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Nov. 9: Playing footsie with the fiscal cliff, and other letters to the editor

Mitt Romney supporters at an election night rally in Boston, Nov. 6, 2012.


Footsie with the cliff

Margaret Wente got the U.S. election fundamentally right (Memo To Republicans: Hit The Reset Button – Nov. 8). The Republicans need to stop conflating unfettered capitalism with democracy; the Democrats need to scale back unfunded entitlements. Until each group does so, the U.S. body politic will simply continue to bumble and stumble along toward the cliff, a cliff both fiscal and cultural.

As the saying has it, it's not the fall that kills you – it's the sudden stop at the end.

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W. Baird Blackstone, Tsawwassen, B.C.


Two op-ed columns – one by Margaret Wente (Memo To Republicans: Hit The Reset Button), the other by two former ambassadors to the United States (America's Cliff Is Canada's Priority) – lament the fiscal cliff that calls for taxes to rise and expenditures to decrease by a margin that spells disaster. Both agree that these things must happen, but neither mentions by how much.

What height of cliff is it safe to fall off?

Rodney Touche, Calgary


The Republicans lost because their main economic theme was to protect the affluent from having to do their share of economic nation-building. Barack Obama's more generous social outlook allowed him to take the election and keep on track with his vision. The world is better off for it.

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Carl Hager, Quyon, Que.


In my work as a family court mediator, I regularly hear somebody declare, "I don't know what the problem is. I agree on everything. It's the other side who is not agreeing." My first order of business then becomes to disabuse them, respectfully, of this view and get on with assisting them to negotiate the substantive issues at hand.

If the U.S. government wants to be serious, responsible and productive, all sides need to advance their positions with principled reason, leavened by humility and compromise. Brinkmanship has always been a mug's game.

Al Wilkinson, Burlington, Ont.


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Rapists' rights

It is too soon to celebrate the common sense of the U.S. voting public just because they rejected four rape apologists who, without their publicized offensive remarks, might well have been elected (Good Riddance To The Rape Apologists – editorial, Nov. 8).

These four are not outliers.

In 31 states, men who father through rape are able to assert the same custody and visitation rights to their children as other fathers. As Shauna Prewitt, who had a baby conceived in a rape, wrote in the Georgetown Law Review, "When no law prohibits a rapist from exercising these rights, a woman may feel forced to bargain away her legal rights to a criminal trial in exchange for the rapist dropping the bid to have access to her child."

Not until there is no jurisdiction where rapists can claim such "rights" is there cause to celebrate the common sense and decency of the American electorate.

Margaret Asch, Victoria


Vroom, in the pink

Re Fit To Be Tied Over Honda She's (Nov. 8): "A pink Fit designed just for women?" Well, why not? Rather than interpreting Honda's launch of a pink car, the Fit She's, as a blow to feminists around the world, why not look at it for what it is – another addition to the wide assortment of auto choices available to women?

Plenty of products are successfully tailored for and marketed to women, from disposable shavers to washing machines, that don't raise anybody's ire. Sometimes a pink car is really … just a pink car.

Judy Irwin, Toronto


Lobbying, public policy

Your article (Ford Says Watchdogs Should Be Sent Packing – Oct. 26) reports, in the context of the dismantling of various oversight offices – integrity commissioner, ombudsman, lobbyist registrar – that if nobody tracked the "influence-peddling" of the 1,200 lobbyists registered at City Hall, "transparency" would be lost.

Influence peddling is a criminal offence and in no way involves the legitimate practice of lobbying. In fact, lobbying is strictly regulated at the City of Toronto through a mandatory registration and reporting system, coupled with a lobbyist code of conduct. The rules are designed to ensure that all interactions between lobbyists and councillors are transparent and ethical.

Lobbying is not about manipulation of political decision makers but is about providing City Hall decision makers and policy advisers information critical to the development of sound public policy.

Lobbying adds important perspectives and information to the debate surrounding key decisions affecting the city. Lobbying done responsibly and according to existing rules will work to enhance the public confidence in decisions by ensuring that all perspectives are taken into account in the formation of public policy.

John Capobianco, president, Public Affairs Association of Canada


Brakes on business

It's remarkable that Gordon Nixon (RBC), and Kevin Lynch (BMO), overlooked their banks' roles in holding back businesses in Ontario and in Canada (What's Holding Ontario Back? – Nov. 7).

Canada's big five banks charge exorbitant fees on small- and mid-sized business accounts. My business banks with Mr. Nixon. I regularly pay: $4 for a bank statement; $15 in monthly fees; $40 for wire transfers; and an egregious $1 on every U.S. dollar transaction in a USD denominated account.

These fees add up; they hold businesses back before they can flourish. Perhaps Mr. Nixon and Mr. Lynch should revisit their ideas on who should adapt or fall behind.

Peter Smith, Toronto


Pipeline … postures

CNOOC energy researcher Chen Weidong's comment that Canada's oil sands risk becoming "outdated just like leftover single women" is not only sexist and patronizing, it's downright inaccurate (In China, Growing Frustration Over 'Outdated' Oil Sands – Report on Business, Nov. 7).

First, there isn't an abundance of unattached females in China since, for decades, Communist Party officials have turned a blind eye to the practice of female infanticide. Second, if China is no longer a suitor, the oil sands will have others. Canada has enough self-respect to not enter into an abusive long-term relationship.

Judith Frank, Edmonton


The problem with the CNOOC-Nexen deal is that we are all going to have to put up with the regressive attitudes of Chen Weidong and his cronies. Frankly, he can take his bitumen and … well, let's just say that many enlightened Canadians have just thought of a new route the pipeline can take!

Richard J. Pantel, North Vancouver

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