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A New York to Toronto-bound Amtrak train near Oakville: A government-sponsored counterterrorism bill would give authorities extra powers of arrest and detention. RMCP announced April 22 they had foiled an alleged plan to attack a Toronto-area passenger train. (Philip Cheung/Philip Cheung)
A New York to Toronto-bound Amtrak train near Oakville: A government-sponsored counterterrorism bill would give authorities extra powers of arrest and detention. RMCP announced April 22 they had foiled an alleged plan to attack a Toronto-area passenger train. (Philip Cheung/Philip Cheung)

What readers think

April 24: Security’s false dichotomy, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

A false dichotomy

It is certainly foolish to drop our guard against the threat of violent extremism, but the false dichotomy between national security and human rights must be rejected (Why We Still Need To Think About Security – editorial, April 23). Controversial security legislation that includes preventive detention and coercive investigative hearings is a threat to long-standing Canadian civil liberties and to a fundamental value of our society – due process.

The anti-terror arrests in Toronto and Montreal this week belie the government’s claim that such extraordinary powers are needed to protect public safety. In fact, the government cannot point to any instance between 2001 and the present that required the use of the proposed measures. Simply put, our Criminal Code and our security agencies have risen to the challenge through detailed investigations and vigorous prosecutions.

Canadians can have both security and their civil liberties intact. We must not pay heed to those who tell us otherwise.

Kashif Ahmed, Vancouver


Homegrown terror

Your editorial Why We Still Need To Think About Security (April 23) criticizes Justin Trudeau for “his foolish comments” about the “root causes” of terrorism”; ironically, on the opposite page, Lorne Dawson, co-director of the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society, writing about How Terrorism Grows At Home, ends by stating that “we’ll miss an important opportunity to prevent other bombings if we simply demonize them.”

Can I expect another editorial criticizing Prof. Dawson for his “foolish comments”?

Stephen Heard, Halifax


Lorne Dawson managed to write 1,000 words about the “similarities we need to explore” about homegrown terrorism; incredibly, not one of those words was Muslim, Islam or any related term. This isn’t about demonizing Muslims or the religion. Clearly, most Muslims living in the West are as appalled as everyone else about these acts.

On the day after we learned of yet-another Islamist-motivated terrorist plan, this time right here in Canada, to ignore this key common factor is simply political correctness gone mad. It’s also counterproductive to really understanding the “root causes” of this type of homegrown terrorism, and doesn’t serve the Muslim community or all Canadians.

Howard Bokser, Montreal


I agree that when an individual gets drawn into the cult of terrorism, the radical group fulfills a need for a higher purpose and a clear identity (How Terrorism Grows At Home – April 23). But before an individual moves to an act of violence, any empathy for potential victims is suspended (if it existed). This is most easily accomplished by viewing others through a “them versus us” prism: We are good, they are bad, so any harm to them is justified. Sadly, this is the same thinking that underlies most acts of human cruelty.

Margaret Prat, Vancouver


What to say?

Sandi Duyvewaardt’s essay Please Don’t Ask (Facts & Arguments – April 23) struck a chord with me and, I’m sure, with countless other parents. The saddest time of my life was when I discovered that, at five months gestation, the baby I was carrying had essentially no heart. The doctors gave me the choice of having an induced labour or delivering full term and having the baby die in my arms. I chose induction, but had to wait 10 days for my hospital stay. I endured the friendly-stranger question, “When are you due?” repeatedly over those 10 days. What to say? What to say?

Lil Blume, Toronto


Generational change

I’m a 32-year-old male; most of my friends don’t have television. We stream our media and we saw the attack-ad clip on Justin Trudeau right alongside the interview that took his comments out of context (Stings Like A Pillow – April 23).

Generational change in our country’s leadership is my No. 1 priority. If Justin Trudeau can mobilize the tech-savvy under-35 demographic to actually go vote – and I think he can – this thing is over already. The only thing standing in the way is the NDP – because we like the NDP, too!

It’s time to collaborate, institute electoral reform, and fix the democratic deficit that is crushing our society and threatening our future.

Rob Reid, Ottawa


Vaccine vetoes

Julian Fantino and Bill Gates are right to call for a final push to eradicate polio (One Final Push Will Make Polio History – April 23).

Unfortunately, the actions of the CIA may have seriously damaged our ability to accomplish this goal. During the hunt for Osama bin Laden, the CIA set up a phony hepatitis B vaccination program in Pakistan in order to collect DNA samples in the area. The program did not help in the eventual discovery of Osama bin Laden, but it added fuel to the conspiracy theorists who already make Third World vaccination programs difficult to administer. Taliban commanders have since banned polio vaccines in parts of Pakistan that they administer; last December saw the murder of nine vaccination workers across that country.

We are frustratingly close to eradicating this terrible disease, but the levels of distrust that have been fuelled by the sham vaccination program may mean polio will be with us for some time to come.

Norm Russell, Ottawa


Over the past decade, the price to vaccinate a child has risen by a staggering 2,700 per cent. Negotiations between pharmaceutical companies and the largely taxpayer-funded GAVI Alliance for the newest vaccines have not resulted in substantive price cuts that would truly benefit the world’s children.

Without a significant reduction in cost, low-income countries will have to decide which killer diseases they can and can’t afford to protect their children against. Pharmaceutical companies should not place profits above ensuring sustainable prices for vaccines for low-income countries and, ultimately, above the provision of the public-health benefit that childhood vaccination is intended to provide.

Doctors Without Borders calls on GAVI, its donor governments and pharmaceutical companies to bring the price of new vaccines down so that we can truly make polio and other diseases history.

Stephen Cornish, executive director, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders


Just wondering

Just when you think you have seen it all comes news that Tony Clement of gazebo-spending fame is overseeing the government’s new reformed accounting system (Ottawa Reforming Its Accounting System – April 23). What’s next? Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin to co-chair a committee overseeing senatorial expenses?

Hugh McDougall, Toronto

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