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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the House of Commons on Monday Jan. 28, 2019.

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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Whose ‘amateur hour’?

Re Trudeau’s Response To McCallum Gaffe Is Just More Amateur-Hour Bumbling (Jan. 28): Campbell Clark accuses the Liberal government of “amateur hour” conduct in the firing of John McCallum over his statements about the detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. The “amatuer hour” title rightly belongs to Andrew Scheer and the Conservative Party, who only criticize and seem to have no plans to actually do anything about any issue.

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Mr. MCallum should not have been weighing in on an issue before the Canadian courts. Many Canadians probably agree with his assessment, but as the ambassador to China, and therefore a representative of the Canadian government, he should not have been saying anything that could be interpreted as speaking for the government and politicizing the issue. It is up to the courts to decide the merits of the case, as Justin Trudeau has insisted.

For a government representative to appear to be undermining the rule of law is not helpful.

Joyce Boon, West Kelowna, B.C.

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John McCallum is a veteran politician, It is impossible to believe that knowing the PM’s position on the Meng issue, he misspoke, twice. His actions have all of the appearances of being intentional.

Mary Anne E. Clarke, Calgary

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I am grateful that John McCallum, an experienced, knowledgeable public servant, was prepared to publicly state the obvious to all, including our government. Its timid response has been an embarrassment on the world stage. Mr. McCallum deserves an Order of Canada, not being fired.

Peter Dudding, Picton, Ont.

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John McCallum did not give the Prime Minister much choice. His job was to be a diplomat, not a PR spokesman for his own opinion.

The PM is right when talking about the Meng affair. We follow our own law, just as the Chinese warn us about not interfering with their laws. Let our courts decide. Everyone in that arena will be well-prepared, with arguments and proof. I have full faith in our courts’ decision to be fair, especially on this subject.

Jeff Claydon, Victoria

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It’s time to park the partisan attacks on the PM and the government’s handling of the relationship with China. This is a dangerous time. Let’s pull together and honour this nation’s efforts and the principles we stand for. There will be lots of time for politics in the campaign ahead, but internal political grandstanding is fodder for those outside our borders who want to portray us as divided, weak or subservient.

We are none of the above.

Bill Trudell, Toronto

Venezuela’s path

Why are we interfering in Venezuela? Have we learned nothing from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan or Libya? Or taken lessons from the United States’ decades-long interference in Chile and other Latin American countries?

Joe O’Brien, Halifax

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The crisis in Venezuela stinks of lies and deception, obscuring the truth, whatever that is. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland should do a better job of explaining why Venezuela, which was swapping oil for Cuban medical support to drag the poorest Venezuelans out of their misery, and which has been subjected to U.S. economic sanctions, is now suffering economic meltdown. I do not want Canada to lend its support to the American-held doctrine that the U.S. has a right to police affairs in the Americas.

Nicholas Tracy, Fredericton

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It is encouraging to see Canada standing up for world democracy by recognizing the Venezuelan opposition leader as president. As a next step, perhaps we should recognize Nancy Pelosi as the president of the United States.

Rod B. Taylor, Georgetown, Ont.

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Data (and attitude) divide

Re In the Dark: The Cost of Canada’s Data Deficit (Jan. 26): In the late 1970s, I began compiling data on response rates for Canadian vs. U.S. surveys. Response rates on at-the-doorstep surveys common then were beginning to decline in both countries, but Americans stayed consistently more co-operative than Canadians. For both countries, the figures from that era look gold-plated compared with today’s. I became persuaded social data collection had stronger legitimacy within American culture, for all their reification of individual rights. (The Silent Minority: Nonrespondents on Sample Surveys elaborates on this.)

The data deficit in Canada may not be entirely the fault of the government and Statistics Canada. There may be a legacy of resistance in the Canadian public around data collection. Circa 2000, I served on the committee setting up the Research Data Centres. It’s entertaining to call them “data jails,” and it’s true using an RDC involves adjustments for academics. But perhaps Statscan officials are reacting to the society they work within, rather than being deliberately obstructive.

I remember how strongly the Statscan people our committee met with felt that they were taking a massive chance in trusting the academics. At every meeting, they took pains to stress the need to maintain trust with the public.

John Goyder, sociologist (retired), Oakville, Ont.

Hopeful, not depressing

Re Traditional Masculinity Is Sick, Sick, Sick (Jan. 26): The American Psychological Association summary on traditional masculinity “ignores the more positive traits of manliness?” It actually highlights the importance of encouraging “pro-social aspects of masculinity,” including courage and leadership – the very aspects Margaret Wente argues were ignored.

So let me quote the purpose of this “anti-male” APA report: “Getting that message out to men – that they’re adaptable, emotional and capable of engaging fully outside of rigid norms …” To help men “find flexibility in the potentially positive aspects [of masculinity]” because “when researchers strip away stereotypes and expectations, there isn’t much difference in the basic behaviours of men and women.” In other words, to find common ground and help men define for themselves what masculinity is, and how it can better support their happiness.

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Why is that “depressing,” rather than hopeful?

Inga Gusarova, Calgary

Money talks. Listen

Re On The Money: More Canadians Are Embracing A Cashless Society As Mobile Phones Become The Modern Wallet (Jan. 28): Too many Canadians are in debt, living precariously from payday to payday. How many use debit and credit cards routinely, and don’t track (budget) spending on a day-to-day basis?

It’s an easy trap to fall into.

Visit an ATM once a week and withdraw just enough cash to cover weekly, out-of-pocket expenses. When you’re low on cash, cut back on discretionary spending until the next ATM visit. You’ll be more likely to pack a lunch, and less likely to eat out or order in if you don’t have the cash. If you don’t have it, you can’t spend it.

Victor Godden, Toronto

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