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Prime Minister Stephen Harper is denying any knowledge of a one-time plan for the Conservative Party to repay Senator Mike Duffy’s expense claims. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is denying any knowledge of a one-time plan for the Conservative Party to repay Senator Mike Duffy’s expense claims. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

WHAT READERS THINK

Nov. 25: Where the buck stops – and other letters to the editor Add to ...

The buck stops …

Re PM Denies He Knew Of Duffy Plan (Nov. 22): You report that “without full clarity, there is no indication of personal culpability for the Prime Minister.” In fact, there are indications of personal culpability. What there is not, is a smoking gun.

You don’t have to be very old to remember a time when the “Honourable” minister resigned for the failures of his department, whether or not he or she knew the circumstances personally. Perhaps Mr. Harper should have considered this fact when he rebranded the Government of Canada as the Harper Government.

President Harry Truman’s metaphorical buck is in this case a literal buck. There is ample precedence for what ought to happen next. And it isn’t throwing your chief of staff under the bus.

April Hurmuses, Vancouver

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Re Who Knew What (letters, Nov. 22): The RCMP documents tell thoughtful readers far more than the Conservative Party line dictates: 1) Nigel Wright was not do-ing the right thing. He was orchestrating a cover-up; 2) spin and failure to embrace the truth was the norm all round, not the aberration; 3) The paper trail does not say the PM knew nothing of the far-reaching affair. Rather, the documents suggest that he did know something about it, though not how much or when.

The idea that, somehow, co-operating with the RCMP proves there was no cover-up is an extraordinary stretch; the alternative would have been to watch while the RCMP raided the PMO office, Senate Conservative office, and perhaps his private files.

Finally, throwing mud at the Liberals to diminish Conservative wrongdoing is a howler. Adscam was a shameful performance, but it went to a commission that cleared the prime minister of involvement. In the courts, miscreants were sent to jail.

Letter writer Curt Shalapata is right about the $40-million of taxpayers’ money lost in Adscam; does he say the same of the $50-million taken from a border security budget to pay for fluff in Tony Clement’s riding, or the $3.1-billion “unaccounted for” in the anti-terrorism budget?

J.L. Black, Barrie, Ont.

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Here we have a Harper government and a Conservative Party that many feel is not telling the whole truth about the Senate scandal. Now, we have the same government introducing legislation that seeks to weaken our protection against wiretaps by authorizing them on the basis of a “reasonable ground to suspect” illegal activity (Not Without A Warrant – editorial, Nov. 22).

Honestly, I’m full of reasonable suspicion about what happened throughout the Senate scandal. Nearly every day, my suspicion deepens. Can I get a wiretap?

Esther Shannon, Vancouver

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Did none of the high-priced help realize they might be breaking the law? What a wonderful film the Marx brothers could have made – A Day in the Senate.

John Rutherford, St. John’s

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Re Harper Explanation Of Duffy Repayment Plan Differs From Police (Nov. 21): Maybe the PM is just waiting for someone to ask him the right question.

Chris Ralph, Ottawa

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Kids teaching kids

Re Multi-Grade Classrooms Give Rise To A New Age Of Education (Nov 22): Whether “driven by necessity or creativity,” these classes can also bring opportunities for role-modeling, leadership and teaching, when students teach other students. Mine was a case of necessity, as I attended a one-room school from Grades 1 to 9. I became a teacher in Grade 2.

Alex Fancy, 3M National Teaching Fellow, Sackville, N.B.

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Inconvenient irony

Re Liberals To Ban Coal Use At Power Plants (Nov. 22): It is to be hoped that Ontarians appreciate the great irony in Al Gore’s praise for Ontario’s commitment to ban coal-fired power. The former U.S. vice-president is opposed to the use of nuclear power, yet the primary reason that Ontario has been able to eliminate coal-fired generation is because previously shut down nuclear units have been refurbished and replaced coal-fired generation.

This is one inconvenient truth he has chosen to ignore.

Michael Ivanco, Society of Professional Engineers and Associates

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Wall of separation

Your editorial on Quebec’s misuse of Jefferson on the freedom of religion was bang on (Thomas Jefferson, For The Opposition – Nov. 21). His comment about the “wall of separation” is also much abused by secular humanists.

Jefferson received a letter from the Baptist Ministerial Association of Danbury, Conn., in 1802, asking him for his support in their efforts to practise their religion free from the oppression of government-sanctioned interference. The president’s reply was to tell the Baptist leaders not to worry because the First Amendment guaranteed American citizens were free to practise their religion. His point was that the establishment clause of the Constitution built a “wall of separation between church and state,” keeping the state from interfering with the free exercise of citizens’ rights to practise their religion.

Not until the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1947 Everson (5-4) decision per justice Hugo Black was Jefferson’s “wall of separation” comment turned on its head to mean that the state could restrict a citizen’s religious practices from the public square. Black, a former Alabama senator who was once a member of the Ku Klux Klan, was anti-Catholic and anti-Jewish and knew exactly what he was doing when he perverted Jefferson’s opinion.

It augurs badly for Quebec proponents of the secular charter to side with Hugo Black. But sided, they have.

Frederick Vaughan, Sou’west Cove, N.S.

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Nov. 22, 1963

Re Canadians Remember The Day JFK Was Assassinated (Nov. 22): In November of 1963 I was sent home from afternoon kindergarten because a president was shot.

I happily bounced down the sidewalk and was ever so careful not to step on a crack else it would break my mother’s back. My mother was surprised to see me and figured my teacher was ill, which had happened before.

I told her president Lincoln was shot. She laughed and wondered out loud what they were teaching us in kindergarten. Then the phone rang and she went racing to our radio. My dad came home from work that afternoon, which I thought was odd. It was the only time I have ever seen him cry. He gave me a Dinky Toy which made me happy, and which I still have.

James Reid, Toronto

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Politician’s prayer

Eugene McCarthy was quoted in the Thought du Jour (Nov. 22) as saying, “Never say anything in a national campaign that anyone might remember.”

With all due respect to Mr. McCarthy, the thought was more elegantly phrased by an anonymous poet in the humour magazine Punch in the mid-1900s under the title The Politician’s Prayer: Give me the gift of swift retort/and keep the public’s memory short.

Don Cameron, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

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