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Today’s topics: To be Canadian; feeling sad – RIM, Melanie Aitken; Obamacare’s future; reporting in on report cards; Euro 2012 … and more
Today’s topics: To be Canadian; feeling sad – RIM, Melanie Aitken; Obamacare’s future; reporting in on report cards; Euro 2012 … and more

WHAT READERS THINK

June 30: To be Canadian, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

To be Canadian

This being Canada Day weekend, many people will be expounding on what it means to be Canadian. Perhaps a few words from our past by an ordinary Canadian will help shed some light on the issue.

Frank Lawlor was typical of his time; he was born and raised in Newcastle, N.B., and joined the Canadian Army’s 132nd Battalion in 1916. In June, 1917, he wrote his mother:

“It is eight months since I left Canada and pretty near two months since I left England. And the farther you go, the more you think that Canada is the finest country in the world. And every Canadian says the same. That they would not give Canada for the whole of Europe and that means something. For you see some wonderful things over here. But everybody seems more happy in Canada and it seems freer and easier to get into the Canadian way.”

Sadly, he did not get to return to the country he loved and that “freer and easier Canadian way.” Francis John Lawlor was killed in action on April 7, 1918, and lies buried in the foreign soil of France. But his sentiments about Canada live on.

Ross N. Hebb, Fredericton

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Feeling sad …

I can’t help feeling very sad about what’s happening at RIM (A National Icon’s Breaking Point – June 29). But here’s the thing: Bad as I feel about it, I resigned myself to the inevitable when RIM said its new phones were going to come on the market without a keypad. I send a lot of e-mails, and the keypad is the big reason I stuck with BlackBerry when my husband bailed. From RIM to RIP? How sad is that?

Jenny Simpson, Toronto

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I am sad to hear Melanie Aitken is leaving her job as head of the Competition Bureau (Big Targets, And A Surprise Exit – Report on Business, June 29). For several years, I have been telling students to look to her as a role model of effective law enforcement. In my dreams, she’ll one day return to Ottawa as environment minister.

Katia Opalka, Montreal

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Obamacare’s future

Your editorial praising the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Obamacare, and Chief Justice John Roberts’s role in it, is correct – as far as it goes (The Mandate To ‘Influence Conduct’ – June 29).

It was also Judge Roberts who opened the floodgates for the most wealthy American individuals and corporations to contribute to political advertising. He initiated a review of the existing law, which put limits on such contributions, and led the majority in overturning it.

In this light, his token effort at judicial impartiality with Obamacare will be of little consequence when corporate and plutocratic money results in the victory of a Republican Party committed to overturning this legislation.

Mike Hutton, Ottawa

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The Supreme Court’s ruling is momentous for Barack Obama – permitting the biggest change to the U.S. health system since Medicare and Medicaid were enacted in 1965. His health-care “individual mandate” now stands as the signature accomplishment of his presidency.

Waris Shere, Winnipeg

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Republican congressmen and senators stand behind their party’s presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, who pledges to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a health insurance system more to their liking. They should call it: ForallbutmeIdon’tcare.

Ken DeLuca, Arnprior, Ont.

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Reporting in

Re Why Parents Give Report Cards An F – And How They Can Be Fixed – June 29: When scanning through my old report cards, I actually found the ones from high school much easier to interpret than their elementary counterparts. For example, in elementary I received 12 different comment paragraphs per report, versus only four per report in high school.

That said, most of this jargon can be translated through parent-teacher interviews. Regardless though, I recommend that teachers report less on students’ understanding of specific concepts (i.e. algebraic equations in math class) and more on their learning skills (i.e. initiative).

Connor Hammond, Grade 11, Oakville, Ont.

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In Ontario, students take standardized tests in Grades 3 and 6, then again in high school. These show each child’s general rank with respect to the student population and provincial standards. Graded work is sent home all year. Each of my children, ages 7 and 9 (in different schools), brings home a daily agenda showing what they are doing.

We do homework, or read together weekly. I’m invited to teacher interviews two or three times a year and can meet any time upon request. Parents can access the entire Ontario Grade 1-8 curriculum in one or two Google clicks. With all the opportunities for information out there, don’t blame the report card if you don’t know how your child is doing, blame yourself.

David Woolcott, Guelph

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Elliot Lake tragedy

The tragedy at Elliot Lake is not a national embarrassment, it is a provincial embarrassment (A National Embarrassment – June 28). Other provinces may have handled this differently, from inspecting the mall to acting immediately when the tragedy struck.

Douglas Cornish, Ottawa

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On the one hand, the Harper government plans to set up seven international hubs so there can be a rapid Canadian response to emergencies such as Haiti. On the other hand, the Toronto-based HUSAR (Heavy Urban Search and Rescue Unit) emergency team, one of five in Canada, and which operated at the Elliot Lake emergency, has had its federal funds cut off as part of the recent omnibus bill.

Where’s the logic behind these two decisions?

Hector Mc Neill, Lindsay, Ont.

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Go, teams, go

“Whatever you do, don’t mention the war”: Basil Fawlty a.k.a. John Cleese. What does a surrender in Warsaw have to do with soccer in 2012 (Ciao, Germany – Sports, June 29)?

Germans know they lost the war. Attitudes such as this toward the Germans are unfortunately too common. It is why Germany hesitates to take more of a leadership role in the economic crisis or in Afghanistan or Libya – because, like Basil Fawlty, John Doyle and others keep mentioning the war. Mr. Doyle should stick to covering the play on the field.

Jurgen Duewel, Yarker, Ont.

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I’ve been rooting for Spain and Italy throughout the Euro Cup and have appreciated John Doyle’s entertaining and sometimes pungent comments.When Italy and Germany were to face off in the semi-final, I thought my hopes were dashed. But, the mercurial Balotelli doing his best, Italy now faces Spain in the final. I do hope one of them wins.

Colin Proudman, Toronto

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The two soccer teams contesting the European championship are Spain and Italy, while Germany has been eliminated.

Clearly, there’s an inverse correlation between success in sports and economic management and well-being. Torontonians should take consolation in that thought when considering the Maple Leafs’ 45 years of drought.

Andrzej Derkowski, Oakville, Ont.

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