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Thank you in different languages (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Thank you in different languages (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

What readers think

Nov. 1: Say yes/oui to Canada’s many languages, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Yes, oui, shi, balli

The rhetoric surrounding the bilingual status of Canada is fearful and protectionist, as if something were to be lost (A Bilingual Future Not At Risk – Oct. 31).

Canada has gained speakers of hundreds of languages, not lost any of its speakers of English and French. In this global era, we might think of celebrating our gains and configuring our growing cultural wealth into our linguistic landscape in a more welcoming fashion.

Most of the world’s population is multilingual; we are now becoming increasingly multilingual. What’s not to like?

Heather Lotherington, professor, multilingual education, York University

.........

According to new census data, the number of francophones in Ontario, those who declare French as their mother tongue or as one of their mother tongues, has increased since 2006. This is great news (Two National Languages Still – editorial, Oct. 30).

It is important to note Statistics Canada does not use Ontario’s inclusive definition of “francophone.” This definition also captures those whose mother tongue is neither French nor English, but who have a particular knowledge of French as an Official Language and use French at home. This includes many recent immigrants.

The Office of Francophone Affairs is working with Statistics Canada to determine the number of francophones in Ontario based on our inclusive definition. French is thriving in Ontario, which has the country’s second-largest francophone population

Madeleine Meilleur, Ontario Minister of Francophone Affairs

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Our neighbour’s plight

Our neighbour, the United States, is in a serious bind after Hurricane Sandy (Putting America Together Again – Oct. 31). Millions have been affected: no electricity, streets deep in water.

Would this not be an appropriate time to go to the aid of the U.S.? They are always there for others after a natural disaster, no matter where in the world.

Florence Wood, Lac des Iles, Que.

.........

Our daughters’ Canada

I remember a time when I was so proud of how Canada ranked in the world when it came to gender equality and social issues. Now we lag behind such heavyweights as the Philippines, Latvia, Cuba and Nicaragua (Canada Slips In Gender Equality Ranking – Oct. 25).

When you combine these rankings with the recently released well-being index, Canadian women are worse off than ever before, no matter which measure you apply. Unless we take action today, the situation will get even worse for our daughters and granddaughters. That’s not the kind of Canada my mother and grandmother worked so hard for. That’s not the kind of Canada I want.

Stephanie Smith, treasurer, B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, Burnaby, B.C.

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Their words and pace

“Patients often have to tell their story and basic information multiple times due to the lack of a shared electronic health record,” writes Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne (The Front Door Needs A Remodel – Oct. 31).

Unless patients are allowed the opportunity to relate their history, in their own words, at their own pace, they complain they have not been heard. It is not the documentation that is lacking, it is the understanding. Technology won’t fill that gap.

E. Klimek, MD, St. Catharines, Ont.

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Fat chance at home

Many of the letters about the article The Battle Against Obesity Begins at School (Oct. 29) touch on the tension between the role of school and parents – who is really going to be effective, who is really responsible for dealing with obesity, bad habits and ignorance.

Parents play an outsized role in instilling habits and values in a specific child, but the reality is that we can’t affect that “curriculum” of home life to deal with a public health issue. We can affect the school system directly – and immediately. There, we can teach kids en masse how to grow, buy and cook food, utilizing professional teachers with a practical, science-based program to fight obesity. Food education has to start in school because we can’t trust or assume it will start anywhere else. Not if we want meaningful results.

The problem may begin at home but the solution doesn’t need to originate there.

Aaron Brown, London, Ont.

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Growth’s metric

U.S. economist Robert J. Gordon warns of six headwinds that will make gains in economic growth even harder (Six Strong Winds – Oct. 31). Here are two more: global warming, the rising cost of carbon.

It’s difficult to grow when a chunk of the country is under water, when massive droughts increase the price of food, when fuel prices continue to rise. A carbon tax and innovation are not diametrically opposed. A predictable and transparent price on carbon will send a market signal to invest in the clean energy revolution. The answer to the current economic malaise seems glaringly obvious.

Cheryl McNamara, Toronto

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Stealth wealth

I don’t know why the Greeks are getting so upset about a journalist who published a secret list of 2,000 people with Swiss bank accounts (An Assault On A Democratic Right – editorial, Oct. 31). Rich Greeks deposit their money into Swiss bank accounts. The Swiss banks lend the money to Germany. Germany bails out the Greeks. Sounds to me like an excellent way to redistribute wealth.

John Grimley, Toronto

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Demographic gold

In the global competition for young, highly educated human capital, the Canadian Experience Class is the ultimate gold mine for Canada (Feds Want The Best And The Brightest – Oct. 31).

It is a win-win scenario for foreign workers and international graduate students who are already in Canada, and for Canada’s future as far as young innovators, entrepreneurs and labour needs are concerned. This is only going to add to Canada’s competitive edge globally, and will help in addressing the greying demographic tsunami heading our way.

Elie Mikhael Nasrallah, immigration consultant, Ottawa

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All fired up

Advice from Michael Brown (Best Advice? Learn To Chill – Oct. 3)? As in “heck of a job” Brownie, last seen standing beside George W. Bush following the pathetic effort to respond to Hurricane Katrina? Can’t wait for Nero’s article in Fire Prevention Week.

J.C. Henry, Mississauga

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