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Montreal Canadiens legend Jean Beliveau holds a torch during a pregame ceremony before the NHL hockey season opener between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs in Montreal, Jan. 19, 2013. (Graham Hughes/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Montreal Canadiens legend Jean Beliveau holds a torch during a pregame ceremony before the NHL hockey season opener between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs in Montreal, Jan. 19, 2013. (Graham Hughes/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

What readers think

Jan. 21: Refusing to worship hockey, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

In Crosby we trust?

Re A Grip On The Nation’s Soul (Sports, Jan. 19): If “hockey is religion”, then what about all us dissenters, heretics, and hockey agnostics? The front page proclaims “This is who we are”, referring to a picture of a young hockey player.

So if you don’t worship the gods of hockey, you’re not really a Canadian? That seems to be where this is going.

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Paul Denham, Saskatoon

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If hockey is Canada’s “religion” in a secular age, then so be it. At least this version of religion is less destructive. Regular religions have caused, and are still causing, untold misery, mayhem and malfunction in individuals and cultures all over the globe.

This Canadian way of life involves an obsession that goes beyond the sports domain to encompass familial, cultural and national values. In comparison, this Canadian “religion” should be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Elie Mikhael Nasrallah, Ottawa

Asexual cat ladies

I have to thank Margaret Wente for writing her column (The Awful Truth About Being Single – Focus, Jan. 19). She certainly set me straight.

Now when I am walking around Liberty Village in Toronto and I see all those young bachelors I will recognize them for what they really are, either autistic or asexual.

And those young girls in the Metro store buying food for their dogs will soon be buying cat food instead as they morph into cat ladies.

I wonder where that leaves me, single and 60. Here kitty, kitty.

Bonnie Huczek, Toronto

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Surely any debate over singlehood vs. significant relationship-hood is as useful as weighing in on whether it’s better to be a man or a woman. I’ve watched both lifestyles for some years and would be hard pressed to conclude that one is better. Possibly an individual might be better suited for one or the other.

N.C. Greenway, Ottawa

Injunction hesitation

Your editorial (Court Orders And The Rule Of Law – Focus, Jan.19) supports the OPP Commissioner, who refuses to enforce a judge’s injunction against first nations’ violations. In other words, some people should be allowed to break the law because somebody might get hurt. Police incompetence in the G20 and Vancouver riots, as well as Caledonia, along with government inaction, encourage further strife. As for appeasement, Winston Churchill summed it up when addressing Neville Chamberlain and his supporters – “They had to choose between dishonour and war. They have chosen dishonour, they will have war.”

Nick Sopinka, Kimberley, Ont.

Getting to know you

I read with a chuckle Jeffrey Simpson’s column about Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s taking some of his caucus members to see the film Lincoln (Lincoln: A Political Script Worth Following – Jan. 18).

After filling his cabinet largely with intellectual lightweights, standing by them after offences that would be seen as cause for termination by most leaders, and effectively gagging them to control the message and limit their authority, I don’t see how Mr. Harper could fear a lack of unity.

No one in his caucus is positioned to challenge his wishes, and only he will determine what compromises of conservative ideology will be made with respect to policy. In Canada, the leader of a majority government who has a solid hold on his caucus wields power similar to that of a dictator. Perhaps Mr. Harper should have taken his caucus to see The King and I.

Mark A. Roberts, Calgary

Ode to geography

Familiarity with maps and place names has long been an orphan in geography education (Are We Lost In The World? – Jan. 18). Geography majors at university are more likely to be familiar with a critique of capitalism than with the name of Estonia’s capital.

Which knowledge is more valuable? You can look up a reference book or atlas for the name of a capital city, but there’s no quick reference book for a critique of capitalism. Even so, map and place-name literacy has long taken a back seat in geography education. But advocating place-name literacy has not always been popular.

In his book Maphead, Ken Jennings tells the story of David Helgren, who, in 1983, was an assistant professor at the University of Miami. In an introductory geography class, Mr. Helgren gave his students a test similar to the one Judith Adler gave her students at Memorial University. The Miami students did no better than the Memorial students.

Unfortunately for Mr. Helgren, the story went global at a time when the University of Miami was trying to shed its image as Suntan U and rebrand itself as “a global university in a global city.” And, indeed, the university has improved in stature. Mr. Helgren had received a large research grant, yet he ended up without a job because his contract was not renewed.

Reiner Jaakson, professor emeritus of geography, University of Toronto

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I suspect that a recent economic geography graduate could have evaluated Rio Tinto’s pit-to-port challenge in Mozambique and thus help avoid the surprising writedown (For M&A, Bigger Isn’t Always Better – Report on Business, Jan. 18). Perhaps the executive suites should make room for more geographers.

Jim Harrold, sessional instructor, economic geography, University of Victoria

Sluggishly yours

Re Word Wise (letter, Jan. 16): While the Estonian word viitsima may well describe a feeling of laziness, the English language already has a perfectly good word: “torpor.”

Carole Gilbert, Oakville, Ont.

Forbidden lust

James Drummond’s essay Yann Martel, Erotica And Me (Facts & Arguments, Jan. 16) would be funny if it weren’t so true. It seems that George Orwell had it right – except that it’s Big Business, not Big Brother, watching over us.

Like Mr. Drummond, I think I’ll favour my local used-book store, which, thankfully, has no interest in tracing my browsing history.

Colleen Honderich, Kitchener, Ont.

Living large

Re Records Show Ornge Chief’s Lavish Spending (Jan. 19): $14 for cashews? After all the spending scandals, mismanagement and virtually zero oversight we’d be nuts if we didn’t show Ontario’s Liberals the door in the next election.

Walter Tedman, Kingston

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