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Aug. 14: Queen and country – and more letters to the editor

Darren Calabrese/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Queen and country

Canada was founded on principles recognizing the supremacy of God and the rule of law (Appeal Court Upholds Oath To Queen In Citizenship Case – online, Aug. 13).

The law requires citizenship applicants to swear allegiance to the Queen. Until the monarchy is constitutionally abolished in Canada – something that I hope will take place when Queen Elizabeth II steps down – this requirement cannot and should not be waived.

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Tony Manera, Ottawa

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I am a naturalized citizen, and nothing bothers me more than permanent residents who live in Canada, yet wish to challenge our citizenship laws.

One does so because he is a republican, having come here from Ireland. Another bases her opposition on some ill-founded religious basis, referring to Her Majesty as the "Queen of Babylon." The other cites our Queen as a symbol of inequality.

Those who come to live in our country are apprised of the fact that Canada is indeed a constitutional monarchy; as such, they shouldn't be all that surprised that to gain citizenship, one must swear allegiance to the monarch. And for a person to label Her Majesty the "Queen of Babylon" is an affront. The Queen protects all of our rights and privileges under our Constitution. She is above party and faction and given the present state of our politics, this is fortunate indeed.

Portuguese by birth, Canadian by choice – monarchist always!

Regina Silva Robinson, Toronto

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Madness and genius

It occurs to me as I read The Heavy Price of Funny (Aug. 13) that the word "musician" could be substituted for "comedian." Marsha Lederman writes about the comedians "who killed onstage but flamed out of life far too soon," that perhaps Robin Williams's comic genius was fuelled by darkness. So too the greatest musicians.

Robert Schumann was regarded as one the greatest composers of the romantic period; he took his own life. Franz Schubert wrote, "I am the most unhappy and miserable person in this world. Every night as I retire to my bed, I always hope that I would not wake up."

Frédéric Chopin was thought to be bipolar. Ludwig van Beethoven wrote his most profound work during his downs.

The idea that madness and genius share two sides of one coin is a hallmark of great artistry. Is the price tag for sublime and prolific artistry, engaging vast areas of the brain, the seesaw coming down into the deepest, darkest hole that shares a space with suicide?

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Susan Doherty Hannaford, Westmount, Que.

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Tax attacks

The annual economic retreat hosted by Finance Minister Joe Oliver is a galling example of who has the ear of government and who does not (Oliver Says Tax Relief To Be In Pre-Election Budget – Aug. 13).

At a time when the Canada Revenue Agency is focusing its attention on the non-profit sector rather than on white-collar crime, and the Harper government speaks of the dangers of "special interest groups" controlling the public agenda, Mr. Oliver meets with 16 chosen captains of industry for guidance on the economy.

The irony lies in the fact these so-called leaders have led successive Canadian governments down the path of decreasing funding to the social- and human-services sectors when these sectors are relied upon to provide jobs training, retraining and support to people wanting to start small businesses while assisting low-income Canadians to become economically self-sufficient.

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Mr. Oliver's door should be opened wider in determining Canada's future economic path.

Heather White, Calgary

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Guess the year of this quote about Canadian taxes, from a Globe and Mail news story: "Higher taxes may be necessary, yet the economy cannot afford even the existing level of taxes."

The answer: 1962. The same year that groups occupying something like the position the Fraser Institute occupies today (Canadians Spend More On Taxes Than On Food, Clothes And Housing, Study Finds – Business, Aug. 12) were urging tax reductions for business.

I doubt the Fraser Institute can establish a golden age of properly low taxation. In the 1870s, low-tariff Liberals were the "too high" guys. In the 1920s, critics of the federal income tax claimed that it had reached the point of diminishing returns.

It might be that the specific amount of tax is not the problem. Let's talk about what taxes do in social relationships and economic activity, rather than just about "high" taxes and "low" taxes.

Shirley Tillotson, history department, Dalhousie University, Halifax

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Schools, rules

About 14 years ago, I considered putting one of my children in Grade 10 in a large Ontario Catholic school. The published curriculum offered an alternative of "world religions" (or perhaps "comparative religions") to one based on Catholicism (Catholic Education – letters, Aug. 13).

I was told that in practice, the course was not offered, and that the vice-principal was not prepared to ask about making an "exception."

There appear to be a variety of ways in which such schools flout rules to impose Catholic education on all students.

Masud Sheikh, Oakville, Ont.

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The debate over publicly funded Catholic education often only considers its elimination.

Using Atlantic Canada's monopolistic education systems as an example (letters – Aug. 13) is hardly anything to brag about, considering they have some of the lowest academic outcomes in the country.

Provinces with more funded options, such as B.C. and Alberta, have the highest outcomes for their students and more parental satisfaction.

Doretta Wilson, executive director, Society for Quality Education, Toronto

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Pleasure dome

I understand that the Travel section isn't the place to expect a rigorous scrutiny of reality. Still, my gorge rose when I read John Lee's account of Dubai (Travel Concierge – Aug. 9). Cuisine, shopping, museums, tra la la – everything is sweetness and light.

No mention of the army of foreign labourers kept in conditions of serfdom or the thousands of women from all corners of the world kept as sex slaves. At least let your readers know what lies beneath the glitzy pleasure dome.

George Patrick, Oakville, Ont.

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These gentle times

East Germany Cuts Off Access To West Berlin (A Moment In Time – Aug. 13) read the frightful headline on my Globe mobile app. For an excruciatingly long fraction of a second, my wits failed me, forgetful of Germany's reunification nearly 25 years ago.

To my great relief, it was, of course, an anniversary piece. How lucky we are, I thought, to live in such gentle and conflict-free times (U.S. Air Offensive Is Of Limited Use – Aug. 13).

Farley Helfant, Toronto

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