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March 7: Letters to the editor Add to ...

Putin's Russia

The media's focus on Vladimir Putin's opposition (On A Cold Night In Pushkin Square, Vladimir Putin Prevails – March 6) is probably more a reflection of Western values than of Russian reality. Russia's history indicates a preference for a leader's strength over his legitimacy.

Thus, Stalin was (and remains) admired by many of his subjects despite, or perhaps because of, his murderous suppression of dissent. Western predictions of Mr. Putin's political demise are just wishful thinking.

Andrzej Derkowski, Oakville, Ont.

Harper's Canada

While Margaret Wente (Get A Grip. We're Canadian – March 6) and John Ibbitson (The Case Against A Conspiracy – March 5) waltz about together to the tunes of “irregularities” in a “boring little democracy,” they might recall that no scandal bursts forth to the blast of trumpets. The sponsorship affair, the “in and out” mess and, yes, even Watergate all started with mutterings, followed by patient and determined research by good journalists.

If we remain apathetic, amoral political leaders and operatives win the day.

Loretta Craig Taylor, Charlottetown

.......

Margaret Wente's dismissal of the robo-call scandal reminds me of the first comments on Watergate by Richard Nixon's press secretary, Ron Zeigler: He called it “a third-rate burglary attempt.”

Howell Gotlieb, Toronto

.......

Ms. Wente, citing historian Michael Bliss's claim that the Elections Canada investigation into alleged election fraud is a “non-scandal,” says “it's ridiculous to think there was some massive cheating scheme engineered by higher-ups. We're not Russia after all.”

Yup. It's also ridiculous to think our government would prevent scientists from participating in normal exchanges, would insist that usually open parliamentary committees meet in camera, and would repeatedly enact legislation whose “logic” is defied by facts. If I'm inclined to believe “ridiculous” allegations about the Harper Conservatives, they've only themselves to blame.

Elaine Bander, Montreal

Historical stain

The internment of more than 600 Italian Canadians during the Second World War was not entirely “a dark chapter” (Shining Light On A Dark Chapter: The Internment Of Italian Canadians – Arts, March 6). The documents that had to be filed on each internee and signed by government officials and civil servants make it clear that the Mackenzie King government's original aim was to imprison Italian Fascist Party members and Italian gangsters.

But government documents show they often deliberately erred if there was the slightest intelligence that a proposed internee was either a Fascist or supporter of Benito Mussolini. Many innocent people were arrested and interned because of serious lapses in intelligence (notably the case of wealthy contractor James Franceschini).

The intelligence on organized crime was a bit better researched, as the RCMP had made a list of the top gangsters in Ontario just before the war started. But the fact that many internees such as Mr. Franceschini had no connection to fascism or the mob was not only an intelligence failure but a stain on Canada's wartime human-rights record.

James Dubro, Toronto

.......

Last year, I attended a lecture on the silence of Italian-Canadian internees. What the lecturer failed to explain was that they were imprisoned for their politics, not for their race.

I believe the same kind of silence around the Fascist politics of these internees continues. This silence is the real shame: It's what led the internees not to talk about their experiences, and it's upheld by every generation that ignores the history of this period.

For decades, I've been reading my father's scholarship on Canada's fascist and anti-fascist presses in the years leading up to the Second World War. Not all Italian Canadians need share in the internees' shame.

Concetta Principe, Toronto

.......

In 1990, Brian Mulroney offered an informal apology for the internment of Italian Canadians and, in 2005, the Paul Martin government proposed spending $2.5-million to tell the story.

I'd also like to point your readers to Enemies Within: Italian and Other Internees in Canada and Beyond (UTP, 2000), edited by Franca Iacovetta, Roberto Perin and Angelo Principe (UTP 2000).

Dieter K. Buse, professor emeritus, Laurentian University, Sudbury

Unplug, don't drug

Re Diagnosis More Likely For December Babies (Life, March 6): Children have an innate need to move. Nature's assurance against obesity, mental illness, developmental delay, aggression, sleep disorders and illiteracy is for children to move. Yet, we stick them in front of mind-numbing devices, at home and at school, for seven hours a day, then drug them because they can't sit still.

ADHD isn't an illness, it's a cry for less technology, more recess, better playgrounds, and human attachment. We need to unplug, not drug, our children.

Cris Rowan, pediatric occupational therapist, Sechelt, B.C.

The JFK affair

If everyone who ever had an affair with JFK decided to write about it, there'd probably be enough books to fill the Library of Congress (Mr. President's Prim And Proper Mistress – Life, March 6). Does sleeping with a married president really warrant a book?

Douglas Cornish, Ottawa

.......

Who cares about Mimi Alford's sex life? The disturbing fact is that she's making money and hurting JFK's family by trying to assuage her own guilt. She should do something useful such as becoming a volunteer at a shelter for battered women instead of spreading her gossip.

Agatha Platiel, Burlington, Ont.

.......

Old woman with old news. Yawn.

Teresa Flanagan, London, Ont.

Yes, it's the water

I found Marcus Gee's column on the travails of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (A Hobbled Leader In A City With No Direction – March 6) very affecting – by which I mean I couldn't stop laughing.

When he says the city has been left with “a drifting, leaderless government,” I'm forced to note this appears to be a Toronto phenomenon, as witness the Maple Leafs, Raptors and Argos. Perhaps it's something in the water.

A.S. Brown, Kingston, Ont.

Loonie Iceland?

So Iceland is attracted to our loonie (Envoy's Loonie Remarks Spark Krona Controversy – Report on Business, March 3). I say, let's jump on it. We need more friends in the North, and this may help. At the very least, it would add a holiday destination without any exchange issues.

Let's not make the same mistake we did in 1982, when we rebuffed an approach by the Turks and Caicos Islands over the possibility of a union. We let that sunny possibility slip through our fingers.

Admittedly, a currency arrangement with Iceland would only allow us easier access to volcanoes, death metal and Björk. But, hey, it's a start.

John Roy, Toronto

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