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Building damaged by shelling in central Aleppo, Syria, on Aug. 6, 2012. Today’s topics: Syria’s 2001?, and other letters to the editor (HANDOUT/REUTERS)
Building damaged by shelling in central Aleppo, Syria, on Aug. 6, 2012. Today’s topics: Syria’s 2001?, and other letters to the editor (HANDOUT/REUTERS)

WHAT READERS THINK

Aug. 7: Syria's 2001, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Syria’s 2001?

Doug Saunders, in the context of a comparison between Syria and Kosovo, raises the spectre of history’s habit of repeating itself (Bloody History Repeating Itself? – Aug. 6).

A more chilling comparison could be made with Afghanistan. Many forget that, 30 years ago, the Western powers, in their desire to rid Afghanistan of Soviet influence, enthusiastically encouraged the mujahedeen and freedom fighters who eventually formed the Taliban government which sheltered al-Qaeda – with horrendous consequences.

In the often enthusiastic support for the rebel fighters in Syria against an admittedly brutal regime, little attention has been paid to the substantial support given to the rebels by al-Qaeda. Could history repeat itself and Syria evolve into the Afghanistan of 2001?

Reid Robinson, Regina

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Pros, not just cons

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan dislikes oil companies because of the degree of their profitability and their ability to influence government (Oil And Water – Report on Business, Aug. 4). Does he also dislike other large, profitable companies that can influence government, such as Wal-Mart, Apple, Pfizer, Coca-Cola and their ilk?

The direct experience he cites with a pipeline company – the Burnaby Kinder Morgan spill – happened because a city contractor hit the pipeline. That is like complaining to the power company about being electrocuted while climbing on its power poles.

Like all other forms of energy infrastructure, pipelines aren’t perfect. They do pose some risk. Let’s embrace the many benefits oil brings, while requiring pipeline operators to maximize safety.

Peter Hansen, Edmonton

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Oil, dots, connections

Re To Connect The Pipeline, Connect The Dots (Aug. 4): Tom Flanagan is overly generous with the dots.

Parliament certainly has power over certain specified interprovincial communications systems and “any other works and undertakings connecting” one or more provinces. It is, however, partisan speculation to claim that pipelines qualify under this clause. The courts will decide that. Similarly, only the courts can finally decide whether a pipeline carrying Alberta tar sands oil through B.C. is “for the general advantage of Canada, or of two or more provinces.”

Nor is it the case that “some provinces” are attempting to “prevent other provinces from exporting their petroleum products.” The current dispute is about the sharing of the costs and benefits of constructing pipelines carrying oil from one province through another.

And it is emphatically not a question of whether Canada will become “one.” It is already one – a federal one, as described in our Constitution. Prof. Flanagan might read what it contains, rather than what he would like it to contain.

Ramsay Cook, Toronto

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According to Tom Flanagan, Parliament can legislate a work like an oil pipeline through B.C., even though “wholly situate within the province,” and “for the general advantage of Canada, or of two or more provinces.”

Why can’t it do likewise for a hydro line from Newfoundland through Quebec to the U.S.?

George Kraemer, Moncton

.........

While section 92(10) of the Constitution Act may provide Ottawa with the legal authority to override B.C.’s objections to the Northern Gateway pipeline, it certainly would not address the underlying political conflicts. Invoking the federal declaratory power, which has not been exercised in more than half a century, would set off a new round of major federal-provincial conflicts, as well as ensuring the likely shut-out of Conservative MPs from B.C. for at least the next 50 years.

Secondly, Section 92(10) does not provide a mechanism for overriding the aboriginal and treaty rights of the B.C. first nations along the proposed route.

A more realistic approach would recognize Northern Gateway for the lost cause that it is, and focus instead on an energy strategy that advances environmental, economic and social sustainability.

Mark S. Winfield, chair, Sustainable Energy Initiative, York University

.........

Welcome to the 1980s. Tom Flanagan has finally had his “Trudeau” moment. By insisting that the federal government can flex its constitutional power on behalf of Alberta, he articulates the conceit of centralized power once so despised by the old Reform Party.

The West is truly the new East. What could possibly be next? A new National Energy Policy? The threat of separatism?

Stephen Brown, Peterborough, Ont.

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Dividing wall

Linda Hunter (Two States? – letters, Aug. 6) writes about the “troubling” concrete wall between Israel and the West Bank, but doesn’t note the context in which the wall was built. I, too, recently returned from a trip to Israel and the West Bank, and saw the security barrier, which was constructed after a wave of deadly Palestinian suicide bombings against Israeli civilians. A security wall definitely causes inconvenience for many Palestinians – but a security wall never killed anyone.

Jonathan Mackenzie, Toronto

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Olympic heroes

I couldn’t be more proud of triathlete Paula Findlay if she had won a medal (Controversy For Canada At Day 9 Of The London Olympics – Aug. 6). To struggle on, in pain, when it would have been so much easier to quit, took real courage and endurance. Every one of those 12 minutes must have felt like an eternity.

Long after the medalists’ names are forgotten, her courage will be remembered.

Mary Campbell, Charlottetown

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Usha Rangachari (Front Page, Please – letters, Aug. 4) writes that The Globe should promote Canada’s medal winners rather than those from other countries.

I enjoy The Globe’s decision to highlight successful Olympians on its front page, regardless of their country.

The Games are supposed to be about bringing the world’s best together. She’s correct to suggest that this reporting wouldn’t happen in the U.S., which makes me support it all the more.

Brooke Batchelor, Toronto

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Good for them

My daughter, 24, is one of the lucky volunteers chosen to help at the Olympics (Unsung And Unpaid (No Tickets!), Volunteers Vital To Games Success – Aug. 3).

She’s in the accreditation section, where she’s met representatives from nearly 70 countries and caught one forged passport. She is using her languages (English, French, German) and her initiative, working long hours and enjoying every minute.

Some volunteers held their own zany olympics; my daughter’s team won a bronze medal in the space-hopper race. She watched the Opening Ceremonies on a large screen in Victoria Park (ticket won through a lottery), where some of the New Zealand fans performed an impromptu haka as their team entered the stadium.

She has received free tickets to some less popular events. And she has “adopted” a mini, hand-knitted Games Maker mascot doll – fast becoming the hot “must have” item of the Games.

This is a wonderful opportunity for these volunteers, especially the young ones. Good for them!

Philippa Borgal, Hubbards, N.S.

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