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Oct. 26: Honouring people convicted of a crime, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Honouring offenders

I am appalled at the awarding of a Diamond Jubilee medal to a convicted criminal and the subsequent silence from the government (Crown Honour And Repeat Offenders – editorial, Oct. 25). This debases the medal’s value, and makes one wonder about the application of the criteria for the award – “to honour significant contributions and achievements by Canadians.”

William R. Smith, Guelph, Ont.

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You note that abortion opponent Mary Wagner engaged in a “physical struggle with another woman” inside a Toronto abortion clinic. To clarify, this struggle involved Ms.Wagner’s holding onto a door frame after the clinic manager and a colleague tried to close the door to prevent Ms. Wagner’s entry into the more secure interior of the clinic. Ms. Wagner was charged and convicted of mischief, along with two breach-of-probation orders. You did not mention that Ms. Wagner successfully appealed her sentence in this matter.

You note that “this country works out its problems through peaceful discussion” and that “rewarding lawbreakers, even those acting according to their conscience, undermines the rule of law.” Strange, then, why Henry Morgentaler, a man who served 10 months of an 18-month jail sentence in 1975 after his criminal conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada, would be awarded the Order of Canada.

Peter Boushy, appellate counsel to Mary Wagner, Hamilton, Ont.

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Only in Stephen Harper’s Canada can you get a medal for harassing women.

John Baglow, Ottawa

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On the debt shelf

The Harper Conservatives admit they have abandoned their long-term targets for reducing Canada’s debt (Ottawa’s Long-Term Debt Plans Shelved – Oct. 25). Maybe it’s also time for them to shelve their expensive “Economic Action Plan” ad program – being paid for by taxpayer dollars.

Suzzanne Fisher, Calgary

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Books not read

As an English teacher, I sympathize with essayist Robert Costanzo’s fear that “deep, prolonged reading is losing its relevance” (Turning The Page – Facts & Arguments, Oct. 25).

My own take on students’ apathy to reading literary fiction is that they are now empowered by their technology, able to traverse the cyber universe with the swipe of a finger, while reading fiction has always required a surrender of the imagination to the writer. Empowered and entitled “digital natives” are not hardwired for surrender.

In the new cyber culture of instant gratification, distraction and multitasking, the literary imagination takes too long, is too slow and unwavering, and so it will shrivel from lack of use. Or, at the least, become a vestigial organ, an appendix.

The irony, of course, is that the masters of technology are also its slaves, a paradox that literary fiction has explored from many angles. But no one goes there any more.

Colin Brezicki, St. Catharines, Ont.

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Honey of a boo-boo

The timid inquiries that posed as tough questions through the American presidential debates were infuriating at the best of times (Other Guy’s Terrain – letters, Oct. 25), but when Mitt Romney noted that Iran needed Syria for access to the sea, I had had enough. Amazing, isn’t it, that they knew where the WMDs in Iraq were hidden but apparently are unaware of Iraq’s location?

Is it any wonder that Honey Boo-Boo had higher ratings.

Miles Tompkins, Antigonish, N.S.

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Scientific evidence?

Re Senators Recommend Culling Seals To Bolster Cod Stocks On East Coast (Oct. 23): Marine mammal culls, such as those endorsed by the Senate committee, are an old idea, and have been performed many times throughout history. A Department of Fisheries and Oceans review of these repeated “experiments” found no evidence that such actions have ever helped to boost fish stocks in the water. The Senate committee itself admits that such culls are scientifically questionable, and could have unforeseen effects. They also tend to be very expensive manipulations.

To use a medical analogy, would anyone take a drug that is expensive, has no scientific evidence as to its benefits, and may well make matters worse? I can easily think of more worthy causes for investing millions of tax dollars.

Boris Worm, professor of marine biology, Halifax

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Let’s see if I understand this: In Italy, if scientists don’t warn about an environmental issue that is inherently very difficult to predict, they get charged with manslaughter when it does happen (Conviction Rattles Italian Scientists – Oct. 23). In Canada, when government scientists repeatedly warn about environmental issues – acid rain, contaminants etc. – and they do happen, the scientists get laid off and the program gets cancelled. Example: the Experimental Lakes program.

Burton Ayles, Winnipeg

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Gravy trainspotting

When Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was running for office, he promised voters to “stop the gravy train.” He didn’t provide many particulars. We now know the gravy train’s new stop: Greensboro Drive – outside the Ford family’s business (No Special Treatment For The Mayor? Deco Documents Put The Lie To That – Oct. 25).

Bill Johnston, London, Ont.

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Appetite killer

There are repeated suggestions that meat coming from mega-slaughterhouses, such as XL Foods, be irradiated to make it “safe” (Food-Chain Safety – letters, Oct. 24). This is because, in such plants, contamination of meat by fecal matter and rumen contents is inevitable. Sorry, I don’t want to eat poop, even if it’s sterilized. Why not just set up smaller plants where the workers have enough time to ensure that the meat stays clean in the first place?

Cathleen Kneen, Ottawa

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About that title

Ted Gale (Black Magic – letters, Oct. 25) objects to The Globe’s referring to Conrad Black as “Mr. Black,” as opposed to “Lord Black of Crossharbour.” He may be right. After all, Conrad Black harbours delusions of grandeur, he harbours disdain for those with whom he disagrees and for those with whom he would not care to associate, and, after having been afforded due process, he harbours resentment toward the judicial system of a democratic country that found him guilty as charged.

Perhaps it should be “Lord Black of Reallycrossharbour.”

Chris Marriott, Chelsea, Que.

 

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