Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here: firstname.lastname@example.org
As I pondered how to respond to the budget I recalled the old saw: They who have, get (Harper Uses Budget To Target Election's Swing Voters – online, April 21).
Roberta Hamilton, Kingston
I want to thank Stephen Harper for some nice tax breaks that will certainly help us seniors (Seniors The Runaway Winners In Pre-Election Budget – online, April 21). We really didn't need the breaks, but every bit helps as we plan our six-month escape to a sunny climate next winter. I just hope the Prime Minister doesn't think this will buy our votes. Our generation isn't that gullible.
John Harder, Priceville, Ont.
Let me see if I've got the government's math right. It is prudent fiscal management to:
1. Spend $528-million on the military campaign against Islamic State;
2. Spend $32-million on the deployment of troops to Ukraine;
3. Spend $28-million to commemorate the War of 1812;
4. Spend $12-million (so far) on advertising the 150th anniversary of Confederation, which is still two years away;
5. Budget $83-million ($32-million from National Defence and $51-million from Veterans Affairs) for more war commemorations between now and 2020;
6. Have Veterans Affairs return $1.13-billion in unspent funds to the federal treasury, close eight Veterans Affairs offices across Canada and cut 900 staff at Veterans Affairs;
7. Hire 200 staff back – just before the federal election.
Doubleplusgood – unless you're an injured vet.
Daniel K. McLeod, Vancouver
Death by boat
Margaret Wente's response to the tragic deaths of hundreds of asylum seekers in the Mediterranean is to suggest that countries "automatically ship back people who arrive illegally, in order to discourage others from coming" (Europe's Biggest Test: A Tidal Wave Of Refugees – April 21).
Such a policy would breach international refugee law, which prohibits states from deporting refugees to face persecution. It would also mean failing to learn from one of the greatest moral failures of the 20th century when Canada – along with most of the rest of the world – turned its back on Jews fleeing the Holocaust.
As a Canadian immigration official at the time put it: "No country can open its doors wide enough to take in the hundreds of thousands of Jews who want to leave Europe. The line must be drawn somewhere." The result of this reasoning was Canada's infamous none-is-too-many policy – which included turning away Jewish refugees on the St. Louis.
Today's ongoing refugee crisis raises many difficult issues. But automatically deporting refugees is not an acceptable response to these issues.
Sean Rehaag, Toronto
Margaret Wente is absolutely right. The societies of Europe cannot absorb a tidal wave of illegal migrants from all the troubled spots of Africa and the Middle East. Virtually none of Europe's leaders – except those on the far right – have the brutal courage required to admit this fact; the consequences will probably be tragedies on an even grander scale as more and more migrants try to make the voyage, as the target societies react against them, and as less accommodating – and openly racist – European politicians come to power.
Gilbert Reid, Toronto
Your editorial, Europe's Deadly Sea (April 21), quite rightly points the finger at the other European Union countries for not adequately dealing with this terrible crisis, which has largely been left to Italy, but nowhere is there any hint that this is not solely the responsibility of the EU.
Canada was involved in the bombing alliance that contributed to the end of the Gadhafi regime, and is part of the current bombing in Syria. Directly or indirectly, no matter how well-intentioned, these bombs have helped produce the masses of refugees risking their lives to reach a safe haven. How is Canada not responsible for coming to their aid?
Margaret Wente's solution echoes what the most rabid right-wing party in the Italian parliament has been proposing: "ship back people who arrive illegally, in order to discourage others from coming." This reminds me of Marcel Proust's meditation on growing up: "I became at once a man and did what all we grown men do when face to face with suffering and injustice: I preferred not to see them."
Elio Costa, Toronto
Mark Hume notes that Western Canada Marine Response Corp. (WCMRC) was on the scene in about four hours from the moment the Canadian Coast Guard was aware of the spill in Vancouver's English Bay (Pipeline Could Be A Casualty Of Slow Spill Response – April 20). He points out that the standard set by Transport Canada for the deployment of response crews is six hours. Yet, while the containment and clean-up crew was deployed two hours sooner than required by the Transport Canada standard, Mr. Hume, among others, comes to the baffling conclusion that the response was slow.
With a mystery spill, determining the source and pollutant is necessary to address the incident directly. Six WCMRC employees in two boats worked through the night to skim the pollution from the water's surface and contain the leak. Before most British Columbians woke up the next morning, the boom completely surrounded the MV Marathassa; 80 per cent of the spill was contained and recovered within 36 hours. This was an extraordinary achievement.
After any incident, the Coast Guard conducts a review to ensure continuous improvement of the system. We are proud of the service we and our partners provided that night and since.
Jody Thomas, Commissioner, Canadian Coast Guard
Gods. And country
A letter writer wonders why asking God to "keep our land glorious and free" belongs in our national anthem (God. And Country – April 21). At least the English version doesn't specify which God. The French version speaks of a Christian Canada, that is, one that knows how to carry the sword – and the Cross.
Henry Milner, Montreal
Grit your teeth
Re The Sagging Liberals Need A Shakeup (April 21): Reading Lawrence Martin's column reminded me of the novel, The Time Machine, and the "relationship" between the pleasant but dopey "Liberal" Eloi and the nasty but clever "Conservative" Morlocks.
Lest we forget: In the novel, the Morlocks ate the Eloi.
Gino Nicodemo, London, Ont.
Bread and circuses
First, private – often foreign – ownership took over our bread (the Canadian Wheat Board). Now, it's our circuses (Cirque Du Soleil Sold To U.S., Chinese Buyers – April 21). What do we have left to distract us from the fundamental problems in this country?
The twists and turns of election campaigning?
Miriam Clavir, Saskatoon