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Stephen Harper takes part in a joint press conference with President of Peru on Wednesday, May 22, 2013. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Stephen Harper takes part in a joint press conference with President of Peru on Wednesday, May 22, 2013. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

What readers think

May 24: The PM and where the buck stops, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Buck stops … there

Re Harper On Wright: ‘I’m Sorry, I’m Frustrated, I’m Extremely Angry’ (May 23): Stephen Harper tells us that Nigel Wright, his former chief of staff, is “solely responsible” for the secret $90,000 deal with Mike Duffy to repay the Senator’s improperly claimed expenses.

Harry Truman, when president of the United States, had a sign on his desk: “The buck stops here.” Mr. Harper, as the Prime Minister of Canada, has indicated the need for a sign on his desk: “The buck stops there,” with an arrow pointing anywhere except toward him.

Anthony N. Doob, Toronto

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If Stephen Harper was so “angry” about Nigel Wright’s behaviour, why did he try to talk him out of resigning?

Manuel Matas, Winnipeg

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Pots, kettles, irony

Marjory LeBreton, the Government Leader in the Senate, scornfully refers to “Liberal elites” in her statement on the expenses scandal (Report On Duffy Was Redacted – May 23). How the pot can call the kettle black!

Ms. LeBreton should remember that in 2012 – when the Senate sat for 88 days – she was paid her base salary of $135,000, plus her leader of the government allowance of $76,500, plus her car allowance, free flights, and an office and staffing allowance of $161,200, along with who knows how many other Senate perks. That is a good definition of an “elite” to me!

Nigel Bennett, Stratford, Ont.

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Given how much damning information was removed from the Conservative-dominated committee report on Mike Duffy’s expenses, it’s pot-and-kettle ironic that Marjory LeBreton would dare to accuse anybody else of partisan bias. To be blind to the ironies of one’s position is to be ridiculous.

Eric Savoy, Montreal

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Five-year rule

Re Ban On Gay, Male Donors Is Lifted (May 23): Groups that are statistically higher risk have more requirements placed upon them during the blood-donation process. This is not unreasonable.

Let’s debate the specific merits of the five-year rule – men who have sex with men can give blood only if they have been celibate five years – but it is the experts’ job to decide what controls achieve the proper balance of risk and reward.

I strongly believe that this is not about homophobia, or about having controls that are, as André Picard suggested, “pulled out of someone’s hat.” This is about having a set of controls that provide a proper balance between the science and public safety while permitting the most people to donate.

Mike Ford, Whitby, Ont.

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Although the five-year deferral may seem like progress, this policy change leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth. The wording used still pathologizes the sexual behaviour of men who have sex with men, thus perpetuating an institutional history of discriminatory policies.

I hope the five-year deferral is a down payment on future policy changes that will ensure that all donors are assessed equally on the basis of their sexual behaviours, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Alex Looky, Toronto

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Fix ANC visa limits

It is, as our Governor-General said, a “terrible tragedy” that Canada still refuses to issue visas to some members of South Africa’s ruling party (Canadian Visa Restrictions Still Rankle Some ANC Members – May 22).

However, current Canada-South Africa relations should not be read as indicative of traditional relations between these two states. In fact, conservative prime ministers played a major role in the fight against apartheid.

John Diefenbaker took on the apartheid regime not only at/from home, but within the Commonwealth as well. Brian Mulroney went as far as having Canadian diplomats consult directly with anti-apartheid movements in South African townships. Kim Campbell was able to ease relations at the epoch of the South African democratic dispensation, thereby encouraging a more peaceful and strengthened transition.

Our current government does not need to look very far, but within. It is time to fix what is broken.

Tshweu Moleme, South Africa analyst, BRICS Research Group, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto

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‘Ridiculous’

How can Toronto Mayor Rob Ford focus on city business when the media’s attention is focused on an issue involving an alleged criminal offence where no investigation has been made by police and the media want an “explanation” from the mayor (Ford Sidelined By School Board – May 23). It is reported that the person who has the alleged video of the mayor smoking crack cocaine is trying to sell it.

I believe that a public servant or politician, on an allegation of a criminal offence, is entitled to the same rights that any private citizen has in a democratic society. If any citizen were called on to give an “explanation” for any alleged offence such as this, that person would have a right to say: “Ridiculous.”

John Weingust, Toronto

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Suicide’s spread

Re Suicidal Thoughts Spread Among Teens, Study Finds (May 22): My daughter, Philippa, who had been treated for depression and was released from being an inpatient to an outpatient – in my opinion, too early – hanged herself at home. She did not die, but is now severely brain damaged, physically disabled and living in a group home.

When I requested the medical records, one of them stated that “Philippa has told me of three ways she would commit suicide.” Being in a then award-winning, outpatient suicide-prevention program, she met others who had attempted suicide and thus learned of other potential ways to do it. I doubt very much whether she would have figured out the method she used by herself, but only in the company of those who have previously tried to commit suicide.

Ray Pearmain, Ottawa

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Having a duffy

We owe a small debt of gratitude to Mike Duffy for giving us the opportunity to add a new expression to the English language, to wit: “having a duffy.”

This can cover not only confusion over where you actually live, but also who you work for. Judging by Mr. Duffy’s expense claims, he may have been confused about when he was on Senate business and when he was doing the work of the Conservative Party, sometimes carrying out both simultaneously in his confused dedication to his responsibilities.

Michael Edwards, Bloomfield, Ont.

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