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Today’s topics: Liberal promises, actions; modern ships; red wine and Twinkies; Scottish independence ... and more (REUTERS)
Today’s topics: Liberal promises, actions; modern ships; red wine and Twinkies; Scottish independence ... and more (REUTERS)

What readers think

Jan. 16: Letters to the editor Add to ...

Promises, actions

While there is little doubt that Bob Rae is the most talented politician in Ottawa today, it is equally true that Stephen Harper, in his best attack clothes, would have a field day running against him (The Last Man Standing Will Be ... Bob Rae – Jan. 14).

Think of those “just visiting” ads that the Conservatives unrelentingly used against Michael Ignatieff. They will be child’s play compared to the “fun” they would have juxtaposing Mr. Rae’s promises and his actions in regard to seeking the Liberal leadership, were he to do so.

I suspect such attacks would resonate with a lot of undecided Canadians.

Simon Rosenblum, Toronto

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While the Liberals focus on fund raising (Liberals Exhorted To Innovate Their Way Back To Power – Jan. 14), the NDP struggles with how to hold on to Quebec, the Greens wait for the environment to control the spotlight, and the Bloc ponders how to reinvent itself, the Conservatives hold a solid grip on the national agenda.

The Conservatives' 38-per-cent base is fairly solid. By 2015, they will have had their impact, in my view negative, on the country. Centre-left parties need to get their act together and open up a merger dialogue.

Their platforms and ideology are not really so different from each other – when compared with the Conservatives. If they can’t pull this off, especially when looking for new leaders, who are they representing?

Dave G. Smith, Coldstream, B.C.

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If the Liberal Party wants my vote and cheques, it can do two things: promise to restore parliamentary democracy, craft policies and propose legislation based on evidence rather than ideology and political opportunism. Party renewal should come not through gimmicks and goodies, but through parliamentary democracy and evidence-based policymaking. There’s not much of either in Ottawa right now.

Elaine Bander, Montreal

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Modern ships

Does anyone seriously believe that 220 large oil tankers a year can safely manoeuvre around pristine Haida Gwaii and up and down the narrow, rocky approximately 130-kilometre long fjord called Douglas Channel to Kitimat without a collision or grounding eventually occurring?

According to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline website, “All vessels entering Kitimat Marine Terminal will be modern and double-hulled.”

You only need look at pictures of the comparably sized, modern and double-hulled Costa Concordia (online – Jan. 15) capsized on its side just off Italy’s coast with a huge gash in its hull to see what can, and will, happen.

Mike Priaro, Calgary

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Food truths

I’m with Margaret Wente: Red wine is “an essential part of any diet even if resveratrol is a crock.” Red wine may not lengthen my time on this mortal sphere, but the simple truth is that it’s sure making it a lot more pleasant (Bad For Your Health? Then It Must Be Good – Jan. 14).

Roger Simpson, Calgary

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Hostess, the parent company to such high-calorie offspring as the Twinkie, has filed for bankruptcy (Twinkies Maker Hostess Files For Bankruptcy Protection – Jan. 11). According to Hostess, the decline of the cream and other polysyllabic-ingredient puffs was due to increased competition and tough economic conditions. Perhaps people finally realized that Twinkies were the gastronomic equivalent of bundled subprime mortgages – all air and little substance.

Catherine Brennan, Toronto

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Scottish independence

The Scottish independence movement was fuelled by the discovery of North Sea oil in the 1970s (Creeping Toward A Constitutional Crisis – Jan. 14). “It’s oor oil” became the catch phrase of every kilt-wearing nationalist chafing at the bizarre manner in which Scotland was ruled from Westminster.

But the Scottish National Party is a bit late with its pitch for sovereignty: It would take a miracle to arrest the decline in oil reserves, more than half of which have been depleted. It would also take a miracle to change the course of Scottish history (as recorded up to 1603), a sorry tale marked by perpetual conflicts between the Highlanders, true Scots and Lowlanders (Englishmen in disguise). Not much has changed since then.

Boudewyn van Oort, Victoria

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As French is central to Quebec’s bid to be an independent state, so Gaelic has been added to the political mix in Scotland.

Although Gaelic is spoken by only about 60,000 Scots, the Scottish National Party has invested heavily in promoting the language in education, business, social networking, the mainstream media, and the Scottish Parliament, where both Gaelic and English may be spoken and simultaneously translated.

This political contribution to the current controversial national drive for a revival of Gaelic in Scotland will be a vital component of the run-up to whatever form the referendum takes.

Donald J. Gillies, honorary professor, University of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland

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Fulsome talk

A letter to the editor (Word Wit – Jan. 14) makes a sophistic argument that the meaning of “fulsome” according to various dictionaries is “disgustingly fawning,” “excessive and sickening,” “tending to cause nausea.” What many consider to be the most authoritative source for the meanings of English words, the Oxford English Dictionary (1971) gives as the first definition of “fulsome”: “Characterized by abundance, possessing or affording copious supply; abundant, plentiful, full.”

The meaning ascribed to the word by the letter writer is variously covered by the fifth, sixth and seventh meanings of the word in the OED. I think Alberta Premier Alison Redford understood perfectly well what she was calling for with a “fulsome discussion” on oil pipeline issues. I think the letter writer knows it, too.

Mark R. Cole, London, Ont.

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Grit is good

What a shame that well-meaning citizens, international designers and multinationals are circling, about to descend on back lanes and “improve” them (From Garbage To Greenery – Jan. 14).

A great city is not a vanilla angel cake; it must be like a fine fruit cake, full of riotous – and conflicting – flavours and textures. The last thing we want is to gentrify our lanes, destroying one of the last vestiges of the frontier left to us, one of the last places we can go to get back to the grit, to get away from upmarket retail heaven.

Let’s take up the old saying: Don’t just do something. Stand there.

Peter Ferguson, Kimberley, Ont.

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Tough call

I can’t decide which of these guys is the most bizarre (GOP Front-Runner Fluent In Tea Party Language – Jan. 14).

Newt Gingrich, who apparently thinks the fact that Mitt Romney speaks French is attack ad material. Or Mitt Romney, who served as a missionary in France, presumably speaking French, trying to convert the locals to a religion that forbids the drinking of wine.

Phil Ford, Ottawa

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