Beware the bear
Re Harper Likens Russia’s Crimea Grab To Third Reich Aggression (March 5): Historically, crises of this sort occur because one side sees a promising opportunity for restitution after an historical setback, be it Germany’s defeat in the First World War or, for Russia, the breakup of the Soviet Union (at issue now and in the Georgia crisis of 2008).
Those drawing parallels with the 1930s might do well to remember that none of the four powers that drew up the Treaty of Versailles was prepared to enforce its provisions. The U.S. was isolationist, Italy was Germany’s ally, and Britain and France, unwilling and perhaps unable to intervene, followed a policy of appeasement. Then, as now, this created an opportunity for mischief.
Predictably, Western response has been emotional; Ottawa has hoisted the Ukrainian flag over Parliament Hill. Eventually, realism will prevail, perhaps in the form of an overall settlement that includes a bailout of Ukraine’s economy. None of this will come cheaply or without continued turmoil for decades.
Mr. Putin will exact a pound of flesh, and nationalist Russian leaders will continue to exploit opportunities on their borders.
Garrett H. Polman, West Vancouver
Comparing Russian action in the Crimea to Hitler’s action prior to the Second World War shows a profound lack of understanding of the subtleties and complexity of the economic and political realities in the 21st century. If anything, the situation is more analogous to America’s action in Panama, Grenada or Cuba.
John Seigner, Calgary
Ukraine, Britain, the United States and Russia signed the 1994 Budapest agreement guaranteeing Ukraine’s borders. Ukraine in turn gave up its nukes, which today it could have used as a deterrent.
Britain and the U.S. must honour their agreement, and eschew military action by: 1) closing their airspace, waters and borders to Russia, Russian corporations and citizens; 2) freezing Russian assets on the basis that if Russia does the same, they will be used to compensate any British and U.S. losses, and 3) making it illegal for any financial institution, corporation and individual in Britain and the U.S. to have any direct or indirect economic dealings with Russia, Russian corporations and citizens.
Failing meaningful economic action, the Russian bear will continue to gnaw – at the expense of former Soviet republics, vassal states and Europe, with history repeating itself.
Julian Polika, Toronto
As a six-year-old in 1956 Hungary, as the only family member allowed out of the house to fetch bread and milk, I was followed to the store and back by the menacing turrets and guns on Russian tanks that lined the streets of our neighbourhood. I saw the bodies of young men opposing the Russian invasion dangling, lifeless and limp, from trees in the schoolyard.
This time, we need to show patience. Win economically. Not waste the best lives. Wait out Vladimir Putin.
Marta Caulford, Toronto
Re Life After Privacy (March 5): Mick Jagger presciently summed up the Edward Snowden revelations as long ago as 1974, when in the Rolling Stones’ Fingerprint File he sang, “These days it’s all secrecy, no privacy.”
Marc Riehm, Toronto
Fair Elections Act
I take exception to Lawrence Martin’s depiction of my remarks to the annual Manning Networking Conference last weekend (Too Late For Conservatives To Heed Good Counsel? – March 4).
In speaking to the government’s 200-page Fair Elections Act, I commented favourably on the bill in general and suggested only two areas where I feel it could be improved. Cherry-picking in the reporting of public speeches – reporting only those elements which conform to preconceived biases while ignoring those which do not – does a disservice to democratic discourse.
Preston Manning, Calgary
Heavy touch needed
Your editorial on unregulated child care is right that child care shouldn’t operate in a regulatory black hole, but wrong in concluding that “light” regulation is the answer (With A Light Touch – March 3).
Does “light” regulation include checking apartment balconies for safety or that household poisons are out of reach – or is that “heavy oversight”? What about fire safety? First aid?
Are background checks on caregivers and their family members “light” or heavy?” What about basic training for working with young children – such as many provinces now have – “light” or heavy”? “Light” regulation cannot guarantee even basic safety and is no solution.
Martha Friendly, Childcare Resource and Research Unit
Fat, fatter still
Re One In Five Canadians Expected To Be Obese By 2019 (March 4): Fast food retailers should look at how they are aiding Canadians to be obese with the “convenience” of drive-throughs and prepared foods.
There is a connection between physical inactivity and weight.
I’m from the East and I’m shocked by the number of overweight people I see; on the West Coast, I’m amazed by the number of fit people. In Vancouver, so many people walk, cycle, run and ski. But the farther east I go, the more the conversation is about parking, traffic and the “right” to drive.
Let’s promote physical activity, stop or slow down the spread of drive-throughs and start improving the standards we set for our children. Heavy is becoming the norm; healthy living is slipping away for many Canadians.
Walking costs nothing and is proven to help us stay healthy.
Robert Kennedy, Toronto
Spring forward, argh
Safety experts caution us about the increase in accidents and near misses contributed to by the sleep deprivation that time changes bring. Yet, once again, Sunday will mark the time of year we “spring forward” with our timepieces.
Magically, 1 a.m. becomes 2 a.m. with no shift in the running of the cosmos. Cows don’t know about time, milking is milking. Babies and children still wake and sleep to their own natural rhythms, as harried parents coax offspring into a new wake/sleep cycle.
Bizarrely, some people look forward to the time change; others like me rant and rail at the absurdity of having to change every darn clock in the house – and there’s always one clock that gets missed, often with teeth-gnashing consequences.
Not every place on this planet is so foolish as to flip time back and forth: Look at Saskatchewan.
So, once again, I offer my solution: To placate the diehards, I submit that at 1:30 a.m, we spring forward to 2 a.m. Or wait until the fall, turn our clocks back to 1, and then – leave them there.
Generations to come will look back at our obsession with changing time and wonder how we could have been so obtuse.
Lawrence Crosthwaite, Edmonton