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A rally in Toronto on Dec. 20, 2013, to support sex workers and their rights after the Supreme Court struck down Canada’s prostitution laws. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
A rally in Toronto on Dec. 20, 2013, to support sex workers and their rights after the Supreme Court struck down Canada’s prostitution laws. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

WHAT READERS THINK

Dec. 23: Canada’s prostitution laws – and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Swedish sex workers

Re Supreme Court Strikes Down Canada’s Prostitution Laws (Dec. 20): The Supreme Court has given Parliament one year to correct Canada’s approach on prostitution. Lawmakers should use the time to adopt the direction of forward-thinking countries like Sweden. In Sweden, it is illegal to buy sexual services, but not criminal for sex workers to sell them.

Gunilla Ekberg, a special adviser to the Swedish government, explained Sweden’s approach: “In Sweden, it is understood any society that claims to defend principles of legal, political, economic and social equality for women and girls must reject the idea that women and children, mostly girls, are commodities that can be bought, sold and sexually exploited by men.”

In Canada, currently it seems we do not support equality for women and girls.

Stephen Moss, Fredericton

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Sun news ruling

Re CRTC Rules Television Providers Must Carry Sun News (Report on Business, Dec. 20): Good, we need a new comedy channel.

J. Harold Buttle, Toronto

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Climate worries? Yes

Re A Long Way Yet To Cross The Pacific (editorial, Dec. 20): I agree that “Ottawa will have to persuade Canadians that the highest environmental standards are going to be met” with Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline. But I am not convinced by this statement: “Concern about climate change should not be a reason to oppose Northern Gateway.”

Many polls tell us that Canadians want Ottawa to act on climate change. Yet Canada is not on target to meet our Copenhagen targets.

Do you think that without a predictable and effective price on carbon pollution, Ottawa will have the social licence to build more pipelines? I certainly don’t.

Cathy Orlando, Canada’s Citizens Climate Lobby

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Re The Oil Will Have To Move Somehow (editorial, Dec. 19): You imply that bitumen from the tar sands has to move out of Canada. There are at least two alternatives. The best is to leave the bitumen in the ground and devote capital and ingenuity to developing sustainable energy sources.

The second alternative is to require that all bitumen mined in Alberta be refined there and taken to market as refined products. While clearly less effective in mitigating global warming, it would eliminate the risk from moving condensates to dilute bitumen.

Edwin E. Daniel, Victoria

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The mad-as-hell

Re Why Rob Ford Is Mad As Hell (Dec. 19): All this sophistry about the know-everythings versus the know-nothings is and will be useless when a flood comes to a city like Toronto. Ask Naheed Nenshi – a “real” mayor of Calgary – who knows what governments (municipal, provincial and federal) can do in a state of emergency as we witnessed in the summer.

The war of words is cheap. The real war in the real world is surreal in its high price.

People are always mad as hell when it comes to life’s incessant problems. But that is why we have leaders, community role models and persons of high calibre to find the will and the way in case hell comes around.

Rob Ford notwithstanding.

Elie Mikhael Nasrallah, Ottawa

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Hearty thanks to Ken Dryden for his vivid depiction of the battle between populists (know-nothings) and elites (know-everythings). This conflict is becoming ingrained in Canadian society, with a resulting sad decline in centrist political parties.

Some have wondered why an elitist know-everything like Conrad Black should suck up (Mr. Dryden’s words) to a know-nothing like Rob Ford. The fact is that the upper classes have always relied on right-wing populists to do their dirty work. Handing out $20 bills (the mayor’s brother, Councillor Doug Ford) is so much easier than constructing a fair society.

Mark Thornton, Toronto

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Khodorkovsky’s fate

Re Putin’s Pardon Of Khodorkovsky A Typically Tactical Move (Dec. 20): Mikhail Khodorkovsky was a former Communist who became the wealthiest man in Russia before he was 40. He was but one of the “oligarchs” who looted Russia’s resources after the collapse of the USSR, causing extraordinary economic damage and, while impoverishing people by the millions, made themselves multibillionaires.

A central part of Vladimir Putin’s first mandate was to break the oligarchs’ hold over Russia’s economy, media and political arena, a circumstance characterized best by Boris Berezovsky’s boast of the mid-1990s that he and six other “bankers” controlled about 50 per cent of Russia’s GDP.

Doubtless, there were heavy political overtones to the Khodorkovsky case, but just this year the European Court of Human Rights rejected a complaint lodged by Mr. Khodorkovsky and his former business partner who claimed their criminal prosecution for fraud and embezzlement was politically motivated. The Strasbourg-based court ruled that the charges laid at the first trial were legitimate, and not political.

The court did decide that the legal process itself was subsequently unfair and ordered Russia to pay a fine to Mr. Khodorkovsky.

The actual sentences (there was a later add-on for money-laundering) imposed on Mr. Khodorkovsky were short compared to what they would have been for similar offences in the West. The notion that somehow Mr. Khodorkovsky was an innocent victim is, to be frank, patent nonsense.

J.L. Black, professor emeritus, Russian and Soviet history, Carleton University

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They’re watching

Re At Least They Don’t Collect Data To Sell Us Stuff (Dec. 19): Okay, okay, the tech CEOs are being a bit hypocritical – but that doesn’t make them wrong. I don’t like them collecting data in order to sell us stuff, but the same info held by governments is an order of magnitude worse.

I doubt that Barack Obama would misuse this information, but what about the next Richard Nixon? Imagine to what effect Tricky Dick would have used the NSA to coerce his political opponents and the press?

Of course, this couldn’t happen in Canada (cough, splutter). No, Margaret Atwood is right about surveillance and democracy.

Doug Gregory, Pickering, Ont.

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Fa la la la la, la la la la

An Ottawa-style Christmas carol, performed by Industry Minister James Moore and Canada Post CEO Deepak Chopra and his 21 presidents and vice-presidents.

(Deck the Halls for a melody.)

JM: Should I feed my neighbour’s children ?

No no no no, I don’t think so.

DC et al: Should the old folk slip and stumble?

Yea yea yea yea, they’re fitter so.

All together:

Children starving. Old folks falling,

What do we care? Not a whit.

Tories all, their nests are feathered,

Fa la la la la, la la la la!

Jean Cameron, Halifax

 

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