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March 27: Letters to the editor Add to ...

The NDP’s Mulcair

Rather than redefine the NDP, Thomas Mulcair risks undefining it (Enter Mulcair – March 26). In an attempt to build a second Liberal party, he will drive those voters to the real Liberal Party, while alienating actual NDPers (witness the rash of departures on his first Monday).

The weekend was a missed opportunity, for the NDP and for Canada, to turn the page on politics as usual. Mr. Mulcair’s leadership risks giving us three parties that look the same, but with different colours. And for the record, I’m not an NDPer.

Mark Khoury, Lasalle, Que.

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When the NDP was created in 1961 out of the old CCF, it made a strategic error in abandoning its Western, agrarian, religious and populist roots in an attempt to win greater favour with academic socialists and organized labour in Central Canada. It zigged when it should have zagged, never won national office, and left the up-and-coming West open to political reorganization from the right.

Now, just when the geo-political centre of gravity of Canada has shifted from the Laurentian region to a new alignment between Ontario and the West, the NDP has rooted itself in Quebec, a region facing declining political influence nationally unless led by bridge-builders not polarizers. Has the NDP zigged again when it should have zagged?

Preston Manning, former leader, Reform Party

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Wow. With all the verbiage the Tories are throwing at NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair – vicious, opportunist, divisive personality, ruthless ambition – you’ve got to know he’s their boss’s worst nightmare (Job Losses Fuel Mulcair’s Opening Salvo Against Tories – online, March 26). And speaking of bosses who are vicious opportunists, with a divisive personality and ruthless ambition – well, let’s just say Mr. Mulcair isn’t the first person who comes to mind.

Prime minister Thomas Mulcair. Just practising … The Mulcair government …

Marilyn Reynolds, Fredericton

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Let’s hope that Thomas Mulcair realizes that, in order to be electable, he must move the NDP away from the “oldthinkers” in the unions. Unions have seriously alienated the Canadian public. Strikes and lockouts should be illegal, replaced by final-offer-selection binding arbitration, which requires both sides to be reasonable.

Unless current union (and management) mentalities change, we will see more good jobs going to union-free states – and more confrontations as politicians realize that there is little political cost, indeed, much gain, in taking on the unions. The Harper government already knows this.

Robert Cairns, Cobourg, Ont.

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Thomas Mulcair’s acceptance speech reminded me of the response by a Scottish lady to a visiting minister’s sermon: Three things aboot it I didna like. First, he read it. Second, he didna read it very well. Third, it wisna worth readin’.

Nevertheless, we have to wish him well in the Ottawa zoo.

Duncan Graham, Vancouver

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Book love

In his article on the ascension of television over books as our primary storytelling source, John Doyle is only half correct in suggesting television is not the audience-pandering wasteland foreseen in Network (The Novel Made The Modern World, But Good Television Is Superior To The Printed Word – Arts, March 26). Choice has become so vast, TV viewing is, in fact, as brilliant or vacuous as you want it to be. It is Jersey Shore on one channel and Mad Men on another.

Even the best of television (and film, for that matter) is a passive experience, laying its world out for you to observe. A novel, on the other hand, forces every reader to actively participate – imagining and interpreting its world, characters and actions. For this reason alone, a good book still surpasses anything found on the dial.

Brian Smith, Waterloo, Ont.

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Running the game

Kenneth Oppel (An Appeal To Our Baser Appetites – March 26) misses the point of The Hunger Games. Its wide appeal isn’t based in our appetite for violence (which, by the way, it glorifies no more than does Homer’s Iliad), but in its depiction of the callous self-interest of those who “run the game.” Audiences know that its portrayal of the 1 per cent is apt. Look at Syria. Look at the consequences of the mortgage fiasco in the U.S., which hurt everyone but the individuals behind it.

Political policy is skewed to maintain corporate privilege; corporate structure is designed to serve not the public good, but the corporate elite. The game is rigged, and the young – and future generations – are taking the hit. The Hunger Games has hit a nerve.

Philip Shepherd, Toronto

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Where farms are

Eric Reguly asks rhetorically where young mining engineers go and answers: Not Canada (Canada’s Weakness: Why Build A Company When You Can Sell It? – Report on Business, March 24). In my acquaintance with various mining engineers, they go where the mines are (often on a temporary and sometimes on a more permanent basis). These are often remote regions throughout the world, including parts of Canada, without regard for where the owners live.

I similarly suspect that whether owned by Canadians or the Swiss, actual agricultural investment goes where the farms are. The sale of Viterra may lose Canada some head office jobs, but I don’t see Canadian executives doing Canada any more favours than foreign executives.

Allan Olley, Oakville, Ont.

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Vroom, clunk

Monday’s editorial cartoon featured a 1956 Buick, not a ’57 as captioned in Brian Gable’s otherwise excellent parody of the state of affairs in Cuba. I learned to drive in my father’s ’56. It was a glorious car, beautifully styled. Many of them are still in Cuba today. In five visits, I haven’t seen a ’57 there, perhaps because they didn’t sell very well at the time.

Pete Little, Toronto

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Through the cracks

A major issue that needs more attention is the complexity involved in providing policing to our communities (Policing Costs – editorials, March 21-23).

As you point out, Canada’s total police spending doubled during the past decade, and yet growing problems are falling through the cracks onto front-line police and the communities they serve. Backlogs in national police services, such as DNA testing and criminal record checks, and gaps in areas such as border security, organized crime and drug trafficking, are pushing new policing duties onto municipalities that lack the necessary resources.

The root of the problem is the lack of adequate collaboration between federal, provincial and municipal governments. We’ll only make progress once we clarify the roles and responsibilities of all orders of government, then work on ensuring officers have the resources they need.

Berry Vrbanovic, president, Federation of Canadian Municipalities

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Bare faced

Re Beards And Votes: A Bad Combination? (March 26): That is debatable, but as I observed on this page more than 30 years ago, it is a certainty that if more politicians wore beards, there would be fewer bare-faced liars on the hustings.

Trevor S. Raymond, Georgetown, Ont.

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