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A man waves a flag as Aboriginal protesters and supporters in the Idle No More movement block the Blue Water Bridge border crossing to the United States in Sarnia, Ont. on Saturday, January 5, 2013. (Dave Chidley/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
A man waves a flag as Aboriginal protesters and supporters in the Idle No More movement block the Blue Water Bridge border crossing to the United States in Sarnia, Ont. on Saturday, January 5, 2013. (Dave Chidley/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

What readers think

Jan. 7: The first nation ‘dream palace’, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Who is dreaming?

Jeffrey Simpson offers a clear-eyed review of the dream world that so many of our self-styled first nations live in (Nothing More Than A Dream Palace Of Memory – Focus, Jan. 5) – one of which dreams is the real meaning of the word “nations” and the status it is supposed to grant on the world stage.

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I wonder how many of your readers remember the pictures we saw in The Globe and Mail drawing attention to the contrast, of a man sitting under a collapsing ceiling in an uninsulated shack and the chief sitting behind a huge executive desk in an elaborately decorated office.

And yet the fast continues, as does the farce. Dream on.

Iain Clayre, Edmonton

...........

Perhaps Jeffrey Simpson should have read The Globe and Mail’s review of Jared Diamond’s new book The World Until Yesterday subtitled “What Can We Learn From Traditional Societies” (Forward To The Past – Globe Books, Jan. 5) before simplistically stating that many first nations people in Canada live within a dream palace of memory. A place, he writes, that is so far removed from today’s reality as to be almost unbearable.

We forget cultural memory at our peril: To remember a time when the environment was valued over economics is not to return to an idea of utopia; rather, it is to be reminded that some things are worth fighting for.

Eve Joseph, Brentwood Bay, B.C.

Culture gap

Thanks to Doug Saunders for pointing out another example of Western colonial guilt replacing common sense (It’s Not A ‘Universal Rape Culture’ – It’s India – Focus, Jan. 5).

Besides the absurdity of comparing, even implicitly, the incidence and conviction rate of rape in the West to that in India, the activists quoted by Mr. Saunders effectively let India off the hook by insisting that rape is deeply ingrained in every culture.

One of the great triumphs of Western democracy is the sweeping liberation of women that has occurred so rapidly, and the accompanying heightened sensitivity to sexual assault.

Profound change is possible, and on a meaningfully short time scale.

India, which has seen many progressive social changes in recent years, can follow the Western example and become a safer place for women.

S. David Rosner, London, Ont.

It’s good for Canada

A collaborative approach to continental security is essential in the modern context. Initiatives that foster alignment between Canada and the U.S. on border and immigrations processes, including the bilateral measures described in your article Visa Applicants To Canada Screened With U.S. Blacklist (Jan. 4), are a positive step for Canada.

Travel between nations helps to promote trade, economic growth and job creation. A co-operative approach through agreements such as these is the most reasonable approach to facilitate this vital leisure and business travel by legitimate visitors to Canada.

David F. Goldstein, president and CEO, Tourism Industry Association of Canada, Ottawa

The sanctions toll

It’s important to add some context to your Folio article How Sanctions Are Taking Their Toll On Iranians (Jan. 4).

The Islamic regime’s statistics up until a couple of years ago showed that 50 per cent of Iranians were living under the poverty line. Unemployment, especially among youth, has been extremely high for years. These deep-seated problems are rooted primarily in the regime’s corruption rather than sanctions.

Sanctions have no doubt made life more difficult for Iranians – but not much more so than it already was. Sanctions have dramatically fostered open opposition to the regime. Many Iranians, including expats like myself who are active in the pro-democracy movement, support sanctions and believe they are key to weakening the regime.

Freedom is not free. If we are to see much-needed change in Iran, it will require a price. The key is to destabilize a horrific regime while inflicting the least amount of damage on its people. In my view, sanctions and political isolation are the necessary tools.

Sayeh Hassan, Toronto

Setting the stage

Although I’m delighted to see Jean Roberts rightly given recognition for her contribution to Canadian theatre (Idealistic Canadian Stage Pioneer Was Committed To A National Theatre – Obituaries, Jan. 2), I feel the need to amend a common misconception that there was little or no professional theatre in this country before the mid-1950s.

As I detail in my book The Opening Act: Canadian Theatre History, 1945-1953, there were numerous homegrown professional theatres started in the early years immediately after the Second World War. They may not have survived more than two or three years, but they were professional and set the stage for Stratford and the later regional theatre boom in which Ms. Jean Roberts played such a large role.

Susan McNicoll, Vancouver

Senatorial footnote

In your article on Kathleen Wynne’s candidacy for the Ontario Liberal leadership (Conservative Senator Throws Support Behind Provincial Liberal Leadership Candidate – Jan. 3), you say that “senators earn an annual base salary of $132,000.” Don’t you mean that senators are paid an annual base salary of $132,000?

David Brewer, Puslinch, Ont.

Skid marks

It was refreshing to see in your obituary of Bernie Smith, a former Vancouver beat cop (Gruff Officer Was A Man Of Strict Principle – Jan. 1), the reference to “skid road” – a term I believe that originated in the Pacific Northwest – instead of “skid row.”

Perhaps effete easterners will now learn that it’s not “skid row” but a man-made “road” of logs, or skids, down which felled trees were sent hurtling into major waterways to be formed into log booms and towed to mills. Hence, when you’re on the way down in a hurry you’re on “skid road,” not “skid row.”

Bill Boyd, Lakefield, Ont.

Pizza-driven crime

“Pizza parties [in prison] reward bad behaviour” (Slice Of Life – letters, Jan. 5). Vic Toews, our Minister of Public Safety, explains that cancelling charitable pizza nights in prisons will help “ensure that prisons are places ... to which no one would want to return.” Indeed. Empirical studies have shown that fond memories of pizza parties in prison lead to increased recidivism.

David Bakvis, Victoria

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