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Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform onstage at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, March 9, 2012. Today’s topics: the War of 1812; Toronto’s tunnel; fracking safety concerns; The Boss and the 1 per cent ... and more (REUTERS)
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform onstage at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, March 9, 2012. Today’s topics: the War of 1812; Toronto’s tunnel; fracking safety concerns; The Boss and the 1 per cent ... and more (REUTERS)

What readers think

March 12: Letters to the editor Add to ...

1812: What if ...

John Allemang (The Myth Of 1812 – Focus, March 10) writes that despite the “fierce contribution” of aboriginal warriors to the War of 1812, “these trusting natives were big losers” in the years after the war.

A great “what if” of Canadian and American history was the possibility of a sovereign, independent aboriginal nation state centred around the Great Lakes to act as a buffer between the U.S. and British North America. This was the outcome sought by Tecumseh and his followers in allying themselves with the British.

Today, aboriginal peoples themselves, and Canadians and Americans, are further ahead in commemorating the fact that, whether in terms of land, blood, sweat or tears, aboriginal peoples have contributed mightily to the development of both countries.

The current approach to the bicentennial commemorative efforts gives us an opportunity to reflect upon the real nature of national-identity formulation: what we collectively choose to remember, what we agree to forget and what we end up ignoring in the process.

John Moses, Delaware band, Six Nations of the Grand River

.........

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is spending $28-million glorifying a 200-year-old murky war few care about, all the while claiming that we don’t have $1.5-million to continue to operate the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory. What a disgrace.

Val Koziol, Toronto

.........

There are many myths about the War of 1812, mostly as a result of the poor job historians have done over the years to supply a compelling, engaging narrative of the war.

Whether the bicentennial celebrations are serving a darker political purpose or not, over the next three years Canadians will have a much clearer idea of how the war affected Canada and what really happened in terms of the significant events.

As a result of hundreds of 1812 activities that will be supported and promoted, participants will experience a lot of fun on the road to greater awareness. We will be the richer for that experience. The Guelph symposium was but one of the first major events into a wonderful world that is a kind of parallel universe back in time to the days of that brutal conflict.

Peter Boyer, Fergus, Ont.

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The past, dug up

It should come as no surprise that this (Tunnel Will Make A Good Thing Even Better –March 10), is not the first attempt to build a fixed link to Toronto Island. In 1935, socialist(!) mayor Jimmy Simpson persuaded the conservative federal government of the day to underwrite a tunnel.

The proposal was designed partly as a Depression-era make-work project, but mostly as a means for poor citizens to get access without cost to the fresh air and health benefits of Toronto’s natural playground. The shovels had already broken the ground when an inconvenient federal election turfed the Tories out of office, ending the project for another 77 years. The cost in 1935 was estimated at $-million.

Harold Strom, Toronto

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Secrecy, safety

Last April, the U.S. House of Representatives energy and commerce committee reported on “Chemicals Used in Hydraulic Fracturing” in the U.S. and concluded that 2,500 fracturing products were in use. These contain 750 different chemical compounds, 650 of which are known or possible carcinogens or hazardous air pollutants (The Fear Of Fracking – Report on Business, March 10).

Questions about the safety of the process are compounded by the secrecy surrounding the chemicals in the hydraulic fracturing fluids. Some fracking companies are injecting fluids containing unknown chemicals, about which they have limited understanding of the potential risks to human health – these products are “proprietary” or “trade secret” and have no MSDS (material safety data sheet) information.

Also, surely the very act of fracturing the rock below makes contamination of waters above more probable?

Frank R. Smith, Fellow of the Chemical Institute Of Canada, St. John’s

.........

Coffee with that?

Re Queen's Jubilee Medal Process Excludes Gay-Rights Groups (March 10): Something else concerns me about the medal marking the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. That is the fact that this “prestigious” medal will be awarded to 60,000 Canadians. That makes it about as “prestigious” as winning a free cup of coffee.

Greg Hoggarth, Mississauga

.........

Deals like this

Re Greek Shakedown Leaves Others Out Of Luck (Report on Business, March 10): It is offensive to use terms such as “bastards” and “thugs” in this article. When one invests, one recognizes, a priori, that with the potential for profit, there is risk. Investors in Greek bonds achieved high returns for many years as compared to German bonds and other less risky investments.

The Greek government, with the help and encouragement of their senior European partners, opted for €100-billion in sovereign debt elimination. This is a business deal. Deals of this nature are common for individuals or companies in difficulty. Historically, Greece is not the only state that has taken such drastic steps to reduce its debt.

Stelios Pneumaticos, Ottawa

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The Boss’s riposte

True, Bruce Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball, his “post-Occupy riposte to economic injustice in America,” plows the same musical field he’s been toiling in the for the past two decades (Springsteen And The Death Of Protest Music –Arts, March 10). Yet to go from this beginning to ultimately arguing that “if this is the soundtrack of the American left, no wonder people in the U.S. think liberalism is dead” strikes me as unfair.

In such songs as Jack of All Trades (“If I had me a gun, I’d find the bastards and shoot ’em on sight”) and Death to My Hometown (“Sing it hard and sing it well, send the robber barons straight to hell”), Springsteen is unequivocal and direct in his attack on those who’ve profited from the latest (and ongoing) recession, in a fashion few, if any, of his peers have the courage to match.

Indeed, as your reviewer points out, the likes of U2 and the Foo Fighters “have too much at stake commercially to take a potentially controversial stand.” Well, shame on them. If multimillionaire pop stars aren’t prepared to follow Springsteen’s lead and risk a few sales here and there, then the rest of the 1 per cent truly have nothing to fear.

David Bright, St. Catharines, Ont.

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He was not amused

You report that the “potential dangers of smoking have been known since the 1960s” (Tobacco Firms Face All-Out Assault In Courts –March 10).

That health-conscious monarch, King James I, got ahead of the trend in 1604 (A Counterblaste to Tobacco), describing smoking as “a custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black, stinking fume thereof, nearest resembling the horrible Stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless.”

James Hunter, Toronto

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