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Demonstrators gather in Montreal this week to protest Quebec's new Bill 21, which will ban teachers, police, government lawyers and others in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols such as Muslim head coverings and Sikh turbans.

CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/Reuters

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Campaign for la laïcité?

Re Legal Challenge Launched Against Quebec’s Secularism Bill A Day After It Becomes Law (June 18): The Quebec government claims it is promoting secularism through the passage of Bill 21. The hypocrisy of this statement is evident by the degree to which the fingerprints of the Roman Catholic church remain in the public life of Quebeckers.

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The Canadian Geographical Names Database lists more than 800 towns, villages and municipalities in Quebec that are officially named for saints. Almost 500 post offices bear these religious names. Religious head gear is but a mote compared with the beams of official Christianity in the public sphere. When will the real campaign for la laïcité begin?

Howard Ross, Kingston

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The Pope wears a zucchetto, similar to a kippah – some think as a reminder of Jesus’s Jewish heritage. Would the Pontiff be allowed to be a newly hired teacher in Quebec?

Dale Horwitz, Toronto

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Suppressing religious symbols, including garb, has a long history. Various religions around the world even to this day continue to try to influence governments – if they are not themselves intrinsic in the government – to limit freedom of choice for their citizens.

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Restrictions on abortions arise from religious dogma. Discrimination against gays claims religious justification. Moral superiority based on religion fans Mideast violence with ripples across the globe. It goes on and on.

The intent of the Quebec law is laudable, as it attempts to put religions on a personal basis, not societal. Pierre Trudeau famously said that government has no business in the bedrooms of the nation. An apt corollary might be that religions belong in the home and have no business in the government of the nation.

David Kister, Toronto

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Governments do their worst work when they legislate to solve problems that don’t exist, or create a controversy to rationalize new laws. Such is the case with Bill 21, which purports to be about enforcing state laicity, but in reality is thinly disguised discrimination, directed primarily toward Muslim women.

There was simply no need for this legislation. The best and correct alternative would have been education and communication about the benefits of tolerance and diversity.

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Shame on the Coalition Avenir Québec government.

Frank Malone, Aurora, Ont.

What we’re about

Re Raptors Celebration Is A Stirring Glimpse Of Canada’s Identity (June 18): The media should not be downplaying the shooting and other violence that marred Monday’s chaotic Raptors victory celebration in Toronto. What we have been witnessing is not so much a happy affirmation of our (inclusive?) Canadian identity, but rather a more sinister kind of jingoistic frenzy, urged on by our politicians as well as the media.

Our national identity should be about justice and reconciliation, never about winning and victory, either in sports or war.

Scott Burbidge, Port Williams, N.S.

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Is there too much self-congratulation in this Raptors mania? Shallow self-promotion can backfire. “The world needs more Canada” was a sincere statement, but should we stitch it into our jammies? Well, yes, we should.

Why? We had a shooter (Four Injured After Shooting Near Raptors Rally In Toronto – June 18). The police didn’t open fire. Ambulances were able to access the injured. No one died in the panic that ensued. The top of the news the next morning was all about joyful celebration. If this had happened in the United States, there would have been carnage. Shoot first, figure it out later.

CNN largely ignored the victory parade. It did give it a mention under the headline: Four Injured In Shooting During Toronto Raptors’ NBA Celebration.

The world needs more Canada.

Hugh McKechnie, Newmarket, Ont.

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Why did you feel it was necessary and right to consign the story about the shootings to an inside page? It felt as though you, and many other media outlets, tried to pretend that it didn’t happen or, at the very least, treated it as a minor event that shouldn’t be allowed to spoil the celebration.

I am certain that the people in the middle of the events, including young children, did not see the shooting in the same way that you did, and that many will be traumatized for years.

This is a stain on our city. When events like this are regarded as relatively insignificant, we are on a slippery slope indeed.

David Sloan, Toronto

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What a contrast. This week two cities had their streets clogged with citizens.

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Hong Kong had two million people reacting to an extradition bill that would allow mainland China to arrest and silence political opponents who champion freedoms.

Meanwhile, in Toronto, more than a million free souls turned out for a parade and street party to celebrate a world championship. Something worth reflecting upon as Canada gets ready to celebrate it 152nd birthday.

Russell Pangborn, Keswick, Ont.

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All this hoopla about winning the trophy in a sport few Canadians play, by a team consisting overwhelmingly of foreign players proves to me that Ontarians confuse Ontario with Canada, and that the separatists in Quebec and Alberta do have a point.

Sudhir Jain, Calgary

Flood protection in the age of climate change

Re Fortress McMurray: After Decades Of Building On The Floodplain, A City Moves To Protect Itself From Its Capricious Rivers (June 17): Your excellent article cites the example of Manitoba’s Red River Floodway being built for a 100-year flood at a cost of $63-million in 1968, but fails to point out that Winnipeg then experienced three 100-year floods in the 1990s.

This necessitated the subsequent decision in 2005 to build up the Floodway to the level of a 700-year flood, at an additional cost of more than $600-million.

The estimated savings in flood damages from both systems is $50-billion, but protection in the age of climate change doesn’t come cheap.

John Godfrey, federal minister for Infrastructure and Communities (2004 to 2006); Toronto

We the Northern-ish?

Re Welcome Home (June 18): I still find it somewhat perplexing to see so many Torontonians decorated in “We The North” T-shirts, given that many (most?) people who live in Southern Ontario have not travelled farther north than Barrie, and some no farther than Finch Avenue. Toronto itself is south in latitude to such U.S. cities as Minneapolis and Seattle.

This, I think, speaks to the enduring mythology of Canada as a northern nation when, in fact, 90 per cent of our population resides within 160 kilometres of our border with the United States.

We The North is one of those puzzling and banal Canadian shibboleths that endure along with the poetry of Robert Service.

Moses Wuggenig, Toronto

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