The proxy Olympics
I have a great deal of sympathy for your letter writers (Fun And Games – letters, Feb. 10) and their desire to do away with the waste, oppression and corruption so often associated with the Olympics and their hosts.
However, it would behoove us all to consider the possibility that, since the Second World War, organized, professionalized international sporting competitions such as the Olympics and the World Cup of Soccer (along with globalized free trade, that other venue for international competition) have contributed to a reduction in the need for countries to go to war with each other. If you believe, as I do, that the urge to do battle and seek glory will always be part of a nation's psychological makeup, perhaps it is better that we embrace the more peaceful channels of sport and trade, despite their obvious, sometimes glaring flaws.
Nelson Smith, Toronto
Instead of screaming for a boycott, why don't we stop behaving like sore losers and start thinking of the athletes? These kids have worked for years perfecting their skills, often at great personal and financial sacrifice.
The early Greeks put aside their wars during the competitions. Can't we do the same?
Armida Spada, Vancouver
Three talented, beautiful and now successful sisters on the threshold of stardom (A Sister Act Kicks Off A Stellar Start – front page, Feb. 10).
After reading the article, where it was mentioned how a "callous" photographer asked to have "just the winners" in the picture, I'm surprised that you chose to print three photos of "just the winners." Perhaps it would have been better to include at least one photo with all three Dufour-Lapointe sisters.
Kathleen Hanna, Picton, Ont.
Why the hurry
Re Why The Hurry To Pass This Bill? – editorial, Feb. 10):
"Elections are the foundation of democracy" – true, and a government elected with about one-third of the vote should not be allowed to write the rules of the game without being challenged. It would appear to me that this new act will give the Conservatives, not Elections Canada, "sharper teeth, longer reach and a freer hand" come election time.
J.R. Kenny, Calgary
Minister of State Pierre Poilievre's justification for the proposed legislation to reduce the head of Elections Canada's ability to speak publicly is flawed (Fair Elections Act – letters, Feb. 7). It is not an either/or argument. He should be able to do both – encourage voting and bring the public's attention to the problems in the democratic process of voting.
Graham Steeves, Port Elgin, Ont.
Re Copenhagen Zoo Staff Get Death Threats After Giraffe Killing (Feb. 10 – online):
Modern zoos are about species conservation. Marius had to be culled because there were no potential mates for him in the European stud book, and habitat has to be limited to breeding stock because spaces are limited. This is the sad reality of conservation.
Sending Marius to Britain was the same as leaving him in Denmark, because all the zoos and sanctuaries are part of the same "ecosystem." Removing a female from the wild to provide a mate was not an option. Sentimentality clouds the issue, which is that species survival has to trump individual survival. As for the manner of this animal's death, actual cruelty would have been to have fed it to the lions while it was still alive, i.e. returning him to the wilds of Africa.
Frances Brooks, Toronto
Strive for what?
One of the key terms used in Margaret Wente's dissection of "Tiger mom" Amy Chua's philosophies about child-rearing and ethno-cultural superiority (Amy Chua's Dangerous Ideas – Focus, Feb. 8) is "striving."
What we strive to achieve in life is defined by the values we develop, the goals we set for ourselves, and the ways in which we relate to others and the world we live in. If our goal is simply to be wealthy or powerful and we are willing to do anything and everything necessary to achieve that goal, we will likely involve ourselves in entirely different life strategies and relationships than someone who is guided by altruistic values and dedicates their lives to the helping of others.
What exactly are we striving for, and why? Those are the questions I find to be the most challenging when confronted by philosophies like Ms. Chua's.
Ray Arnold, Richmond, B.C.
Not a leader
Although I appreciate Patrick Martin highlighting the injustice done to my husband, Khaled al-Qazzaz, I was disheartened by the tone of the article (There's Another 'Canadian' In An Egyptian Prison. Why The Silence? – online, Feb. 7).
After living through the Jan. 25 revolution, Khaled joined the Freedom and Justice Party, as many others did who were not affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. He has never been a leader in the Brotherhood and he did not work for the Brotherhood for several years prior to joining the Freedom and Justice Party. The school his father ran has nothing to do with the Brotherhood either – Amnesty International documented the arrest of his father and pointed out that it was linked only to the fact that his son was a part of the Morsi government.
Khaled is not very different from Canadian Mohamed Fahmy, in that both were targeted by the Egyptian regime simply for doing their job. He had hopes and dreams for a free and democratic Egypt and was working toward those dreams as a civil servant. He focused on issues of human rights, women's rights and international relations. In a post-coup Egypt, this is his only crime.
Sarah Attia, Cairo
It's correct that the military regime is manipulating the legal system.
Last October, a military-backed court sentenced three 11-year-old girls to more than 10 years in prison for carrying a yellow balloon with the four-fingered symbol of protest on it. And 14 women and girls ranging from 17 to 20 were imprisoned for marching on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
These victims, as well as Mr. al-Qazzaz, have the right to freedom. Canada's position should reflect that unequivocally.
Nadia Abu-Zahra, Ottawa
See who salutes
So Rob Ford wants the rainbow flag removed from the City of Toronto's ceremonial flagpole (Mayor Accused of Homophobia – Feb. 8). In keeping with the spirit of the 2014 Winter Games, let's see him climb it.
George James, Port Hope, Ont.