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Letters to the Editor Jan. 28: John McCallum and the China charade. Plus other letters to the editor

Canada's Peace Tower: 'A small spark can cause a big flame, and we must endeavour to make that spark ignite the best in us.'

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

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: letters@globeandmail.com

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McCallum, China charade

I am sorry to see that John McCallum has been fired as ambassador to China. It is vital that Canadians understand the position in which Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s arrest and possible deportation place Canada – as an apparently willing pawn in the Trump-China trade negotiation game. Mr. McCallum helped more people see that charade for what it is.

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At the same time, I understand that it put the Prime Minister in an untenable situation. In our system of government, we have a long tradition of civil servants keeping their mouths shut in public. Based on my own (admittedly limited) experience, civil servants can say exactly what they think and why to their political masters. However, they may generally not do that publicly: That kind of criticism is reserved to members of the public and to politicians. Not government clerks. Not even ambassadors.

What Justin Trudeau did was probably necessary. But I hope he won’t let his government roll over and play dead when confronted by the neighbourhood bully.

Mary Lazier Corbett, Picton, Ont.

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“The truth shall set you free.” For John McCallum, I bet freedom isn’t comfortable under the bus.

Wayne Valleau, Calgary

A Germ Like Hate

Marcus Gee says charging Your Ward News with hate speech is like “using a sledgehammer on a cockroach” (Using The Law’s Hammer On Hateful Material Is Wrong, Jan. 25). That’s oversimplified. For years, our east end Toronto community had that unwanted rag which, among many things, glorified Hitler and denied the Holocaust, arrive regularly on our doorsteps. Discussions of its vileness and attempts to stop its distribution were widespread in our neighbourhood. We engaged with Canada Post, our MPs, and boycotted its advertisers. The bottom line is that it could not simply be ignored, as Mr. Gee suggests.

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The bigger picture has Canada standing as a model for inclusiveness, progressiveness with free speech, and dignity for all, but like any population, we can be infected with a germ like hate. A small spark can cause a big flame, and we must endeavour to make that spark ignite the best in us.

Peter Keleghan, Toronto

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Our hate speech laws have the justifiable goal of protecting Canadians from those who systematically defame and demonize entire communities. The fact that these provisions are used so rarely demonstrates they are reserved for the very worst propagandists, such as those behind Your Ward News. Rightly so, given the vital need to protect freedom of speech, including the freedom to air views that are inappropriate, insensitive or objectionable – as opposed to hate propaganda.

We are living in a time in which some, especially online, are attempting to normalize the bigotry that for years has existed exclusively on the margins of society. This includes anti-Semitism, a powerful predictor of radicalization and violence. The court’s decision sends a clear message that those who peddle anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, misogyny, homophobia, and racism will be held accountable. This should be applauded by all Canadians.

Shimon Koffler Fogel, CEO, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA)

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Alarm for who?

Re Quebec Labour Gap Raises Alarm (Jan. 23): BMO’s Claude Gagnon says Quebec’s labour shortage “is the biggest and most brutal change to hit our economy in years.” Actually, “the biggest and most brutal change” – not just in Quebec, but all of Canada – has been 40 years of growing inequality: 850,000 Canadians use food banks every month, five million Canadians live in poverty.

The lowest unemployment rate in decades is great news for Quebec labour. A shortage means wages should go up, as the more efficient firms compete for workers, and invest in productive technology, and that the market and government can increase the minimum wage from Quebec’s unsatisfactory $12.

Joseph Polito, Toronto

Carbon tax odds

Re The Odds Of A Carbon-Tax Recession? Nil (editorial, Jan. 24): You say, “The plan is to return every cent of the carbon tax to taxpayers, in the form of a rebate.”

This implies a zero-cost, 100-per-cent efficient administration of the program, the likes of which have never been seen since humans first invented government. The odds of that happening? Nil.

Paul C. Bennett, Richmond Hill, Ont.

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As a person who doesn’t think about saving the planet on a daily basis, I would welcome the carbon tax. Too many of us think the small things we can all do won’t affect the critical changes necessary to move the dial on this issue.

Not until our pocket books are affected will many of us really understand the grave situation that we are in.

I applaud our federal government for overriding some of the ignorant, vote-seeking provincial governments in their quest to quash this tax.

Carol Victor, Burlington, Ont.

Metaphorically speaking

Re Why Did the Canadian Cross the Road? (First Person, Jan. 23): Suzanne Evans, in her essay about street traffic in Vietnam, paraphrases a former soldier who explains that driving in his country is a political metaphor for the “way they have moved through the pain and morass of decades of war and colonialism – with a steady focus on what is ahead.” In Canada, the metaphorical answer to the question posed by the headline is, “To get to the middle.”

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Philip B. Berger, Toronto

Beware tokenism

Re Social Impact An Emerging Measure Of Business Success (Jan. 24): It is wonderful that business schools are beginning to focus on the social impact of corporate decisions and on the role of corporations in alleviating big problems, such as poverty and economic inequality.

However, big problems require co-ordinated large-scale solutions, which must generally involve concerted government action. Are business schools ready to advocate the necessary increased progressive personal and corporate taxation necessary to make large dents in inequality and poverty? Are they ready to re-think the ideology which underlies the corporate world?

If not, tokenism will continue.

Sid Frankel, Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba

Gung Haggis Fat Choy

Re Suddenly Haggis Is Piping Hot ... And Not Just In Scotland (Jan. 25). Yes, haggis is now being enjoyed in many new food incarnations, none more unique than here in B.C. where the proximity of Chinese New Year and Robbie Burns Day is observed with a combined celebration known as Gung Haggis Fat Choy.

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I am looking forward to the annual feast of neeps and tatties, spring rolls and, best of all, haggis wontons!

Allan Q. Shipley, Parksville, B.C.

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