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Fog of war

Re “The American Civil War was Canada’s fight, too. And we were on the wrong side” (Opinion, April 29): As Julian Sher writes, “Tens of thousands of ordinary Canadians enlisted on the side of Abraham Lincoln’s Union forces” and an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 died in the war. George Brown, founder of the Toronto Globe and a Father of Confederation, was a fierce opponent of slavery. So not all of us were on the wrong side.

Mr. Sher also shows that some Canadians were sympathetic to the Confederacy but that doesn’t necessarily mean they were supporters of slavery. Many Americans believed in Manifest Destiny, the idea that the United States was destined to absorb all of North America including Canada. Many Canadians feared that, once the Civil War was over, the successful American army might turn north to invade Canada. This was not a groundless fear.

Support for the Confederacy can be interpreted as a strategy to weaken a powerful and ambitious neighbour. To see even limited Canadian support for the Confederacy as support for slavery neglects the politics of the time and overlooks the fact that slavery had been abolished in the British Empire and Canada years before the American Civil War.

Alan McCullough Ottawa

Let’s be mindful of who in Canada someone includes as “we.” My PEI-born multigreat uncle went from Ontario/Canada West to New York State to join the Union Army. I even found his enlistment and discharge record.

Included with a history of these pre-Confederation elites who may have supported the Southern Confederacy, must be all the Canadian residents and Canadian-born volunteers who went to fight against them. My Canadian ancestors had Irish parents. I think they knew all about the evils of large landowners and powerful elites. My family is not part of this “we” who supported Southern Confederates.

Joanna M. Anderson Burlington, Ont.

Military might

Re “Canada needs to chart a clear course for increased defence spending” (Editorial, May 4): This editorial underscores the need for action to increase spending for Canada’s defence and military. How many editorials and articles will it take, including a personal plea from General Wayne Eyre, Chief of Defence Staff, and a firm nudge from U.S. President Joe Biden on a recent personal visit, to prompt real action from Canada’s Liberal government? Any mention of increased spending or support for Canada’s military and defence was noticeably absent from the recent federal budget. I’m certain our very competent Defence Minister, Anita Anand, was sorely disappointed. I, for one, believe this issue of bolstering defence of Canada’s sovereignty and borders will not be resolved until there is a change of government in Ottawa.

Eric Paine London, Ont.

Re “The world is growing tired of Canada’s freeloading on defence” (Opinion, April 29): I strongly agree with Andrew Coyne’s essay chastising governments past and present for their failure to make a meaningful contribution to NATO. I hope the current government accepts this responsibility and that a significant portion of the requisite investment be spent protecting our Arctic.

This would include deployment of troops to the north, acquiring ice breakers, and refurbishing the existing Nanisivik, Baffin Island docking facilities as promised years ago.

Such investments would also benefit Inuit Canadians living in Nunuvut, without whom we southern Canadians would have no right to claim the north as part of our nation.

John Rankin Burlington, Ont.

Andrew Coyne does a commendable job of summarizing the deficiencies of our military. The solution to the chronic underspending on military upgrades and meeting our commitments can be found in his second proposal: cuts in other spending. The federal government needs to focus its spending on priorities that benefit all Canadians, not just the few.

Martin Stockton Carleton Place, Ont.

Water works

Re “Sustainable Marine Energy bins Canadian operations, accuses federal department of blocking green project” (May 3): The Bay of Fundy tidal project has been one of those dream green projects for many years. I realize Jason Hayman is telling his company’s side of the story but having the support of the Nova Scotia government adds a lot of credibility to it. The federal government had better have a pretty good reason to let this project collapse. Otherwise, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans should cut a deal immediately to keep this project alive. If Ontario’s project can get $13-billion, surely Nova Scotia’s should get more than $28.5-million.

Ken Stock Port Hope, Ont.

I am scratching my head about the federal government fast-tracking approval of a molten salt nuclear reactor in New Brunswick, but obstructing the continued development in Nova Scotia of Sustainable Marine’s proven tidal power facilities. The reactor’s environmental impact is open to serious questions, while Sustainable Marine’s floating in stream array is just the sort of green project the government is supposedly intent on facilitating. The concern expressed by Bay of Fundy fishers that the impellers could injure fish stocks is hard to credit, considering their own destructive fishing practices in the bay, the danger posed to whales by “ghost” gear, and the long-term threat to the fishery posed by climate change. Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston needs to give Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a call.

Dr. Nicholas Tracy Fredericton

Minding miners

Re “In the dark” (Folio, April 29): Reading about the coal miners and black lung disease felt like a story by Charles Dickens. Here in 2023, we still have callous corporate entities profiting off the lungs of miners who are simply trying to make a living. The corporations, supported by governments both federal and provincial, are allowed to play fast and loose with these miners’ lives. And we naively think our governments look out for their citizens. Far too often it seems they only look out for corporate interests while saying it is to protect jobs – a load of codswallop.

Peter Belliveau Moncton

Mining minds

Re “Depression is a liar” (Opinion, May 4): I read Harvey Max Chochinov’s essay with gratitude and appreciation. I wish that anyone who doesn’t understand depression or, even worse, brushes it off as an instance of insufficient personal resilience, could read it and have his or her eyes opened. The professor’s characterization of depression as a “liar” is profoundly insightful.

Nigel Russell Toronto

We are all indebted to Prof. Chochinov for his clear, concise and truly illuminating article on this most serious issue. His expressive language underscored the potential for “light” to assist in the road to healing. His article stands in contrast to Thursday’s news story about the irresponsible delivery of sodium nitrite (“What we know about the Mississauga man charged with abetting suicide”).

Ronald Birken Toronto

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