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(LUKE MACGREGOR/Reuters)
(LUKE MACGREGOR/Reuters)

WHAT READERS THINK

Feb. 21: The duchess and the novelist, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Royal furor

Good for Hilary Mantel (The Loyal Opposition: Britain Balks At Royal Critic – Feb. 20). When so many young women are remarkably successful in their professions, why do we idolize the ordinary? It’s such a throwback to applaud someone like Kate Middleton for managing to marry into the aristocracy.

Maggie Siggins, Toronto

Pension crisis

CIBC boss Gerry McCaughey has grasped 50 per cent of the problem (Retirement Savings System Is Falling Short, Bank CEO Warns – front page, Feb. 20). The CPP system provides a good basic retirement savings vehicle. But the second half of the problem is that Canadians don’t have additional income to voluntarily contribute to retirement savings.

Canadians aren’t failing to save because they don’t have a defined benefit plan. They’re failing to save because they don’t have enough money to save.

Perhaps the best evidence that a voluntary savings option won’t work is the failure of the RRSP system to encourage Canadians to save more – each year, most fail to contribute and, even if they do, the average RRSP savings account at age 55 is about $60,000. Simply put, voluntary retirement savings systems aren’t working, and Mr. McCaughey’s proposal, sadly, won’t work.

Simon Archer, Toronto

.......

How refreshing to see someone from our financial services industry comment on retirement savings in other than a self-serving manner. Gerry McCaughey should be commended for his observation that voluntary contributions to the CPP could play a role in personal retirement savings that banks and insurance companies can’t provide.

Alan Cooke, retired pension actuary, Vancouver

Religious watchdog

In her attempt to persuade readers that Canada’s new Office of Religious Freedom is a much-needed institution, Lorna Dueck (It’s About Rights, Not Politics – Feb. 20) asks us to “count the dozens of warring conflicts on our planet and try to find one where religion isn’t complicit or at least a factor.” She then presents accounts of human-rights abuses committed by people of a particular religious persuasion against others with opposing beliefs.

Herein lies the paradox: Yes, we should be campaigning for protection of free thought and human rights worldwide; but the very belief systems that this office seeks to protect are often the source of these human-rights abuses in the first place. As political satirist Jon Stewart once said: “Religion. It’s given people hope in a world torn apart by religion.”

Mark Bessoudo, Toronto

.......

I trust that Andrew Bennett, the new religious freedom envoy, will be just as assiduous in ensuring that people have an untrammelled right not to worship as he will ensuring the opposite.

David R. Amies, Lethbridge, Alta.

Extraction politics

It was refreshing to read Jim Stanford’s analysis of the “Canadian discount” and his assessment that Canada should try to bring Albertan bitumen to market in Canada while expanding domestic refining capacity to ensure that a greater percentage of the wealth generated by this resource stays within our borders (Hosed By The Canadian Discount – Feb. 19).

Surely no one with our interests at heart could disagree. But our government seems intent, in Mr. Stanford’s words, “on digging out non-renewable resources, then selling them off to foreigners as quickly as possible.”

So whose interests does the Harper government serve if not Canadians’? When the government rolls out ads praising pipelines desired by the petroleum industry in a manner reminiscent of the industry’s own (New Government Resources Ads Light On Facts, Heavy On Patriotism – online, Feb. 18), it could be we have an answer.

Geoff Read, London, Ont.

No calamity here

I was disappointed that Scott Brison, a Nova Scotian MP, would paint such a negative picture of our province in John Ibbitson’s column Scott Brison Has An Economic Plan To Save The Maritimes From A Greek Tragedy (Feb. 19). While debt should concern all Canadians, Nova Scotia’s financial condition has greatly improved over the past decade.

Our province’s net debt-to-GDP ratio, which peaked near 50 per cent in 2001, is now 35.8 per cent – nowhere near that of Greece. Of the seven provinces that saw an increase in debt during the recession, Nova Scotia had the smallest percentage and per capita increase. The three deficits during this period have each been under 1 per cent of GDP.

Nova Scotia remains on track for a return to balance in 2013-14 and beyond.

Maureen MacDonald, Minister of Finance, Nova Scotia

Touchy times

Re Camelot On The Rideau? Don’t Wait For It (Feb. 19): John Diefenbaker’s dislike of John Kennedy was particularly provoked during the prime minister’s visit to Washington. In the Oval Office, he noticed several large paintings of American ships sinking British ships on Lake Erie during the War of 1812 and was convinced that the president was deliberately insulting him.

When JFK visited Ottawa, Mr. Diefenbaker had his staff find the painting of the British ship Shannon towing the U.S. ship Chesapeake into Halifax Harbour after a naval battle won by the Shannon during the War of 1812. The painting was placed in Mr. Diefenbaker’s office directly across from the chair JFK would be using. The two never met again.

John D. O’Leary, Toronto

.......

Dean Rusk, JFK’s secretary of state, undoubtedly told Lawrence Martin a tall tale about Howard Green, John Diefenbaker’s secretary of state for external affairs, to illustrate the man’s naiveté – that Mr. Green had sent his secretary to take dictation from Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba. Interviews with Mr. Green’s staff and archival records show that Mr. Green was not in Ottawa during the Lumumba visit.

Eric Bergbusch, Ottawa

Whoa!

It’s okay to eat horsemeat (Canter Point – letter, Feb. 20). You just have to pace yourself.

Jack Brown, Waterloo, Ont.

.......

So what does one drink with, say, a roast of horse? I’m thinking some eqwine.

Phlyp Birch, Binscarth, Man.

.......

The mane thing is we need to pony up for tougher regulation, rein in those responsible and halter abuses of the public trust.

Dov Weinstock, New York

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Enough already! It’s time to say neigh.

Jack Cassan, Toronto

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