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An inflatable orca is pictured next to a stop sign protesting the Canadian federal government's purchase of an oil pipeline project, during a climate strike rally in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada October 25, 2019.

PETER PAWLOWSKI/Reuters

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Between two provinces

Re On Bill 21, Ottawa Needs To Find A Spine (Editorial, Oct. 29): France has taken a similar position as Quebec on headscarves and religious symbols. For historical context, religion was outlawed for a time after the French Revolution; revolutionaries felt the Catholic Church had been in league with the nobility to suppress the citizens. And in laws in force since 1905, France has banned the overt wearing of religious symbols in schools and public buildings.

In Quebec, the Quiet Revolution turned the province into one of the world’s most secular jurisdictions. The citizens similarly believed the Church had been the unwitting accomplice of the anglophone ruling class; changes since then have resulted in a flourishing francophone business environment.

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I believe most Québécois see the re-emergence of religion in public life as a threat to their hard-won secularism. The renewal of the Bloc Québécois signals the province will not take interference on this issue lightly.

Chris Stoate Oakville, Ont.


If “a partisan narrative is not in Alberta’s best interests” (Opinion, Oct. 26), why is it okay for the Bloc Québécois? Another example of a double standard for Alberta? As a friend of mine in Toronto observed: When Quebec starts talking separation, everyone seems to pander; when Alberta does, the country gets nasty.

Mary-Beth Laviolette Canmore, Alta.


I grew up in Alberta under a Social Credit government. Then in 1971, the unexpected victory of Peter Lougheed’s Progressive Conservatives came as a breath of fresh air. Mr. Lougheed immediately raised taxes because he knew the importance of sound fiscal policies. He advised against overexploitation of the oil sands and encouraged diversification. He set up the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund as a hedge against the volatility of the oil industry – it now sits at a paltry $18-billion.

Recently, Norway announced that its version of the heritage fund topped $1-trillion. What a sad commentary on 40-plus years of Alberta’s conservative governance and an affront to the legacy of Mr. Lougheed.

Robert Day Ottawa

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A Northern No

Re Westerly Winds (Letters, Oct. 24): A letter-writer proposes building pipelines running north through the Northwest Territories and Yukon to the port of Yakutat, Alaska, on the Pacific Ocean. Northerners would not welcome such a pipeline.

In 1974, the Berger Inquiry determined that the Mackenzie River pipeline project would cause social disruption, harm the environment and provide few economic benefits to the NWT and Yukon. The proposal failed. And this year, Yukoners enthusiastically celebrated the land-use plan for the Peel River Watershed, which protects about 83 per cent of 67,431 square kilometres of pristine wilderness.

Yukon also has a robust environmental regulatory system, a moratorium on fracking, 14 First Nations (11 of which have signed treaties and real power with regard to land-use plans) and a population fiercely protective of its environment.

Linda Leon Whitehorse

Good game

Re Beijing Touts Canadian Military’s Role In Sports Event (Oct. 29): As a former taekwondo athlete and official who participated in the Military World Games for nearly 30 years, I can affirm that the motto “friendship through sport” was both spoken and lived. Every four years, military athletes from more than 100 countries come together in hard competition and camaraderie.

As to the nature of the relationship with China, the host, who by all accounts put on an amazing event, it seems best illustrated by the disqualification of this year’s Chinese orienteering team for systematic cheating. That said, these games may hopefully help restore balance to Sino-Canadian foreign relations.

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Martin Kenneally Toronto

Stealing thunder

Re ‘This Is Just The Beginning,’ Thunberg Says In Vancouver (Oct. 26): I appreciate that Greta Thunberg would be the focus of any rally that she attends. Nevertheless, I found it discouraging that while her speech was quoted at length, other speakers at the Vancouver climate strike were not given the same breadth.

Teenage and First Nations activists and First Nations leaders spoke passionately, for hours, about the urgent need to redress not only the climate crisis, but also the inequalities in Canadian society. The crowd of thousands was there to hear them, too, not just Ms. Thunberg.

I am happy to report that First Nations leaders were able to speak to thousands of Canadians directly. They were heard, applauded and cheered, something I never imagined I would see. This is progress worth highlighting.

Athena McKown Vancouver

You say you want a revolution

Re The Global Protest Frenzy: Big On Chaos, Low On Substance (Oct. 28): Niall Ferguson criticizes protests around the globe for not having a common goal that could be achieved with a pragmatic framework. While these protests may be happening independently of each other, that they are happening concurrently suggests something is wrong with the working global paradigm.

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More so, as a university student, I think it’s cheap to label people who value the pursuit of higher education as a “glut of graduates.” I would argue that it takes an educated class to see that rights and liberties are tightening around the world. We don’t only want jobs – we want change.

Rolando Argueta Toronto


Niall Ferguson laments the traffic chaos caused by protesters in cities such as Hong Kong, Barcelona, Santiago and Quito, arguing that these demonstrations lack the unifying ideas of past social movements. Yet even across just these four cases, I can see striking parallels.

In Hong Kong and Catalonia, demonstrators have demanded less outside interference and greater political freedom. In Chile and Ecuador, it is yawning economic inequality that has fuelled protests. By ignoring such causes, Mr. Ferguson derides the risks taken by millions of protesters and the important victories they have won: The Hong Kong extradition bill has been withdrawn, transit-fare hikes in Chile cancelled and austerity measures in Ecuador reined in.

The odd traffic jam may be too high a price for some. Thank goodness millions around the world disagree.

Fabian Mayer Calgary

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Niall Ferguson correctly notes that in Cairo, for example, protests there were against corruption, but he does not seem to appreciate why that would be reason enough for people take to the streets. There is the old parable about the straw that broke the camel’s back. However, it seems that in Mr. Ferguson’s case, he has honed in on the straw and ignored the larger picture, which is the cumulative burden various oppressive regimes have imposed on their people.

Wael Haddara London, Ont.


I believe Niall Ferguson wrongly associates the Beatles 1960s hit Revolution with fiery incitements to rebellion.

The lyrics are clear in their skepticism: “We all want to change the world," but “if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao / you ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow.” No doubt John Lennon would have sympathized with spontaneous social protests, but not with any overarching ideology.

David Winch Montreal

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