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Alice's bankers

Re 'We Made A Terrible, Egregious Mistake. There's Almost No Excuse For It' (Report on Business, May 14): JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon nailed it with "terrible" and "egregious," but flubbed the "almost" no excuse part. After 2008, there's no "almost" about it.

Read the public's lips: There. Is. No. Excuse. for bad behaviour by the banks. The buck, or rather the shadow of two billion lost bucks, stops at the CEO's desk, no matter how many other executives leave the building.

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When will the bankers get it?

Sam MacKenzie, Vancouver


Is it not paradoxical that a major bank, such as JPMorgan, needs to enter into transactions designed to, in CEO Jamie Dimon's words, "hedge against financial risk, not to make a profit for the bank"?

Isn't it the basic job of a bank to assume financial (in this case, credit) risk? And is it not the job of a bank to make a profit doing so? Instead, according to Mr. Dimon, we have a huge bank taking steps (unsuccessfully) to avoid risk, but not to make profit.

As Alice would say, curiouser and curiouser.

Nelson Smith, Toronto

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Pull hard

Defence lawyer Dirk Derstine brilliantly summed up the defence lawyer's duty in seven words: "to pull one end of the rope"(How It Feels To Defend A Child Killer And The Right To A Fair Trial For All – May 14). Most people, especially the angry and confused public, fail too often to realize that in law there are two ends of the rope.

Douglas Cornish, Ottawa


Don't go back

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Premier Dalton McGuinty should not create an environment where physicians do not want to come to Ontario, and where some will want to leave (Ontario Seeks Allies On MD Fees – May 14).

Having said this, the Ontario Medical Association has not done a good job in negotiating fees on behalf of all its members. They have achieved wonderful results for ophthalmologists and interventional cardiologists, but have not done so well for other specialties, such as general surgeons and orthopedic surgeons. Family physicians have never obtained their fair due.

Wait times are down, access to quality care is good, high quality doctors are coming here to work. This is not the time to turn back the clock.

James R. McCarney, Oakville, Ont.


Before computers

Before the computer age (Computer Evolution – letters, May 14), a search warrant for a home would reveal bank statements, returned cheques, credit card bills, telephone bills listing long distance calls (the local calling area was much smaller), letters, notes, photographs, and magazines and books indicating someone's interests. How is this different from the electronic records on a computer?

Elsie Moolgaokar, Toronto


Watchdog, lapdog

Many of the federal officers of Parliament who are supposed to enforce key democracy and good-government laws are unfortunately lapdogs in important ways (Watchdogs Of Parliament Forge Closer Ties – May 12).

The laws they enforce have loopholes that allow for dishonesty, conflicts of interest and other unethical activities, excessive secrecy, and waste of the public's money. None of the officers can penalize anyone who violates the key rules they enforce. They can bark by issuing reports, but can't bite.

Unfortunately, some are unaccountable themselves; it is illegal to challenge a ruling of the Ethics Commissioner or Commissioner of Lobbying in court no matter how incorrect the ruling is.

All of the laws for the officers are being reviewed by Parliament this year. It is to be hoped that they will finally be made into watchdogs who can hold politicians and public servants accountable, and can be held accountable themselves when they fail to do their jobs properly.

Duff Conacher, board member, Democracy Watch


In a parent's arms

Russell Smith's article about telling stories to his son ('Tell Me A Story.' The Lessons My Son Has Taught Me – Arts, May 10) reminded me of reading to my children, one story in particular, a favourite of my middle son's by Dennis Lee called Lizzy's Lion.

It is a disturbing tale about a little girl who has to deal with a robber who has entered her house at night. Lizzy enlists her pet lion, resulting in the mutilation of the robber, to the satisfaction of Lizzy and my son.

As disturbing as Maurice Sendak's (or Dennis Lee's) childhood narratives might be to the adults reading them, such stories are for children a much-needed diversion from the real world that, enjoyed in the arms of a parent, can create the safest place to be.

Thanks to Mr. Smith for reminding us of the importance of spending precious time at the end of a busy day reading with our kids – and of the powerful role that stories play in real life.

Heather Birchall, Collingwood, Ont.


One bill, 425 pages

The effort by the Harper government to ram through its 425-page budget bill is an arrogant attempt to subvert parliamentary democracy and public debate (NDP Aims To Brew Budget Outcry – May 14). Are they afraid Canadians will see what they're really up to?

We know they want to slash billions in spending, gut environmental protection rules, raise the age of OAS and make it harder to get EI benefits. What else is in this bill? The rational solution is to split up the budget bill into manageable and debatable items. Then at least we could see for ourselves what they are doing.

Melissa Dvorak, Winnipeg


Hiding the axe

The average Canadian visiting the parks this summer may not see the effects of the dramatic cuts to science programs and scientific research positions at Parks Canada.

But declaring ecological researchers at Parks Canada to be "surplus" – when the principal purpose of the national parks (enshrined in the most recent amendments to the National Parks Act) is to promote ecological integrity – exemplifies Jeffrey Simpson's point that it is wrong to pretend that smaller government will not dilute programs and services (You Can Talk About Efficiency But You Can't Hide The Axe – May 11).

In this case, the ecological values of our national parks are at risk. Without science-based management, the ecological integrity of our national parks will decline.

Yolanda Wiersma, Luise Hermanutz, Department of Biology, Memorial University, St. John's


The rest of us?

You've got to be kidding. If a 63-year-old single woman with $1.47-million in assets and zero debt must find a job to provide her with some financial "wiggle room" in retirement, then God help the rest of us (It's All About Priorities For Would-Be Retiree – Report on Business, May 12).

Mark Lenihan, Ottawa

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