Carol Wainio’s view
A week ago, on a little blog called Media Culpa, I asked if Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente should get “a zero for plagiarism” – the penalty she recommends for students. I’d found errors and attribution problems before, and stumbled on an older column while checking a recent quote.
It went viral, Ms. Wente was disciplined and penned an aggressive “defence.”
Did I “accuse” Ms. Wente of “stealing”? No. I laid texts side by side, provided links, dates, noted where words were identical, near identical, lacked quotation marks, and asked how this compared to the plagiarism of Fareed Zakaria or Maureen Dowd.
Nor did I claim Ms. Wente was a “serial plagiarist,” despite six or seven recent “corrections” – almost all related to attribution.
I’m no expert, but I know that attribution involves more than crediting someone’s words or ideas. It’s about telling readers how we know what we know – a principle essential to public trust.
Ms. Wente claims I took issue with her opinions (A Columnist Defends Herself – Sept. 25). That’s incorrect. It’s her methods.
It speaks to Ms. Wente’s character that she chose to attack mine, rather than acknowledge articles in Maclean’s, the National Post, and J-Source – which took her to task for plagiarism in much stronger terms. Instead, she used The Globe’s pages and readership to attack not those colleagues of her own stature, but small people – readers like me. A reader who reluctantly set up a blog to record things newspapers neglected. That record speaks for itself.
Carol Wainio, Ottawa
Israel’s red line
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to the UN reminded me of another dog-and-pony show in the same room almost 10 years ago: former U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell warning the world about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (Netanyahu Draws The Line – Sept. 28).
A decade after that debacle, and long after those arguments were discredited, can we please try to avoid repeating the same mistake with Iran?
James Clark, Toronto
If we Canadians are truly concerned about nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, let us start with reminders and commentary on what nation currently has nuclear capability and its belligerent behaviour.
There is essentially only one path which peace-minded people, and a Canadian government committed to peace should pursue: a nuclear-free Middle East.
John W. Foster, Ottawa
Like the magician who asks his audience to concentrate on one hand while his other does the trick, Israel asks the world to focus on Iran’s alleged nuclear threat while it creates “facts on the ground” (illegal settlements) that essentially abort the birth of a viable Palestinian state and kill any prospect for a two-state solution.
You can get away with this when your sugar daddy’s name is Washington – and when U.S. politicians compete to be pro-Israel in return for campaign donations from dual-citizenship casino billionaires.
John Dirlik, Pointe Claire, Que.
Re U.S. Election Scorecard: Romney Can’t Shake The Spate Of Bad Luck (Sept. 28): I take great exception to this headline. Saying and doing stupid things has nothing to do with luck.
R.G. McGillivray, Oakville, Ont.
Justin Trudeau’s political successes or failures will be inextricably linked to the legacy of his father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Heredity And The Unprejudiced West – editorial, Sept. 26).
Of course Justin Trudeau “has a great deal to prove.” That someone with his CV is considered a serious contender for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada is because his father was prime minister for some 15 years. Mr. Trudeau should not be punished in the West because of his father’s energy policies. But he also should not profit because dad brought home the Charter.
Dynastic politics is a double-edged sword. You don’t get the benefit without the baggage.
Jessica Prince, Toronto
The “Conservative values” that John Ibbitson says everyone knows about (If Trudeau Leads, Will Liberals Follow? – Sept. 27) are essentially the same as they were in 1993-2004, when the Liberals won four elections, three of them majorities, against a split conservative opposition.
While I don’t disagree with Mr. Ibbitson’s premise that, by contrast, the current Liberals “cannot describe their values,” what ails the left has a more basic explanation. Those who ignore the history of failed electoral endeavours, for example splitting the vote for similar policies, are doomed to repeat it.
Shalom Gewurtz, Toronto
Ready, fire, aim
Tom Flanagan’s position amounts to Ready, Fire, Aim when deciding on whether to approve the Nexen takeover by CNOOC (Say Yes To CNOOC, Then Sort Out ‘Net Benefit’ – Sept. 27).
We should not allow a major Canadian player to be controlled by a foreign state when our current governments have proven themselves – witness Petro-Canada – so philosophically against the very concept of a state-owned oil company.
Alex Miller, Toronto
The former Petro-Canada, Canada’s then-national oil company, was berated by Reformers, Conservatives and a young Stephen Harper, shunned by oil-patch “free enterprisers” and had its head office tower in Calgary widely disparaged as “Red Square.”
If the takeover of Nexen by CNOOC, one of China’s national oil companies, is approved by Stephen Harper, Calgary will finally have a real “Red Square.” It has already been approved by the “free-enterprisers” – most of whom couldn’t wait to sell their shares to CNOOC.
Mike Priaro, Calgary
In 1972, Nixon went to China. In 2012, 40 years later, China came for Nexen.
Bill McLean, Toronto
Regarding the Chinese ambassador’s push for a free-trade agreement between Canada and China, and his inference that the issue should not be “politicized,” one wonders which of the following come to mind: a) the emperor’s clothing; b) an oxymoron; c) come in into my parlour, said the spider to the fly; d) the elephant in the room; e) all of the above?
Lynn Webster, West Vancouver
2.5 per cent
You report that a businessman testified that a cartel-like operation forced him to pay a Mafia family a 2.5-per-cent cut on public contracts (Construction Deals Rigged, Inquiry Told – Sept 28). That 2.5 per cent sounds like a bargain compared to government sales taxes.
Ted Hutchison, Toronto