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Chrystia Freeland participates in an armchair discussion at the Women in the World Summit in Toronto, Sept. 10, 2018.The Canadian Press

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Changing tune

Re Mr. O’Toole: What National Unity Crisis? (Aug. 28): Thanks to columnist Gary Mason for challenging Erin O’Toole on the subject of Western alienation.

The Globe recently reported: “Alberta funding hydrogen projects with $10.8-million from carbon tax (Report on Business, July 24).” Mr O’Toole, like Conservative leaders before him, sings from the “scrap the carbon tax” hymn book. If the Conservatives hope to form government any time soon, they would have to rethink carbon taxes and their position on climate change.

Robert Day Ottawa

Political squad

Re Freeland Excels At Fixing Things. Why Is She Not In Charge? (Opinion, Aug. 22): I believe that Chrystia Freeland not only excels, but may be single-handedly propping up a failing government.

She is also the hardest working MP I have had the fortune to witness in action, and I’m 67 years old – old enough to have felt the insult of being told to “fuddle duddle” by Pierre Trudeau. It is conspicuously similar to the feeling I’m getting from the current prorogation of Parliament and attempts to dodge investigation, responsibility and scrutiny.

I am actually in high regard of not just Ms. Freeland, but several other parliamentarians who have exhibited similar traits: Jody Wilson-Raybould, Jane Philpott, Lisa Raitt and Catherine McKenna, to name several. Collectively, imagine the party they could form.

Robert Bourke Newmarket, Ont.

Safe at third?

Re Ottawa To Appeal Federal Court Ruling On Safe Third Country Agreement (Aug. 22): Public Safety Minister Bill Blair is appealing the Federal Court’s ruling out of respect for the “principle that people should claim asylum in the first safe country in which they arrive.” There is no such “principle” in international refugee law – refugees are legally entitled to decide where to ask for protection.

Such a principle would be disastrous given the fact that just 10 countries, mostly very poor, already do more than half of the world’s asylum work – precisely because they are first countries of arrival. The real principle of refugee responsibility and burden-sharing requires distributing refugees based on asylum capacity, not on the basis of accidents of geography.

In any event, the Federal Court found that the United States is not a safe place for refugees. Its system of indefinitely incarcerating asylum seekers in deplorable conditions – often for years – is just one manifestation of the ongoing U.S. refusal to live up to its treaty obligations.

If and when the country comes to grips with its shambles of an asylum system, the court left open the right to revisit the deal. But that time should most definitely not be now.

James Hathaway Director, Program in Refugee and Asylum Law, University of Michigan Law School; Vancouver

Spirit lives on

Re I Want You (Letters, Aug. 24): A letter-writer struck a chord from my days with the Canadian Officers’ Training Corps. As adjuncts to army training, there was pride in service, cross-Canada friendships and understanding of our great country.

This esprit de corps has remained through all my 81 years. I now pass the letter-writer’s words on to my children and grandchildren to contemplate.

John Marion Toronto


Re Late Payment (Letters, Aug. 28): A letter-writer complains about banks and their “exorbitant fees.” That’s why I own bank stocks in my RRIF, but deal at a credit union!

Adrian Parsons White Rock, B.C.

Instrumental mix

Re In Britain, BBC’s Changes To Music Festival Finale Spark Fury (Aug. 26): Sorry, but she has to go: The lyrics of Land of Hope and Glory are cringeworthy to hear.

The sight of people in a concert hall, waving flags and bellowing such sentiments, is scary. Once upon a time, the last night of the Proms was considered a bit of a party – harmless fun. But over the last few years, I find it has become silly to the point of caricature; the dark side of British nationalism it brings out is ugly.

Don’t misunderstand me: Please leave my beloved Edward Elgar in all his glory and, where appropriate, play his music without the accompanying lyrics. I suggest that the final-night party be dropped completely.

Alma Javad Burlington, Ont.

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