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Steve Boyd, Queen's University's former track coach, on Feb. 19, 2020. Boyd was fired after speaking against Guelph University regarding their track coach.Lars Hagberg/The Globe and Mail

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here:

Freedom of speech?

Re Queen’s Fires Track Coach After He Speaks Out On U Of Guelph Scandal (Feb. 20): Dismissed track coach Steve Boyd says he was verbally instructed by Queen’s University not to talk about the University of Guelph’s handling of misconduct allegations against Dave Scott-Thomas. How is this consistent with the concept of freedom of expression, which should be upheld by a university and is a feature of Article 14.1 (b) of the collective agreement between Queen’s and its faculty (even if Mr. Boyd was not a faculty member)?

I hope Mr. Boyd avails himself of the services of the Queen’s ombudsperson.

Steve Iscoe Professor (retired), Queen’s University; Kingston

Queen’s appears to have fired a track coach over comments that allegedly do not represent the university’s values. Those values seem to not include free speech. It is troubling that Queen’s would object to expressing one’s opinion, particularly in the current environment of increasing expectations of transparency and accountability.

I am embarrassed by this apparent “culture of silence” that is being promoted by the institution. As a result, I am discontinuing my long-standing annual donation to Queen’s until the university’s actions are more in line with my understanding of its stated values, and with my personal values.

Jane Donald Queen’s University, 1986; Oakville, Ont.

When my daughter was in high school, a teacher-coach noticed that she was a good runner and encouraged her to join the cross-country team. At an age when most young people are trying to figure out who they are and what they’re good at, she was thrilled to be noticed and encouraged. I was thrilled to see her spirit soar, but tempering this feeling was the voice of vigilance. Was he just noticing her athletic skill, or was it something inappropriate?

In university, a professor showed interest in her, encouraging her to pursue a masters program with him. She was gratified by his enthusiastic interest. I was, too, and I never voiced my cautious observance of their interactions; I didn’t want to taint her sense of success. In the end, it was based on her achievement.

Societal tolerance of predatory behaviour by men seems to have created a climate where all men are tarred with the brush of suspicion. The most respected and admired men can behave in appalling (and sometimes criminal) ways, leaving a trail of ruined lives behind, and it’s often enabled by those around them. Perhaps if we understand that the reputations of good men are potentially tarnished by abusive men, then we might act more swiftly to end their reign.

My daughter became a runner. It’s her go-to exercise and stress-breaker. I am forever grateful to that coach for helping her to see her talent.

Cheryl Byrne Toronto

One pipe to another

Re Why Blockades Shouldn’t Be Met With Force (Feb. 19): As the railway blockade drags on, I see a picture starting to emerge, one that we have seen before. The construction of a pipeline is halted. In order to placate both its owners and those protesting against its construction, the Canadian government sees fit to simply purchase the pipeline and work out the construction difficulties at some future date. That is what happened with the Trans Mountain pipeline, and it is what seems most likely to happen to the Coastal GasLink project.

George Parker Cobourg, Ont.

Re Trudeau Can’t Unblock Pipes With Platitudes (Editorial, Feb. 19): The Globe and Mail’s editorial says that “the democratic right to peaceful protest is the right to stand in a public place and spread your message. … It isn’t the right to accost anyone, occupy anything or shut down anyone’s business.” It is interesting that the same opinion was not often rendered for the protests in Hong Kong, where some activists went much further than shutting down businesses.

There is a Chinese saying for this: You don’t feel the pain if the fire is not burning your flesh.

Ray Chan Vancouver

Headline news

Re China Expels Three WSJ Reporters Over 'Derogatory’ Headline (Feb. 20): China’s leaders kicked out foreign reporters for an issue that ink-stained wretches can’t control: their paper’s use of a slangy term in a headline. But those same leaders have been silent on the actual concerns raised in the headlined piece: the global dangers of Chinese mismanagement of its economy and safety regulations. That silence seems to say more about China’s leaders than any headline could.

James Russell Ottawa

Democracy now?

Re India And The World (Letters, Feb. 20): A letter-writer believes that India’s new citizenship law, widely condemned the world over as discriminatory, is consistent with values Canadians cherish. Rather, faith-based citizenship laws seem at odds with true democracies and, need I say, Canadian values. It is mainly because of India’s treatment of religious minorities that the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2020 Democracy Index downgraded the country several notches – to the status of a flawed democracy.

Asad Ansari Oakville, Ont.

Off the board

Re Democracy Gets Schooled In Quebec (Editorial, Feb. 14): Characterizing François Legault’s attempt to modernize Quebec’s public-school system as “one of the more audacious parliamentary stunts in recent Canadian history” seems unfair.

Among other things, Bill 40 basically transforms elected school boards into school service centres, with the aim to improve student achievement by granting leadership roles to those closest to the student daily: parents, teachers, principals and support staff. From Mr. Legault’s time as Quebec’s education minister from 1998 to 2002, I believe he saw, just as I did while teaching, the arrogance and extravagance of school boards, and that they provide no real pedagogical, cultural or economical value for students.

Hence, when he formed the Coalition Avenir Québec, he made education a priority because the province also has the highest drop-out rate in Canada, according to a 2018 Institut du Québec study. Mr. Legault is now keeping his campaign promise by strengthening democracy in an ailing public-school network.

Chris Eustace Montreal

Proper penalty

Re Double Bogey (Letters, Feb. 20): A letter-writer refers to golf as the only professional sport in which players call penalties on themselves. Actually, in snooker, stars such as Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump regularly tell the referee if they have inadvertently brushed a ball with their waistcoats as they lean over the table to take a shot.

It’s hard to imagine someone such as former Toronto Maple Leafs player Tie Domi freely confessing that he accidentally tripped a fellow enforcer. It’s also hard to imagine him in a waistcoat.

Geoff Rytell Toronto

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