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With the skyline of Youngstown, Ohio in the distance, a brine injection well owned by Northstar Disposal Services LLC is seen in Youngstown on Jan. 4, 2011. The company has halted operations at the well, which disposes of brine used in gas and oil drilling, after a series of small earthquakes hit the Youngstown area. Environmentalists and lawmakers opposed to the technique known as fracking are seizing on this series of small earthquakes as a signal to proceed with caution. (AP)
With the skyline of Youngstown, Ohio in the distance, a brine injection well owned by Northstar Disposal Services LLC is seen in Youngstown on Jan. 4, 2011. The company has halted operations at the well, which disposes of brine used in gas and oil drilling, after a series of small earthquakes hit the Youngstown area. Environmentalists and lawmakers opposed to the technique known as fracking are seizing on this series of small earthquakes as a signal to proceed with caution. (AP)

What readers think

Jan. 13: Letters to the editor Add to ...

Married, or not?

It’s an interesting position that the Conservatives have taken on a foreign couple’s gay marriage in Canada – “a Department of Justice lawyer says their marriage is not legal in Canada since they could not have lawfully wed in Florida or England, where the two partners reside” (Same Sex Marriage Trap – front page, Jan. 12).

Would the Conservatives have taken the same position regarding the validity of an interracial marriage in Canada of a couple from apartheid-era South Africa? I doubt it.

Bruce MacPherson, Ancaster, Ont.

.........

The federal government’s position is virtually dictated by long-standing rules of private international law. These rules would likely require significant amendment before same sex marriages contracted in Canada by those domiciled in countries that do not recognize same sex marriage could be recognized here.

The federal government’s refusal to recognize same sex marriages contracted by foreigners coming from and returning to states that do not recognize same sex marriage is not, therefore, based solely on a reversal of federal policy. The rule that if you can’t marry Mary at home, then you can’t marry her abroad, either, is grounded in centuries-old principles of law. It was not devised to target same-sex couples and it does not apply to them alone. It is based on the idea that the laws of a person’s lived-community ought to govern their domestic relations.

That is not say that there may not be compelling arguments for constitutional exemptions in the case of foreign gays and lesbians who marry in Canada, nor is it to say that the rule might not be changed. But it is to say that the rhetoric of “scandal” is misplaced.

Annalise Acorn, Lawlor Professor of Law and Ethics, Faculty of Law, University of Alberta

.........

I woke up this morning and my wife was gone.

We married in California in 2008 during a brief window that the state deemed same-sex marriages legal. When the “window” closed, it placed our marriage, together with 10,000 other same-sex couples’, into legal limbo. When we moved to Canada for employment reasons, we were delighted to discover it recognized our marriage.

As our marriage continues to be kicked around in the courts of California, it is jolting to wake up and discover that Canada, too, is rushing into this. What does it mean when the intimate lives of any group of people are used as pawns in political debate? What is the impact of these types of divisions, not only for same-sex couples, but also for other immigrant constituencies?

We’re not sure if we should head to city hall to make honest women of each other, if we need to get divorced first, or if we can get divorced, or if we should return to our 20-plus year (pre-legal marriage) “life of sin”?

Cassie Scott, Helene Vosters, Toronto

.........

In the ninth year

Preston Manning’s recent warning for the relatively new Tory government of the eventuality of their being out of office may sound premature (Because One Day, You’ll Be Out Of Office, Too – Jan. 11). But if history has anything to say, it’s that on average Canadians tend to tire of their leaders around their ninth year in power. Given that Stephen Harper became Prime Minister in 2006, the fatigue factor should be striking just around the time of the next federal election. Such a warning to the Tories to keep options open and ideas flowing, especially for this sealed-off version of the Conservative Party, is not premature at all.

Richard Feist, Ottawa

.........

I am not particularly inclined to Preston Manning’s political ideology but I will tip my hat to him for his precise and refreshing analysis of what is in the DNA of making and breaking strong political parties. The important roots to intellectualism and higher education do need to be underlined, especially in contemporary Canada. Mr. Manning presents it eloquently and independently of political orientations.

Guy Charron, Montreal

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Grave calisthenics

Since the search for eternal life has preoccupied mankind forever, surely we should be more excited about research showing that getting off the couch and moving reduces “mortality rates by half” (Forget About Weight, Get On The Move To Save Your Life – Jan. 12). Ponce de León must be rolling in his grave.

Geoff Williams, Stratford, Ont.

.........

Energy’s real price

Re Shale Expansion Making Energy Self-Sufficiency A Reality (Jan. 11): I am somewhat taken aback by Neil Reynolds’s enthusiasm for shale gas extraction. (By the way, I should mention at the opening of this letter that I am not funded by radical, foreign environmentalists.) I agree that the promise of energy self-sufficiency appears possible, but at what cost, given current fracking extraction technologies?

On the same January day Mr. Reynolds was enthusing about the good news about foreign shale-gas investment in the U.S., Art McGarr, a spokesman for the U.S. Geological Survey, stated, “It’s reasonably clear that these Youngstown earthquakes are being caused by the disposal well activities.” Similar earthquakes have been reported in Oklahoma (putting a crack in the wall of my Tulsa house) and the U.K. Elsewhere, Americans have been setting their tap water on fire after wells were drilled nearby. We obviously do not fully understand what we are doing, which is a good sign that we need to pause and evaluate.

Mark Wolfgram, Ottawa

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Discourse interpreter

Did I really just read the term “exceptional change agent” applied to hospital CEOs in your editorial (The Virtue Of ‘At-Risk’ – Jan. 11)? This unexceptional discourse interpreter (reader) wishes you’d keep the corporatese out of your editorials.

Jonathan Colvin, Richmond, B.C.

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Drug sector cutbacks

The R&D investment by Canada’s research-based pharmaceutical industry (Rx&D) has increased 1,500 per cent over the past 25 years; in 2010, our companies invested $1.3-billion in life science research across Canada, plus $200-million in compassionate care and community support (Quebec Drug Sector Cuts Jobs Amid Global Pinch – Report on Business, Jan. 12). But we function in a global economy where Canada must compete internationally for investment across many industries. Since Canada’s future hinges on a knowledge-based economy, government policies to better foster innovation and attract more global investment are essential.

Russell Williams, president, Rx&D

.........

Just wondering

If Scottish voters decide to leave the United Kingdom (Britain To Grant Scotland Binding Independence Vote – Jan. 11) will Britain still be Great? What will the remaining union be called? The Not-So-United Kingdom? The Untied Kingdom?

And when the Cross of St. Andrews is removed from the Union flag, what is left? The Lesser Jack? The I’m-Still-Alright Jack?

Ben Rathbone, Kamloops, B.C.

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