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Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks to the media in his office in Ottawa, in June 26, 2014. Mr. Harper said in a statement that “The outrageous and criminal act of shooting down a civilian airliner last week is a direct product of Russia’s military aggression and illegal occupation of Ukraine, and demonstrates the need for the international community to continue applying pressure on the Putin regime.” (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks to the media in his office in Ottawa, in June 26, 2014. Mr. Harper said in a statement that “The outrageous and criminal act of shooting down a civilian airliner last week is a direct product of Russia’s military aggression and illegal occupation of Ukraine, and demonstrates the need for the international community to continue applying pressure on the Putin regime.” (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

WHAT READERS THINK

July 23: Seeing through Putin – and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Seeing through Putin

Re Harper Saw Through Putin From The Start (July 22): I have to agree that Stephen Harper “got it right” with respect to Vladimir Putin’s objectives in Ukraine.

However, a more balanced view of why he “got it right” might include the fact that there are a lot of Canadians of Ukrainian descent who represent a key voting cluster.

It is not too difficult to be cynical of the Harper government’s motives – based on a considerable number of its prior actions with respect to the Middle East, the environment, Senate appointments, gun control, elimination of the full census. Need I go on?

Wayne Peasgood, Georgetown, Ont.

.........

I don’t think anyone considered Vladimir Putin a straight-talking, democratic peacenik before this whole Ukraine fiasco. One difference between our Prime Minister and other world leaders is that they know such puffed-chest tough talk with Russia could lead to actual consequences, either military or economic (as Russia provides much of Europe with gas for winter heating), so they don’t stomp around hurling Cold War insults, trying to start fights.

I hope Stephen Harper will apply an equal amount of bluster to another rights-violating, undemocratic (actual Communist) country accused of throwing its weight around: China. But I doubt it. Our PM only talks tough when there are no real consequences.

Paul Rowe, Ottawa

.........

‘Loser’ carbon policy?

At a time when even large corporations are coming around to accepting that an intelligent carbon tax makes sense, Margaret Wente shakes her head and tells us that a lot of people just “don’t like” the idea, which is a “loser” with voters (Why Australia’s Carbon Tax Bombed – July 22).

Other “loser” concepts that have come along in relatively recent decades include recognition of people of colour as human beings, recognition that being gay isn’t the same as being a pervert, recognition that tobacco smoking in homes, offices and cars is harmful to other people’s lungs, recognition that seat belts save lives, recognition that access to safe abortion is humane – none of these concepts was particularly popular with the unwashed majority when committed people began fighting for them.

But the battles were fought and, for the most part, won.

Dan Turner, Ottawa

.........

I don’t follow Margaret Wente’s logic when she says that Canadians care more about “real disasters in their own backyard than they do about the intangible uncertainties of global warming some time in the future.”

Over the past 12 months in Toronto we’ve experienced a devastating ice storm and a massive flood – events that are consistent with climate change.

My observation of those events was that they had a serious impact on our backyards and that people really cared.

Albert Koehl, Toronto

.........

SkyTrain blues

Re Five-Hour SkyTrain Shutdown Strands Thousands (July 22): Fred Cummings, president and general manager of B.C. Rapid Transit, has stated that a backup computer system that could run the SkyTrain in the event of breakdown would cost $20-million.

It’s hard to know what should be more worrisome: the thinly-veiled request for $20-million, or the revelation that SkyTrain is running without a backup computer system.

Add these concerns to the chronic problems with the Compass card system, and it is hard not to conclude that the confidence in the management of SkyTrain has completely eroded.

Paige Winthrop, New Westminster, B.C.

.........

Monday’s five-hour SkyTrain outage was blamed on a technical issue. TransLink spokesperson Jiana Ling said, “We are still at 95 per cent reliability on the system which is quite high.” I’m sure glad I don’t to have to use a transit system which is down for the equivalent of five days out of a hundred (95-per-cent reliability)!

Peter Dielissen, Fredericton

.........

Age: 16. Vote? Yes

The move to allow youth 16 and older to vote in the upcoming Scottish independence referendum makes sense (Making Young People Care: Start By Letting Them Vote – July 21). After all, they will live longest with the results.

Democratic participation is a practice that evolves over time. How is it that we assume young people will suddenly display ro-bust interest in affairs of state when, until 18, we’ve made no space for them as voters?

We tell young people they are apathetic and yet they have had no formal place to participate.

We tell them they are selfish and yet we who are older keep all the power. In most Western democracies – Canada included – children and youth lack formal conduits to power such as national children’s commissioners.

Children have the right under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (to which Canada is a signatory) to be involved in decisions – commensurate with maturity – that impact their lives. Given increasingly poor voter turnout, the time is now for more nuanced thinking around inclusion and the right to vote.

Kelly O’Neill, child rights and social policy researcher, Toronto

.........

No right to portage

Re Appeal Court Rules Against Canoeists’ Right To Portage (July 22): The drowning deaths in the Moon River in 2009 had nothing to do with portaging a canoe.

On the other hand, the portage does have something to do with the development of a hydro-electric facility. Would that and the Green Energy Act have something to do with the “safety concerns” of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources?

Liz Harrison, Stella, Ont.

.........

Grapemobile’s charms

My 88-year-old mother-in-law would commiserate heartily with Kenneth Jelley in the loss of his beloved ’62 Corvette (Theft Of Classic Red Corvette Leaves Owner Lonesome For His Baby – July 22). She drives a 1996 grape-coloured Plymouth, a model of some obscure type, with about 14,000 km on it.

Twice in three years it has been stolen; the first time it was taken for a joy ride by teens and abandoned. The insurance company offered her $700 and refused to return it. Some poor employee, on the receiving end of a call from a very angry senior citizen, soon realized this was a bad move. Her car was repaired and returned in short order.

This spring someone tried to steal it again, leaving us all to wonder what hidden charms the Grapemobile must hold for young thugs. Police later found a crowbar and brick in the car, the ignition and locks damaged in a failed bid to hotwire it. This time, she didn’t bother with an insurance claim, paid to have it repaired herself, but is convinced there will be a third attempt.

If so, she says a new car will be in order, and she’ll just have to learn what all those buttons and switches are for. We all hope it never comes to that.

Wendy Kerr Hadley, Port Credit, Ont.

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