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Sold to the Saudis
I don't support human rights violations, however, I would take the current stability in Saudi Arabia any time before I would take the model of democracy and instability that the West has brought to Iraq, Libya, and Syria (The Government's Saudi Hypocrisy – editorial, April 14).
Suppliers of similar defensive weapons are waiting for this deal to fail. If that were to happen, Canada would lose revenue, jobs, development funding for our own arms, and most importantly, the ability to affect change in Saudi Arabia through an expanded relationship. No relationship, no ability to influence for change.
Adam Hedayat, Calgary
It is devious and self-serving to excuse our morally culpable action by guessing what some other nation might or might not do. Imagine England or France or any other nation contemplating some dubious arms sale in the future to a dictatorial regime and thinking: Well, we might as well sell the weapons ourselves before some other "more ambivalent provider" (a.k.a. Canada) does so.
That is simply a recipe for an escalating arms trade and more human rights abuses.
Sheldon Fischer, Toronto
Your editorial, The Government's Saudi Hypocrisy (April 14), is pure fiction. Contrary to what is claimed, I never hid the fact that although the Trudeau government decided to honour the contract signed by the previous government, the Foreign Affairs Minister may block the exports permits at any time if there were serious evidence of misuse of the military equipment.
I said that again and again.
For example, The Globe quoted me in February: "Furthermore, one of the Minister of Foreign Affairs' responsibilities is to review export contracts and to cancel them if the equipment sold to a country is to be used in a manner that would violate human rights or the interests of Canada or its allies.
"That is my responsibility and one that I will have to exercise with utmost rigour. With respect to this file and every file, in the coming years – this is a multiyear contract – I will exercise this responsibility in accordance with the law and the guidelines …" (Dion Explains Why He Won't Cancel Controversial Saudi Arms Deal – online, Feb. 19).
May I respectfully suggest that the editorial board check its own files before accusing someone, let alone a whole government, of hypocrisy.
Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Re Saudi Arms Deal: Enough With The Hypocrisy (April 14): It has been said that no one sets out to be a hypocrite. It happens incrementally. My government's sale of armaments to Saudi Arabia is a real disappointment to me.
Barbara Parrott, Kingston
What a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive. And oh, is this the same Stéphane Dion who was responsible for the Clarity Act?
Tim Jeffery, Toronto
Roots of a crisis
Re Attawapiskat Is Not Alone: Suicide Crisis Is National Problem (April 15): I agree that the high suicide rate on reserves must be dealt with quickly and with more money. But we should be aware of the root causes and deal with those, too.
Suicide rates on reservations are remarkably similar to suicide rates in refugee camps around the world. The conditions in refugee camps are also remarkably similar to those on our reservations: low spending by governments compared to local communities for health, education, water and infrastructure; low income production by the inhabitants of the camps; few or no opportunities to participate in neighbouring communities. What is the universal solution to dealing with refugee camps? Eliminate them.
Our reserve system can be compared to South Africa's old apartheid system. It is an unacceptable way to treat human beings.
Patrick Tighe, Petawawa, Ont.
When life ends
As a long-time Liberal, I am appalled by the bill on assisted dying. This timid approach put aside so many of the excellent ideas presented by the committee of MPs, especially the inclusion of advanced directives for those with dementia, and the provisions for people living with severe mental illness.
André Picard got it right when he wrote: "Too many Canadians will continue to suffer unnecessarily at the end of their lives" (Risk-Averse Law Fails Those Who Are Suffering – April 15).
Sheilagh Hickie, Toronto
I applaud the government for a bill that is incomplete for some, and too complete for others. A law that makes nobody happy is indeed the best possible compromise within a pluralistic society.
I am heartened and surprised that only 30 per cent of Canadian physicians "would be willing to participate" in physician-assisted death.
With the advent now of assisted death, and the existing willingness to perform abortions, it may take many more millenniums before the medical and legal issues confronting the beginning and the ending of life discard the illusionary concept of control, humankind's hubris apparently being boundless.
Joan McNamee, Kamloops, B.C.
A person with a family history of Alzheimer's should have the right to an advanced directive.
Also, intolerable pain knows no age limits. A youth with pain from bone cancer that no amount of medication can relieve should have the right to end the suffering with doctor-assisted dying.
Our Supreme Court gave us Canadians a choice on Feb. 6, 2015. No one is forcing anything on anyone. MPs have an awesome responsibility. We are counting on their wisdom and compassion.
Fran Schiller, Ottawa
Ghosts of the girls
Re Attitudes, Inequalities At Root Of 'Missing' Girls (April 15): I visited India for four weeks in January. An ordinary tourist map of Rajasthan that I bought included gender stats for each town and city. These stats were shockingly low in many places – Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodphur etc.
We began to notice how few girls one saw with family groups. It was sad to think of and feel the ghosts of these missing girls.
Our guide, who had a daughter himself, said that next to government corruption, changing Indian views of girls and their entire role in society was the biggest problem facing modern India. It is not only a male problem. A local journalist wrote that the attitudes of Indian women also have to change; they have to want their girl children. The South Korea example, which Denise Balkissoon describes, is very encouraging. It proves it can be done.
Kate Rounthwaite, Toronto
Re How The Leap Can Unite Canada (April 15): It's ironic that Avi Lewis envisions the Leap Manifesto as something that can unite Canadians when the immediate result is the creation of serious divisions within a political party that only represents a minority of Canadians.
James Race, Kimberley, B.C.