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JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press

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Foreign affairs

Re Tories Vow To Cut Foreign Aid By 25 Per Cent, Focus On Poorest Countries (Oct. 1): As a former Canadian ambassador and diplomat who has served on the front lines around the world for many years, let me say how shortsighted it seems to further cut our international development assistance from its already low level. It is not in our best national-security interests.

Terrorism breeds in poverty, neglect and hopelessness, particularly in authoritarian regimes. Terrorism has no boundaries, and Canadians can be attacked both at home and abroad. Mass refugee movements spring from the same conditions, be they in Central America, the Middle East or elsewhere. These migrations can overwhelm our allies in Europe, our southern neighbours or our own borders.

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Canadian aid has always helped to alleviate these problems. We assist with power, water, health, education and social improvements, so that people can prosper in their own countries. We have also used these funds to bring about important democratic and legal reforms via the training of judges, lawyers, human-rights organizations, journalists and financial workers. All these programs act as a break on authoritarianism.

By cutting foreign aid, Andrew Scheer would be turning Canada’s back to the world – to our own detriment.

Gary J. Smith Perth, Ont.

Defining deficit

Re Deficit Plans Take Backseat As Parties Line Up To Spend More (Sept. 30): In this election campaign, we seem to be witnessing a dramatic shift in the Canadian political spectrum. All the political parties are either promoting large increases in deficit spending or are in no hurry to balance the books.

Economists say this is feasible because the debt as a percentage of GDP will continue to decline. This sounds familiar to me: It’s the same logic that the old Social Credit Party of Canada used. As a boy in Northern Ontario, I remember going to a political rally to listen to party leader Réal Caouette. He said that that there was the GNP and the GDP, and the difference was for the people.

Have we come full circle? Are voodoo economics in fashion again?

Gordon Birnie Stouffville, Ont.

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Justin Trudeau proposes to run annual multibillion-dollar deficits for the foreseeable future. What will Canada look like 10 years from now if he’s elected again?

For an idea, I suggest looking at Ontario after 15 years of Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne. Aside from enormous and growing debt, our taxes could be much higher than before. And even if the economy is booming, any subsequent post-Trudeau government would have no room to add much-needed programs. Instead, it would look to cut spending almost as a matter of necessity.

T.S. Ramsay Guelph, Ont.


It is unfortunate that the word “deficit” comes with so much misunderstanding and negative baggage.

At no time in our financial history have deficits caused substantial hardships for Canadians. We have nursed deficits through some very prosperous times. Indeed, these times could be traced back to government spending and investment in the economy.

As well, government revenues can always be maintained and increased through fair and progressive taxation, which is a necessity in order to continue to fund and expand social programs, and increase opportunities for all Canadians. While the acolytes of free enterprise raise the alarm bells of a deficit, the fact is, it can be a valuable tool of fiscal management.

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Robert Milan Victoria

Political portage

Re Tories Attack Liberals For Pledging More New Money On Camping Than Gun Crimes (Sept. 30): When Justin Trudeau was channelling his father’s iconic canoeing photo while proposing a learn-to-camp program, I hope he appreciated the clean water he was paddling through. I don’t believe he saw any irony or hypocrisy in his $525-million promise, while fresh water is still a dream for too many of our First Nations.

Richard Dean Nelson, B.C.


In the never-ending quest to spend more money on new programs, Justin Trudeau is promising $525-million for a proposed learn-to-camp program. Unfortunately, I don’t enjoy camping, but I would certainly endorse a learn-to-ski program for the winter months. I would like to put my name down for four days at a resort in Whistler.

P.S. I am hopeful that the program will also supply new skis, boots and poles. I will bring my own hat.

Michael Gilman Toronto

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A feast for the mind

Re Why Do The High Holidays Send Me Into The Kitchen? (First Person, Sept. 30): Marilee Sigal’s essay reminds us of the deep meaning of special foods cooked for important holidays – in her case, the Jewish high holidays.

Something like this must have been felt by the women prisoners in Ravensbrueck concentration camp, who, against all odds, found the materials and the energy to write down and share recipes and menus they recalled even as they were starving. According to Roberta Kremer, former executive director of the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, this communal act helped these women retain their humanity under the dehumanizing conditions they endured.

Elizabeth Lominska Johnson Penticton, B.C.


Anyone who has lost a relative or friend who loved to cook will often think of the tastes and smells of foods served in the past.

In my case, my Austrian mother made many delicacies from her homeland with love. Upon her passing, I realized with great sadness that I would never again taste a homemade strudel or marillenknoedel.

Her cooking traditions have been lost to me. But, as I write, I imagine myself savouring her strudel’s apples and cinnamon, as well as her knoedel and its apricots covered in butter-rich breadcrumbs.

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Senta Ross Kitchener, Ont.

The good ol’ hockey game

Re Leafs Better Hope Their Big Spending Pays Off (Sports, Sept. 28): Columnist Cathal Kelly says that knowledgeable Canadian hockey fans would be able to spot a missed defensive assignment during a switch, among other intricacies of the game. What I’ve observed over the past 40 years seems to be that so many Canadians who call themselves hockey fans are actually not that interested in the game. If they were, everyone would be showing up to the great hockey being played on university campuses across the country.

Many people will pay hundreds of dollars for a seat at an NHL game and not even watch closely what’s happening every shift. It’s now clear to me that many fans don’t attend these games for the quality of hockey; they rather enjoy the hype and the circus of just being there.

These same fans could be paying around $10 to watch hockey at its purest. So many varsity hockey players these days spent time at the major-junior level, and now they are bigger, faster and more mature. Last year, I watched a game in Montreal between McGill and Concordia universities where the third period opened with eight straight minutes of play. There were no stoppages, frequent on-the-fly five-man changes and few missed passes.

For a fan who truly appreciates hockey, this is the level to watch.

Brian Tansey Ottawa

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