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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)

What readers think

Dec. 7: No middle ground in the Middle East, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

No middle ground

I was surprised to read that Canada’s Foreign Minister, John Baird, would be watching for, as John Ibbitson writes, “in particular, any attempt by the Palestinian Authority to exploit its new standing by going to the International Criminal Court with charges that Israel was violating international law.” This, Mr. Baird said, “would cause us great concern” (Harper Sends Warning To Israel – Dec. 6).

In the context of international politics, the International Criminal Court (ICC) represents the forum at which people can seek justice against a party that stands charged with having committed war crimes. As Mr. Baird knows, Canada was among countries that strove long and hard to set up the ICC. I would have expected him to uphold its legitimacy, and not to try to frighten people from trying to seek justice at this prestigious international forum.

Tariq Ahsan, Ottawa

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After 65 years of Israel’s defending itself from Arab invasion, rockets, threats, defamations and refusal to recognize it as a state, Canada has recognized that the Arab/Israeli conflict has little to do with land, and a lot to do with the Arab desire, not to make peace, but to destroy Israel (At One With Israel: Canada And ... Palau? – Dec. 5).

In my opinion, the Conservatives realize that according to international law, Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) is not land illegally occupied by Israel, but land whose ownership is disputed.

In defending Israel, the Harper government is defending democracy and right against a UN that has evolved into a group of non-democratic countries playing politics with various types of demagogues and dictators. Canada’s policies have not changed. They are just more difficult to maintain as the UN has sunk into immorality.

Jonathan Usher, Toronto

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C is for confusion

As a practitioner and published writer about Ontario education since 1949, I am thoroughly confused. For most of my life, school boards set the tone of education locally, whether academic or vocational or some judicious mix. They were platforms for politically ambitious trustees who presented themselves as labourers in the education vineyard alongside teachers.

Since the mid-1990s, school boards have become Cinderella, fit to clean and dust but not qualified to make significant decisions. The province, with control of the purse, decides almost everything (McGuinty Takes Hard Line On Walkouts By Elementary Teachers – Dec. 6). Isn’t it time to replace school boards with regional councils, able to carry out provincial plans and priorities in keeping with the state of the economy? That could save us a lot of money and refurbish the professional dignity of teachers – two worthy objectives, surely.

Peter Hennessy, professor emeritus, Queen’s University, Kingston

.........

Thanks for printing teacher salary ranges (Bill 115: Anatomy Of A Paycheque – Dec. 6). Now my hometown buddies (who only wish they could make the current starting salary) will resent me, and my university buddies (who made more than the top salary decades ago) will pity me for the chump they always knew I was.

C.G. Leatherdale, London, Ont.

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Killing in Syria

Bashar al-Assad’s forces have been killing citizens with bombs and bullets for months – yet the world’s leaders have done little to disrupt that effort. Now, with the potential use of another means of killing citizens, Barack Obama and others have put Mr. Assad on notice (U.S., Allies Weighing Military Options If Syria Uses Chemical Weapons – Dec. 3). So it seems what Mr. Obama et al. are really concerned about is how Mr. Assad kills his people.

Am I missing something here? Killing is killing, regardless of how it is done. Stop all of it.

Maurice Nelischer, Guelph, Ont.

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Senkaku Islands

The article Dangerous Moves In The East China Sea (Dec. 3) states that, “The islands were Chinese until 1895, when they were surrendered to Japan … under the Treaty of Shimonoseki …”

Japan acquired the Senkaku Islands peacefully and lawfully, based on the principle of terra nullius, an established method of acquiring uninhabited islands under international law. Having confirmed that the islands had no trace of having been under the control of any other sovereign nation (through surveys of the islands which began in 1885), Japan incorporated them into its territory in January, 1895, before the settlement of the Sino-Japanese War by the Treaty of Shimonoseki in April, 1895.

Even though the acquisition of the islands and the settlement of the war took place in the same year, we should not blur the clear distinction between the two incidents.

Hitoshi Ozawa, Minister, Embassy of Japan

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Clear the doors

Doors on the new Toronto subway trains are reported to be too sensitive, and are holding up the transit system (Train Doors Cited For ‘Unacceptable’ Delays – Dec. 5). I personally know two people who have been injured by closing subway doors. It is perhaps because of them, as well as others like them, that the doors were set to be sensitive. We all want the trains to run on time, but safety should be the highest priority. Riders will learn to stand clear of the doors.

Virginia Edman, Toronto

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Oil sands priorities

Re We Could Fix The Oil Sands (Dec. 3): The industry recognizes that extracting oil in the most environmentally responsible way must be a priority. Producers are deploying new technology and processes every day but the reality is the industry is still in the early stages of this development.

This year, 12 leaders of Canada’s oil sands producers formed Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), focused on accelerating the pace of improving environmental performance. Syncrude has announced a new plan to turn tailings ponds into clean lakes; any successful tailings IP will be shared with other producers. The Imperial Oil-Alberta Ingenuity Centre for Oil Sands Innovation is studying methods to separate bitumen with little or no water. The industry has cut GHG emissions per barrel by 26 per cent since 1990.

Critics need to be patient and recognize the complexity of the task. And our industry must do a better job reporting innovative studies and the resulting improvements. As Canadians, we have an opportunity to help the world achieve its energy needs. Let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot before we have the chance.

Bruce Graham, CEO, Calgary Economic Development

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Slainte!

So Donald Trump has banned Glenfiddich from his empire (Trump Angered By Whisky Award Given To Arch Critic – Dec. 6). Is this what we might label a wee dram-a?

Gordon S. Findlay, Toronto

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