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Retired judge John Major, acting for SNC-Lavalin, said it was 'logical' for the company to seek the involvement of three former Supreme Court justices.JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press

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Judges and the SNC file

Re Former Judge Defends Involvement In SNC’s Efforts To Avoid Trial (Aug. 16): Few people will be surprised that retired Supreme Court justice John Major, having accepted a retainer to work for SNC-Lavalin, would defend that decision. Mr. Major was hired for the job by fellow ex-Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci, who seemingly also tried to involve the high court’s ex-chief justice in the process.

Maybe it’s not a bad thing for ex-justices to work as lawyers, even in adversarial roles. But many must wonder why they are working for a company so wealthy and powerful that it can exert such influence in seeking a deferred prosecution law for the purpose of getting itself off the hook.

Many of us wonder: Where are the ex-justices working for the poor and powerless? Where are the ex-justices struggling to vindicate the wrongfully convicted? Where are the ex-justices writing briefs and opinions for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and other public interest advocacy groups?

John Nigel Pepper, Toronto

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Judges are said to be “elevated” to the bench when they are appointed. The state bestows on them enormous power and respect. They are afforded proper deference and handsomely compensated. All of that is as it should be, because we want them to be men and women of honour. We entrust them with the precious strands of the legal fabric that holds our whole society together.

Hand in hand with that privilege is the requirement that they be scrupulously neutral and above the fray. This should be a permanent requirement. It is beyond unseemly for them to take on that public mantle and then doff it at will so that they can offer its former weight to help tip the scales for private clients who can afford them.

Dermot P. Nolan, lawyer, Hamilton

New era in Kashmir …

Re: Dark Beginning For Modi’s New Era In Kashmir (editorial, Aug. 14): To convey the impact of the abrogating of Article 370 of India’s Constitution by the Indian government, your editorial asks: “Imagine if, beginning 50 years ago, Ottawa had responded to the rise of Quebec separatism by stripping the government in Quebec City of most of its powers, running the province by force and then, in a final act, unilaterally rewriting the Constitution to end Quebec’s provincial status. Imagine how well that might have worked out.” Quebec is not Kashmir. Despite similarities in their uniqueness, as far as I know Quebec separatists did not want to become part of France, but Kashmir separatists do want to become part of Pakistan.

There would be more world sympathy had Kashmiris fought for the independence of all Kashmir. Kashmir has been at a stalemate, which abrogating Article 370 can be expected to break.

A nation can give “special status” to any of its regions or people on the basis of sound reasons and the national interest. Kashmir’s geography, climate, fauna and flora make it very special. It is to be hoped that scrapping Article 370 will not turn the Kashmir Valley into a demography-driven bowl of dust.

Rama S. Singh, Hamilton

Liquor control

Re Competition Commissioner Supports Loosening Of Ontario’s Liquor Laws (Aug 14): We know that alcohol is a leading cause of liver disease, and that impaired driving continues to figure in as many as four road deaths in Canada every day, according to MADD. So can someone please tell me why on earth we would want more products, and lower prices on this dangerous weapon? Maybe we should reverse policies and help the tobacco industry by making it easier for it to sell cigarettes, too.

Barbi Lazarus, Toronto

EDC’s loan logic

Re EDC Admits Gupta Jet Loan A Mistake (Aug. 15): Although Export Development Canada has promised a tighter screening process, it does not necessarily need one. All that is needed is for EDC’s top brass to employ a tiny element of good old-fashioned common sense when considering providing loans to possibly corrupt businesses.

Gerry Stephenson, Canmore, Alta.

Diversity in academia

I appreciated Margaret Wente’s column last Saturday, Diversity Runs Amok In Academia (Aug. 10). As a professor and a board member of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, I can attest to the increasing prominence of diversicrats in every aspect of university life.

“Diversity” policies, which are driven by the ideology of the politics of identity and entitlement, exhibit classic rent-seeking behaviour. By putting up barriers to entry, dictating ideology tests for hiring, and “tying” academic objectives to diversity criteria, scarce university resources can be diverted to diversiphiles.

The widespread acceptance of postmodern relativism in the social sciences and humanities also undermines any appreciation of academic standards. As a result, a great deal of university activity is spent on indulging the grievances of favoured identity groups, rather than pursuing the truth and increasing empirical knowledge and theoretical understanding.

Frances Widdowson, associate professor, Mount Royal University, Calgary

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As a female academic who was trained in a white male-dominated department in the eighties and nineties, and who was told by one of her advisers that “the smartest person in the class is always a male,” I am so grateful to be a faculty member in a university that embraces diversity.

We all stand to gain from diverse voices around the table. The best ideas come from a community of different experiences and life perspectives. That is true excellence. Thank goodness the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council is now realizing the inherent gender bias in letters of reference for national research chairs, in which female researchers are praised for their mothering skills and routinely downgraded irrespective of their qualifications. Why doesn’t Margaret Wente cite this research?

Erin J. Campbell, professor, University of Victoria

Trump on A$AP

Re A$AP Rocky Spared Jail Time After Swedish Court Finds Him Guilty Of Assault (Aug. 15): It is ironic that President Donald Trump accused Sweden of treating the rapper unfairly. He wasn’t too concerned about fair treatment by the courts back in 1989, when he took out full page ads in four newspapers calling for the death penalty to be brought back after charges were brought against the Central Park 5 in the Central Park jogger case. As we all know, the so-called Central Park 5 were found not guilty based on DNA evidence. Mr. Trump still has not apologized for doing what he continues to do every day – rile people and spread hate. This is not an individual who understands the meaning of fairness.

Sally Plumb, Toronto

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