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Politics of partisan politics
Re Which Leader Do You Dislike Least? Cynicism Plagues Federal Election (Sept. 2): Political scientist Melanee Thomas suggests that “partisan sorting, or cleavage politics – in which voters sort themselves into one values-based camp or another along such lines as age, gender, education and geography, and then demonize those in the other camp,” is to blame for the tone of political debate.
Is it not politicians who have done the sorting? It’s called identity politics, and it’s what partisan political scientists have been trying to perfect for decades: tailoring specific policies to specific voting blocks, then encouraging those blocks to believe that anyone opposed to those policies is “against” that group.
Don’t blame the voters. The politicians got what they wanted.
Tom Curran Ottawa
Canada: Exit stage left
Re Canada Is Not Back On The World Stage (Sept. 3): Like the rest of the world, Canada must contend with an international relations environment that has been massively disrupted. We have been relegated to the children’s table, while the United States, China, European Union, India and Russia control the dinner talk. Canadian politicians and governments need to realize that we are no longer seen as opinion leaders and allocate their resources – and expectations – accordingly.
Steve Cloutier Calgary
So Canada’s status with four of the world’s great powers is rocky, even poor. But how do you snuggle up to a dangerous political figure?
To warm up to Vladimir Putin we would have to repeal our Magnitsky Law; for Donald Trump, we would need to develop diplomatic deafness; Xi Jinping is known to penalize or imprison those who think otherwise than he does; and Narendra Modi is currently making decisions affecting millions in Kashmir.
Jocelyn Coulon writes that Canada is not back on the world stage, but without considering how we are seen by France, Germany, Britain, Ireland, Spain, Denmark and all the Scandinavian countries. Who needs the world stage when the only show in town is “The Life and Times of Caligula?”
Hugh McKechnie Newmarket, Ont.
A bonus to slowing down
The editorial (Putting Life Back Into City Streets – Sept. 3) notes that the primary cause of pedestrian deaths in cities is speed, and that Toronto is planning to reduce speed limits on some roads. These speed reductions will not only reduce the severity of pedestrian injury, but will also substantially reduce fuel consumption by drivers and the associated CO2 emissions.
A city is primarily for people; lower speed limits will help both pedestrians and the environment they walk in.
David R. Morris Fredericton
Re How To Prepare Teens To Handle Campus Stress: A Guide For Parents (Sept. 2): If their parents had been less protective earlier in life, teenagers would be far more resilient and adapt far more easily.
I understand today is far different than 50 years ago, but I travelled 1,000 miles by train on my own to university in a different country, found my way to the school and residence, and settled into a different way of life for four years. I had to deal with new colleagues, experiences and often uncomfortable situations without any support.
Teens nowadays could adapt better if they had some experience of being self-sufficient.
Anne McKeown Winnipeg
Re Modesty Is No Longer The Best Policy: Canadian Schools Take A New Approach To Dress Codes (Aug. 31): People can dress any way they like, as far as I’m concerned, but there’s no doubt appearance affects how we think of others.
Speaking as a female, it’s hard to take women seriously when their décolletage and other eye-catching attributes shout “look at me,” relegating their opinions and comments to second place. Men are more likely to be criticized for scruffy dress and appearance, which also distract from taking them seriously.
Ergo, know why you’re dressing as you do.
Catherine Sinclair Thornbury, Ont.
I was surprised to see no mention of the impact corporations have on the fashion choices of young people. More than parents or school boards, they have the greatest impact on how youth think about what clothes they should wear.
This is not to say anyone should not dress however they like, even at school. But the conversation must include corporations if we’re to truly understand the cultural backdrop against which young people are making their clothing decisions, as well as knowing if they genuinely feel empowered – or oppressed – by them.
Paul Salvatori Toronto
Having been on the front lines of the never-ending battle over what is and isn’t appropriate for school dress, it seems to me there is a simple solution to the problem: Institute mandatory school uniforms in elementary and high schools.
J. V. Huxley Port Dover, Ont.
Proactive heart health
Re McMaster Study Expected To Change Heart-attack Survivor Care (Sept. 2): When reading that “proactively unclogging arteries that have yet to cause a heart attack is significantly better at preventing deaths and future heart attacks than medication alone,” one must question whether “stinting” is actually about proactive health care.
Shouldn’t proactive health care promote fundamental and systemic lifestyle improvements at large? Doing so in the first place would reduce occurrences of artery-clogging and other diseases, thus reducing the need for such costly and reactive surgical health-care interventions.
Jeff Wright Belleville, Ont.
Free speech’s limits?
Re Jailing People For Hate Speech Undermines Democracy’s Strength (Aug. 31): Free speech in this country is not in jeopardy. The road from hate speech to jail is lengthy and filled with complex legal tests weighting the fine line between free speech and hate speech.
In the case of Your Ward News, the defendants were charged, convicted and sentenced after a rigorous review of their alleged hate speech and its impact on women and Jewish people. We cannot afford to look the other way, especially when we know there is a strong link between hate speech and violence.
To an extent, our hate-speech laws have kept us safe and principled. Conversely, the U.S. First Amendment allows for events such as those in Charlottesville, Va., where opposing protests turned deadly. We should take pride in our hate-speech laws which protect our freedom every day.
Avi Benlolo President and CEO, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies; Toronto
Re Going Bananas: Is The Fruit We Know And Love Going Extinct? (Sept. 2): While the scientists and farmers are working on developing a disease-resistant banana, maybe they could produce one whereby each banana in a bunch ripened a day apart, and not all at the same time. Now that would be a bestseller.
Lyn Robinson Burlington, Ont.
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