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Aug. 22: Quebec’s ban, and other letters to the editor

Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail

Poutinesque

The proper analogue to Quebec's proposed ban on religious symbols in public-sector workplaces is not the arbitrariness of Vladimir Putin's regime (Positively Putinesque – editorial, Aug. 21), but rather the French Republican tradition of laïcité.

Laïcité denotes a much more active secularism than the system of state neutrality in matters of religion familiar in much of the Anglo-American world, particularly in U.S. constitutional jurisprudence. An obvious parallel to the law under consideration in Quebec is France's 2004 ban on wearing headscarves, yarmulkes and large crosses in schools. Turkey's ban on headscarves in public employment, schools and universities was another example.

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There are many practical and philosophical reasons to oppose this kind of forced public abnegation of religious identity. Those arguments will be found more effectively in the long history of debates around this competing conception of secular democracy than in tenuous comparisons to legally entrenched homophobia in Russia.

Anthony Cantor, Toronto

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The lily flower has been a symbol of many different things, but for the Capetian kings of medieval France, it was a specifically Christian symbol with an especially strong connection to the Virgin Mary. Does this mean that we can expect the Charter of Quebec Values to ban the fleur-de-lis from the wardrobes of government employees and the flagpoles of government buildings?

Mairi Cowan, Toronto

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Does the ban on religious headwear include the Montreal Canadiens tuque?

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John Dalton, Kensington, PEI

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Prorogue III

Lori Turnbull believes that this most current prorogation is part of a master plan to "remake and rebrand" the Harper government (Why Silence Parliament? – Aug. 21).

I think at this point, Canadians have become aware that a pig wearing high heels and lipstick is still a pig.

Sharon Speck, Pointe-Claire, Que.

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Senator Eugene Forsey, a scholar and constitutional expert, said of prorogation that, "If a prime minister could shut down Parliament whenever there was a risk that the Commons might vote against the government, then parliamentary democracy itself was dead."

J.R. Kenny, Calgary

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It would appear Stephen Harper would prefer an elected Senate and a dictatorship for the House of Commons.

Rick Walker, Toronto

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My mother used to have a saying: "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." Please note, it did not say: "Shut down the kitchen."

Allison Sterling, Chatham, Ont.

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Does your editorial attacking Mr. Harper as a weakener of our parliamentary democracy (The Whims Of A Serial Proroguer – Aug. 21) mean that this time, just maybe, you really, really mean to oppose Mr. Harper in the next election?

Or are you simply toying with your loyal readers just like the last time? Say it won't be so.

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George Patrick, Oakville, Ont.

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Land of the free

Re U.S. Soldier Bradley Manning Sentenced To 35 Years In WikiLeaks Case (online – Aug. 21): "The land of the free and the home of the brave" – what an oxymoron. First Amendment rights notwithstanding, be brave enough to follow the dictates of your conscience and lose your freedom, essentially for life.

Gwyn Williams, Winnipeg

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Wakeup call

As a pediatrician who works with children with autism almost every day, I strongly believe that the issues raised by this anonymous letter (Letter Asking For Autistic Boy To Be Euthanized Not A Hate Crime: Police – online, Aug. 20) need to be immediately addressed by our governments at all levels.

No single child with autism is the same, and all too frequently, parents or caregivers are left with the responsibility to navigate our system to find resources for their affected children. I have not met a single parent who has a child with autism that does not express their frustration in this regard.

Having neighbours or a community uneducated about the challenges such parents face allows such letters to be sent around, which only makes matters more difficult. I hope this is a wakeup call.

Mohammad Zubairi, Toronto

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Regulation fantasy

Re Books Are A Cultural Asset, But At What Price? (Aug. 20): The aim to protect culture, independent publishing and bookselling by price regulation is totally impossible in the Internet age.

With hard work, good service, events and support of local charities we work to win one book lover at a time. This, not regulation, is the way forward. Regulation belongs in the fantasy section.

Cathy Jesson, president, Black Bond Books, Vancouver

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Half-baked idea

The Canadian Association Of Police Chiefs suggests handing out tickets for marijuana users instead of laying charges (Ease Pot Penalties, Police Urge – Aug. 21). Here's a better idea: Leave marijuana users alone and go do some real police work.

Seriously, women are being sexually assaulted and going missing, kids are living with monstrous villains, people are sick on the street because prohibition has made the cities awash with smack and meth and crack, human trafficking abounds, corporate criminals are destroying the planet and evading taxes, and police walk around wasting time handing out marijuana fines, charges and warnings.

On behalf of every pot user in Canada, I hereby reject your offer to lengthen our leash. We want equality with coffee drinkers, and we will not settle until we have it.

Russell Barth, federally licensed medical marijuana user, Ottawa

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Where Canada clicks

The tech industry is not a key barometer of Canada's innovation strength, as Konrad Yakabuski claims in his analysis of the role of the BlackBerry (If BlackBerry Is Sold, Canada Faces An Innovation Vacuum – Aug. 17).

Innovations in other areas such as health care, education and social progress are much more important and telling about the strength of a country. The extensive development of mentoring and peer support in Canada, for example, surpasses almost every other country, yet receives too little focus as an unparalleled innovation.

Developments in the tech industry may be sexy and generate more extensive coverage, but they have much less to do with progress than how Canadians relate to each other.

Rey Carr, Victoria

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Heavy nosh

One of the sandwich recipes presented in 'Wich Craft: 10 Twists On Classic Sandwiches (Life & Arts – Aug. 21) suggests combining butter, bacon and cheese with challah. A twist indeed. I'm assuming that this sandwich is nicknamed the "Oy Vey"?

Mark Bessoudo, Toronto

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