lack of respect demonstrated by the young Trudeau, echoing the behaviour of his father, perhaps they should consider dropping the expletive-deleted “T” in the family surname.

Geoff Wilcox, Calgary

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F-bombs, S-bombs: Season’s greetings sure have changed on The Hill.

Geraldine O’Brien, Saint John

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Alas, it seems ...

You write that Canada needs a new Parliamentary Poet Laureate (What Rhymes With Prorogue? – editorial Dec. 15).

Observe you may our Parliament procrastinate, while waiting for a visioned laureate To write of honour, dignity and grandeur in its role, should anything be left now in its soul, And watch those few elected, charged to lead, prorogue responsibility rather than succeed. Where once both ethics and morality were practised in debate, t’would seem there is no honesty of late. Too bad, the place now simply is in fate, a pit of anger, rancour and immoral hate No more a place where visioned laureate could sit, amid a flow of eloquence and wit Self-viewed by those within with words of …

M.P. Martin, Ottawa

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Carbon targets

Canada has chosen to abandon the Kyoto Protocol, and worse, will fall short of its more modest Copenhagen targets (Quitting Kyoto Could Cost Canada – Dec. 15). Repeatedly, Canada has championed economic growth over emissions reductions. Assuming climate-change mitigation will cost significant economic growth is a failure to understand the complicated interactions of economy, ecology and international trade.

What should be important to the government in its pursuit of growth is the impact its decisions have on its trading partners. Canada’s Kyoto withdrawal will affect negotiations regarding the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), a free trade deal between Canada and the EU. Since Europe has set limits for industrial CO2 emissions, Canada (with effectively unlimited emissions) is given a competitive advantage. If Canadian goods are sold to Europe, their emissions are exported, too, resulting in carbon “leakage.” This is likely to harm European producers, and defeat the purpose of the EU’s regulations. Because of this, there is little doubt Canada’s Kyoto pullout will complicate or even stall CETA talks.

Neil MacEachern, Edinburgh

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Doesn’t add up

All my grandchildren from 7 to 16 can add, subtract, multiply and divide; they’ve been educated in the public system in various parts of Canada. From my perspective, what Margaret Wente wrote about learning math is the wrong answer (Why Alex Can’t Add (Or Subtract, Multiply Or Divide) – Dec. 15). In fact, it multiplies a problem experienced by a minority of students and subtracts from the first-class job Canadian teachers are doing in public education. A simplistic division into memorizing good/understanding bad just doesn’t add up.

Ryder Payne, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

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Let’s see: So far, we have killed off grammar, history, cursive writing, now arithmetic. What’s left? If kids can pick these apparently irrelevant things up on their own, why don’t we just forget school altogether? Put the tykes to work. We’d save billions and increase our national productivity.

Hope Smith, Calgary

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Another problem with mathematics in Canadian schools is the dearth of teachers who have studied the subject in university, particularly those working with younger children. Cohorts of teachers enter the classroom without a sound grasp of the fundamentals they are required to teach. Last spring, I advertised for a math/science specialist. Out of the 100-odd applicants, just two had an undergraduate degree with a math concentration.

Adam de Pencier, Whitby, Ont.

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Adds up fast

Re MacKay Spent $1,450 A Night While Staff Settled For $275 Hotel Rooms (Dec. 15): After a long, frustrating search for work, I was fortunate to find a temporary job. A lower income and ever-increasing food and fuel prices mean the luxury of seeing my daughters over Christmas is beyond our means.

In this context, and at a time when the Harper government is preaching restraint and cutting public services, I find it particularly galling that Defence Minister Peter MacKay stayed in luxury hotel rooms when accommodations were available at reasonable rates. Mr. Harper should take all necessary actions to demonstrate to Canadians that the restraint his government demands applies to everyone, including, no, particularly, to Mr. MacKay and other members of his government.

D. Philip Cameron, Regina

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Signs, signs, signs

At a church here: Immaculate conception parking only.

Jean Smyth, Dartmouth, N.S.

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Seen on a sandwich board outside a train station in England: We apologize for the delays caused by our workers’ strike, our normal delays will resume when the strike is settled.

Barry Robinson, Toronto

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My new stove has a Clear Off button. Nonplussed by all the new squeaks and warbles, I’m not sure if this means I can terminate a process or should leave the kitchen.

Rob Underwood, Regina

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Driving north of Lake Superior, I passed an open truck loaded with goats and a sign on the back that read: “Beware of flying urine.” I kid thee not.

David L. Shanoff, Toronto

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