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Today's topics: word bombs; bullying; the Wheat Board; Occupy legalities ... and more (iStockphoto)
Today's topics: word bombs; bullying; the Wheat Board; Occupy legalities ... and more (iStockphoto)

What readers think

Nov. 19: Letters to the editor Add to ...

Word bombs

In the lexicon of the frustrated, the F-bomb is the scorched-earth toss of the truly PO’d (Sound And Fury As Tories Limit Debate – Nov. 18). Minus MP Pat Martin’s heavy verbal artillery, here’s what’s left of what he wrote: “This is a (bleep) disgrace ... closure again. And on the Budget! There’s not a democracy in the world that would tolerate this jackboot (bleep).”

He’s right. He said it badly, but he’s right.

Stephen Harper has much to offer Canadians. While I actually agree with his crime bill, his lack of respect for Parliament is more than troubling, it is offensive. Closure and prorogation are the equivalent of parliamentary scorched-earth tosses, not something to be served up as readily as Mr. Harper does.

What is happening to the democratic underpinnings of our nation? I don’t condone Mr. Martin’s language, but I understand what drove him to it.

Marion Morrison, Edmonton

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What is unfolding here – and what is so frustrating to Pat Martin and to others – is the “inverted totalitarianism” enunciated by political philosopher Sheldon Wolin. Ideologues and the heavy influence of corporations have the upper hand; almost half the populace doesn’t vote because they’ve given up hope. Any semblance of a representative electoral system doing something for the common good is buried in a landslide of demands from single-interest groups.

Mr. Martin’s observation that any expression of democracy may now have to come from civil society movements is disturbing but, at the same time, a green shoot out of dry ground.

Jim Sinclair, North Bay, Ont.

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Let me start by saying that I have never supported the NDP. Pat Martin is an elected member of Canada’s Parliament and, as such, has every right and, in fact, an obligation to speak out against these egregious tactics. The Conservatives will huff and puff and complain that people are offended by such language. I’d like to offer Mr. Harper a rude word myself.

Matthew A. Rotenberg, Beaconsfield, Que.

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Although admiring Pat Martin’s willingness to champion the plight of farmers, labour and aboriginal peoples, I strongly object to his use of inappropriate language in expressing frustration with the Conservative government’s invocation of closure. I would have expected more from the NDP MP who represents the former riding of J.S. Woodsworth and Stanley Knowles, faith-based social democrats who articulated the cause of the vulnerable and disenfranchised with eloquence and grace. If the MP from Winnipeg Centre behaved more like a true parliamentarian, he would gain my respect.

Michael Zwiep, Ridgeville, Ont.

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Bullying’s toll

I have been a bully, a witness and a victim (Beating The Bullies: A Bystander’s Burden – Nov. 18). I am 13. Recently my whole school had a circle discussion on bullying. Everyone had been affected. Three people cried, two had received death threats. Many had changed schools. Nearly everyone admitted to being a bystander.

How is this possible? How are we letting this happen in a country that is supposed to be a peaceful example in the world?

One number sticks with me from our talk: 300 kids in Canada take their own lives every year. Time for adults to step in, to see what is going on. Time for all of us to act.

John Reston, Toronto

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Courting Liberia

I have worked with Liberia’s justice ministry as a volunteer lawyer since 2007. I disagree that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is “courting” former warlord Prince Johnson (Liberian Leader Courts Odd Allies – Nov. 16). The fact she made a public appearance with Mr. Johnson (who is a Liberian senator from Nimba County) during the recent election campaign shouldn’t be construed as “courting” him. She was courting the people of Nimba County.

Ms. Sirleaf won more votes for the presidency in the October general election than any of her rivals, including Mr. Johnson, who ran against her, taking away a good chunk of the votes of Nimba. To win the recent runoff vote, it wasn’t surprising that she campaigned in Nimba County and, in doing so, made an appearance with its elected senator. The “big picture” is that Ms. Sirleaf, as a pragmatic leader, was able to secure a second term and to continue to move Liberia toward reconciliation and economic progress.

As she noted in her 2009 autobiography: “Liberians have had to learn to let go of many things in the past in order to move forward.” Mr. Johnson is in the rearview mirror of Liberian history, not part of its political future.

Jim Dube, Toronto

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Illegal? Duh

Again the incoherence of the Occupy movement threatens to undermine its real message. The very sanction of the courts which they seek to prevent their eviction will eliminate the “occupying” nature of the activity. If it is lawful to camp in a public park in protest, it is no longer an “occupation.” It is as ordinary as walking your dog in the same park.

The power of the occupation is that it is a form of civil disobedience. It violates rules; it challenges authority. When civil disobedience ceases to be disobedient through legal sanction, it loses its power to challenge the discourse, to disrupt the “establishment.” I never cease to be amazed at protesters who get all prickly when they realize civil disobedience is actually against the law. Duh!

Rather than undermine themselves in the courts, perhaps the Occupiers need to spend some time in their general assemblies trying to solidify what they are really protesting (vast wealth inequality) and then get on with moving forward on that agenda.

Melinda Munro, Windsor, Ont.

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Many of the remaining protesters seem to believe that it is their inherent democratic right to continue to do whatever they please, wherever they please. Nonsense. To mount potential court challenges to confirm these rights? In this country, quite possibly. What an incredible waste of time, talent, energy, and money on something so absolutely frivolous.

Democracy is very alive and very well in this country, and we don’t need this sort of nonsense to prove it.

David Thom, Victoria

...

Wheat Board

It is astonishing to see Wheat Board directors claim that the government is taking money from farmers (Ottawa Accused Of Hoarding Wheat Board Fund – Nov. 17). Board chair Allen Oberg and his directors have spent millions of farmers’ dollars on a campaign to promote their monopoly. The contingency fund is not connected to the pooling accounts and has always been separate and Mr. Oberg knows this. We have a responsibility to Canadian farmers and taxpayers to ensure that the new voluntary Canadian Wheat Board has a viable future.

What we are witnessing is an attempt to fear monger in the media rather than work with our government to ensure a smooth transition for farmers to marketing freedom.

Gerry Ritz, federal Minister of Agriculture

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Bureaucrats rule

Re Europe’s Fate Rests On Monti’s Shoulders ( Nov. 18): The new rulers in Italy and Greece remind me of a few lines in John le Carré’s Russia House: “When the world is destroyed it will be destroyed not by its madmen, but by the sanity of its experts and the superior knowledge of the bureaucrats.”

Bert Hielema, Tweed, Ont.

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