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Oct. 30: The PM has some ’splaining to do – and other letters to the editor

Some 'splaining to do

Re Answers Needed From The PM (editorial, Oct. 29): Most Canadians would undoubtedly agree with the penultimate sentence of your editorial: "The Harper government must make public all documents related to [Senator Mike] Duffy and fully explain its actions."

But I doubt that many would agree with the next sentence, "It must stop the steady erosion of its credibility." Surely, the government would have already released such documents if they were supportive of its credibility – whatever is left of it.

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Stanley Greenspoon, North Vancouver

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper is about as likely to "make public all documents related to Mr. Duffy" as he is to perform a striptease at the Conservative convention in Calgary this weekend.

The chart-topping frequency with which the Harper government cites security concerns to refuse requests under the Access to Information Act is alarming. One strongly suspects that "security" has come to include the preservation of Mr. Harper's government.

Penny Gill, Dundas, Ont.

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Reading about the outrageous expense claims of some senators, and now the whinging when they are called to account, one is inclined to empathize with the French peasants during their revolution.

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Maybe it's time to get out the pitchforks and torches, sling the aristos into the tumbrel, and head for the guillotine. (Figuratively, of course.)

C.R. Johnston, Kelowna, B.C.

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Re Tories Wrote Second Cheque, Duffy Charges (Oct. 29): In the game of politics, Mike Duffy may have called "chequemate."

Marlene Monster, Dundas, Ont.

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Fire the boss

Re Senate Expenses (Oct. 29): The PM tells us, "What I think most Canadians would say is, if you did that in your work, your boss wouldn't wait for you to be convicted of a crime. Your boss would say that and that alone requires there's some action be taken in terms of your job."

But he neglects to continue the boss analogy: A CEO who fails to accept responsibility for the actions of his executive assistant and other senior staff – all of whom he "hired"?

To learn that even a lawyer for the company and a senior member of the board were involved?

For a CEO under these circumstances to repeatedly say, "I didn't know" wouldn't be tolerated. Why he didn't know would lead to his resignation or dismissal.

Scott Baker, Toronto

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Exiting the Senate

The late senator Harold Connolly is described in correspondence to Mike Duffy from Senator Marjory LeBreton's staff as the last Senator subject to a motion for disqualification. Mr. Connolly, a former N.S. premier, was my neighbour when I was a child, a kind of a surrogate grandparent. I spent many hours listening to his stories and enjoying the casually mundane activities that bond generations, like waxing the car.

By the time of the 1979 Senate motion, he had suffered a debilitating stroke; his speech and mobility were greatly impaired. He refused to admit defeat by his health, and worked hard to try to regain his speech – one can only imagine the effect on the psyche that an orator would suffer from the inability to be understood.

I recall struggling to understand him myself, but knowing that I shouldn't tell him I couldn't make out what he was saying.

So I would like to stand up for my departed friend and make clear that his Senate resignation was forced, not because he was unwilling to give up the income and perquisites, but because he was unwilling to give up his dignity and the belief that he would recover, if not fully, then sufficiently to resume his Senate duties.

Layton Dorey, Toronto

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Spies on the line

Re Spain Joins Outrage Over U.S. Spying (Oct. 29): If President Barack Obama didn't know his spooks were tapping into German Chancellor Angela Merkel's personal e-mail and phone messages, how does he know they weren't monitoring his private conversations?

William Bedford, Toronto

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Best native practices

Re First Nations Aren't Swayed By Vague Promises (Oct. 28): Many in the resource sector still do not realize what a fraught context they are entering when they propose development projects on native traditional territory. Often, they are treading on a minefield of long-standing frustration and anger and will find themselves caught in disputes which they played no part in creating, and used as leverage to gain remedies from government.

Hence, due diligence for developers includes finding out in advance the history of relationships in the area, and determining how best to secure a positive framework to communicate with aboriginal communities.

This puts a clear onus on governments to create an optimum environment. Sad to say, this is not always the case. The West Coast pipelines have yet to obtain significant consent from the native groups affected, and there are few treaties to set out the necessary involvement of the natives in the land-management process.

In such a vacuum, the federal government chooses to "blame the natives" for uncertainty besetting the projects, perhaps forgetting its fiduciary responsibilities toward the aboriginal people. Taking such a one-sided approach is probably hurting the prospects for an amicable, mutually beneficial result.

George Tough, a former Ontario deputy minister of northern development and mines, and natural resources; Peterborough, Ont.

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Freer trade? Ironic

Re Ontario Gives Edge To Local Firms For Bidding Contracts (Oct. 29): Canada's agreement with the EU, the CETA, will provide – a first in our international trade agreements – rules against discriminatory procurement by provinces.

Canada and its provinces signed the Agreement On Internal Trade (AIT) in 1995. Many Canadians have never heard of the AIT, but such non-discrimination is also promised there, although with many exemptions. Its stated purpose is to "ensure equal access to procurement for all Canadian suppliers" (Article 501).

As I taught my students in two Ontario law schools, the AIT is actually a toothless tiger, often ignored and seldom enforced. So the irony remains true: Trade is freer for foreigners than among Canadians. We should be ashamed of that.

Michael Robinson, Toronto

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Questions. Period

For the first time, we've started watching Question Period live on television from the House of Commons during the recent Senate Conservative Party scandal. Now, I fully understand why it is called Question Period.

There sure aren't any answers being given.

David Sidebottom, Toronto

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Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters under 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

E-mail: letters@globeandmail.com

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