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Quebec premier-designate François Legault says he will use the notwithstanding clause to prevent public servants in positions of authority from wearing certain religious garments at work.Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

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Religion, on display

What was premier-elect François Legault thinking when he said his government would use the notwithstanding clause to make it illegal for those in public-service jobs of authority to wear religious symbols at work?

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan wear turbans. Would Mr. Singh and Mr. Sajjan be allowed to hold positions of authority in Quebec? Mr. Legault didn’t mention turbans, which are worn by Sikh men, but made it clear that hijabs, worn by Muslim women, would not be allowed.

The CAQ Leader’s announcement is out of touch with the reality of Canada, our values and our laws (Woman Wearing Hijab Was Entitled To Testify, Quebec Top Court Rules – Oct. 4).

Helen Sadowski, Hamilton


The problem with François Legault’s ban on religious symbols is that it does not go far enough: It should encompass all religious symbols in all workplaces that involve serving the public, starting with Quebec’s provincial assembly, right through its municipal chambers across the province.

Other premiers should do the same, as should the federal government. One law for all. Why should I be forced to look at someone else’s religious paraphernalia, or they at mine?

Cassie Wilson, Halifax


The only way liberal democracies work is if we assume that people – from elected officials to public servants to you and me in the voting booth – can have their own attachments of religion, ethnicity, culture, favourite hockey team and so on, while at the same time they’re able to look beyond those particularities when dealing with each other in the public realm.

Canadians can respect the rule of law and the Charter, and we can treat each other as equals without having to erase all outward signs of our religious and cultural identities. We must, it’s the only way.

Jayson MacLean, Ottawa

About that promotion

Re Let Her Light Shine (letters, Oct. 4): Like most institutions, University of Waterloo faculty promotions follow a standard governance process that ensures an equitable and clear promotion process that everyone must follow. This process begins when a faculty member applies for promotion.

But let’s be clear: Donna Strickland is in a full-time, tenured, faculty position.

When asked by the media why she is an associate and not a full professor, our Nobel Prize winning physicist said that she just didn’t apply. Of course, we will continue to support and encourage Prof. Strickland to apply for her full professorship. Our president made it clear that her CV need only be one line long: Won Nobel Prize in Physics, 2018.

Bob Lemieux, Dean of Science, University of Waterloo

To fight another day

Re An Economic Dunkirk (Oct. 5): A letter writer draws analogies between Dunkirk and the result of the NAFTA negotiations. Thank goodness for Dunkirk and thank goodness that Canada didn’t walk away without an agreement, allowing us to fight another day.

John Royall, West Vancouver


News of agreements such as the USMCA always overlook who ultimately wields the power: the consumer. If a wholesale dumping of American dairy and other agricultural products were the outcome of the new deal, it wouldn’t matter one bit if Canadians continue to buy the local, supply-managed products they do now.

There was some talk of a national boycott of U.S. products in the face of a possible failed deal. We don’t need to boycott. We can simply do what the Americans are doing, but in our own defence as a sovereign nation. Buy Canadian.

Tony Andras, Toronto


The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement allows our partners to control our efforts to diversify our trade with countries not included in this pact. In essence, we have sacrificed sovereignty to make new trade deals outside North America.

We have also reduced our sovereignty with respect to food security for dairy, eggs, chicken and turkey, by allowing as much as 13 per cent of the market to be filled with tariff-free U.S. imports.

The dream that an end to supply management would free Canadian dairies to compete for the low prices which prevail for butter and skim milk powder on the world market is likely to be a nightmare (How USMCA Democratized Supply Management – Oct. 2). Australia’s dairy industry is on the ropes, with farmers being bailed out by consumer handouts via grocery chains, and with a steady decrease in sales of dairy produce from Australia to the terribly low world market.

We might anticipate that eventually the concessions offered in recent trade deals by our government may reduce production quota prices in Canada as inefficient dairy farms drop out of production and take advantage of whatever financial support the government offers right now. This may allow young innovative entrepreneurs to enter the dairy/poultry production sector in Canada, changing the age demographics of our farmers and injecting energy into an important sector of food production.

We must preserve our right to produce our own food, and our right to find more diverse markets for the new products and services we will want to sell in the future.

Edward Burnside, Manotick, Ont.


Re Freeland, Warrior Princess (Oct. 2): Margaret Wente lists several missteps by Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland en route to negotiating the USMCA, yet summarizes that she has “cemented her reputation as Mr. Trudeau’s most able minister, the standout in a generally weak and mediocre pack.” That sounds like damning with faint praise, and Canadians must wonder if Ms. Freeland will still be considered the best of a bad bunch as more details of the trade deal become public.

Red flags are already being raised about future pharmaceutical pricing, and about prohibiting free trade with China and other countries. The agreement has yet to be ratified by legislators in all three countries, but Ms. Wente already says that Ms. Freeland’s “future looks brighter than any woman in Canadian politics. She’s a star and everybody knows it.”

Large concessions were also made in the dairy and poultry industries, where Ms. Freeland’s star shines somewhat more dimly. It seems Ms. Wente may well have counted Ms. Freeland’s chickens before they hatched.

Bernie Smith, Parksville, B.C.

It’s not a war

Re Why Canada Signed On To Trump’s War On Drugs (Sept. 28): It’s easy enough to understand why the war on drugs is such an abject failure. It’s not because of bad laws or unsound policies; it’s not about harsher penalties or more strident enforcement.

It’s a market issue. Each year, Canadians and Americans spend in excess of $100-billion to buy illegal drugs. Taxpayers, including many of those same people, spend about $50-billion on drug enforcement. We’re allocating twice as much money to the law-breakers as the law-makers. It’s not a war. It’s not even a fair fight.

John P. Foden, Toronto

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