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Justin Trudeau announces Oct. 2, 2012, that he will seek the leadership of the Liberal Party. (The Canadian Press)
Justin Trudeau announces Oct. 2, 2012, that he will seek the leadership of the Liberal Party. (The Canadian Press)

What readers think

Oct. 4: What Trudeau says, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

What Trudeau says

Jeffrey Simpson laments that “it’s difficult to remember anything he [Justin Trudeau] said” (Star Power, Yes, But What Does He Stand For? – Oct. 3).

Mr. Trudeau has apologized for calling the Environment Minister a “piece of s…” in the House of Commons, backed down after quibbling that “barbaric” is the wrong term for honour killings and explained away complaining that in “Stephen Harper’s Canada … maybe I would think about wanting to make Quebec a country.”

If Mr. Trudeau becomes Liberal leader, we can be sure that Conservative advertising will remind voters of his way with words.

H.B. Hutter, Toronto

.........

There is lots of talk about Justin Trudeau’s name appeal, but underlying that is the memory of a prime minister who accomplished a lot for Canada and ordinary Canadians. After decades of diminished expectations, the middle class is more than ready for some expansion.

George Haeh, Turner Valley, Alta.

.........

Jeffrey Simpson’s questions regarding Justin Trudeau’s perspective and motivation reminded me of the blank expressions on many of my college students’ faces when I would ask them to describe what they believed in, stood for, or felt so strongly about, that they would stand up in public to defend it.

Mr. Trudeau may represent that part of postmodern relativistic thinking that fosters a disinclination to actually make definitive judgments about people and issues or, having not yet formulated a fully realized concept of his own or his party’s values and visions, he may just be trying to work as best he can with what little he has.

At some point, when the stakes are high enough and the bluff is finally called, Mr. Trudeau will have to declare what it is that he stands for. Disingenuous or not, politics requires such declarations.

You can drive, straddling the white line, down the middle of the highway only so long before something bad happens. It is, after all, the most dangerous place to travel.

Ray Arnold, Richmond, B.C.

.........

Assuming Justin Trudeau’s coronation proceeds, what he and the Liberal Party will need are two fundamental changes from without and within.

First, the federal party cannot help but profit from a provincial Liberal loss in Ontario. (See Liberals To Be Forced To Testify [Oct. 3] for the slow march to opposition.)

Second, the federal party must stand by its man. Rather than short-sighted, desperate leadership changes following successive losses, the party must dig in for the long haul.

When the Conservatives finally falter, the Liberal Party needs a leader who has built currency among Canadians over time. Power hunger must take a back seat to strategy, or the NDP will fill the Liberal Party’s space.

Don White, Vancouver

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A beef with XL Foods

Alberta’s XL Foods Inc. does not seem to have spokesmen other than politicians (Is The Meat On Your Dinner Table Safe? – Life & Arts, Oct. 3).

When Maple Leaf Foods had its E. coli problem a few years ago, Michael McCain, president and CEO, was front and centre very quickly to apologize and to tell Canadians and the world that the problem would be fixed and it was.

Where are XL Food’s co-CEOs, and what do they have to say about the food safety problem at this plant?

Douglas Loewen, Alliston, Ont.

.........

Engendering dismay

The decrease in the number of women on the Supreme Court of Canada is disappointing (A Role Player, While Balance Waits – editorial, Oct. 3).

Gender equality on the bench is important not only symbolically, but because women’s rights to equality, and a gendered perspective on the bench, are limited when women constitute a mere third of this important institution.

I encourage the Prime Minister to rectify this, and to actually increase women’s representation as opportunities arise – which they will in the next few years.

Grace Lore, Vancouver

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Needles in prisons

André Picard’s suggestion that our prison system ought to be more like Iran’s is ridiculous (A Call For Pragmatism In Clean-Needle Debate – Life & Arts, Oct. 2).

Our government is committed to developing a correctional system that actually corrects criminal behaviour. As such, we have a zero-tolerance policy for drugs in our institutions. That is why we made a commitment during the last election to develop drug-free prisons. Drug use among prisoners dramatically reduces their chances of successful rehabilitation.

Putting needles in prisons also creates a dangerous situation for correctional officers. We will never consider putting items that can be used as weapons, such as these, in the hands of potentially violent prisoners.

Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety

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Free-trade poker

John Ibbitson says free-trade negotiations almost foundered in the final hour over Canada’s insistence on a dispute-settlement mechanism (The Deal That Freed Canada – Sept. 29). While this was critical, the potential deal breaker was Canada’s refusal to include culture in the negotiations.

As international trade minister, I was assigned responsibility for the negotiations and was at the table with finance minister Mike Wilson and chief of staff Derek Burney; Brian Mulroney was directing the Canadian team from his Ottawa office. As I reported in my memoir Trade Secrets: “... it was 15 minutes to midnight. We thought we had the deal. Then the Americans rushed in, shoulder to shoulder, and announced there would be no deal without concessions on culture.

“Wilson and I were poker faced. This time we had the cards. We could not deal on culture, we informed [treasury secretary James] Baker and [trade representative Clayton] Yeutter, because we had no mandate to negotiate it. For this round the Americans had to fold their hand and accede to the agreement on the table. It was 11:50 p.m. when we sent the Agreement in Principle to the Congressional clerk.”

Agreement on a way of settling disputes was key to the agreement’s success. But the exclusion of culture in order to protect Canada’s cultural industries was critical, too. No analysis of the deal is complete without answering the question: Did it work?

Pat Carney, Saturna Island, B.C.

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It costs how much?!

Canadians could be forgiven for thinking, after reading the headline CRTC Cracks Down On iCrime And Carriers (Report on Business, Oct. 2), that the regulator was about impose limits on wireless carriers. Further reading revealed stolen cellphones were the issue.

Having my smartphone lifted would be the least expensive option offered by my carrier.

Conner Steacy, Kingston, Ont.

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