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Today's topics: First Nations' land; Christopher Hitchens; for-profit child care; Christmas and the me generation ... and more (AFP/Getty Images)
Today's topics: First Nations' land; Christopher Hitchens; for-profit child care; Christmas and the me generation ... and more (AFP/Getty Images)

What readers think

Dec. 17: Letters to the editor Add to ...

First Nations’ land

An option has been in place since 2000 whereby First Nations may control both their present and their future (How The First Nations Can Own Their Future – Dec. 16).

Under the Framework Agreement on First Nations Land Management, 37 First Nations (including two that are now fully self-governing) manage their lands and resources outside the constraints of the Indian Act. This regime is much more efficient than the federal government’s administration of these lands; the Framework Agreement has attracted billions of dollars in investment since 2000.

These First Nations have created jobs, reduced dependency on social programming and have a more transparent governance relationship as a result. In support of this process, the Lands Advisory Board has developed leading-edge capacity-building programs to assist them in taking on the decision-making responsibilities for their lands.

There are 82 First Nations on a waiting list to take advantage of the Framework Agreement process. In times of restraint, federal funding and attention should be on a process that is working rather than on a new and unproven concept.

Chief Robert Louie, chairman, Lands Advisory Board, Kelowna

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It seems reprehensible to use the suffering in Attawapiskat to escalate the Harper government’s agenda about introducing private property regimes on reserve lands. I see parallels with some African countries where the expansion since the late 1990s of privatized land-tenure systems – typically at the advice of the World Bank and in some cases with Canadian influence – has made it easier for foreign companies to acquire valuable properties. A large number of First Nations in Canada are located in mineral-rich areas where mining exploration companies would love unfettered access.

But the real no-brainer is this: If private ownership on reserve lands is likely to solve the problems facing indigenous peoples here, why are they largely opposed? Surely First Nations require solidarity, respect and justice, rather than a new round of imposed colonial legislation.

Paula Butler, assistant professor, Gender and Women’s Studies, Trent University

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Surprised?

During the past decade, the contribution of Christopher Hitchens to the debate on religion and the existence of God cannot be overstated (Contrarian Writer Christopher Hitchens Dies At 62 – online, Dec. 16).

Mr. Hitchens maintained his devout atheism after being diagnosed with cancer, telling one interviewer: “No evidence or argument has yet been presented which would change my mind. But I like surprises.”

I believe he is a very surprised man today.

Farhan Khokhar, Brampton, Ont.

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Mark Twain famously said: “I don’t like to commit myself about heaven and hell – you see, I have friends in both places.” So, I suspect – like most of us – does Christopher Hitchens, if, in fact, those places exist. Both geographies are certainly present on Earth. A lapsed atheist, when I’m not a lapsed Christian, I cannot help but admire a man who took the courage of his convictions to the grave.

Martin Rogers, Calgary

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In her honour

George Whitman, the owner and operator of Shakespeare and Company (His Iconic Paris Bookstore Was ‘A Socialist Utopia’ – obituaries, Dec. 15), was not the first to launch this venerable institution, as it came to be known in Paris, into being. This famed bookstore first opened in 1919: Sylvia Beach, an expat American, brought it into being. Ms. Beach is credited with publishing James Joyce’s Ulysses in 1922 – one of many literary influences she and her bookstore initiated. Shakespeare and Company was closed by the Nazis in December of 1941; the shop’s books were hidden during the war and the Nazis never found them. Ms. Beach was eventually arrested and was not released until after the liberation of France in 1944.

After her death, George Whitman adopted the name Shakespeare and Company for his bookstore in 1964 in her honour.

Frank Marchese, Toronto

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Kids and corporations

Yes, the shortage of regulated child-care spaces is a pressing public-policy issue, but affordability is just as crucial (Let Parents Choose For Their Children – editorial, Dec. 16). An affordability “what-not-to-do” example comes from Australia, where fees went sky high when corporate childcare giant ABC cornered the market.

Quality is absolutely fundamental, but research shows an inherent contradiction between “good services” and profits in both nursing homes and childcare. Quality is demonstrably poorer in for-profits in both, mostly related to profit-making by undercutting staffing. Finally, yes, of course parents should be the arbiters of their children’s care – but to have a real choice, they need a publicly managed system offering multiple high quality options.

Canada doesn’t help families much, leaving squeezed-from-every-side young families prey to specious ideological arguments about “choice,” and young children fair game for corporations with bottom lines of shareholders’ profits, not children’s well-being. The care and education of young children shouldn’t become a giant corporate piggy bank.

Martha Friendly, Childcare Resource and Research Unit, Toronto

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Four on four

Today’s ice surface is too small for the way the NHL now operates (Ice Size Counts – letters, Dec. 15), but enlarging NHL rinks would take too long. Instead, use the existing, NHL-approved five-minute overtime formula (four on four, instead of five on five) and apply it during the 60 minutes of regulation time.

From watching overtime, everybody knows this formula works. The ice surface opens up, the best players can showcase their talents, the game becomes fast, exciting and safer. The NHL has this solution at hand, if it ever decides to go beyond cosmetic changes in the name of player safety.

Pierre Nadon, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

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I think I know

Your Thursday edition tells us Europe is headed toward an abyss that may cause the collapse of the world’s financial system (Euro Sinks As Crisis Deepens – Report on Business). The same edition contains an article breathlessly describing a Chicago restaurant that serves pan-fried duck tongues along with sweet-and-sour cod cheeks (Grit, Meet Glamour – Life).

I used to wonder what people felt like just before the collapse of the Roman Empire. Now I think I know.

David Orr, Sherwood Park, Alta.

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Me generation

It’s a great idea, especially once you have children, to spend Christmas at home. However (assuming someone has a mostly loving, normal relationship with their parents) not inviting them to share the day with their kids and grandkids is the most selfish thing I can imagine (All I Want For Christmas Is Change – Life, Dec. 16).

Goldy Dyson, Winnipeg

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Last one

Sign seen on a TTC bus stop at York University in Toronto (to perplex the philosophy students?): The last bus will not run tonight.

Tim Warner, Flesherton, Ont.

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