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A polling officer seals an electronic voting machine (EVM) at the end of voting at a polling station in Jorhat district, in the northeastern Indian state of Assam on April 7, 2014. The first electors cast their votes in the world’s biggest election on Monday. (ADNAN ABIDI/REUTERS)
A polling officer seals an electronic voting machine (EVM) at the end of voting at a polling station in Jorhat district, in the northeastern Indian state of Assam on April 7, 2014. The first electors cast their votes in the world’s biggest election on Monday. (ADNAN ABIDI/REUTERS)


April 8: Electoral contrasts – and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Electoral contrasts

I was heartened to read of the role that India’s Election Commission plays in encouraging the 814 million people registered to cast their ballots in that country (A Complicated Democracy – Folio, April 7).

At the same time, I’m terribly disheartened to see the proposed “Fair Elections Act” planning to undermine Elections Canada’s ability to encourage democratic participation here at home.

Barbara Strang, Toronto


Re Suppressing Turnout Might Win The Battle, But Not The War (April 7): Voting is serious business. Since when did securing proper identification – as the Fair Elections Act seeks to ensure – become the Herculean task Konrad Yakabuski seems to think it is? Verifying citizenship and identification is the very least people should be required to do when voting to select a government. That’s hardly unreasonable.

Christopher M. Ryan, Vancouver


‘Eradicate a race’

Geoffrey York asks what could have been done to avert the crises in Central African Republic and South Sudan (‘They Are Trying to Eradicate A Race’ – Focus, April 5). It is probably true that the 12,000 peacekeepers requested for CAR are now “too little, too late.”

What is needed is access to an immediately deployable, neutral, multipurpose capacity. Delay means that conflicts that could have been pinched off early, with limited violence, turn into slaughters that are unstoppable, even with 100,000 peacekeepers.

A permanent UN emergency peace service has been discussed for two decades. The proposal is cost-effective, but has a lack of forward-looking countries willing to champion it. It’s time.

Robin Collins, Ottawa


English aussi?

According to the EF English Language Proficiency Index, about 69 per cent of Swedes, 67 per cent of Norwegians, 66 per cent of the Dutch, 65 per cent of Danes and 63 per cent of Finns are proficient in English.

The fact that the Swedish, Norwegian, Dutch, Danish and Finnish languages continue to be vibrant in their homelands suggests that English proficiency in those countries poses no threat to the mother tongue.

At 8.2 million, the population of Quebec is larger than that of Denmark, Norway or Finland. French, spoken by some 200 million people around the world, is protected in Quebec. Why then would anyone think that the level of English proficiency of Québécois could pose a threat to the predominance of French in Quebec?

Robert Vineberg, Winnipeg


Warning: triggers

Re The Cost Of Coddling (Focus, April 5): We use trigger warnings every day. Imagine if we stopped putting allergy warnings on food, or ratings/content warnings on movies. Academic trigger warnings are just as essential for many people. They do not mean universities will no longer be able to discuss hard-hitting topics. They’re a basic courtesy, a simple gesture that goes a long way in keeping people safe and ready to learn.

Emily MacDiarmid, Burlington, Ont.


In high school, I studied To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, Of Mice and Men, Tess of the D’Urbervilles and The Handmaid's Tale, among other works. So, I suppose I ought to have been given the following warning: “Your high school reading experiences may trigger readers who have personal experiences with racism, sexism, cheating boyfriends, suicide, mercy killings, rape, class-ism, or government-enforced sexual subjugation.”

Thankfully, I was not warned. I simply got on with some fabulous reading. It certainly didn’t traumatize me, as literature came to fascinate me so much, I recently completed a Master’s in English.

If undergraduates value their intellectual freedom as much as they claim, I advise them to treat their professors as they wish to be treated – and get on with reading the greatest books ever written.

Kathleen Sinnott, Toronto


As a physician psychotherapist, I see student patients daily suffering from the anxieties of being torn asunder from their “helicopter” parents. It’s painful for them, and the anxiety/depression level is extreme. Universities must provide a far more comprehensive and effective means of treating these lost souls. A few sessions with a psychology intern on time management just doesn’t cut it!

Protecting them through trigger warnings is damaging at best. The emotions are real, but the solution is in teaching resilience and creative emotional management, not coddling.

Edward Leyton, MD, Kingston


Just a ‘regular guy’

Re Ford ‘Visibly Upset’ By Leafs Game Snub (April 7): Rob Ford’s appeal to Ford Nation is based on Mr. Ford’s marketing himself as a regular guy, and not a member of Toronto’s economic, social and political elites. Why, then, would he be upset at being denied entry to an exclusive lounge at the Air Canada Centre?

Michael Warden, Toronto


It is so sad when the elite are denied their entitlements.

Randy Tait, Toronto


Archivist wanted

As a citizen and archivist, I’m appalled at the seeming lack of knowledge elected and appointed officials have with regard to their record-keeping responsibilities (Bureaucrat Demoted For Alleged Role In Records Purge – April 2).

I can’t help but think that much of this is due to the ongoing failure of the provincial government to appoint a professionally qualified archivist in the role of provincial archivist, and preferably one who is an independent commissioner, such as the position held by Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian. Another term for archivist is the “keeper of the record.”

Suzanne Dubeau, Toronto


Awkwardly framed

Re Bacon’s Genius, Awkwardly Framed (Arts, April 5): Francis Bacon’s own words reveal that it was not the zeitgeist of his times that inspired his work: “When I told him [Bacon] about a brief television documentary in which, interspersed with newsreel clips of Hitler, Belsen and Hiroshima, the critic stood in front of a Bacon painting and explained to the viewer that it represented the artist’s condemnation of man’s inhumanity to man, Francis expressed surprise: ‘Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he? That’s the last thing I think of’ ” (Daniel Farson, The Gilded Gutter Life of Francis Bacon).

It was Mr. Bacon’s unpalatable nihilism – often bloody-minded – that informed his work. The Art Gallery of Ontario appears to have put a filter on his career in order to present its exhibit in a comfortable light. Mr. Bacon was never shy as to what he was about.

Paul Butler, Westmount, Que.


Re Dog Tale Wags Bush’s Painting Exhibition (April 5): George W. Bush the portrait painter reminds us of George W. Bush the politician: a man who thrust himself forward and got others to take him seriously, despite his minimal talents.

Tim Nau, Toronto

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