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Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Feb. 3, 2015. (CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Feb. 3, 2015. (CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS)

WHAT READERS THINK

Feb. 4: ‘A lot less free’ – and other letters to the editor Add to ...

‘A lot less free’

Bravo to The Globe and Mail for defending the rights of Canadians in editorials on the anti-terror act (Charlie Hebdo, Already Forgotten – Feb. 3; Stephen Harper’s Secret Policeman Bill – Feb. 2).

I am grateful for the freedom that allows these principled statements to be published in Canada’s national newspaper. Such freedoms are not achieved by repression, surveillance and xenophobia, but by democracy, justice and education. It is a sad day for a country when citizens feel more threatened by their own government than by its enemies, as this “anti-terror” bill seems to ensure.

Martha McGinnis-Archibald, Victoria

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Stephen Harper claims Bill C-51 is necessary to fight “terrorism.” Unfortunately, or more likely deliberately, the bill offers no definition of what exactly constitutes terrorism. Given the utterances of some of Mr. Harper’s minions – Joe Oliver’s pronouncements about “radical” groups opposed to pipelines come to mind – it is frightening to contemplate the future of free speech here.

Canada will be no safer with the bill, just a lot less free.

Norm Funnell, Radium, B.C.

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Thank you to letter writer Rita Orchard for urging Opposition leaders to find our “collective spine” and stand up to oppose Bill C-51, Stephen Harper’s proposed law to create a state secret police (Anti-Terror Logic – Feb. 3).

I had no trouble finding my vertebrae and made my views clear in Parliament on Monday, the first Question Period after the bill was tabled. Now to see if the NDP and Liberals are prepared to do more than call for citizen oversight for what The Globe and Mail correctly labels “the expansion of the police state.”

Elizabeth May, Leader, Green Party of Canada

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Radicals count on just the kind of hysterical overreaction that Bill C-51 has drawn. Stephen Harper is right to propose these measures. We must protect ourselves.

Janice Campbell, Halifax

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Aboriginals, violence

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde is to be commended for pursuing the issue of violence perpetrated against native women – but in blaming residential schools for the behaviour of aboriginal men, he does a disservice to the cause of his people and the cause of truth (‘I Think There Has to Be A Dialogue So It’s In Everybody’s Face … – Feb. 3).

Most aboriginal children did not attend residential schools, and not all the schools, particularly in later years, were the places of abuse and misery that we hear so much about. And how to explain the fact that many non-aboriginal men have problems with addiction and inflict violence on women, even though they attended other schools?

While much harm was done by the residential school system to individuals and communities, greater harm was and is still being done by the conditions of poverty and poor education that plague native communities.

Mr. Bellegarde should be focusing more on the social dysfunctions and challenges brought on by the colonialization that existed before the schools were created and that still exists today.

Harping on about the residential schools enables Canadians to say, “Those were in the past and have nothing to do with me,” when they should be saying, “The problems our aboriginal partners face have very much to do with me and the Canada of today.”

Mark DeWolf, Halifax

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Exit, stage right

John Baird, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, is getting out while the getting is good (John Baird Resigns As Foreign Affairs Minister – Feb. 3).

In spite of what he may say, Mr. Baird has probably decided to put his political aspirations on hold until Stephen Harper is forced – by the electorate or by the Conservative Party – to relinquish his tenacious and divisive grip on power. Nothing is more tiresome than working for a bully-boy boss who takes no responsibility for mistakes but quickly lays claim to other people’s successes.

Lloyd Atkins, Vernon, B.C.

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John Baird, the Tank McNamara of Canadian politics, is leaving for the private sector. His departure proves there is a merciful God.

Greg Milosh, Oshawa

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John Baird should stay. It’s Stephen Harper who should go.

Bill Huang, Vancouver

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Iron road irony

Re China Eager To Bring Bullet Train Expertise To Ontario (Feb. 3): There is a sweet irony in the proposition that the Chinese could once again have a hand in the building of railways in Canada. With expertise in high-speed rail replacing sweat equity, no doubt the terms will be more favourable to the Chinese than they were 150 years ago.

Ann Cowan Buitenhuis, Ottawa

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Bullet train “plans” will remain a joke – unless Ontario and Canada bite the bullet and spend on electrification and Chinese-style track modernization.

Ila Bossons, Toronto

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‘Moral imperative’

Re Ottawa’s Deficit Drama Is All Theatre (Jan. 29): Jim Stanford argues that it was “misguided and destructive” to focus so strongly on eliminating the federal budget deficit, and laments the government services that have been sacrificed in recent years to balance the books. He suggests that such a focus puts short-term political gain over sound public policy.

Mr. Stanford’s argument, long a tenet of traditional leftist thought, couldn’t be more off the mark. Government debt, like household debt, has to be serviced. At the federal level alone, 11 cents of every tax dollar collected is spent on debt servicing instead of government programs.

Our ballooning debt is not only a drain on the very services that Mr. Stanford purports to defend, it is a grossly unfair transfer of wealth between generations. Today’s millennials, already beset by bleak job prospects and saddled by student debt, are now being asked to pay the tab from the runaway government spending of their parents’ generation. By not balancing our books today, we will simply pay this forward, and visit the proverbial “sins of the father” on our own children.

Balancing the budget is thus not only a matter of sound public policy, but a moral imperative. It’s high time Mr. Stanford and others on the left realized this.

Gord McGuire, Toronto

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Move that date

Re Groundhog Day Blues: Winter Storms Hit Ontario, Atlantic Canada (Feb. 2): Once again, Groundhog Day has come and gone.

Folklore has it that if a groundhogs emerges from its burrow on Feb. 2 and it’s sunny, the groundhog, startled by its shadow, retreats to its burrow and winter persists for six more weeks.

I write from Fredericton and I’m certain spring has never arrived here by March 16. In almost every corner of Canada, winter continues well beyond. Why not “adjust” the Groundhog Day date by region to give the poor groundhog a fighting chance to get it right? What’s good for the groundhog is good for us!

Paul M. McDonnell, Fredericton

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