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High school students in Oakville, Ont., protest the loss of extra-curricular activities in December, 2012. (Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail)
High school students in Oakville, Ont., protest the loss of extra-curricular activities in December, 2012. (Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail)

What readers think

Jan. 22: Teachers who bully – and other letters to the editor Add to ...

‘Who do I tell?’

My teachers told me that if I noticed bullying happening, that I should tell them (Teachers Who Return To Clubs And Sports Face Hostile Peers – Jan. 21): Who do I tell if the teachers are the ones bullying?

Caroline Damus, 12, Uxbridge, Ont.

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Quite rightly, teachers are upset with Ontario’s McGuinty government for dictating their contracts. Now, union leaders are dictating teachers’ volunteering. When competing with the government only creates resemblances, isn’t it about time for teachers to stop this vicious cycle of reciprocal stupidity? Why become what they hate?

As our society’s best knowledge workers, teachers should demonstrate that they know what the word “voluntary” means.

Anthony D’Andrea, Toronto

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Paintbrush test

I realize that having the President of the United States show up to stain a bookcase in a school on a national volunteer day is just a photo-op (The Obama Presidency – Jan. 21). But here’s an interesting exercise: Let’s imagine who, among Canadian leaders, would do a similar thing. If we mentally swap in the faces and rolled-up shirtsleeves of our current crop of politicians and would-be politicians, it’s pretty easy to figure out who fits, and who doesn’t.

Let’s call it the “paintbrush test.” We could do worse than choose our leaders from those who pass it.

Liz Mayer, Montreal

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Agribusiness angst

Barrie McKenna (It’s Time To Put Supply Management Out To Pasture – Report on Business, Jan. 21) says supply management of milk has been bad for Canadian farmers and consumers. On Jan. 1, The Globe reported that if the U.S. “fiscal cliff” was not resolved, retail milk prices paid by Americans would jump to $7 a gallon – $2 a gallon more than than what I pay in Toronto grocery stores. U.S. dairy subsidies are almost $3 a gallon – so, if we abolish dairy quotas here, will we be crying over milk subsidies next, or let our dairy farmers go out of business?

Clement Kent, Toronto

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The article about supply management reminds me of the much older story of the blind man describing an elephant. Today’s system sustains poultry and dairy producers at the expense of the consumer and taxpayer, and hurts Canada as a credible participant in international debates on freer trade.

It would be sensible for the government to develop and announce a strategy to get out of such supply management over five to 10 years, perhaps with adjustment grants included. This approach would give poultry and dairy producers time to adapt, and would be welcomed in the international circuit as Canada’s sincere, albeit gradual, support for freer trade, which has been so qualified to date by insistent support for supply management.

Phelps Bell, Toronto

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Beyond gold medals

I get that people, especially cycling fans, are outraged and feel betrayed by Lance Armstrong. But the wailing and hyperbole used to describe his transgressions (destroying lives, ruining the sport, etc.) have turned Mr. Armstrong into a classic scapegoat. He was elevated to the status of a sports icon, adored, envied and imitated by others. Now he is banished to the wilderness to atone for all of the sins of a business that was dirty before he entered it and after he left it. Philosopher René Girard’s theories on the scapegoat mechanism provide useful insight into the role played by sports fans in the Armstrong phenomenon.

David Richardson, Victoria

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The sad, sorrowful tale of Lance Armstrong goes far beyond his seemingly calculated attempt at purging his sins in the faint hope of redemption. This “win at all cost” mentality has permeated almost every segment of our culture – sports, entertainment, business, social values. How are we enriched as a society by cheating or bullying our way to the top? Victory by this method is hollow and too high a price to pay both individually and collectively.

We have lost sight of what a true champion in life is; it is time to redefine our values and our measurements of success. My own journey of seeking meaning through the hopes of winning Olympic Gold in 1968 for Canada, and then falling just short of it, has been a driving force in my life.

My Olympic meltdown and consequential emotional aftermath led me down an amazing and ever-evolving path of lessons. This ironic twist of fate eventually guided me to redefine my values and goals, inspiring me to write my new website Questbeyondgold.ca. Ultimately, it is not up to us to forgive Mr. Armstrong for his indiscretions, but for Mr. Armstrong to forgive himself – in the end, the most damaging lies are the ones we tell ourselves.

Elaine Tanner, former Olympian, Ocean Park, B.C.

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Check the source

Gwyn Morgan (Time To Fight Back Against Hollywood’s Misinformation – Report on Business, Jan. 21) appears to have trouble differentiating between a thriller and a documentary. If it is any consolation to Mr. Morgan, I am about as likely to think I’m getting the facts about fracking from a Hollywood movie as I am to believe I will get the truth about climate change from an oil and gas company CEO.

Bruce Mason, Toronto

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Insight into autism

Margaret Wente (The Awful Truth About Being Single – Jan. 19) lacks insight into those affected with autism spectrum disorder. She states: “The longing for long-term intimate connection is a near universal impulse … The only people who escape these yearnings are people … who are in some way autistic, or asexual.”

Many of those diagnosed with ASD do yearn for close intimate relationships. Because of their difficulty with social situations, it can be difficult for them to form relationships – but not impossible. They can be very loving and devoted partners as long as they are understood. Something most people seek in a satisfying intimate relationship.

Deirdre Sadler, Toronto

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Won’t second that

Elie Mikhael Nasrallah writes that the “religion” of hockey at least is less destructive than “regular religions,” and concludes by saying that it should be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize (In Crosby We Trust – letters, Jan. 21).

True, hockey and other sports have nothing to compare to the religious wars of 16th- and 17th-century Europe, but anyone who remembers the Stanley Cup riots in Vancouver will hesitate before extolling our national sport as worthy of the Peace Prize. All too often, Orwell’s 1945 essay The Sporting Spirit rings true: “Serious sport … is war minus the shooting.”

Carl Rosenberg, Vancouver

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