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Today’s topics: the language of oil; kids and common-law parents; fetus selection; this way out ... and more (iStockphoto/Getty Images)
Today’s topics: the language of oil; kids and common-law parents; fetus selection; this way out ... and more (iStockphoto/Getty Images)

What readers think

Jan. 20: Letters to the editor Add to ...

Language, oil

There is a glaring irony in the title of the Natural Resources Defence Council, whose spokesperson is promising “fierce opposition” to any refiled Keystone application, saying this pipeline “is not in the U.S. national interest” (U.S Politics Puts Keystone On The Shelf – Jan. 19).

In fact, the best defence for U.S. energy interests, as stated many times by its government, is ensuring supply from “safe and reliable” sources: Canada, not Venezuela and the volatile Middle East. So this opponent should either change its name or drop its opposition.

Michael Robinson, Toronto

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The government and oil industry use language in a most self-serving way. Cases in point are the words “ethical” and “security.” Canadian oil is ethical, whereas Mideast oil is not. Our oil provides energy security, Mideast oil does not. Then why are we sending our ethical secure oil abroad while leaving Eastern Canadians dependent on the unethical and insecure Middle Eastern suppliers? Just wondering.

Rick Taves, Wheatley, Ont.

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Safety, this way

Re Cruise Ship Captain Admits To A Navigational Mistake (Jan. 19): Captain Francesco Schettino’s explanation that he didn’t intend to abandon his passengers, that he tripped and fell overboard into a lifeboat, reminded me of a Seinfeld episode. In it, George Costanza panics when a small fire breaks out in the kitchen during a children’s birthday party. George rushes to the front of the pack to be the first one out, pushing down children, seniors and a clown, and explaining afterward that he wanted to be the one to lead them to safety.

Luckily for everyone, the clown was brave enough to return and stomp out the teeny-weeny fire with his gigantic flat shoes.

David Honigsberg, Toronto

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Gender, disability

Sex selection and prevention of severe disabilities are not at all analogous (Concern For The Disabled – Jan. 19). Ordinary female children do not live lives with severe challenges, do not impose significant hardship on their caregivers, and do not cost the state huge sums of money for treatment and care. The fact that I wish my own child had been born without her disabilities does not imply that I love her any less or that I do not value her life.

Mike Szarka, Oshawa, Ont.

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In 2004, Parliament banned the sex selection of embryos for in-vitro fertilization, except to prevent a sex-linked disorder or disease. But the law doesn’t protect fetuses from subsequent termination on the basis of gender. There is a bitter irony in the fact that women's right to choose is resulting in women choosing to terminate women. Any society is measured by the legal protection it affords its most vulnerable. Parliament should follow the logic of its 2004 ruling and ban the odious practice of sex selection.

Scott Mason, Toronto

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No choice for kids

Personal choice may be fine for adults with no children (The Right Not To Marry – editorial, Jan. 19). But half of common-law relationships involve children, who don’t get to make “choices.” If their parents are not married, then their ability to continue living in their own home may be at stake, and their custodial parent may have to leave the relationship with little or no property.

Spousal support will also be critical to the children’s household standard of living after separation, entirely apart from the claims for the adult partner.

Rollie Thompson, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University

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Life in Israel

Most of Israel’s internal stresses are the result not of a dysfunctional coalition system (Facing Up To Religious Extremism – Jan. 18) but of a proportional electoral system that sets the bar way too low in a nation with a plethora of political parties. The direct result is that tiny ultra-Orthodox parties gain a seat in Israel’s parliament.

To have any hope of governing, the leader of the major vote-winning party has to cobble a coalition of widely disparate political groups, from far left to ultra-nationalist and ultra-Orthodox. Their price for joining up, after lots of haggling, is subsidies from taxpayers for their religious schools and “charitable” institutions.

What is clear from today’s secular-Orthodox conflict is that this is no way to run a country, particularly one that faces other crises. There has been talk about adopting the electoral system of Canada, the U.S., Britain and other nations. In light of today’s growing tensions in Israeli society, it’s way past time.

Manuel Escott, Vancouver

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Moderate Hamas Chief Retiring (Jan. 18) reports that Hamas has moderated under departing leader Khaled Meshaal.

In 2011, Hamas and various terror groups under its authority fired 653 missiles and mortars from Gaza into Israel, targeting a million civilians. In Canadian terms, that’s akin to the population of Saskatchewan living under constant missile threat.

This is one reason the international Quartet has provided a path for Hamas to moderate its actions and assume a legitimate place at the table. Hamas merely needs to renounce violence, accept Israel’s right to exist, and abide by past agreements signed by Palestinian leaders. Under Mr. Meshaal’s leadership, Hamas has rejected these conditions.

Nothing would benefit Israelis and Palestinians alike more than a decision by Hamas to abandon terrorism, and pave the way for a peaceful Palestinian state living side by side with Israel.

Shimon Fogel, CEO, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, Ottawa

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Jan. 19, 1962

The media did not mark Jan. 19, 2012, as the 50th anniversary of an important change in Canadian immigration policy that virtually eliminated racial discrimination. Few know that it was the Diefenbaker government that initiated the changes that culminated in the Immigration Act of 1967 under Lester Pearson. The Diefenbaker government is not given due credit, in part because more of the visible minority immigration occurred in the Trudeau era. Credit should be more democratically distributed. Citing the 50th anniversary would be a start.

Bob Ewan, Toronto

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Budget memories

Marcus Gee tells us, come election time, to remember the Toronto city councillors who voted to reinstate services (If Rob Ford Can't Cut Spending In Toronto, Who Can? – Jan. 19), suggesting they shirked their duty to take control of spending. I, for one, will remember them with gratitude.

The obvious elephant in the room is the bloated police budget. Mayor Ford is now taking on the unions, after the police already received an 11.5 per cent wage increase over four years.

As for the $19-million in services that was put back in the budget, the cost could easily be covered by a modest “car-user fee.” Didn’t we have something like that, called a vehicle registration tax?

Michael Warden, Toronto

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Marcus Gee asks: If Rob Ford Can’t Cut Spending In Toronto, Who Can?

Answer, with apologies to Mel Lastman: Nooobody.

Grace Wong, Toronto

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