It’s not China’s issue
Re Non-Arctic Nations Merit Say In Region, China Argues (Jan. 21): On this matter, Stephen Harper is quite right. Neither geography nor history supports a place for China in Arctic issues.
China has no more right to a place at the “Arctic table” than Canada warrants a role in the future of disputed islands in the South China Sea.
Kevin Hanna, Kelowna, B.C.
Israeli foreign policy
Re Harper Tells Knesset of Steadfast Support (Jan. 21): Anti-Semitism – or any discrimination based on religion, race, gender or sexuality – is abhorrent. Stephen Harper does any potential peace process in the Middle East a disservice by perpetuating the lie that to be against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land is to be anti-Semitic.
Julia Aitken, Toronto
Lest the public get the idea that all Canadian Jews are joining in the euphoria of Stephen Harper and Benjamin Netanyahu’s mutual adulation: Many are not.
We stand outraged that the Canadian government is ignoring its own professed policies of condemnation of illegal settlements and support for Palestinian rights. We understand that the well-being of both Israelis and Palestinians depends on stopping Israeli policies of occupation, expropriation, displacement and incarceration, as well as ending the hatred, rights abuses, terror and violence from all sides.
Both peoples’ aspirations will only be achieved with dramatically different approaches and, sadly, Canada stands in the way.
I am full of hope that Canadians will think better the next time they head for federal elections.
Ricardo Grinspun, Toronto
Our Prime Minister is a hero. In a world of appeasement, double standards, moral relativism and anti-Semitism, he stood up and called it like it is.
Peter Teitelbaum, Ottawa
Re Kerry Refuses To Be Forced Into Early Keystone XL Decision (Jan. 18): You reference President Barack Obama’s commitment to action on climate change as “vague vows.” In fact, in June, 2013, by executive order to avoid gridlock in Congress, Mr. Obama announced a very specific plan.
The list of measures is impressive: new standards for trucks and heavy-duty vehicles, investments in energy efficiency for residential, institutional and commercial buildings, more renewable energy projects on federal lands, plans to invest in climate-resilient infrastructure, adaptation planning to prepare for extreme weather events we can no longer avoid and, most importantly, a commitment to regulate carbon from coal-fired power plants.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper weakened Canada’s greenhouse gas target to the same 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020 to which Mr. Obama committed the U.S. The difference is that the U.S. has a plan and is on track to meet that target. Canada, with a patchwork of some strong provincial actions and nothing federally to regulate the oil sands, has no plan and is nowhere near on track for anything but failure.
Elizabeth May, Leader, Green Party of Canada
Re Neil Young Replies (letters, Jan. 20): In the recent David and Goliath war of words over the Alberta oil sands, it’s revealing how defenders of the expansion consistently stoop to personal attacks against Neil Young (his age, the state of his career, his citizenship).
Clearly, Mr. Young has hit a nerve and scientific justification for the expansion of the oil sands seems to have escaped his emotional critics. It’s almost biblical.
Heather Sutherland, Alcove, Que.
The rock star says: We’re over the top with fossil fuel production. Whoa, slow down and be conservative.
The PM says: Remember the economy, petro dollars pay bills. Full steam ahead, rock on!
NASA scientists say: Keep our atmospheric carbon dioxide level below 350 parts per million, as too much CO2 in the atmosphere might cook our planet back to the hot rock era.
Future generations can’t yet say anything, but with atmospheric carbon now at 400 ppm, we’d best tune in to the right guys. Without action today, our grandchildren may find themselves between a hard rock and a hot place.
David Thompson, Vancouver
Korea? No so fast
Re Ottawa Faces First Big Test of ‘Economic Diplomacy’ (Report on Business, Jan. 20): Barrie McKenna argues we’d better sign a free trade deal with Korea fast, or else we risk “falling further behind” the U.S. and other competitors in that particular market. In less than two years of so-called free trade with Korea, America’s merchandise exports to Korea actually declined by 5 per cent. But imports from Korea surged by over 10 per cent. Hence the U.S. trade deficit with Korea grew by two-thirds (to over $21-billion).
In all-important automotive trade, new imports from Korea outstripped new U.S. exports back the other way by a factor of 22-to-1. As predicted by critics, the lofty language of free trade does not change a lopsided reality: Korea sells far more than it buys in international trade, and government policy deliberately works to keep it that way.
If not signing a deal with Korea means falling behind that miserable performance, then I’m all in favour of falling behind.
Peter Kennedy, national secretary treasurer, Unifor
Watch the watchers
Re If You Behave (Jan. 21): A letter writer advises, “As long as you keep your nose clean, you have nothing to worry about.” He assumes spies are all above board, but who watches the watchers?
How do we know the surveillance personnel are keeping their noses clean?
I’m betting a person whose “dalliance with someone from the office” actually showed up on YouTube would be less sanguine.
Doug Brandy, Ottawa
What’s that smell?
Re Ian Brown’s ‘View’ (letters, Jan. 21): The reference to fermenting walrus meat for later consumption had me recalling my years among the indigenous tribespeople of Borneo’s mountainous interior. I found a very similar practice there.
With no fridges to preserve what couldn’t be eaten directly after a hunt, they’d take a length of bamboo, which could be easily six inches wide, and cram it with alternate layers of boar meat and local salt, put in a stopper and bury it. The same could be done with fish; both were known as jarok. Some months later it was eaten as a delicacy.
The contribution to atmospheric conditions at the time of eating was similar to that which your correspondent described, but I don’t remember the same aftereffect.
Iain Clayre, Edmonton