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In Ontario, half of Grade 6 math students failed to meet provincial standards. (Photodisc)
In Ontario, half of Grade 6 math students failed to meet provincial standards. (Photodisc)

WHAT READERS THINK

Sept. 5: Principle, profit and China. 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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Principle, profit

Those who advocate even greater trade (and free trade agreements) with China do not give good advice. The Chinese government is not a reliable partner.

China’s government has little respect for its own laws or citizens, and routinely intimidates its judiciary. Lest anyone forget, over the past 50 years, China has continued to execute large numbers of its own citizens.

We must negotiate only from a position of strength (things that the Chinese really need) and be prepared to walk away. What does Canada actually need that China has to sell? Nothing. China manipulates its currency, has hidden subsidies and all sorts of regulations to restrict foreigners from accessing its market. Selling 40 per cent of our canola to China has given it a blackmail tool, which it is not hesitating to use.

Tony Fricke, Calgary

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Re Should Canada Join China’s Bank? (editorial, Sept. 2): Canada will be the 58th shareholder of the Chinese-founded Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). None of the minority stakeholders have any influence on controlling shareholder China unless they vote as a block. That seems unlikely.

China should add at AIIB a robust corruption-control system, before starting operations. Experience proves that construction leads all industries in breeding corruption, domestic and foreign. An excellent system exists at the World Bank, developed and refined there over 20-plus years. Has China added one at the AIIB? We’ve heard nothing on that. And corruption is endemic in China, as its leaders now acknowledge.

Canada should not join AIIB until a system like the World Bank’s is in place there. That way Canada can “act as a bridge between Canada and the world,” to quote our PM’s vision.

Put principles before profits.

Michael Robinson, former board member, Transparency International Canada; Toronto

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Labour gap

Re Poll Finds Most Canadians Are Skeptical Of Temporary Foreign Workers Program (Sept. 1): Overall numbers of temporary foreign workers have fallen to 90,000; about 53,000 are agricultural workers. Many jobs are seasonal and most involve strenuous work.

According to Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council research, primary agriculture has seen the agriculture labour gap double in the past 10 years to about 60,000 positions. By 2025, this gap is expected to reach 114,000. Meat and seafood processors are also encountering critical shortages.

Agricultural employers hire Canadians first; recruitment is continuous. Wages and benefits are competitive, with Saskatchewan farmers paying $25 an hour for workers to drive combines. The worker shortage increases the need for food imports and adds to consumers’ grocery bills.

Industry is recommending a Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food Work Force Program, asking for fairness, allowing an immigration pathway to permanency for agriculture and agri-food workers, and common sense fixes that make sense for our farmers, agricultural workers, and Canadian consumers.

Mark Wales, Mark Chambers, co-chairs, Agriculture and Agri-Food Labour Task Force

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Even if it’s 2016

It’s a bleak time for women, even if it is 2016. Consider some recent news reports: Wendy Cukier exits from the Brock University presidency before her appointment begins (Brock President’s Exit May Raise Broader Stability, Gender Issues – Sept. 1); Rachel Notley is subjected to “the most misogynistic and threatening actions a female politician in this country has ever faced” (Ill-Considered Words May Close The Book On Brian Jean – Sept. 2); and Huma Abedin, the betrayed wife of the sexting Anthony Wiener, is subjected to furious, retrograde criticism so that “it’s painfully clear that women are still held accountable for the bad behaviour of men” (Weiner Scandal: Men Behave Badly, Women Get Blamed – Life & Arts, Sept. 2).

These are strong disincentives for women considering any public role. Those of us who worked for a better future for our daughters and granddaughters despair.

Penny Codding, Victoria

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Triple perks, perils

Re Bring Homa Home (editorial, Aug. 31): Your editorial and the same-day article, Health Of Imprisoned Canadian In Decline, will have left many readers convinced, not of the injustice suffered by Homa Hoodfar, but of the fallacy of her – or anyone – being a citizen of three separate countries. In Prof. Hoodfar’s case, Iran, Ireland and Canada.

Among liberal-democratic advanced industrial countries, there’s a worrying trend to not only enable but actually encourage citizens to acquire multiple citizenship. The potential international business or other benefits of someone carrying two or more passports are unlikely to offset the obvious negatives: reduced national security, divided loyalties and reduced social cohesion.

There’s a more important issue than Canadian concern about Prof. Hoodfar’s declining medical condition while under arrest in Iran. Pre-eminent must be the Iranian government’s duty to ensure Iranian law applies (inside that country) to all Iranian citizens.

Ron Johnson, Victoria

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1 + 1 = maybe

Re Ontario’s Math System Is Broken. So Why Isn’t The Government Fixing It? (Sept. 1): I have spent many afternoons helping my children with homework. It’s often just a check here and there. But the math really confounds me. With no rote learning, and the times tables given scant attention, children are struggling to gain fluency and thus confidence in their math. The big bogeyman here is Nelson math.

Used by many school boards, Nelson math teaches that 1+1= maybe. Yes, you read that right. It asks questions such as, “What might be the best answer here if Polly ate seven cookies and Mikey ate ten?” Instead of insisting on concrete answers, Nelson math sets its sights upon extrapolative, interpretive math. This is fine in advanced quantum physics, but not good enough to sum up that Polly and Mikey have eaten 17 cookies between them and perhaps should go for a run.

Math needs to add up, it needs to be repeated so that children can add, subtract and multiply when they can’t find their computers or phones to do the work for them. I’d feel a lot more confident with a return to rote learning and frequent repetition taught by properly trained math teachers so that when our children go on to careers, they aren’t limited by poor math skills.

Catherine Brennan, Toronto

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We had “discovery math” in my school in England in the 1950s. What I discovered was that I was utterly useless at math and so was my teacher.

Rupert Taylor, Waterloo, Ont.

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The government of Ontario probably isn’t too concerned that 50 per cent of Grade 6 students failed to meet provincial math standards. Given the size of Ontario’s mounting debt, these kids aren’t failures, they’re potential Liberal finance ministers.

Lee Eustace, Toronto

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