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A street sign in the childhood hometown of Bob Dylan, winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature, is seen in Hibbing, Minn. (Reuters)
A street sign in the childhood hometown of Bob Dylan, winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature, is seen in Hibbing, Minn. (Reuters)

WHAT READERS THINK

Oct. 17: Poisoned Conservative leadership chalice? 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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Poisoned chalice?

Re Are Tory Candidates Grasping For A Poisoned Chalice? (Oct. 14): How can Conservatives compete with a wildly popular Justin Trudeau?

It’s being tiresomely pointed out that there are no Justin Timberlake types vying for the Tory leadership. So what to do?

Conservatives should pick a candidate who exemplifies fiscal competence and economic pragmatism.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s castle is cracking under the weight of Gerald Butts-style energy policies; Ontario is the most indebted subnational government in the world. The same septic energy and economic policies are infecting Ottawa.

A competent and rational economic hand will be necessary when Canada’s credit card is maxed out.

Celebrity politics get old when the money is gone and the pain begins in earnest. Joe Oliver may be the best person to manage the eventual train wreck.

Richard Zylka, Calgary

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There’s another reason, perhaps the most important reason, for evading/avoiding the leadership of the Conservatives.

If Justin Trudeau succeeds in replacing first-past-the-post with proportional representation, we likely will never again be able to elect a right-leaning government to undo the excesses of a left-leaning one. We just elected Mr. Trudeau to undo Stephen Harper’s excesses, but Mr. Harper balanced the budget so that Mr. Trudeau can overspend.

Back and forth every decade or so creates the balance that Canada needs to survive.

Lorne White, Port Colborne, Ont.

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Changin’ times

If Barack Obama can receive the Nobel Peace Prize just for winning an election (and before ordering the bombing of seven countries over the next eight years), then Bob Dylan is certainly entitled to the Nobel Prize in literature.

Why not the Peace Prize, too, as Dylan hasn’t bombed anyone?

Paul C. Bennett, Richmond Hill, Ont.

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Bob Dylan, Nobel Prize in literature? When I stopped cringing, I figured out the principle, and can now confidently predict the next Nobel Prize in medicine: Dr. Oz.

Bob Martin, Halifax

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It is not too shocking that this year’s Nobel in literature has gone to “pop singer” Bob Dylan.

Despite (or perhaps because of) the reported drug-taking of recent decades, the lyrics of popular songs have shown a remarkable level of philosophical wisdom over the “moon in June” style of the 1940s and 1950s.

Consider John Lennon’s imagining of a world without borders, and the consequent peace that might be given a chance.

Or Google Harry Chapin, whose Cat’s in the Cradle can bring tears to the eyes of people treated less than warmly by their parents.

Then try It’s Good News Week, by Hedgehoppers Anonymous – a protest song that still makes sense.

Literature doesn’t have to be restricted to “pop writers” like Hemingway, so let’s congratulate both the Nobel committee and Bob Dylan.

Dave Ashby, Toronto

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Literature is stuff one reads. And reading – beyond a glance at the latest Twitter feed – is becoming an imperilled practice.

The Nobel committee’s decision snubs not just writers, but serious readers, too.

Bob Dylan deserves all kinds of awards for songwriting. Not the Nobel in literature.

Gabriella Goliger, Ottawa

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We can parse the words of Nobel laureate Bob Dylan till the cows come home and never fully appreciate all the nuance. However, given the current state of political affairs in the United States, it’s worth ruminating over 1983’s Man Of Peace:

He’s a great humanitarian, he’s a great philanthropist,

He knows just where to touch you, honey, and how you like to be kissed,

He’ll put both his arms around you,

You can feel the tender touch of the beast,

You know that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace.

Daniel J. Christie, Port Hope, Ont.

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Canada’s loss

Re Former Alberta Premier Jim Prentice Dies In Plane Crash In Southern B.C. (online, Oct. 14): Jim Prentice was a politician of singular honesty and integrity. He was principled without being inflexible, and brought courage and compassion to politics, never more than when he voted as an MP for same-sex marriage, and later as a champion within cabinet of redressing the unresolved claims of First Nations.

To those who worked with him, Jim was kind, encouraging and loyal.

He brought out the best in those around him with his boundless energy, intelligence, and commitment to the highest standards of personal conduct, both in public and private life. Canada is poorer for his loss. I will miss him greatly.

Jay Nathwani, Toronto

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A rule, a better rule

Re Whiteness … (letters, Oct. 13): “Trying to treat everyone we meet the same way that we would like to be treated” is not a bad rule. Trying to treat them the same way that they would like to be treated is a better one.

L.A. Wood, Toronto

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A man of peace

I was particularly interested in Wade Davis’s account of meeting Desmond Tutu, having been, I believe, the person who introduced Canadians to the now-famous Archbishop (Peace Accord: ‘The Only Possible Way Forward’ – Oct. 13).

Soon after I arrived as principal of the Anglican theological college in Saskatoon in 1973, I met Bishop Trevor Huddleston, well known for his anti-apartheid work in South Africa. I told him how I wished to open up the college to the universality of the Anglican Church and he immediately said, “You should invite Desmond Tutu over here.”

I had never heard of Desmond Tutu, and the Bishop enlightened me with enthusiasm, telling me about the then-Dean of Johannesburg. I invited him and was very happy to get a reply from Desmond Tutu that he was now a bishop himself and would be delighted to give some lectures and be there for students, faculty and visitors at what later became known as the Spring Festival.

Needless to say, we enjoyed him enormously. We had him and his wife, Leah, to supper to the delight of our young children. We also took the couple to a steakhouse one evening and he told our children that no black person would be allowed in a restaurant like that in his country, to which our six-year-old daughter said, “Why not paint your face white?” and he nearly fell out of his chair laughing.

Clerics from all over the Prairies came to the event. He was mobbed after the final lecture. I recall him shouting out, “We’ll sing a hymn when our orgy finishes.”

After Saskatoon, the couple flew to Edmonton, where they met with similar enthusiasm.

And the rest is history…

Colin Proudman, Toronto

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