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Passport purgatory

The detention of Suaad Hagi Mohamud, based on her passport photo and aided and abetted by the Canadian consulate, is an outrage ( Escape From No-Man's Land - Aug. 13).

My passport is an example of the original photo being transformed, in the process of being affixed, from a reasonable likeness to a darkened, distorted state that certainly cast doubts on my identity. In the right circumstances, I, too, could become the unwilling guest of a foreign state.

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One can only conclude the government is often incompetent and sometimes uncaring when Canadian citizens are detained abroad.

Dennis Casaccio, Annapolis Royal, N.S.

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Much to my vexation, I have noticed that the picture on a $20 banknote in my wallet no longer resembles the Queen. (Her right lower lip is all wrong.) Should I worry that the Bank of Canada could confiscate the note, punch a hole through it, and indict me?

Jaydeep Chipalkatti, Winnipeg

Policing the RCMP

Despite the fact the RCMP welcomed the report from the Commission for Public Complaints, agrees with a number of its findings, and that I am on record saying we would prefer never to have to investigate our own members, your headline stated the force rejects the report ( RCMP Reject Watchdog Report On Internal Investigations - Aug. 12).

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The RCMP finds a great deal positive in the report. We are proud it concludes our members' conduct was professional, timely and free of bias in all the investigations reviewed. Our concerns centre on the methodology that led to some of the conclusions, and the practicality of some recommendations. The report reviews cases, some more than seven years old, using the lens of new criteria developed for the report.

Based on those criteria, it calls RCMP conduct inappropriate in some cases. Considering the CPC's findings that our officers' conduct was free of bias in all of these cases, that is strong language indeed. It creates an inaccurate picture.

We have always supported having others investigate the RCMP where there is a regime in place to do so. However, time is critical and in some remote areas, it can take a day or more to fly in officers, let alone identify an available team from another force. The report's concerns and recommendations about national standards will be addressed in new RCMP policy and we are anxious for the government to introduce legislative reform. As I have so often said, the RCMP strongly supports enhanced independent oversight and review.

William J.S. Elliott, Commissioner, RCMP

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In the shooting death of Kevin St. Arnaud by an RCMP officer, the RCMP investigated themselves and found no charges were warranted. At a subsequent inquest, the officer's evidence that he acted in self-defence was contradicted by five witnesses, including another RCMP officer present at the shooting, and by forensic experts.

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In the in-custody shooting death of Ian Bush, the RCMP investigated themselves and found no charges were warranted. Inexplicably, Mr. Bush's body was not refrigerated and was allowed to decompose prior to an autopsy being conducted. A blood splatter expert testified at an inquiry that the incident could not have occurred in the manner the officer testified it did. The officer wasn't formally interviewed until three months after the incident.

These are but two examples of the RCMP investigating themselves. I won't even mention the unfortunate Robert Dziekanski. The chair of the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP disagrees with the force's policy that investigations into its members have to be handled like any other and is quoted as saying police "are held to a higher standard."

Based on the St. Arnaud and Bush investigations, if the RCMP are really held to a higher standard than civilians, it's a wonder they've ever recommended charges against anyone.

Michael Kennedy, North Vancouver

Red-Tory tosh?

Lawrence Martin says Prime Minister Stephen Harper's move to the left has "validated" Red Toryism ( The Resurgence Of The Red Tory Brand - Aug. 13). Isn't it a little soon to make such a statement?

After all, Mr. Harper's Red Tory policies - increased government spending, bailing out failed corporations, racking up monstrous deficits - could lead to serious economic problems down the road. Politically speaking, his embrace of Red Toryism has essentially made the Conservative Party a carbon copy of the Liberal Party, meaning the Prime Minister is in danger of alienating his small "c" conservative base.

It's hard to win a majority if you don't keep your base loyal. History may yet show that both Canada and the Conservative Party would have been better off had Mr. Harper stuck to his free-market principles.

Gerry Nicholls, former vice-president, National Citizens Coalition, Oakville, Ont.

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Not mentioned is the 800-pound gorilla in the room: minority government. Many of us fear that, if the Harper Conservatives were to gain a majority, the Red in Red Tory would be jettisoned immediately.

Tony Kocurko, St. John's

Sugar daddies, sweet mommas

Your article about world sugar production suggested India has the world's biggest sweet tooth. If you take into account India's much larger population, it's clear Canadians have much sweeter teeth. In 2005, per capita consumption of sugar (beet and cane) was about 44 kilos in Canada, compared to 20 in India.

