I was pleased to see Tom Flanagan’s column advocating a sound statistical approach to decision-making with regard to the nullification of the close election results in Etobicoke Centre ( Possible, Just Not Probable – May 29). I am sure it had nothing to do with the fact that a Conservative member may end up losing his seat, or that if it sets a precedent, other by-elections may be called at a time when the Conservatives are not doing well in the polls.
Now that he has seen fit to expound the merits of statistical methods, I look forward to further articles from Mr. Flanagan in a similar vein. For example, he may be ready to argue for a reinstatement of the mandatory long-form census, or for an evidence-based approach to evaluating the merits of tougher prison sentences. But on further reflection, I think that for Conservatives to advocate evidence-based decision making in general is possible, just not probable.
David Borth, Waterloo, Ont.
Mr. Flanagan failed to note one essential point: The 79 irregular votes were found in just 10 out of 224 polls analyzed.
Garry Lindberg, Ottawa
Respect the mountain
With all of the stories that have appeared recently about Mount Everest ( Sherpas Brave Perils To Bring Home Body Of Canadian – May 29), there is one thing that has not been emphasized enough: Respect the mountain. When it comes to mountaineering, there is no way that anyone can get past building up experience. You have to know when to turn back when the weather conditions change, and when you realize you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.
David Holmgren, Calgary
A nuisance is a nuisance
Remove the exemptions that now apply to the Do Not Call list ( Do Not Call List Nears 11 Million Numbers –online, May 29), including political parties, and you’ve largely resolved the robo-call problem. There is no good reason for political parties, newspapers and charities to be exempt, unless I have specifically given them permission to call. A nuisance is a nuisance, regardless of where it originates.
Dick DeRyk, Yorkton, Sask.
It may be the only one, but it’s certainly not the first. I have fond memories of bowling on a bumpy Afghan surface in the mid-1970s, the ball wobbling down to the end. No machinery. The pins were set up and balls were returned by well-paid boys. Then, as now, there wasn’t a lot else to do in Kabul.
The bowling league led to one of the great adventures of my life. Four of us, young mothers, were elected to go to Peshawar, Pakistan, to compete for bowling trophies. We travelled unaccompanied by husbands or children.
On the way back, in the middle of the Khyber Pass, we had a puncture. Charlotte changed the tire while the rest of us hovered protectively around her. Less than 10 metres away was a semi-circle of 10 or 12 Pashtuns, bearded, turbaned and armed to the teeth. There was some anxiety, but they were apparently so amazed to see us fixing the tire that all they could do was watch.
And so we returned to Kabul rather late to our worried husbands, bearing the trophies for the bowling league!
Anne Moir, Toronto
The relationship between government and Ontario’s public school system is a long-standing one. The second-class status of gay students inside our Roman Catholic schools is not a new issue ( McGuinty Refuses To Budge On Gay-Straight Alliances – online, May 29).
I was one of them, and no one government is to blame for the current state of affairs. In fact, today’s reality in Ontario is constitutionally ingrained. But so, too, at certain points, were restrictions on voting for women and on interracial marriage. Similar to these injustices, which we corrected by speaking to one another candidly, we need to come together and provide a safe space to have this difficult conversation.
A just society requires the constant ability for all of us to challenge and ask questions of our institutions and traditions, especially those that attempt to censor or regulate our thinking. Intent alone is not enough. Just because our intentions are deemed noble, it does not justify our continued inaction in confronting some fundamental prejudices within our own institutions.
It is time that leaders in the Catholic system step up to challenge this injustice, or that Ontarians seriously consider putting an end to publicly funded bigotry.
Paulo Senra, Toronto
The Pope’s butler
The Pope’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, has been arrested ( As Scandal Swirls, A Poisonous Pentecost For The Pope – May 28) for allegedly leaking documents purported to show deceitful and underhand actions at the highest level in the Roman Catholic Church. This church claims proudly to be the extension of Jesus Christ, dedicated to building up a community of truth and love on Earth. If the documents show that Mr. Gabriele is correct, should he not be given a promotion and an increase in salary for acting in the manner of Jesus, speaking the truth and exposing corruption? Why not make him an honorary cardinal, at least?
Clifford Power, Ottawa (active priest from 1961 to 1973)
A cardinal considers the butler’s betrayal akin to the betrayal of Jesus 2,000 years ago. Can you imagine Jesus having a butler?
Joe O’Brien, Halifax
More than power
Letter-writer Ann Strickland-Clark lists female figures from Hillary Clinton to Aung San Suu Kyi who are in powerful positions worldwide ( Not One Woman – May 28). Power, yes – but the responsibility they have taken, sometimes at great personal cost, is what marks their careers. The seeking of “power” presents a conflict-ridden vision in black and white.
Taking responsibility for public action lacks the drama of the classic power struggle. But it’s a tougher role to play, in my experience, and it’s in that spirit we need to recognize and value what they have done. It’s hard to induce women to enter public life when all you are offering them is the power struggle. Why not try as a goal the taking of responsibility for how we all live together?
Germaine Warkentin, Toronto
As a former Montrealer, I have read with interest reports of the daily banging of pots and pans in the demonstrations there (Students, Government To Meet – May 28). My theory is that this is what happens to the population when the Canadiens fail to make the NHL playoffs. People feel lost, especially in the early evening.
I can just imagine the jazz festival in July, with the banging as background music. Tourists won’t need to fight for downtown hotel rooms; there will be plenty of availability. What a waste of reputation, money, time and energy in such a great city!
Pierre Nadon, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.