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March 10: Letters to the editor Add to ...

Going underground

Re Harper Weighs In On Toronto Transit Debate (online, March 9): Given the federal Conservatives' track record, it's not surprising that Prime Minister Stephen Harper would eschew the high road for the subway.

Ken DeLuca, Arnprior, Ont.

A once-great party

Jeffrey Simpson's description of the Republican Party's presidential hopefuls (Watching A Once-Great Party Circle The Drain – March 9) as “a more dismal group has not been assembled since Sarah Palin dined alone” reminds me of the time when John Kennedy declared a 1962 dinner of 49 Nobel laureates to be “the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever gathered at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

Gerald Fitzpatrick, Toronto

.......

Imagine my surprise after reading your headline that Jeffrey Simpson wasn't writing about the federal Liberals.

John Dunn, Calgary

Ironic irregularities

So Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is telling celebrated pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi that he's “very concerned to learn about a good number of irregularities” that her party has presented to Myanmar's government and election officials (Fraud Threatens Vote, Suu Kyi Warns Baird – March 9)?

If only the Harper government had the same level of concern about Canada's irregularities …

Judy Haladay, Toronto

.......

We're sending observers to other countries to judge whether their elections are fair?

Elizabeth Block, Toronto

Afghan aid

Your article on the partnership between SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary and the Afghan-Canadian school in Kandahar (‘… Education Is The Only Solution For The Problems' – March 9) makes a powerful argument for continued Canadian involvement in Afghanistan, even if our troops are no longer on the ground.

Having survived decades of civil war and repression, Afghans show remarkable ingenuity and courage, and they're adept at making the most of the very limited resources at their disposal. So a relatively small amount of aid goes a very long way.

Technology allows the Canadian government and our postsecondary institutions to make a significant contribution to the future of Afghanistan. We should all be speaking out against attempts to roll back gender equity in that country, but a further step is to do what we can to help educate its young people.

Ignorance breeds violence; education leads to a better future.

Martha Musgrove, Ottawa

Teen aid

Whether or not you believe in positive psychology, a focus on winning totally misses the point (Finding Your Kid's Secret Genius – Life, March 9). In a competition, you can only control how well you do. You can't control how well everyone else does (without cheating); you can only do your best. To become an expert, you need to focus on process: learning skills, establishing good habits and working hard – persistence, not talent.

Everything I understand about childhood development tells me you can't pick adult winners before puberty. Yes, some 13-year-olds will be winners, especially those who enter puberty early (boys) or late (girls), but these are most often not winners once all of their age cohort has passed through puberty.

Early teens shouldn't be focused on a single sport, and particularly not on winning. For long-term success and a balanced lifestyle, they should be participating in many physical activities, from dance to ice hockey via tiddlywinks and archery.

Alan Ball, biathlon coach, Edmonton

Lament for a nation

Your Facts & Arguments essay I've Seen All This Before (March 8), by 89-year-old Harry Leslie Smith, is the most powerful piece of writing I've seen on that page.

As we watch our social fabric grow thinner and government abandon its role in creating a just and equitable society, Mr. Smith's observations are an eloquent reminder of how much was gained by the past generations and how dark was the place we came from.

Let's not go back there.

Cecilia Kennedy, Brampton, Ont.

.......

Harry Leslie Smith says that, to his eyes in 1953, “Canada was large enough to hold every new voice, divergent idea and difference of opinion coming to her shores.” But not Jason Kenney.

According to your article Legislating Away Immigration Backlog Is An Option: Kenney (March 8), the Immigration Minister suggests that Canada could just legislate away the more than one million applications waiting to be assessed. I guess he means, Dump 'em, let 'em yearn for someplace else.

Mr. Smith is only 89. When will Mr. Kenney achieve enlightenment?

Shea Hoffmitz, Hamilton, Ont.

Bells are ringing

As a member of the change-ringing fraternity for more than 60 years (more than 50 of them in Victoria), I enjoyed your feature In Britain, It's A Year With Something To Ring About (March 9). I have rung the bells of St. James Cathedral in Toronto, but they're not the only, or even the oldest, connection that Canada has with the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

In Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria, we have eight bells from that foundry, cast in 1936, that have been rung regularly for 75 years. In 1983, we added two more, also from Whitechapel.

We welcome those who want to hear the ringing of the changes.

Alan H. Batten, Victoria

Pulp fiction

Arthur Conan Doyle, not H. Rider Haggard, is the author of The Lost World, published in 1912 (Pulped – Arts, March 9). Doyle gave the book a splendid dedication: “I have wrought my simple plan/ If I bring one hour of joy/ To the boy who's half a man / Or the man who's half a boy.”

Trevor S. Raymond, Georgetown, Ont.

Kinky fact

Your obituary of James Trager (March 8), an American collector of obscure but interesting facts (see his 1,206-page book The People's Chronology), ends rather curiously:

“He wrote that knowledge grows incrementally and that the impact of an event is often not recognized until many years later. For example, when the teddy bear and the brassiere were introduced to the United States in 1902, no one could have foreseen what lay in store.”

Now, I've been around for a goodly chunk of the time since 1902, and I confess I have no idea what “lay in store.” Did teddy bears start wearing bras? Were bras stuffed with teddy bears, or teddy bears with bras? What the heck happened?

Allen Strike, Port Hope, Ont.

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