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Customers wait in line outside a branch of the Silicon Valley Bank in Wellesley, Mass. on March 13.BRIAN SNYDER/Reuters

Right thing

Re “Why I blew the whistle on Chinese interference in Canada’s elections” (March 18): As a former senior executive in the federal public service, I am disheartened by the leak of top-secret documents.

Clearly we need more public scrutiny of China and other bad actors in all spheres of Canadian society. But a public servant should never knowingly break the law unless there are exceptional circumstances (e.g. the government acting illegally or jeopardizing immediate public safety).

Public servants are compelled under their duty of loyalty (which they sign on for when joining) to deliver on the government’s agenda, even if they disagree with or don’t like it. Or they can resign and try to effect change from the outside, which many have done.

Anything in between is a clear and present danger to a non-partisan and professional public service – something all public servants should never put in jeopardy, even when they believe government should do more on a pressing national concern.

Jonathan Massey-Smith Former assistant deputy minister of communications, Ottawa

The integrity that this individual has displayed deserves the appreciation of us all.

In today’s climate, it is rare to see someone jeopardize reputation and position to do what is right. In my opinion, any foreign government interfering in the affairs of a sovereign nation must be exposed and held accountable.

Whistleblowers display a considerable amount of courage. The consequences, if caught, are devastating. A person of integrity must raise illegal and dishonest issues to safeguard the people, but also to be true to themselves.

I congratulate our unsung hero.

John Ripley Lincoln, Ont.

By the numbers

Re “Justice Russell Brown’s absence will be felt in an environmental law hearing” (March 20): Group decision-making research indicates that groups having an even number of members are generally more effective.

A simple majority vote by groups of odd-numbered members leads to quicker decisions. However, this perceived efficiency may be at the expense of considering all the complexities of an issue or a range of solutions.

This is the reason membership diversity is also correlated with group effectiveness. Hence the composition of the court.

The extra time needed for discussion and compromise by even-numbered or more diverse groups often leads to better decisions.

Perhaps concerns about Justice Russell Brown’s absence are more about his perceived views than about the number of justices hearing the case. This is a legitimate concern, but should not be an argument that an odd number of justices is necessary.

John Rankin Burlington, Ont.

Row, row…

Re “World central banks urge calm, prepare for more market turmoil in wake of Credit Suisse rescue” (Report on Business, March 21): For centuries, politicians and governments have addressed fiscal problems by “kicking the can down the road.” In more recent times, central banks have amended the process by providing liquidity that “floats the can down the road.”

As the magnitude of challenges have grown, the size of the can has increased disproportionately, as has the volume of liquidity needed to float the can. Accordingly, today we are faced with a critical question: Has the cumulative liquidity now flooding the financial roadway all but totally eroded the economy’s structural integrity?

David McCaslin CFA Calgary

Anybody else smiling as they recall the well-worn phrase, “Safe as a Swiss bank?”

Paul Alofs Toronto

Me generation

Re “Who’s to blame for this banking and markets mess? The addiction to debt that started with the baby boomers” (Report on Business, March 20): I’m a boomer, born smack in the middle of the generation, and my first mortgage was 13.25 per cent. So much for “easy credit.” We paid this mortgage off as quickly as possible and avoided debt like the plague.

I do agree that there is a large group of people not living within their means and requiring instant gratification. Those people, however, are not of any particular generation, in my observation. I see varying ages of people driving vehicles and buying homes larger than their needs, and requiring overpriced vacations every year.

Debt does not seem to me a generational issue, but rather a sense of entitlement ingrained into society.

Stephen Gill East Gwillimbury, Ont.

Room to grow

Re “The rise of seclusion rooms represents the failure of inclusion in schools” (March 20): It takes more than a school to help children with severe behaviour issues. Unfortunately, schools have become the default institution for dealing with challenging behaviours.

Every day, these children come to school and the school, with limited resources, must cope. Mental-health workers, pediatricians, child psychiatrists and psychologists, addiction specialists and social workers are all needed to assist children with complex issues and their families. I can attest from experience that all of these resources are in very short supply.

Whereas outside agencies have control over intake of cases, public schools must educate any child that comes to the door. Inclusivity is definitely a goal for schools, but it can only be achieved with significant support from other agencies.

Dorothy Watts Vancouver

Shutting up anyone in a box should never be a solution to change.

In my earlier days as a teacher in a tough elementary school, staff included a social worker who roamed the hallways picking up any child who had been thrown out of class. The worker would take them to the social worker’s room and indeed work with them until they were ready to return to class, divested of anger.

It would work like magic. What these students needed was an empathic adult, not a chair in a hallway or an “upright plywood box with locks on the outside.”

Sheila Arkin Toronto

Get free

Re “The death of Kiska the killer whale exposes the limits of Canada’s animal-captivity laws” (March 16): Contributor Jessica Scott-Reid highlights an issue we have been aware of but have successfully ignored for years: keeping large animals in captivity solely for our entertainment and amusement. Let’s ban this cruel practice that, for most Canadians, no longer entertains and instead reveals the suffering and distress caused by captivity.

I believe a majority of Canadians would like our country to be a global leader in animal welfare. When we as a society decide that compassion for all creatures is a desired value, we can begin to achieve this worthy goal.

Passing Bill S-241, the Jane Goodall Act, would be a step in the right direction.

Christine Bell Toronto

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