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Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting in the city of Veliky Novgorod, Russia, on Sept. 21.SPUTNIK/Reuters

Last exit

Re Putin’s Call-up Of Reservists Triggers Exodus From Russia (Sept. 23): At risk of being shallow in my reading of the situation, it is puzzling to me that so many thousands of people are lining up to leave Russia, when all they need is the departure of one.

Hugh McKechnie Newmarket, Ont.

Hockey history

Re Honouring Hockey Heroes (Sept. 23): I recall talking to a vice-president at Royal Bank of Canada who attended the Moscow game in 1972.

When Paul Henderson scored the winning goal, Canadian fans enthusiastically applauded the deed. Beside him stood a man who was not Canadian, but clapped enthusiastically along.

Upon the quizzical look from my Canadian friend, the supporter said in his limited English that he was Czech. That explained his hockey – and political – allegiances.

Bohdan Shulakewych Toronto

In 2011, I was in Moscow on a business trip with my husband. While out browsing, I came across Soviet memorabilia, including a replica jersey from the 1972 Summit Series.

On the back was a Cyrillic name starting in “T” and ending in “K.” Thinking this would be a cool gift for my hockey-mad brother, I held up the jersey to the shopkeeper and asked, “Tretiak?”

He stared at me, astonished, and exclaimed in English: “You. Are. Canadian!” Who but a Canadian would know about Russia’s formidable goaltender Vladislav Tretiak?

With a shake of his head and a sigh, he sold me the jersey, no doubt remembering that the Russians, formidable goalie notwithstanding, weren’t enough to beat the mighty Canadians. And my brother was thrilled.

Maria Grant Ottawa

Queen and country

Re A Tale Of Two Countries Plays Out Again (Sept. 22): Queen Elizabeth is described as “a monarch who silently presided over a swath of the residential-school era” and “ignored broken treaties.” Yet there are limitations on a sovereign’s ability to act on their own.

While those acts or omissions were done in the name of the Crown, they should be seen as the responsibility of our elected governments and ministers. And it is these governments, present and past, where anger should be directed.

Any apologies – some have already been made – should be made by government. King Charles may well be sympathetic to making them, but he should only do so if his Canadian government wishes it.

Ian McCallum Vancouver

Make work

Re MPs Need Meaningful Work (Sept. 23): What a thankless job to be an MP (only slightly less thankful would be the job of a provincial member).

Donald Savoie’s latest book, Government: Have Presidents and Prime Ministers Misdiagnosed the Patient?, discusses the centralization of decision-making within the Prime Minister’s Office in Canada and its equivalents in the United States, France and Britain. At least in Britain, MPs seem free to vote their conscience and properly represent their constituency. No such luck here.

Why do we pay large salaries and gold-plated pensions for individuals to sit on their hands with no ability to influence policy? While I thank them for their service, I cannot thank them for their results.

Stew Valcour Halifax

Get serious

Re These Are Desperately Serious Times. We Need Serious Politics To Match (Opinion, Sept. 24): Columnist Andrew Coyne seems to don rose-coloured glasses in viewing the past 150 years of U.S. history as “stable, solid, democratic and internationally engaged.”

The legislated racism of Jim Crow, the Panic of 1893, isolationism and protectionism in the 1920s and 1930s, the wrenching societal dislocations of the Vietnam War, support for select dictatorships in Latin America, a disastrous intervention in Iraq: All offer less of a contrast with our current slate of crises than he depicts.

Gerry Salembier Ottawa

The good, the bad

Re Hey Kid, Ever Tried Social Media? (Editorial, Sept. 19): We at MediaSmarts appreciate having our work cited. However, current research shows that it is not at all clear that “the bad overwhelmingly outweighs the good” when it comes to digital technology and youth. With a few exceptions, it can have both positive and negative effects – and which effects it has depends on who is using it and how it is used.

That’s why, while legislation and regulation certainly have a role to play, our approach focuses most on encouraging parents to be involved in their children’s media lives, empowering youth to take control of their online experience, and preparing parents and educators to teach them how to mitigate risks and seize the opportunities of our digital world.

Matthew Johnson Director of education, MediaSmarts; Ottawa


Re I Love Getting And Handling Spam Calls (First Person, Sept. 22): My solution works every time.

I stay online until I reach a human being, listen to the patter a bit, then ask, “Does your mother know that you attempt to defraud people for a living?” This is followed by a click, or sometimes interesting expletives.

Great fun.

Ted Parkinson Toronto

On average, I receive 20 spam calls each week. I find nothing remotely amusing or entertaining about any of them.

Unlike the essay-writer who loves to handle these calls, many people are not able to do that. The elderly, the frail, the confused, the lonely of all ages: These are the people who are sucked in by this cruelty and arrange to send large sums of money to their “grandsons,” give out banking information, rhyme off social insurance numbers or provide other personal identification numbers.

How can anyone laugh at that? Instead of chuckling, perhaps those who find it all so amusing could spend their time coming up with ways to stop this cruelty. Surely they could find other things to laugh about.

Nancy Murphy Ottawa

It is inconceivable to me that telecoms do not have the technological resources to identify and block most of these calls. If the regulators, legislators and police won’t take action, perhaps it is time for a well-placed group of concerned citizens to take legal action against the telecoms.

J. David Murphy Barrie, Ont.

It is fascinating to try to find out where a spam call is coming from, the weather at that location etc. One caller of note became so exasperated that he declared, “You are putting me off my script!”

We have now taken steps to block spam calls, so that form of entertainment is no longer available. But at least we can sleep through the night.

Howard Dallimore North Vancouver

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