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Letters to the Editor May 11: Bombardier, SNC: Indulged and spoiled? Plus other letters to the editor

Bombardier Inc. says it has received a show-cause letter from the World Bank as part of an audit of a rail equipment deal plagued with corruption allegations.

Ryan Remiorz/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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Bombardier, SNC: Indulged and spoiled?

Re World Bank Accuses Bombardier Of Corruption (May 10): Bombardier and SNC-Lavalin make me think of spoiled children whose indulgent parents overlooked, forgave, and even condoned their behaviour. However, those children now have gone out into the world, where their alleged misdeeds are considered crimes, and punished as such. Poor children, we should have been more severe.

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David Chalmers, Ottawa

Canada’s shark shame

Re A Ban On Shark Fins Is Long Overdue – And Common Sense (May 10): It is an absolute disgrace that shark fins are imported into Canada, and shocking that Canada is the highest importer after Eastern Asia.

With 70 to 100 million sharks worldwide killed every year for shark fin soup, in the most cruel fashion, it beggars belief that Bill S-238, the Ban on Shark Fin Importation and Exportation Act, even exists.

This ban should have taken place years ago. It is a blight on Canada’s international standing that it has allowed the import to continue. This bill must be passed as soon as possible. No creature should be sliced alive and suffer a slow death for our whimsy of wanting a so-called delicacy, which arrives at our table in such a bloodthirsty way.

Paris Jefferson, Ottawa

Does Alberta no favours

Re Canada Has A National Unity Crisis (May 8): Gary Mason points out that Peter Lougheed’s name is being invoked as the man who stood up to a Trudeau decades ago. While any mention of Mr. Lougheed warms my heart, it might have been pointed out, aptly in the context, that this was also the man behind the Heritage Fund, so Alberta would have something to fall back on when the oil money stopped.

Admittedly, Mr. Lougheed was looking at the day the oil ran out, not the day we had to wean ourselves off it to prevent catastrophic climate change, but the principle holds, the foresight remains unassailable.

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It was Ralph Klein and the free-spending, live-for-today so-called conservatives who came after who gutted the Heritage Fund. They did Alberta no favours then, and the Jason Kenneys are doing it no favours now.

Tom Sullivan, Toronto

Fragmented education

Re The Case Of The Disappearing Teachers (May 9): As a teacher of some 30 years experience, now retired (at least from the classroom), I could not agree more with Denise Balkissoon.

Advocates of laptops and headphones for learning have no idea about the role of teachers and students in the learning process. Education is all about guidance and building relationships. We do not really “teach” students; we guide children and foster learning skills in many ways. We imbue students with a love of learning through our enthusiasm for our subject; we teach research skills; we stress the importance of collaboration with, and respect for, others; we communicate that learning does not end when university is finished, but that it is a lifelong process. I could continue with this long list.

We would all agree it is more important that young people learn not to hit classmates than it is to defragment a computer hard-drive. There is no doubt that computers have a place in education, but seeing computer-based learning as education is misguided and has the potential to further fragment society.

Ted Parkinson, Toronto

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Guns: a loaded topic

Re Firearm Data Gap Impedes Tracing Efforts (May 6): I would like to urge Bill Blair, Minister for Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, to support a ban on all handguns and semi-automatic rifles by acting on principle, rather than questionable opinion results, including those reported just last month. Questionable, because various respondents were members of pro-gun groups that have entrenched views on the issue (Report Says Canadians Are ‘Strongly Polarized’ On Potential Firearms Ban, April 12).

Mr. Blair should contemplate the controversies that postponed the adoption of seat belts, controls on smoking, and the legalization of marijuana. In each cases, the public majority had negative views long before the government acted – and now most people support these initiatives.

Public opinion has been distorted by clever, well-funded anti-gun control campaigns. Opinion polls suggest a high percentage of rural gun owners are afraid their rifles, used for legitimate hunting, will be banned – not immediately, of course, but down the road. When has this ever been the policy of any Canadian government?

I believe fervently in democracy, but that should not mean government by opinion poll.

We voted the Liberals in. Now they have to do the right thing.

Michael Craig, Owen Sound, Ont.

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So it’s come to this: Two students opened fire in a Denver area school, killing one classmate and wounding seven others and it’s in three inches at the bottom of an inside page (One Student, Seven Injured In Colorado School Shooting, May 8).

Ho-hum – more thoughts and prayers coming up. No details initially on what kind of guns were used; it doesn’t matter. The fact that two students felt killing others was appropriate to address their need to get even in some way is chilling. The fact that they could acquire guns is disturbing. Is this ever going to be addressed?

Ann Sullivan, Peterborough, Ont.

Life, painted-by-number

As a young boy in the late 1950s, my first introduction to the paint-by-numbers art form was the paintings in our newly opened family hotel in Deer Lake, Nfld. (Safety In Numbers? How Dan Robbins Painted Outside The Lines And Inspired A Phenomenon – April 27). They were by my great-aunt, who also happened to be the Mother Superior for the Presentation Sisters of Newfoundland and Labrador.

It wasn’t until I was a little older and more sophisticated that I realized these were paint-by-numbers. It seemed to be a family secret, never mentioned.

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Later, my father was presented with an elaborate paint-by-number kit for his birthday. I’m not sure if it was The Last Supper or another of the classics. Much to my mother’s chagrin, dad ignored the numbers, turned the board over and started a self-portrait on the back. For several weeks, we had to suffer dad posing in front of the mirror whenever he wasn’t attending to guests. Attired in a suit and tie for the occasion!

Without any training, his natural talent began to take shape on the easel. To our family, it was a marvel and a masterpiece. Unfortunately, he retired from this endeavour after his first creation.

Any time I stumble across Norman Rockwell’s humorous portrayal of his self-portrait, I see the exact rendition of my father’s self-portrait. And any time I see a “paint-by-number,” I have the urge to peek at the back to see if there’s a real painting there.

Robert J. Young, Corner Brook, Nfld.

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