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Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois speaks to reporters during an election campaign stop in Saint-Jerome, Que., Wednesday, August 15, 2012. (Graham Hughes/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois speaks to reporters during an election campaign stop in Saint-Jerome, Que., Wednesday, August 15, 2012. (Graham Hughes/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

What readers think

Aug. 17: A new patrimoine, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

A new patrimoine

Pauline Marois says government needs to present a neutral face to the public – no hijabs, turbans, kirpans or Stars of David for public servants (Culture Clashes Ring Through Campaigns – Aug. 16). But a crucifix is okay because it’s part of Quebec’s patrimoine.

What’s really going on here is the discomfort and insecurity of a party that represents people desperate to hold on to a society that long ago ceased to exist. They look around and see “foreign” faces, hear “foreign” tongues and feel threatened. The kind of legislation proposed by the Parti Québécois is a vain attempt to hold back the tide.

Reality check: Patrimoine changes over time. And those faces, voices and religious symbols are now part of it. Instead of trying to legislate against it and wrap it in the name of “neutrality,” it would be better if the population, rather than the government, learned to apply neutrality in response to the province’s new face.

Matthew Cope, Westmount, Que.


Or lack thereof

Mark MacKinnon describes in a front-page story (Amid Scenery And Security, A Select Few Choose China’s Path – Aug. 16) how China’s leadership decisions are made in an off-record, exclusive meeting – unlike the way a democracy functions. A few pages later, Bill Curry explains (Boardroom Confidential: What CEOs Are Asking Of Jim Flaherty) how Canada’s Finance Minister meets in camera with CEOs and lobbyists each year to decide Canada’s economic policy.

An interesting contrast – or lack thereof.

Jonathan Cresswell-Jones, Toronto


Core concepts

Michael W. Higgins finds Paul Ryan to be outside “the core concepts of Catholic social thought” (Why Catholics Shouldn’t Put Their Faith In Paul Ryan – Aug. 16).

Catholics may well debate the necessary connection between such thought and political positions, but Mr. Ryan is hardly unique. Most notably, William F. Buckley, Jr., the founder of National Review in the 1950s and the principal architect of modern American conservatism, found no contradiction between his Catholicism and libertarian economic ideas. He was joined by many others in insisting upon religious belief and economic truth, especially the primacy of choice and free markets.

There is, however, a clear conflict between libertarianism and the insistence that moral decisions, as in abortion, should be decided by collective institutions. In Mr. Ryan’s case, his anti-choice philosophy extends to denying any voice for the women carrying a fetus.

Do those who search deeply in theology for political truth pick and choose?

Peter Woolstencroft, professor emeritus, University of Waterloo political science department


Cold calculation

As a couple who have travelled the Northwest Passage aboard a small ship, we acknowledge the inherent risks (Canada Isn’t Ready For The World – Aug. 15). The rewards for the real adventure traveller are profound: To experience the stark beauty of the tundra, to view wildlife in its natural environs and to learn from the Inuit about their life skills, history and culture has a lasting impact. To suggest that these rewards are obtainable travelling on boats like The World or the Costa Pacifica is an insult to the true meaning of the Arctic and its people.

It’s even more astounding that the Canadian government should be expected to underwrite their possible misfortunes. There are inherent risks to travelling to certain geographical locations. Accept them or don’t go.

Geoffrey Lloyd and Barbara Lloyd-Tomlinson, Toronto


If granting permission precipitates such a serious situation, why is it being granted? Instead of arguing for huge investments in what would certainly be heavily underutilized Arctic search-and-rescue capacity, perhaps we need to address why we feel obliged to permit such voyages in order to avoid the sovereignty challenge that a refusal might precipitate.

Richard Hodgson, Halifax


Muddied eggs

The recent study linking yolks to heart disease (Eggs Move Back To The Naughty List – online, Aug. 14) only serves to muddy the waters. Major variables, such as exercise, waist circumference, trans fat intake and overall diet quality were not considered. It’s what we eat and drink day in and day out that really matters. No single food or nutrient makes or breaks a healthy diet.

Eggs are highly nutritious and an affordable source of high-quality protein. In a large study that followed more than 100,000 people, eating an egg a day did not increase the risk for coronary heart disease. If you are at risk for or living with heart disease or diabetes, it’s your total diet that counts, not cutting back or cutting out any one food.

Carol Harrison, registered dietitian, Toronto


Incentive pay

Ken Lewenza, all the foreign automobile manufacturers have their highest praise for you (Battle Lines Drawn In Auto Labour Fight – Business, Aug. 15). They admire you for being able to demand the highest wages in the country, for being able to tell auto workers not to go to work. It takes a special person to be able to do that – unfortunately, it has destroyed the jobs of thousands of Canadians.

Why don’t you demand that all wages and salaries be cut by 15 per cent (that’s only 10 per cent after taxes) and ask the manufacturers to pay 10 per cent of workers’ pay in company stock? That would give every employee an incentive to arrive early, leave late and work diligently.

Carl Kaufman, Waterloo, Ont.


Kids, smokes, gas

Fifty years after I took down my “babysitter for hire” shingle (Parents Eager To Pay More For Extra Babysitting Skills – Life, Aug. 14), the basic economic principle I learned then remains the same: one hour of babysitting equals one package of cigarettes equals one gallon (five litres) of gasoline.

It’s my own guide to inflation and it’s worked for half a century.

Anne Moon, Victoria


Accidental politician

I’m not a fan of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford or his agenda but I will start this letter off by offering him kudos. First, I congratulate him for giving a reporter a straight answer to a direct question. Not enough politicians do that any more. Second, I thank him for respecting taxpayer money.

However, no one expects him to pinch pennies to the point where he is risking lives by driving dangerously (Hire A Driver, Police Tell Ford – Toronto edition, Aug. 15). I’m sure friends and foes alike will agree that Mr. Ford is a busy man and is entitled to a driver, if for no other reason than to help keep Torontonians safe. I hope it doesn’t require an accident to convince him of this.

Paul Rowe, Ottawa


Next week in Folio

The Folio feature Seed Futures (Aug. 16) was interesting, but the introduction caught my attention. It said rising prices for cash crops and poor job markets in the cities mean “there’s a good living to be made in the oldest profession.”

Funny, all this time I thought that was something else.

Reg Harrill, Calgary

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