Those who leave
In a globalized world, an "expat" is no longer merely someone who chooses to leave their passport culture (Time To Lead/The Expat Factor - June 28).
There are those who have been born in Canada strictly for the passport, never to return again to live; those who choose to move and/or retire elsewhere with no plans to live here again; and finally, those who are part of the mobile, global Canadian work force who move from country to country for their jobs (often for Canadian multinationals), who have every intention of returning "home" and, indeed, send their children to Canadian universities and maintain Canadian properties (on which they pay taxes).
It is this final group - the new "globals" - who need more support and recognition from the Canadian government.
Robin Pascoe, North Vancouver
Expats should be required to contribute an annual sum - perhaps $1,000 - to keep their citizenship active. This would apply to Canadian citizens who, after living out of the country and not making any financial contributions for years, demand to have the Canadian government rescue them - as happened, for example, during the 2006 Lebanon war.
Janet Marr, Alliston, Ont.
As Italian emigrants to Canada, we are courted by the Italian government that, unlike Canada, rewards its diaspora with easy citizenship and special political representation. We are afforded the right to vote in Italian elections, work or live anywhere in the EU, and exercise all rights of dual Italian-Canadian citizenship.
Have we ever given anything back to Italy? We've never paid taxes or fought in the army. The closest we've come to maintaining economic and cultural ties was our trip to Rome last year.
Canada is a country of immigrants for a reason. Keep it that way.
Sebastian Marotta, Toronto
How does asking questions about pension benefits, post-dispute reconciliation, or the importance of Purolator demonstrate "institutional knowledge" and justify a $100-million retirement home for political cronies (Sobriety On A Sunday - editorial, June 28)? These are questions any citizen who follows the news, or any involved bureaucrat, whom we pay to draft and vet legislation, could have knowledgeably asked about the Canada Post labour dispute.
The Senate does not represent regions or the interests of Canadian citizens. It represents political parties and toes the party line, just as MPs do, despite the supposed security and independence of a lifetime appointment. Don't kid yourself that the house of "sober second thought" would have passed the legislation if it was still dominated by the Trudeau- and Chrétien-appointed Liberal hacks, instead of the new Harper-appointed Conservative hacks.
Michael Farrell, Oakville, Ont.
Reading Lysiane Gagnon's spot-on column (A Dumb Idea Past Its Time - June 27) has inspired me to put forward my own proposal for a Triple-E senate: Expunge (the subject from any serious discussion of democratic reform), Excise (the institution from our parliamentary system), and Excuse (the honourable Senators from any further duties, thank you).
Peter Maitland, Lindsay, Ont.
During my career in the Public Service I had several opportunities to attend hearings of Commons and Senate committees that were considering bills I had been involved in drafting. Discussions in Senate committees were much more concerned with principles and impacts on Canadians than was the case in Commons committees. In short, I witnessed the "sober second thought" that is so often sneered at. The fact that senators do not have to run for office at short intervals allows them time to become familiar with issues in greater depth and take a longer-term view than the elected officials in the Commons. They provide a valuable, stable perspective in a political world too often driven by the latest sound bite.
Maureen Stewart, Kanata, Ont.
It's welcome news that engineering giant SNC Lavalin is prepared to take Atomic Energy of Canada off the federal government's hands, and out of federal taxpayers' pockets (Sale Puts Ottawa Out Of Nuclear Business - June 28). It is critical that we put all future electricity projects on a level playing field and stop the practice of allowing nuclear companies to pass their cost overruns on to taxpayers. Cheaper and safer alternatives must be given full consideration before we proceed with sinking billions more dollars into unreliable and high-cost nuclear energy.
Angela Bischoff, Ontario Clean Air Alliance
Looking at the road roller crushing a field of bottles containing alcohol and drugs, I winced at the thought of good Scotch going to waste (Pakistan: Ceremony Puts The Crunch On Drug Abuse And Illicit Trafficking - June 27). But what made me wince even more was calling the machine a steamroller. The pictured behemoth was a diesel roller; steamrollers went out of style more than 50 years ago.
I grew up on Public Works stations around Jamaica, where my father was a supervisor. I was fascinated by the steamrollers - ponderous beasts whose guts had to be stoked with coal, wood or, later, heavy oil and lit every morning to build up the steam to propel those monstrous steel wheels. The hissing steam, whirring flywheels and slow, menacing pace never failed to delight us boys. The diesel rollers that replaced them were just as interesting, especially when we watched them transform gravel and rocks into flat substrates, then smooth the fresh asphalt layer into what country folk, enamoured by a new wonder fabric, called "nylon roads."
Keeble McFarlane, Toronto
Contrary to Kevin Neish's contention that there were no weapons per se on the Mavi Marmara, hard-core Islamists from the IHH terrorist organization were aboard the ship armed with lethal guns, automatic weapons, knives, metal rods, firebombs, Molotov cocktails, slingshots and other weapons that were used to attack Israeli forces as they tried to interdict the flotilla (One Year After Fatal Clash, A New Freedom Flotilla Sets Forth - June 28). Israel's well-documented position is that it was well within its rights in enforcing a legal maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip to prevent weapons from getting into the hands of Hamas terrorists.
Mike Fegelman, executive director, HonestReporting Canada
Hair today, gone ...
I think it's fair to say that most Americans, myself included, won't mind paying to keep Rod Blagojevich in prison, if only to keep him off of television and out of politics for a time (Blagojevich Convicted Of Trying To Sell Obama's Senate Seat - June 28). But this American will draw the line at paying for "maintenance" of the famous Blago hair. Perhaps the prison has an in-house salon that can take care of things.
Mary Stanik, Minneapolis, Minn.