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(George Burns/Reuters)
(George Burns/Reuters)

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Jan. 19: Liars and hypocrites, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Liars and hypocrites

With cyclist Lance Armstrong seeking public forgiveness after years of bold-faced lying about his use of performance-enhancing drugs (Armstrong’s Way: Doping, Lying, Bullying – Jan. 18), I’m mindful of William Hazlitt’s judgment: “The only vice that cannot be forgiven is hypocrisy. The repentance of a hypocrite is itself hypocrisy.”

James T. Neilson, Edmonton

Aboriginal affairs

So the Assembly of First Nations executive is exploring the process for removing National Chief Shawn Atleo because he held talks with the Prime Minister last week (First Nations Explore Ways To Oust National Chief – front page, Jan. 18). What about going on a hunger strike?

Vic Bornell, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

.......

The attempt to remove Shawn Atleo strongly suggests that Mr. Atleo is Idol No More.

Allan Q. Shipley, Parksville, B.C.

Fools rush in

Mali is a very dangerous and unpredictable place (France’s Appeal For More Troops Falling On Deaf Ears – Jan. 18). Its government is effectively a military dictatorship, and represents only a fraction of the population. The well-armed Tuareg tribes who live in the northeast have many unresolved grievances against the central government. And the makeup of the opposition is unclear.

For these reasons, Canada would be well advised to stay as far as possible from Mali.

If French President François Hollande wants to involve his country in a major military adventure, that’s his business. But he should stop trying to drag in Canada.

Garth M. Evans, Vancouver

Herding chickens

Your editorial on Algeria’s military response to the seizure of a remote gas plant by Islamist militants (Wanton Sacrifice Of Hostages Is Not The Way To Fight Terrorism – online, Jan. 18) complains about a lack of consultation. Ah yes, just imagine the Algerian government trying to get consent from at least 10 countries with their nationals at risk. Herding chickens would be a kindergarten game in comparison.

The time for military reaction is immediately after an incident occurs – before terrorists have time to co-ordinate their next steps and/or prepare their defences. Sometimes, the hostages are lucky; sometimes, they are killed.

As a former U.S. diplomat, I know that I and my colleagues were always at risk; it was just one of the long list of professional hazards of working outside your country. And after 9/11, we learned that we are all potential terrorist victims, wherever.

You do no one any good complaining about outcomes, particularly when you had nobody at risk.

David T. Jones, Arlington, Va.

Death of a worker

Sujeet Sennik’s Death Of A Garment Worker (Jan. 18) is one of the most powerful commentaries I have ever read in The Globe and Mail. He confesses “to lighting the recent fire that led to the many deaths at the Tazreen Fashions Ltd. factory in Bangladesh.” I also confess to lighting the fire.

The execrable conditions of the garment workers at Tazreen and the hundreds of other such factories have made it possible for me and all Canadians to demand and get cheap “offshore” clothing. This is unforgivable.

But we seek the bargains and the knockoffs, and we show off our $150 shirt that we picked up for $29.95. We give no thought to the garment workers who were paid $1 a day to feed our fashion.

I know the specious counterargument: that garment workers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan need the work. So they do. But they also deserve decent wages and working hours, humanitarian conditions, safety and respect. It’s unconscionable that greed has replaced what should be a universal moral code of do unto others.

Peter McNab, Victoria

.......

Sujeet Sennik says he’s responsible for the fire that led to the many deaths at a garment factory in Bangladesh. Aren’t we all? The question is, what are we going to do about it?

Collectively, there are two things we can do: First, we can demand to know more about the origin of the products we buy. It’s time for a standard label on clothing, footwear, toys, electronics – all mass-produced consumer goods – to certify adherence to minimum standards in production such as safe working conditions, fair wages and no child labour.

Second, we can press our government to pass accountability laws. It’s time for those who trade people’s lives for profits to be held criminally responsible.

Leigh Hensley, Ancaster, Ont.

Language law

Even though I agree with the pettiness of banishing a page of English from the monthly bulletin published by the Quebec town of Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, before everyone feels indignant and self-righteous, let me tell you I have never seen the smallest paragraph in French appear in any of my lovely town’s bulletins.

Your editorial A New Low In The Language Laws (Jan. 18) certainly surprised me with its sense of entitlement.

Suzanne Longford, Orillia, Ont.

Gold standard

It’s too bad that 300 tonnes of German gold on the move from New York to Frankfurt isn’t stopping off in Ottawa, as we’re very good at holding onto gold for other countries (Germany Plans To Hold Its Repatriated Gold, Not Sell It – Report on Business, Jan. 17). Indeed, Canada’s gold-holding experience gives a new definition to the gold standard.

According to research by Duncan McDowall of Carleton University, the then-nascent Bank of Canada held earmarked gold accounts for the British as of 1936 in return for a modest handling fee. Canada’s gold vaults-by-proxy burgeoned as the clouds of war over Europe grew darker.

By 1945, the Bank of Canada had received the equivalent of more than 2,800 tonnes of gold, plus another 8.3 million ounces of gold coins, from dozens of countries, banks and individuals eager to keep gold out of war-torn Europe. Meticulous records were kept, and the gold was held and/or transferred out safely.

So maybe next time, Germany. And our beer is great, too.

Steven Bright, Oakville, Ont.

Rim shot

I’m not worried about Cirque du Soleil’s future (How Cirque du Soleil Tied Itself In Knots – Jan. 17). I’m sure they’ll bounce back.

Howell Gotlieb, Toronto

 

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