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Today’s topics: out of the closet; beavers and polar bears; changed rules for giving; cost of flying, Halloween ... and more (REUTERS)
Today’s topics: out of the closet; beavers and polar bears; changed rules for giving; cost of flying, Halloween ... and more (REUTERS)

What readers think

Oct. 29: Letters to the editor Add to ...

Coming out of the closet

While it would be nice to live in a society that meant one’s sexual orientation didn’t hold power, it is far from the truth (Rick Mercer And The Burden Of Openness – editorial, Oct. 28). Instead, we live in a country where the mayor of Canada’s biggest city refuses to attend the Pride parade, where a lesbian couple can be bounced from a Tim Hortons for behaviour less offensive than most heterosexual teenagers, and where “that’s gay” is a common derogatory phrase.

More importantly, we live in a country where there is still fear of marginalization based on one’s sexuality should they be “out.” There are many levels to changing narrow-minded attitudes, but one of the most important is for gay people in positions of authority and public influence to stand up and proudly declare their sexuality so that one day, others won’t have to. Normalizing homosexuality in any society starts by proving that it is, indeed, normal.

Katherine Skene, Toronto

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I am openly gay and sponsor the Gay Straight Alliance at my high school. When students ask me “what is it like?” I can answer from first-hand experience.

A suicide rate for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and two-spirited kids that is up to three times as high as it is for non-LGBTT kids is unacceptable. For them to find us, we need to be out and proud of who we are. Can we save them all? No. But we can certainly save some. Just think about what Jamie Hubley and other kids could have contributed to our world. Their loss is unbearable to us all.

Patrick Barnholden, Sudbury, Ont.

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It’s a sad comment on our society that the national newspaper has to support the right of “gays” to stay in the closet. If we knew how many people are gay, perhaps attitudes would change. You may be right, but it’s sad.

David Vallance, Toronto

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Beaver away

Re Beavers Can’t Cut It As Symbols Of Canada, Senator Says – Oct. 28: I agree with Senator Nicole Eaton that it’s time to replace the beaver with the polar bear as a more appropriate national emblem for the 21st century. These magnificent creatures are among the most vulnerable to habitat degradation from climate change. One hopes that as part of her proposal she will encourage Conservative colleagues in the Commons to take real action to reduce Canadian greenhouse gas emissions, avoiding a need to replace an extinct emblem in the 22nd century.

Stephen Kilburn, Guelph, Ont.

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Conservative Senator Nicole Eaton thinks the beaver is an outdated emblem. On the contrary, an animal that was once believed to bite off its testicles as a diversionary tactic when pursued by predators seems relevant to many aspects of modern Canada.

Randall Martin, London, Ont.

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I vote moose. Aquiline nose, like Pierre Trudeau, harrumphish demeanour, like John Diefenbaker and, with those big antlers, easier to steer than a beaver.

Joe Baar, Avon, Ohio

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Women, firearms

Almost every region in Ontario, rural or urban, includes screening for access to firearms in their assessment of women’s safety in domestic violence investigations (Despite Quebec's Demands, Ottawa Vows To Destroy Gun-Registry Data – Oct. 28). With the registry scrapped, these firearms will become invisible. The facts related to women, firearms and domestic violence have been diminished throughout the political deliberation of the long-gun registry. Now, with the decision nigh, they appear totally absent.

Nicole Pietsch, co-ordinator, Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres

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Give and take

Although I see some good things in new financing rules for charities (Ottawa Looks To Rewrite Rules On Giving – Oct 28), there are critical misconceptions.

Charities do not work on behalf of government, they work on behalf of society. For that reason, they are mostly financed by individuals. Though governments are a critical partner, charities’ objectives are societal and organizational, not governmental.

Government grants are not service contracts; a grant is given to a charity to do the charity’s work, a service contract is given to a charity to do the government’s work. Both contain agreed-upon deliverables, and both – federal grants in particular – contain punitive clawback clauses if those are not accomplished. Whether the government has achieved its objectives through this task-based relationship is for it to decide. Likewise for charities.

Guy Greenaway, Calgary

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Human Resources Minister Diane Finley proposes telling charities “you get more money if you actually achieve the objectives.” Sounds reasonable. Perhaps the same standard could be applied to governments?

Patrick Johnston, Toronto

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I am very concerned about the way proposed changes will hurt the ability of smaller charities to raise funds. Over the past 20 to 30 years, Canadians have given around 2.6 to 2.8 per cent of GDP to charity. If the government diverts a significant portion of that giving to cover the costs of projects normally funded by tax revenues, the amount available to small charities will decline disproportionately. Smaller charities do not have the large staffs and advertising and marketing budgets available to larger charities; this is especially true now since charities no longer need to make sure 80 per cent of tax-receipted gifts are used for charitable purposes.

Careful study is needed before introducing these changes. Canadians are different from Americans, who are different from the British and so on. One size does not fit all.

Robert Davidson, president, Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation

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Soap my windows

Paranoid parents have sterilized Halloween (Why The Spookiest Thing About Halloween Is A Homemade Treat – Oct. 28). In those germ-laden bad old days, before seatbelts and peanut allergies, trick-or-treating did not involve anything as uncool as parental guidance, and homemade treats were the most desirable. Merry pranksters lined up to get caramel apples, homemade fudge and peanut brittle. It was our night to howl. How sad now to see nine- and 10-year-olds in bought costumes, anxious parents hovering on the sidewalk. The spirit is dead. Soap my windows – please!

Diana Colleran, Guelph, Ont.

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Jobs that flew away

The problem with our aviation cost structure is more than a consumer issue, it is inhibiting Canada’s economic recovery (How Quickly Wow Fares Turn Into Woe Fares – Oct. 28). The “club sandwich of taxes, fees and levies” identified by Jeffrey Simpson is a key contributor to Canada’s drop in international arrivals from 7th in 2002 to 15th today, costing our economy more than 45,000 jobs.

David Goldstein, CEO, Tourism Industry Association of Canada

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Heaven and not

Letter writer Gerrit O’Neill’s definition of heaven and hell (Either Euro Place – Oct. 28) is amusing, but too limited and Eurocentric. Hell is also the place where the Australians are the radio announcers, the Norwegians are the comedians … and the Canadians are the politicians.

John Lawrence Reynolds, Burlington, Ont.

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