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Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird addresses the United Nations Generally Assembly at UN Headquarters, in New York, Nov. 29, 2012. (CHIP EAST/REUTERS)
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird addresses the United Nations Generally Assembly at UN Headquarters, in New York, Nov. 29, 2012. (CHIP EAST/REUTERS)

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Dec. 3: John Baird’s UN ‘circus’ act, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Mr. Baird’s points

Nowhere in his speech to the United Nations did Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird object to Palestinian statehood. What Canada objects to is the method the Palestinians chose to assert their statehood: the General Assembly. Canada has consistently supported a Palestinian state established through direct negotiations with Israel.

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Time and again, the Palestinians have missed the opportunities they had for a state. They rejected the UN partition plan of 1947. They rejected Bill Clinton’s plan in 2000, and they rejected the 2008 proposal of then Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert.

Only through direct negotiation, free of preconditions, will the Palestinians be able to establish their state. The overwhelming majority that the resolution for upgraded diplomatic status at the UN achieved amounts to gross interference in the peace process and, if anything, will make peace and statehood much more difficult.

Those were Mr. Baird’s points. And he’s absolutely right.

Eli Levanoni, St. Catharines, Ont.

............

Having interned at the UN last year, I can attest that it’s a flawed institution. But, the UN provides one of the few truly international arenas to not only set, but maintain international standards. It’s precisely for this reason that I listened – appalled – as John Baird took to the podium at the General Assembly. What transpired was a speech that can only be described as obstructionist, counterproductive and devoid of constructive leadership.

By making it a point of pride to cast Canada as Israel’s staunchest ally, he effectively disqualified our country from any meaningful role in future peacekeeping negotiations, while further cementing our reputation as an international outlier.

As a young Canadian who cares deeply about her country, I implore Mr. Baird and the Conservative government to reflect and employ some much-needed foresight before embarking on another international Circus de Force.

Tatiana Buba, Vancouver

Overlapping needs

As a dyslexic student completing my philosophy degree at the University of Victoria, I can’t help but notice a couple of logical fallacies in the Globe’s analysis of the Supreme Court decision in the case of Jeffrey Moore.

The false dilemma pops up in The New Math of Difference (Focus – Dec. 1): “If the disabled kid gets more, other kids won’t.” Not so. Classroom strategies that take dyslexia into consideration will usually improve the learning environment for everyone.

A conflict between the needs of students with dyslexia and those of gifted students is not inevitable – largely because they frequently overlap.

Rebecca Robb, Victoria

Macdonald’s motives

Congratulations to Doug Saunders on a thoughtful article (Suddenly, Everyone’s An Economic Nationalist – Focus, Dec. 1).

However he repeats a common error about John A. Macdonald and the National Policy in the final paragraph. John A. adopted a protective tariff for tactical (a vain attempt to get the Americans back to the bargaining table) not strategic reasons. And while John Diefenbaker was wary of the Americans he did open up trade with China.

Joe Martin, Director of Canadian Business History, Rotman School of Management

Helmet danger

The Ontario government should not base policy decisions on the coroner’s report on cycling deaths (Ontario To Consider Mandating Bike Helmets For All Ages – Dec. 1). High impact crashes are rare. More importantly, mandatory helmet laws discourage people from cycling – not just out of inconvenience, but by making a basically safe activity seem very dangerous. A mandatory helmet law will result in fewer cyclists on the road, which will create a more dangerous cycling environment. The safest biking cities in the world are places – such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen – where cycling is the norm and very few riders wear helmets. Instead of promoting helmet use, the Ontario government should invest in safe cycling infrastructure.

Dr. Samantha Green, Hamilton

Disgraced sailor

After 25 years, some friends and family still refer to my navy work as “the army.” It’s a common mistake. I noticed that your front-page index (Nov. 30) referred to Jeffrey Delisle as a soldier. He’s actually a sailor. And a commissioned naval officer. And a disgrace.

Gwilym Roberts, Vancouver

Muscular objections

I’m ready for a new kind of discourse on political leadership. A discourse that acknowledges the profound need for people other than able-bodied (muscular), white, middle-aged men to lead our municipalities, and that embraces the notion that politics should be inherently collaborative – not about one lone superhero.

Unfortunately, Richard Florida’s article Toronto Needs A Muscular Mayor (Nov. 30) does the opposite, through his use of “muscular,” the article’s cartoon image, and the fact that each mayor he lists as a “strong” example to emulate is a man.

This is the kind of undertone we need to push back against. If we don’t, it will continue to stop both fantastic female leaders and men who don’t subscribe to aggressive leadership styles from seeing themselves in positions of civic and political power.

Anna Hopkins, Toronto

Slowing an epidemic

It’s now standard practice in B.C. to offer routine HIV testing to all sexually active adults (HIV Prevention – letters, Nov. 30). Four Vancouver hospitals are now offering routine testing to all new admits. We’ve picked up 30 positives in less than a year this way, which gives us a positivity rate of seven in 1,000 (one in 1,000 is considered cost-effective).

Many of these people had no obvious risk factors. B.C. is the only jurisdiction in the country to offer free antiretroviral therapy to those who need it (no co-payments, no deductibles, no third-party insurance), and I’m confident we’re on our way to slowing down this epidemic for good.

If only the rest of the country would do the same.

Jane McCall, nurse educator, HIV program, St. Paul’s Hospital, Delta, B.C.

Megabucks

Re $7 For A Starbucks Coffee: Would You Pay It? (Nov. 30): Why don’t they just change the name of the corporation to Sevenbucks?

Douglas Cornish, Ottawa

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