Ann Weston, research co-ordinator, North-South Institute

Far apart on apartheid

The "apartheid" analogy for Israel is legitimate, contrary to Margaret Wente's assertions ( How Israel Became South Africa - Aug. 13). Only Jews have full citizenship rights in the occupied territories. The Israeli state is preoccupied with preserving Jewish ethnic predominance in occupied territory (East Jerusalem) and in sensitive Israeli regions (Galilee).

Israeli walls and checkpoints prevent Palestinians from moving freely within and between the territories and pre-1967 Israel. Israeli state policies with respect to land, water, housing and refugees/immigrants consistently discriminate against ethnic Arabs (including Israeli citizens) and in favour of ethnic Jews.

The Palestinian political leadership, like their Israeli opposite numbers, are locked into a nationalist discourse that makes it difficult in the short term to be optimistic about equitable power-sharing or democratic development in Israel-Palestine. But the growing movement to raise the issue of Israeli apartheid aims to strengthen those in Israel-Palestine committed to a more equitable political arrangement for the ethnically mixed country.

James A. Reilly, professor, Modern Middle East History, University of Toronto

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In November, 1947, as a first-year university student, I listened when the UN voted to recognize Israel as a state. How excited I was when Paraguay voted "yes" - thus ensuring a majority for statehood. Now, 61 years later, I sadly realize one truth: If in May, 1948, the surrounding Arab countries had accepted Israel's right to exist, the Middle East would be a different place today.

Many people argue that criticism of Israel does not denote anti-Semitism, and often this may be true. However, I have lived too long and seen and heard too much in my own country not to know that what was true in 1930s Germany is true today - anti-Semitism is on the rise.

Betty Reid, Stouffville, Ont.

Mediocre ambiguity

In her analysis of the disenfranchisement of youth, Alison Loat ( Let's Not Blame Youth For General Voter Apathy - Aug. 13) urges us to be "more tolerant of ambiguity" and "less willing to accept mediocrity."

I tried to follow her advice. In the end, the ambiguity of the platitudes she offered made me decide that I shouldn't accept their mediocrity.

Geoff Read, London, Ont.

Chinese puzzle

If anyone is looking for a source of official China's current disdain for Canada, or of Canadians' stunted understanding of China, look no further than the front page of Wednesday's Globe with its four photographs of "China's most wanted fugitive," Lai Changxing. Or flip to the story that tells us Lai Changxing now works as a real estate consultant in Vancouver, where he looks forward to paying his taxes ( In Canada There Is Justice ).

Or open the paper to the story detailing how rude the Chinese are ( China's Citizens In A Shove-Hate Relationship ). Or the article that suggests that the arrest of Rio Tinto employees in China is a tactic in price negotiation ( China Prosecutors Arrest Four Employees Of Miner Rio Tinto). Or continue to where Frank Ching once again maligns China's international reputation (China's Missed Chances). Or go to the business section, which reports suspicions that Chinese investments abroad have "some underlying political motive" ( The Courting Of Mr. Lou ).

The Chinese invest to make money? They get arrested on charges of stealing? What kind of madness are the Chinese up to?

What kind of madness is The Globe up to? Can you find another motive for devoting so much space to China? Something that doesn't display ignorance of China and sanctimony?

Peter Bracegirdle, Ottawa

Clear case of Cherry-picking

Re He shoots, he ice-dances? (Aug. 13): Would it be too much to hope that the CBC's imaginative new NHL/ice-dancer competition include a solo category featuring Don Cherry, the one personality who both skates like a hockey player and dresses like a figure skater?

Bill Kummer, Newmarket, N.S.

Non-profits' double bind

Monitoring and assessment is always a good thing, including Canada's non-profit sector, which commands a seven times greater share of the national GDP than auto manufacturing. But Neil Reynold's report about the rise of the "charity analyst" ( Charity Industry Gets Some Needed Scrutiny - Report on Business, Aug 12) raises some cautionary notes.

After all, private financial markets were stuffed full of analysts in the lead-up to the current recession, and they didn't spot the bad practices and bad paper that dragged down the global economy, along with the real economy. Many non-profit organizations are currently facing the double bind of increased demand for services because of the recession and decreased revenue because of the recession.

Evaluation is a tricky business, and many non-profit groups do a terrific job of thoroughly and honestly assessing their work. One key learning from our decade of experience working with non-profits in Canada and internationally is that clients (people with direct experience of the service) need to be at the centre of the analysis. This is no different than the private sector, where businesses have learned the hard way that ignoring the customer puts their enterprise at risk.

Michael Shapcott, director, Affordable Housing and Social Innovation, Wellesley Institute, Toronto

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