The UCC and Israel
As a United Church of Canada minister who has led two group travel experiences to Israel and the occupied territories of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, I would encourage our nine senators to get first-hand experience of the current situation (Senators Warn Church On Israel Boycott – July 4). It would then be clear that the position of the church's working group is neither anti-Israel nor pro-Palestinian. It is pro-justice.
Ever-expanding settlements prevent any real possibility of peace. To refuse to enhance their economic growth by boycotting products produced there is the least anyone promoting peace in this region can do. If Canada seeks to be Israel's best friend, it has a moral duty to confront the behaviour of its friend. A call for ethical action should enhance Jewish-Christian relations, not impair them – both of our great religious traditions recognize justice as a deeply cherished value.
Rev. Nancy Steeves, Edmonton
Seeing as the state of Israel is the Jewish homeland, it is difficult for Canadian Jewry to believe that the United Church's proposed boycott stands detached from anti-Semitic sentiments. Most Jews living in the diaspora foster a strong connection with Israel, and will most definitely take such a judgment personally should the church approve it.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a long-standing struggle and peace has yet to be negotiated. I am unsure how the church truly believes a boycott could assist in brokering peace – choosing sides is only going to deepen the conflict while significantly weakening the United Church's relationship with the Jewish community.
Jessica Pollock, Toronto
I am a member of Canada's Jewish community, and I applaud the United Church. If it is "technically impossible," as the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs says, to distinguish which products come from the settlements, that is because Israel does not label settlement products as such, but falsely labels them as coming from Israel.
Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitism, and I am delighted that the United Church has come to realize this, and what's more, to act on it.
Elizabeth Block, Toronto
While welcomed indeed, Bev Oda's departure is hardly the signal of accountability your editorial claims it to be (An Overdue Nod To Accountability – July 4).
Ms. Oda's indiscretions go back at least a half-dozen years. By easing her out rather than publicly demanding her resignation, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has demonstrated that political liability is a higher priority than ministerial accountability.
David Richardson, Victoria
I can't tell you how touched I was to read that a fellow physician, who moved away from Ontario in the 1990s to avoid high taxes and escape our dysfunctional medical system, is now thinking of coming home if President Barack Obama is re-elected. A word of warning to Dr. Fairweather – sorry, Dr. Sifton – for some reason, we don't have a lot of free clinics in Ontario, so he will have to find another balm to soothe his social conscience.
Just curious – if I were a diabetic at one of his "free clinics," who would pay for my medication to help control blood sugar and cholesterol? Who would pay for investigations and treatment of my vascular disease? And after years of not being able to afford proper care, who would pay for my amputation? Dr. Sifton?
David Ruddock, MD, Barrie, Ont.
RIM in motion
It is great to see some positive perspective on the current state of Canada's flagship information technology company (Why RIM Is Still In The Fight – July 4), yet a little disturbing that the CEO of Research In Motion must himself become a contributor to the op-ed page in order to bring balance to recent coverage.
As Thorsten Heins points out, RIM is a strong technology company in the midst of a major transition. Transitions of this nature are commonplace in the evolution of all large technology companies. The histories of virtually all global technology leaders would bear this out. Unfortunately, what distinguishes Canadian technology companies in transition from those in other jurisdictions is the Monday-morning quarterbacking. It astonishes me the number of Canadians who have no experience running (or even working in) technology ventures who nevertheless speak with presumed authority on how they would overcome RIM's challenges.
Karna Gupta, president and CEO, Information Technology Association of Canada
Givers and takers
My heart leapt when I saw the the headline At The Heart Of Economic Crises: Givers Versus Takers (Business – July 2). At last, I thought, a business article admitting that the origin of the crises the world economy has faced in recent years lies in the greed of those inveterate "takers," the speculators and banks responsible for the initial collapse, and those corporations and individuals who take both large profits and large tax breaks and then move the proceeds out of the country to ensure that none is given back. But alas, it offers just more of the same: Blame the little guy.
Perhaps if governments made more effort to ensure that the large "takers" gave back proportionately as much as the small ones, there would be no need for the student protests about tuition fees that Gwyn Morgan deplores. Postsecondary education everywhere could be as relatively inexpensive as it was in the days when he was a student, and young people graduating without an enormous debt could more quickly become "givers" themselves.
Elizabeth Marsland, Qualicum Beach, B.C.
Gwyn Morgan makes life sound so simple. Characterizing the difference between East and West Germany as between "command and control subjugation in the East versus capitalism's freedom of enterprise and innovation in the West," he remarkably omits any reference to the major funding and reconstruction of West Germany as evidenced in the postwar Marshall Plan.
There is a time and place for a balanced economic approach that allows for generosity and care for the more vulnerable. It's as true today as it was then, and just as necessary.
Jim Sinclair, North Bay
Replying to your article on the end of France's Minitel service (Door Closes On World's First Portal To Cybersex – June 29), letter-writer Rob Brunet (Missed Market, Eh – July 2) refers to Canada's Telidon system as videotext. That would seem to be a conflation of videotex, the computer-based informatics system, and teletext, the broadcast television system. Each medium used its own version of Telidon, and both were designed to put words, as well as rudimentary graphics, on screens.
Not to be outdone in online videotex interactivity, Canada too had its Telidon cybersex moment. In Bell Canada's small-scale "Vista" trial in 1982, the adult entertainment pages were a popular service. No records of the nature of any consequent offline interactivity were released.
Donald Gillies, professor emeritus, Ryerson University