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Senator Pamela Wallin speaks with Prime Minister Stephen Harper during a federal election campaign rally at which Mr. Harper spoke to local Conservative candidates in Saskatoon on Friday, April 15, 2011. (LIAM RICHARDS/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Senator Pamela Wallin speaks with Prime Minister Stephen Harper during a federal election campaign rally at which Mr. Harper spoke to local Conservative candidates in Saskatoon on Friday, April 15, 2011. (LIAM RICHARDS/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

WHAT READERS THINK

Senate audit costs – and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Payment ‘in full’

Re Wallin Audit Most Costly Of Recent Probes (Aug. 15): The cost to date of the audits on senators Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy, Mac Harb and Pamela Wallin is $231,457.

I feel paying for these audits is a “fundamentally flawed and unfair” use of my tax money. The senators should have to repay taxpayers in full – and “in full” includes the cost of the audits.

Susan Hersey, Guelph, Ont.

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It is evident that Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy were appointed to the Senate by Stephen Harper for their fundraising skills for the Conservative Party. How can anyone expect us to respect a Senate whose members can be chosen in such a cynical fashion?

It appears that the cost of the audit into Ms. Wallin’s expenses is roughly equal to the amount she has to return. So, after paying for the audit, the taxpayer is still out of pocket and Ms. Wallin remains in that august body known as the Senate.

The mind boggles.

John MacDonald, Sombra, Ont.

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Re New Focus On Residency Requirement (Aug. 15): I noted with interest the photo of the sign outside Senator Mike Duffy’s house in PEI indicating that the “Duffy’s” live there. Clearly the good Senator needs to return an apostrophe, as well as the dollars.

R.L. Baird, Markham, Ont.

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Re Senate Business (letters, Aug. 15): Not only would it not be useful to “garnishee” Senator Patrick Brazeau’s wages, it would be impossible.

The definition of the term referring to the seizure of wages is, indeed, “garnish.”

The garnishee is a third party (who pays the Senator’s wages) who has been notified that money or property in his hands belongs to a debtor (Mr. Brazeau) and is subject to an attachment proceeding by a creditor (the party to whom the Senator owes money).

On the other hand, there is another meaning to the word “garnish,” according to which the Senator has been embellishing his expense claims.

A whole lotta garnish.

David McCray, Walkerton, Ont.

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PC name-calling

Re Don’t Tear Yourselves Apart, Conservatives (Aug. 15): Peter Varley describes Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party as “full of people with good intentions and bursting with ideas.”

He then refers to those questioning Tim Hudak’s leadership as “a handful of cranks … abetted by a clique of narcissists” and refers to “a group of agitators.” He urges them “to put away the pirate hats and wooden swords.”

It’s been my observation over the years that conservatives are much more inclined to use extreme and destructive language than people of other political persuasions. While the thrust of Mr. Varley’s article is to avoid political fratricide (he uses the word suicide), his disrespectful name-calling only contributes to that unfortunate eventuality and not to sincere internal debate.

Keith Oliver, Cobourg, Ont.

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Steel glove, iron fist

Re Amid Controversy, Harper Aims For Fresh Start In The Fall (Aug. 15): It’s great to read that the solution to Stephen Harper’s problems in the Prime Minister’s Office is “to seek greater discipline.” Nothing like putting a steel glove on an iron fist to fix matters.

Roderick G. MacGregor, Red Deer, Alta.

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War of words

Re Wireless Incumbents Losing The War Of Words (Report on Business, Aug 15): Industry Minister James Moore calls Canada’s three major carriers’ lobbying campaign “dishonest.”

Which of the following statements does he find dishonest?

Verizon is bigger than our three domestic carriers combined. Verizon can bid to buy small Canadian carriers, none of our three major carriers can. Verizon can bid for two of the four prime blocks of spectrum soon to be auctioned, while our three major carriers must fight over two others and can buy no more than one each. Verizon can “piggyback on their networks” and “cherrypick the best customers in big cities.” Verizon’s entry into Canada would force our three carriers to cut spending and jobs. The prospect of lower rates is far from certain since, in the U.S., Verizon charges premium prices.

Given these facts, it is incumbent that the minister, in reviewing any Verizon proposal to do business in Canada, conduct a thorough, transparent cost/benefit analysis to determine whether its entry into Canada “is likely to be of net benefit to Canada,” as required under the Investment Canada Act.

Jack Tennier, a former deputy commissioner, Foreign Investment Review Agency, Toronto

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The main argument in the Rogers/Bell/Telus scare game is that Verizon is twice as large as the three kittens combined. One wonders what percentage of that immense bulk will be devoted to a Canadian operation in a market one-tenth the size of Verizon’s home turf. Surely it will not drop all its money here. Or will it?

Stan Szpakowicz, Ottawa

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Punk-rock creativity

Re Punk Rock Was Always About Fashion First (Life & Arts, Aug. 15): The raw sound and scathing, forever off-message lyrics of the Sex Pistols were the creative spark for many of the biggest and more polished acts in the music industry over the past 30-some years.

The “just play your instrument and say what you think” ethos – and its equivalent in the other arts – they represented so magnificently may or may not qualify as having “ideological aspirations” or being “political,” but it is the essence of creativity, regardless of what’s displayed in museums or pronounced upon by columnists.

Colin Grieve, Toronto

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Privatizing Pemex

Re Pemex Plan Spreads An Oily Sheen Over Mexico’s History (Aug. 14): Amelia Kiddle rejects the idea of privatizing Mexico’s national oil company, Pemex, arguing that social programs are dependent on Pemex revenue. Ms. Kiddle acknowledges that Pemex is grossly inefficient, but doesn’t explain why.

The distribution of political favours at state-owned enterprises drives them toward overemployment, while excessive revenue diversion to support government pork-barrelling depresses the company’s incentive to invest, reducing future returns. This is a losing proposition for social welfare.

Ms. Kiddle makes the observation that Mexico’s economy, like Canada’s, is inextricably linked to the energy sector. Yes, and we privatized Petro Canada – for the reasons above.

Victoria L. Henderson, Kingston

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About Cassandra

Re A Very French National Emergency (Aug. 14) One should hesitate to dismiss anyone as a Cassandra. Her prophecies turned out to be true.

William Lundy, Richmond Hill, Ont.

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