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April 2: Dog days of April, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Dog days of April

Re Parted From His Dogs, New Jays Ace Vows To Strike Out Pit-Bull Ban (front page, April 1): The baseball season is just starting and the Toronto Blue Jays have already gone to the dogs?

Geoff Smith, Kingston, Ont.


Let me see if I’ve got this right. Blue Jays recruit Mark Buehrle is prepared to let his children grow up in a home without one of their parents so they don’t grow up without their pet dog.

Well maybe he’s right. From the sound of your article, it seems the dog loves those kids more than their father does.

Ian Kamm, Toronto

Aid ’n’ drought

Your editorial Toward Better, Smarter Foreign Aid (March 30) praises the merger of CIDA and the Department of Foreign Affairs, saying our aid policy should be about “modernizing Canada’s relationship to the rest of the world,” and about CIDA’s successor organization regaining “the premier reputation it had two decades ago as a leader in development.”

In your very next editorial (Drought Is Canada’s Problem, Too – April 1), you lament the “short-sighted” decision by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino to end CIDA funding and pull Canada out of the United Nations convention to combat drought.

When complex development challenges are mixed up with short-term budgetary issues and the often careless political expediency of the moment, few win. Our pullout from the UN convention does nothing to build Canada’s reputation; instead, it shows a willful misunderstanding of how foreign aid can work for the longer-term benefit of all.

You say, “Let’s hope it is not an irreversible move.” The same could be said for the swallowing of CIDA by DFAIT.

Ian Smillie, Ottawa


The proposed “new” direction for Canadian foreign aid is enough to make one weep. It would be familiar to those setting out to offer development assistance 50 years ago. They, too, thought donor nations could do commercially and politically well by “doing good.” They decided what developing countries needed and how it was to be supplied.

It’s somewhat miraculous that development assistance in that period and since – burdened as it was with short-term commercial and diplomatic goals (think Afghanistan as our current top aid recipient), periodically raided to address humanitarian crises – registered any positive effect on economic growth. (It did.)

Aid recipients, donors and development analysts have learned a lot in the past 50 years. Their learning is reflected in an interdonor consensus reached in Paris, Accra and Busan, to which Canada was a party: Aid works best when those receiving it are in charge of their own affairs.

It’s also long been agreed by most policy analysts that, when there are two policy targets (say Canadian foreign interests and overseas development), they’re best pursued by using separate policy instruments. Mixing them only creates confusion.

If those making development assistance decisions are again to factor in the interests of Canadian business, it likely won’t end well for development.

Canada’s proposed “new” approach, supported by your editorial, takes us back 50 years.

Gerry Helleiner, professor emeritus of economics, University of Toronto


Here’s how Canada can solve two problems: Dispense with one senator a year and use the money to pay for the African drought program.

Doug O’Doherty, Guelph, Ont.

Truck skirts

It’s shameful that Transport Canada has halted a study of truck side skirts that might save the lives of Canadians (Scrapped Study Found Early Promise For A Safer Truck Design – April 1).

Last year, my 21-year-old grandson died under the wheels of a cement truck while cycling in Edmonton. Isaak was a brilliant, loving, caring young man – elite athlete, musician, scholar. The loss to our family is profound, and the loss to our society unimaginable.

Transport Canada needs to resume the testing of side skirts, and do anything it can to prevent the loss of more precious lives.

Donelda Parker, Vancouver


Properly designed truck skirts could also help contain salt spray, making it safer to pass large rigs on winter highways and reducing windshield accumulations that can restrict visibility.

Bruce A. Brown, Toronto

The long ride

Mark MacKinnon’s China’s Next Stop (March 30, Focus) is a brilliant example of excellence in journalism, of the inherent value of maintaining Globe foreign bureaus, and of the ability of print media to produce insightful long-form reflections on critical topics. Thank you. A breath of air far fresher than that of Lanzhou.

Scott Strong, St. John’s

Back pain

Re 20, Going On 100 (Facts & Arguments, April 1): Many years ago, you published a series on back problems. The conclusion was that people in that predicament had to “doctor shop” until they found the specialist who had experience with their particular problem, a recognition that successful treatment was a function of the doctor’s experiences.

This concept was reinforced by the story of a friend who was incapacitated by a back problem for years until she found a doctor who said, “I think I can fix that.” He did, and she returned to golfing, skiing and tennis. During her trials and tribulations, she was often told the problem was “all in her head” – a concept not well received by a PhD in psychology.

G. Wayne Brown, Nanaimo, B.C.

April fooled

Re Canadians Must Dig Deeper (April 1): Grave news, indeed.

Des Writer, Halifax


What a seductively ghoulish tale of secrecy; what a clever undertaking by the Conservatives, who seek to control the phantom predators even on the wrong side of the green. Congratulations to Michael Bliss, who had the courage to dig deeper and unearth this dastardly plot.

Sue Hogan Alderson-Fleck, Sidney, B.C.


If I didn’t know the Conservative government better, I’d think that Michael Bliss’s column was an April Fool’s joke.

Bill Boyd, Lakefield, Ont.


Ignorance was almost Bliss, but I caught on after about the 20th pun. When I stopped coffin after choking on my coffee, I laughed out loud.

Jim Sanders, Guelph, Ont.


Many of your readers doubtlessly believed that your April 1 joke was Michael Bliss’s column on interment. Your more erudite readers, of course, quickly realized it was your article Croatia Pursues EU Despite Turmoil.

Jim Young, Burlington, Ont.

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