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The new Liberal cabinet pose for a family photo following their swearing in at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019.

Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

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Shuffle up

Re Can Champagne Fix What Freeland Broke? (Nov. 21): Amid the encomiums over Chrystia Freeland’s appointment as Intergovernmental Affairs Minister, hats off to columnist Konrad Yakabuski for what I read as a sobering assessment of her mixed record while foreign minister. He demonstrates the uncertain grasp she seems to have had on Canada’s international relations, especially with respect to Russia.

Moreover, anyone familiar with the conduct of our relations with the United States knows that it is a 24/7 job. With the rising feelings of unhappiness emanating from the West, how Ms. Freeland will juggle those responsibilities alongside her continued oversight of Canada-U.S. relations is a very important conundrum.

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Mr. Yakabuski’s assessment of Ms. Freeland’s record to date is not confidence-inspiring.

Reid Morden Former deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, Toronto


What did Chrystia Freeland break by calling out Vladimir Putin on the invasion of Ukraine? Canada’s interests are best served when we take a principled stand instead of trying to appease a bully.

Lubomyr Luciuk Professor, department of political science and economics, Royal Military College of Canada; Kingston


Re Trudeau’s New Cabinet Is Built To Tackle Issues, Policies That Hit Close To Home (Nov. 21): Why do Justin Trudeau and his advisers appear not to understand that the key to middle-class prosperity is a healthy economy, not another federal ministry in an oversized cabinet with its attendant bureaucracy?

A healthy middle class should be fostered by increasing Canada’s competitiveness in the global economy. To do that, the country needs more funding for training and research, tax incentives to make Canadian investment attractive and a thorough overhaul of our out-of-date tax structure.

Kathryn Vogel Toronto

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Re New Deputy PM In Charge Of Relations With Provinces, U.S. (Nov. 21): Is it too much to hope that the word “deputy” will soon be removed from Chrystia Freeland’s new business cards?

Lyle Clarke Whitby, Ont.

If it ain’t broke

Re Ontario A-G Defends Proposal To Overhaul Judicial Appointments (Nov. 19): The Ontario Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee is a non-partisan group. It receives applications for advertised positions, screens them carefully, selects the best candidates for interviews and then sends names to the Attorney-General, who must make appointments from that list. There is nothing subjective about this process.

This process, heralded throughout Canada, has for almost 30 years produced a talented, respected court that deals with nearly all the provinces’s criminal cases as well as family-law matters. The Attorney-General reportedly wants an expanded pool of candidates to choose from, including those deemed unqualified by the committee. Why would that be?

The existing process shields the Attorney-General and the government from any suggestions of patronage, which should be especially important to this government given the mistakes made so far in that regard. If there are changes that could improve the process, let’s discuss them publicly.

The courts are a separate pillar of democracy, not a branch of the executive. Fundamental changes to the administration of justice should be carefully scrutinized. The Attorney-General’s initiative may be a litmus test for Doug Ford’s proclaimed new approach to listen and, hopefully, consult as well.

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William Trudell Chair, Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers; Toronto

History repeating?

Re What’s The Matter With Spain? (Nov. 16): Another significant factor to note in the disturbing political developments unfolding in Spain: Its proportional-representation electoral system, leading to four indecisive elections in four years, has left voters with enormous frustration at their government’s inability to grapple with the country’s problems.

The rise of a strong man leading a new party that promises to bring back stability seemed predictable. In Europe, PR as an electoral system has a very spotty record in dealing effectively with political and economic crises. Very similar results occurred in 15 European democracies using PR during the interwar years. The result was the rise of leaders such as Hitler and Mussolini. We witnessed it then and we are witnessing it again now.

Peter Love Toronto


The current Catalan quagmire is well captured in the closing quote: “Independentistas hate three things: They hate Spain; they hate the King; and they hate intervention by the central government.” In democracies, we are supposed to consent to be governed by election winners. That may work when the losers and winners simply disagree. But when they hate, success is unlikely, as is the willingness of the victors to maintain respect for minority rights.

People don’t want to be ruled by, nor do they respect, those they hate.

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Manuel Mertin Calgary

Do donate

Re Yes To Presumed Consent Organ Donation (Nov. 16): In light of the shortage of organs for transplantation in Canada, the rest of the country should follow Nova Scotia’s lead and implement presumed consent, or “opt-out,” organ donation programs. While such programs are not necessarily a guarantor of higher donation rates, they are used by some of the world’s top organ-donor countries, including Belgium, Portugal and Spain.

However, the reality is that most people do not understand what presumed consent is. Others, I sense, construe it as government telling people what to do, which a large part of the population resents. That said, I think it is again time to discuss presumed consent as part of a solution to the transplantation crisis. A good start would be to instead use the more neutral term coined by bioethics professor Arthur Caplan: “default to donation.”

Emile Therien Organ and tissue donation advocate, Ottawa

Low profile

Re Montreal Condo Project Is An Unusual And Brilliant Piece Of Architectural Tetris (Nov. 16): This is the kind of construction we need in Ottawa: low-rise, livable, people-friendly buildings in an urban environment which creates real communities.

In its pursuit of increased intensification, the city has lately allowed the construction of a large number of high-rise blocks, with one tower even measuring 65 storeys. The buildings are an eyesore for everyone who lives or works nearby. But they are moneymakers for the developers and they produce large tax revenues for the city.

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Why can’t the architectural firm Kanva come here? Help us before we drown in ugly high-rise buildings.

G. B. Wright Ottawa

O tempora! O mores!

Re ‘We Followed The President’s Orders’: Diplomat Details Quid Pro Quo At Impeachment Hearing (Nov. 21): The impeachment hearings, alias dictuspanem et circenses,” have me wondering who in that August gathering is compos mentis, and how much of what is said should be taken cum grano salis. I can only hope that, after quid pro quo has been debated ad nauseam, and we have waded through all of the non sequiturs, veritas vincit.

Sandy Blazier Mississauga

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