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May 15: Lac-Mégantic arrests: spectacle vs. justice

Spectacle vs. justice

I was outraged to see the front-page picture of the three employees of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway being escorted in handcuffs into court (Lac-Mégantic, May 14).

But then, reading how engineer Tom Harding was subjected to an over-the-top arrest sent me into an apoplectic state: "An armed SWAT team arrived with sirens blazing and ordered Mr. Harding, along with his son and a friend, to lie face-down on the ground in Mr. Harding's backyard."

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Who ordered that spectacle and for what purpose?

Why wasn't the federal Transport Minister hauled in in shackles? The government is the perpetrator of the Lac-Mégantic disaster for allowing safety to deteriorate over the years in the rail industry.

Mike Brooker, Guelph, Ont.


These men, presumed innocent until proven guilty, were hardly a flight or violence risk. Did the handcuffs serve any purpose other than public humiliation?

John A. Smyth, Vancouver


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This was all about spectacle, not justice. What about the president of the railway and its directors?

The Lac-Mégantic residents you quoted are right: These three men are pawns and scapegoats.

Hélène Anderson, Montreal


Beyond consultation

Re A Duty To Consult, But No Veto (March 14): There is an internationally agreed standard of procedure when indigenous land, water and related resources are in play: "free, prior and informed consent" (FPIC).

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Consider each of these words and reflect on them in the light of Canadian practice and experience. Not a pretty sight.

The current government initially opposed the International Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, of which this clause is a key part. Years after the declaration was accepted by the UN, the government grudgingly endorsed it, reiterating its concern about the FPIC principle.

FPIC addresses a host of issues affecting the future of First Nations, as well as environmental, social and economic issues for all Canadians. It is also clear Canada lacks an agreed public and legal consensus on the implementation of free, prior and informed consent. How might we build such a public and legal understanding and consensus?

A national inquiry might begin by asking first peoples their views. Then it should examine the experience of countries and native nations which have begun to implement FPIC. A review of constitutional and treaty commitments would be essential.

The issue is significant enough that a royal commission (remember those?) might be mandated to lead an inquiry, including public hearings.

John W. Foster, department of political science, Carleton University


Call them terrorists

Let's call a spade a spade. The Western press is falling straight into the Kremlin's propaganda trap by repeatedly calling the rebels in Eastern Ukraine pro-Russian "insurgents" or Russian-speaking "separatists."

They are nothing more than terrorists financed by Vladimir Putin, who is trying to break up Ukraine's territorial integrity. No other democratic Western country would permit this. The referendum was a sham.

Walter Derzko, Toronto


Job math: cuts, gains

While I don't like political platforms with big round numbers (a promise unfulfilled is an empty promise), Ontario and Canada do need to move away from relying on the public sector as a major source of jobs – very well-paid jobs (Election By 100,000 Job Cuts – editorial, May 13). You argue that cutting 100,000 public-sector jobs will create unnecessary chaos, that Ontario's economy "has a condition, but [it's] far from being in intensive care" and that PC Leader Tim Hudak's move is "radical and rash."

This sounds like a fear of change. Ontario is in intensive care. More and more people are struggling to make ends meet.

We need a shift in mentality. We need to embrace or at least be open to radical change.

Manuel Arellano, Mississauga


In the U.S., Republicans have talked of fostering "job creators" through tax breaks, privatization and deregulation since the Reagan era. The job creation that comes of it is minimum wage, minimum term and minimum benefits, because that is how job creators draw maximum profit.

This model has created an almost feudal-era gap between rich and poor and is creeping into Canada's economy.

Look at the recent use of foreign-workers legislation to see how willingly and quickly the job creators will turn on Canadian workers if they can put another dollar in their own pockets. The real output of trickle-down economics is more people stuck in the perpetual quagmire of social assistance. We know this from experience, so why do we keep having these conversations every election cycle? To fire 100,000 people (that's what cut 100,000 jobs means) earning a living wage is to force 100,000 more people into an oversaturated job market.

But the "job creators" will solve that, says Tim Hudak. They might – but with part-time, minimum-wage McMart-jobs.

David Kinahan, Toronto


Abortion absolutes

Re Pro-Choice? That's No-Choice (May 13): Lorna Dueck misses the point: She fails to distinguish between the personal moral beliefs of an MP and the legal question of whether abortion should be criminalized.

For Justin Trudeau to insist Liberal MPs should not seek to legislate on the basis of their personal moral beliefs is not anti-democratic but in full accord with the nature of Canadian society.

This position does not preclude discussion of the issues she mentions (late abortions, gender-specific abortions, pregnancy prevention). Rather, it opens the way to a reasoned discussion where the simplistic pro-choice/pro-life dichotomy can be disregarded.

Mark Thornton, Toronto


The power of 'none'

Many Ontarians share the urge to vote "none of above" in the province's June 12 election (As Politicians Stump On City Issues, Rural 'Urbanites' Feel Cut Out – May 14).

Liberals? Entirely untrustworthy. PCs? Scary Harrisites. NDP? Opportunists who defeated the most left-leaning budget ever.

At the same time, we read that our planet's health has passed the point of no return (Ice Sheet Collapse 'Unstoppable' Scientists Warn – May 13).

I'll be voting Green.

Donnie Friedman, Toronto


Wondering? 89 cents

After the government discontinued the penny, I did a study to see the effect of rounding. This was a one-year venture, commencing May 1, 2013 and ending April 30.

Carefully tracking every applicable transaction for my household over 12 months – rounding applies only to cash purchases – I have realized a profit of 89 cents.

Roger Guitar, Châteauguay, Que.

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