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Premier-designate François Legault's CAQ fought against removing the crucifix in the Quebec National Assembly last year.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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Church/state divide

The essential principle of the separation between church and state seems to have been forgotten in the debate about the wearing of religious symbols when dispensing public services (Religion, On Display – letters, Oct. 5). The public should not know the religion of a public servant when accessing a public service. This vital principle applies, regardless.

Nancy Marley-Clarke, Calgary

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Believing in gods and defending particular ones to the point of war has been our human history. Believe in whatever you want, but understand it’s your own, private, imaginary system, your way to have a community with a church, a synagogue, or a mosque, each with its own rituals.

No science yet has proven the existence of any god, but the Earth’s own air and water, and place in space, are very real.

So wear whatever you want to advertise your loyalty to something imaginary, but do understand it’s all imaginary. What we must believe at this point, all of us, is that the Earth is in real danger. Science is telling us. Believe it.

Barbara Klunder, Toronto

From hope to pain?

Re New Canadian Catholic Bishops’ Report Lays Out Guidelines For Responding To Sex Assault Allegations (Oct. 4): Only one guideline is needed in response to allegations of a sex crime. Call the police.

Alison Dennis, Kingston

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Will the Catholic Church ever step into the 21st century?

Victims’ advocate Rob Talach is right. The bishops are rehashing the 1992 From Pain to Hope report and they still “think they can handle this internally.”

Maybe this report should have been called From Hope to Pain.

Helen Simpson, Winnipeg

Where’s John Tory?

Re Why Is Tory Avoiding A One-On-One Debate With His Main Rival? (Oct. 5): I’m not surprised that incumbent John Tory refuses to debate Jennifer Keesmaat, the only rival for his job as Toronto’s mayor. But I am definitely surprised at the CBC for reneging on its job as public broadcaster and cancelling a debate planned for Oct. 16. The CBC works for us and is financed by us. Its mandate is to give us the information we need.

I strongly propose that the CBC keep the Oct. 16 debate date open to both Mr. Tory and Ms. Keesmaat, and if one does not want to participate, the event can turn into a town hall, with questions from the audience to the last woman standing.

Ulla Colgrass, Toronto

Fees and foes

Re Ontario Defends Mutual Fund Fee Opposition, Citing U.K. Example (Oct. 3): Vic Fedeli, Ontario’s Finance Minister, appears to be at a loss to credibly explain an idiotic decision to oppose the Canadian Securities Administration’s (CSA) proposal to eliminate deferred sales charges (DSC) on mutual funds. Perhaps the mutual fund lobby can help the poor guy avoid further embarrassment and provide him with some talking (a.k.a. spin) notes.

Vic Bornell, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

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I find it startling that anyone is casting blame on the Ontario government for opposing the CSA’s proposals regarding DSC fees from the get-go. Would they have preferred that more time and resources be put into advancing the proposals, only to find out later that the Minister of Finance was opposed to the proposals and would not approve them?

The CSA (an umbrella group composed of the country’s provincial securities regulators) may propose changes, but governments are responsible for enacting them – or not.

Richard E. Austin, Toronto

Reckoning awaits

Re The Fuse Has Been Lit On Canada’s Debt Bomb (Oct. 3): As a baby boomer who has been expressing my views on my generation’s unacceptable levels of government debt until my friends have rolled their eyes – there he goes again! – I am laminating Gary Mason’s column and hanging it on our fridge.

Canada – especially my generation – needs to wake up to the fact that the near-constant government deficit financing will have a day of reckoning. And beware of Conservatives expounding that they know how to manage fiscally! Canada’s federal debt is currently more than $660-billion, and a big chunk of that was racked up during the Mulroney and Harper years.

Let’s hope the “huge financial reckoning on the horizon” doesn’t duplicate New Zealand’s currency crisis in the 1980s. Lower taxes and government bailouts for failed corporations are not the road ahead.

Don Giles, North Vancouver

Alice in trading Wonderland

Re Trudeau Promises Compensation For Dairy (Oct. 5): Have I got this right? Canadian taxpayers may have to pay a mooted $4.3-billion, in effect to subsidize the importation of cheaper U.S. dairy products into Canada under the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade?

Is this an example of Alice-in-Wonderland economics?

Ron Freedman, Toronto

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No one guarantees the prices for apples, pears or pretty much anything else produced in Canada. Now, because dairy farmers had to give up 3.6 per cent of their market under USMCA, the Prime Minister plants to give them billions of taxpayer dollars.

What about the small retailers that now will see customers buying more online that is Tax-free And Duty-Free (online Shoppers Get A Break As U.S. retailers gain an edge – Oct. 2). Where is the subsidy for them?

What a two-faced system.

Kenneth J. Martin, Kingsville, Ont.

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While there are always winners and losers in such agreements, the benefits of this new trade deal seem to be quite incremental, rather than monumental as Donald Trump has declared.

Small immediate changes (certainly with some painful adjustments for groups such as dairy farmers) will be necessary, compared to much larger, and longer-term wins for others (such as our auto sector).

The USMCA means that we will have continued access to the huge American market. Often forgotten in the Canadian debate is the fact that the Americans don’t need our market anywhere near as much as we need access to theirs. Canada won overall.

David Enns, Cornwall, Ont.

Humph!

I take exception to a clue in Friday’s crossword. The answer for “Jams sold in jars” turned out to be “pickles.” Humph! Jams are preserved almost entirely with sugar, while pickles are done up in vinegar. I know this from hanging around the kitchen with my female forebears. No wonder I had to look up the answer!

Lily White, Toronto

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