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Former governor general David Johnston appears before a Commons committee reviewing his nomination as elections debates commissioner on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Nov. 6, 2018.Sean Kilpatrick

Special choice

Re “Former governor-general David Johnston named as special rapporteur on China’s election interference” (March 16): David Johnston should never have accepted the appointment as special rapporteur. I believe he has personal and professional conflicts of interest.

He has been a long-time friend of the Trudeau family and a member of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, which has already found itself enmeshed in this scandal.

It does not surprise me in the least that the Prime Minister may not recognize such conflicts. It does surprise and disappoint me that Mr. Johnston may be so blind.

Rick Gilborn Calgary

With all due respect to David Johnston, what has been his experience of fact-finding inquiries and advice to Parliament?

Wouldn’t a retired Supreme Court judge have been a more appropriate individual for this tailor-made, unprecedented special rapporteur role?

J. Michael Robinson KC, Toronto

David Johnston is a smart man. So was Howard Baker, a U.S. Republican senator of the old school in the 1970s.

Mr. Johnston is also a busy man. He can save himself time as special rapporteur by looking back to the Watergate proceedings on June 29, 1973, the date when Mr. Baker said: “My primary thesis is still, what did the president know, and when did he know it?”

This is all the Canadian public should really need to know about our own leader. It shouldn’t take long.

Michael Royce Toronto

I have read and enjoyed David Johnston’s book Trust (2018) and have just started his latest book Empathy (2023).

Given his acceptance of the role of special rapporteur, I suspect he will require a lot of the latter while we Canadians display an abundance of the former.

Stew Valcour Halifax

Google it

Re “Canada’s cult of confidentiality” (Editorial, March 15): I am reminded of a time I applied to the government for a community grant.

I had the naiveté to ask the responsible bureaucrat what had been funded in previous rounds. In a protective reflex, the staffer said such information was confidential.

I was flummoxed, until I did a simple internet search. I found what I was looking for – in a government news release.

Diane Dyson Toronto

Never say never

Re “ ‘The worst is yet to come’: After interest rate hikes, SVB won’t be the only casualty” (Report on Business, March 16): There is a common term when reviewing investments: “Past returns are not indicative of future performance.” The same can be provided to the Canadian banking system.

After many years of cheap (nearly free) money, the impact of rising interest rates is being felt. While a 2008 scenario is doubtful, more financial institutions will likely follow Silicon Valley Bank to the trash can of financial history.

Patting ourselves on the back for the performance of Canada’s banking system seems premature. The absence of a major bank failure here does not mean it can’t happen, it is just less likely.

How could a bank run be triggered here? My guess: a successful cyberattack by a foreign government, likely through intermediaries.

If a cyberattack shuts down a bank for even a week, during a time of financial tension, depositors could easily panic. Our Canadian banking system should be considered a source of systematic risk.

John Shepherd Richmond, B.C.

Cleaned up

Re “B.C. approves Indigenous-led Cedar LNG project, announces new ‘energy action framework’ " (March 15): The $3-billion Cedar LNG project, proposed by the Haisla Nation and Pembina Pipeline Corp., is the largest First Nations-owned infrastructure project in Canada. It will employ 500 people during construction and support 100 full-time permanent jobs.

Powered by hydroelectricity, reports say the project will produce some of the cleanest liquefied natural gas on the planet. It could cut global greenhouse-gas emissions in half and eliminate almost all air pollution wherever the exported LNG displaces coal.

If we had something like this on the East Coast, Canada could support its NATO allies and friends in Europe against Russian aggression, all while reducing global GHG emissions.

Mike Priaro Calgary

Reveal yourself

Re “The three words a court wouldn’t allow Jody Vance to say to her online abuser” (March 15): The solution to online abuse should be so simple. It is in your letters to the editor every day: no anonymity.

If people had to put their real names and cities behind what they say, I believe none of this hatred would be shouted out. What is stopping social media from implementing such a simple solution?

James Houston Oakville, Ont.


Re “Lucid dreaming helps me cope with real-world challenges” (Opinion, March 11): As an occasional lucid dreamer, the experience has always been amazing, but not necessarily “exhilarating.”

One lucid dream has me sitting with others around a campfire, watching a film on a large screen. It occurs to me that this is a dream.

Then I wonder how my brain can create the conversation with myself about the dream, and at the same time create all the images in the film which continues to play in the background. I realize one explanation is that I really am at a campfire watching a film, while dreaming the conversation about it not being a real experience.

At that point I begin to wake up and, for a few seconds, I have the extremely disturbing fear of not knowing what is real. I don’t recommend it.

In another context, my father once described such an experience to be “like meeting yourself coming around a corner.”

John Roston Richmond, B.C.

Canada’s got talent

Re “Miriam Toews’s Oscars moment exposes a complicated relationship with her Mennonite hometown” (March 11): Two traditional Mennonite characteristics: a core belief in pacifism and humour as a coping mechanism.

In Professor Sabrina Reed’s Lives Lived, Lives Imagined: Landscapes of Resilience in the Works of Miriam Toews (2022), she recounts the response after Ms. Toews’s mother first read the author’s novel A Complicated Kindness (2004): “Well Miriam, it’s a good thing we’re Mennonites. At least you won’t get shot.”

Paul Moore Calgary

Re “Sarah Polley on her ‘surreal and wonderful’ Oscar win for Women Talking” (March 15): Sarah Polley says about her Oscar: “I’m not going to take it to No Frills with me when I get home.”

But I say yes! Yes, please take it to No Frills. That would be so awesome.

Lucy Coyle Toronto

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