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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks past reporters on Parliament Hill on Feb. 1, 2017. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks past reporters on Parliament Hill on Feb. 1, 2017. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)

WHAT READERS THINK

Feb. 2: Behind the post on first-past-the-post. Plus other letters to the editor Add to ...

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here: letters@globeandmail.com

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Behind the post

Re Trudeau Abandons Pledge On Electoral Reform (online, Feb. 1): When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signs the Paris Accord on climate change on our behalf and then approves pipelines that will make that commitment meaningless, our credulity is strained to the breaking point.

When he steps behind the very post he promised to remove and we are left with a voting system we do not believe in, our belief in him snaps and one word emerges: liar.

Robert Hart, Terrace, B.C.

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In his letter to Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould, Justin Trudeau says “Changing the electoral system will not be in your mandate.”

It is already in her mandate. We voted for it in the last election. And they wonder why citizens become disillusioned with politics. Disgraceful.

Brett Hodnett, Gatineau, Que.

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Abandoned – and not before time. The whole exercise has been a waste of Justin Trudeau’s time and my money – there’s no one out here but us taxpayers.

Some 30 per cent or more of eligible Canadian voters don’t vote, so why bother? First-past-the-post may not be perfect, but it has the virtue of simplicity – everyone understands it.

Richard Seymour, Brechin, Ont.

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And what will Justin Trudeau tell us about electoral reform after he loses the next election? I prefer first-past-the-post, but I prefer politicians who keep their word even more.

Nancy O’Neill, St. John’s

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Create Canadians

Re A Canadian Values Test Could Apply To White Supremacists: Leitch (Feb. 1): As the sociologist who wrote Points of Entry: How Canada’s Visa Officers Decide Who Gets In, the book Kellie Leitch wrongly promotes to justify her proposal to screen immigrants for Canadian values, let me recommend that she read even more sociology.

In Racism in Canada, I discuss the notion of “new racism,” which is a way that politicians are able to use code words to talk about race and justify racist ideas and policies without explicitly using racial terms. This new racism informed the anti-immigrant discourse of British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and is a key part of President Donald Trump’s approach to U.S. immigration today. Rest assured that I will use Dr. Leitch and her proposal in the next edition as a Canadian example.

Vic Satzewich, professor, Department of Sociology, McMaster University

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I wonder how well Conservative Party leadership candidate Kellie Leitch would fare on the “generosity” quotient of her Canadian values test?

Christopher Albertyn, Toronto

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A friend sponsoring a Syrian refugee family told me that when she asked the father of the family what he had been doing, he had a note of pride in his voice when he reported that he had been washing dishes.

“Do you mean you have a part-time job in a restaurant?” she asked.

“No,” he said, he had been washing dishes at home: “I never washed dishes before, but my wife came home from her language class and told me that Canadian men wash dishes, so I thought I should begin doing that too.”

Perhaps I’ll forward this story to politicians who think we should implement a “Canadian values” test for immigration applicants. It nicely illustrates how people acquire values by exposure to admirable and nurturing environments. We’d be lost if we only admitted “Canadians” – instead, we have an opportunity to create Canadians.

Charles D. Chaudron, Toronto

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Welcome. And not

Re Canada Will Not Increase Refugee Quotas (Feb. 1): I teach at the University of Ottawa, a campus enriched by the many young Muslims enrolled there. I know how frightened many of them are – especially the highly visible young women who wear the hijab – as they observe the escalating viciousness of the Trump administration, and mourn the tragic proof of bigotry within our own borders.

On behalf of these heart-broken, scared young people and their families, I beg the federal government to grow a spine, condemn Donald Trump’s overt Islamophobia, and suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement.

Gaye Taylor, Ottawa

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Re Academics Debate Boycotting The United States Over Trump Immigration Ban (Feb. 1): Before academic boycotts of the United States become a political thing, I urge thinking this through.

Donald Trump would welcome such self-censorship, since it would keep liberal-leftist professors out of the country – without his even having to consider a ban – and it would isolate American scholars at a time when collaboration with those from elsewhere is vital.

Individual academics and writers should make their own decisions about whether to travel to the United States. But organizations representing them should neither recommend nor impose embargoes. Boycotts frequently harm those they are intended to help, and they have no place in academia where diverse voices should be heard, not silenced.

Paul Axelrod, professor emeritus, York University

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The countries whose citizens are impacted by the ban on travel to the United States are those such as Iran, which has been antagonistic toward the United States for many years, and others such as Somalia, Iraq, Yemen and Libya, which are weak internally and which Donald Trump thinks may not have the internal safeguards to keep “terrorists” from getting to the United States from there.

His action as reflected in his order is consistent with his fear of the United States being attacked again. I do not agree with those who call it a ban on Muslims.

His actions were rash but so are these characterizations, which I consider as polarizing as Mr. Trump’s actions.

Riccardo Sala, Toronto

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Unsafe at worship

Re My Canadian Sanctuary: What The Mosque Means To Me (Jan. 31): I appreciate Zarqa Nawaz’s intention when she writes about her mosque, though when she discusses having never imagined a day when her place of worship didn’t feel safe, I wish I could agree. My synagogue has had security guards stationed outside ever since I can remember. To find out the time and place of an event, one must RSVP in advance because these details are a security risk.

Hate crimes are not a new concept and it is devastating that every time I step inside my synagogue, I wonder if it’s safe.

It does us all a disservice to believe that what we, and in particular Muslim communities, now face across the country has not been seen before: We must remember that Islamophobic and anti-Semitic currents in Canada are not new. We must recognize the discrimination many continuously confront across the country.

While the Trump administration willfully ignores history, we cannot.

Rebecca Bell, Toronto

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