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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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Absolutely unacceptable

The Trump administration’s proposed tariff on Canadian steel and aluminum has nothing to do with the protection of U.S. national security (Trump’s Looming Steel Tariff Attack Is About To Test Republicans’ Mettle – March 5).

After a typical 180-degree turn by Donald Trump, we now know this tariff is being used as a bullying tactic to ensure Canada will agree to the outrageous U.S. NAFTA demands. Team Canada must stay firm in its resolve not to cave in to false claims by the U.S. and the hardball tactics of Mr. Trump and his protectionist advisers.

J.A. Paterson, Toronto

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“Absolutely unacceptable” is as likely to play well with Donald Trump as “It’s a no-brainer” did with Barack Obama. When will we learn that Canada simply has not paid the full manufacturer’s suggested list price for economic independence from the U.S.?

Patrick Cowan, Toronto

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Trained to speed

Re T.O.’s Speeding Addiction (letters, March 5): Over the past five years I’ve had the pleasure of driving in the U.K., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Italy (a somewhat stressful pleasure), Portugal, Spain and the United States.

The speed limit from El Paso to San Antonio is 80 mph; it’s 70 or 75 on most other major highways. Here, speed limits on highways and byways are an embarrassment. Canadian drivers are taught to ignore speed limits because they’re absurdly low. When one can drive on highways at 20 km/h over the limit with impunity, why wouldn’t one expect to be able to the do the same in cities?

Ken Harrison, Aurora, Ont.

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Culturally (un)aware

When I taught tourism geography, we discussed how visitors can be culturally insensitive (Cartoon Brilliance – letters, March 5). In 2006, at a meeting in Mexico with then-U.S. president George W. Bush and Mexican president Vincente Fox, Stephen Harper wore a scruffy utility vest. The other two wore the classy, white loose shirts long favoured by Mexican men for outdoor social events. You don’t go to an outdoor social event in Mexico dressed like a plumber. A ‘D’ grade for Mr. Harper.

The Trudeau family’s exaggerated aping of local dress in India demonstrated upper-caste wealth and privilege, which may have offended many, especially poor, Indians. An ‘F’ for Mr. Trudeau. Do our PMs not have culturally aware advisers on this sort of thing?

Reiner Jaakson, Oakville, Ont.

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Re ‘Unforced Errors’ Hurt Canada In Asia, PM’s Former Adviser Says (March 3): There is no shortage of good reasons to be disappointed with this government’s performance – the electoral reform train-wreck, the complete abandonment of any pretense of balancing the budget – but the tour of India was outright embarrassing. Coming on the heels of the fruitless China trip and the TPP meeting no-show it’s made our nation appear amateurish and unserious. Perhaps it’s time to consider adding the PM and his entourage to the no-fly list.

Jonathan Skrimshire, Pincher Creek, Alta.

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You can say that

You Can’t Say That On Campus (March 3) is an ironic title for Margaret Wente’s column defending Acadia University’s Rick Mehta and invoking what she calls “the free speech-wars.”

She implies he should be free to speak, while arguing students need to be protected from the likes of me. Ms. Wente sees me as everything wrong with contemporary academia. She labels my “brand of rubbish” as “depressingly common at our institutions of higher learning.”

After moulding her caricature of me, she twists her call for free speech. Such hypocrisy is a common move by the political right. What is missed is that free speech must align with freedom itself. Words shape how we think and act. Speech is always political and comes with material consequences.

Simon Springer, co-director, Critical Geographies Research Lab, Department of Geography, University of Victoria

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Margaret Wente is entirely correct in her critique of what she calls the free-speech wars on campus. She is not correct in singling out for criticism, based on one unfortunate paper, the University of Victoria’s Prof. Simon Springer. He is a respected scholar, and the paper she mentions is hardly his “most celebrated work.”

Having myself published on neoliberalism, Prof. Springer’s primary area of research, I sometimes agree and sometimes disagree with what he has to say. But that’s not the issue. No one has implicated him in efforts to infringe on students’ freedom of expression – the defence of which must of course be protected, against assaults from both extremes of the political spectrum.

Ted Schrecker, professor of Global Health Policy, Newcastle University, U.K.

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Drama beat the hype

Re Roger Bannister, 1929-2018 Four Minutes, One Mile And A Singular Athletic Feat (March 5): As a nine- year-old, I recall sitting enthralled in front of an our flickering 17-inch black-and-white TV watching one of the CBC’s early coast-to-coast telecasts, and cheering as Roger Bannister passed John Landy in the stretch to win the so-called Miracle Mile at the 1954 British Empire Games in Vancouver, one of those rare sports events where the drama of the result far exceeded even the considerable hype of its lead-up.

Perhaps the best measure of the focus of the entire world on the race was that Canadian runner Rich Ferguson was selected as our Outstanding Male Athlete of the year, ahead of of the likes of weightlifting champion Doug Hepburn and hockey immortal Maurice (Rocket) Richard, simply by finshing third to Bannister and Landy in the race!

Eric Bender, Kirkland, Que.

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Earth first

To The Moon, Mars And Beyond (Opinion Section, March 3): Space exploration is fascinating, but is the sky-high ambition of finding “a new home” really that beneficial? Pursuing expansion into the universe perpetuates the discourse of human dominance – but hasn’t that gotten us into this mess? We’re trying to run away from problems we’ve created instead of recognizing our place of interdependence in Earth’s ecosystems and our responsibility to our home. You don’t leave your house with the front door open, the oven on and the taps running. Why is this any different?

Mars, or elsewhere, shouldn’t be “our insurance policy” against climate catastrophe on Earth. Instead, space research should help us appreciate our planet and challenge “our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe,” as Carl Sagan reflected in response to Voyager 1’s Pale Blue Dot photograph. Moreover, human ingenuity and ambition should instead spur collaboration on environmental initiatives, exploration of sustainable lifestyles and a shift into a postcarbon era. Surely before we launch to live on Mars we should, at the very least, learn to compost and recycle properly?

Caroline Beddoe, Wolfville, N.S.

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