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An activist wears a bandana of EU colours at a cross-party rally organised by the People's Vote organisation campaigning for a second EU refrendum, outside the Houses of Parliament in central London on September 4, 2019.


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Politics versus religion

Re Singh Removes His Turban In Ad Aimed At Boosting NDP Support In Quebec (Sept. 4): It is a sad day when a baptized Sikh politician deciding to remove his turban for a public viewing of his hair is a reasonable step to take. Whatever demystification Jagmeet Singh and the NDP think is being had seems mistaken.

He would undermine an important debate in Canada that was won a long time ago outside Quebec, culminating with the acceptance of turbans within the RCMP dress code and more broadly elsewhere in Canada. His Quebec lieutenant says “Quebeckers will appreciate that he is being genuine about who he is. This is his identity and his religion but it is not a big deal."

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Most Canadians know a baptized male Sikh‎ wears a turban, a fundamental feature of the religion. Practising one’s religion free of pressure to alter a key tenet is one of the biggest deals a free Canada has. A pocket of the country where a Sikh politician decides to signal that one’s religious faith is not a big deal sets the stage for the erosion of that freedom.

It pains me that in order for the NDP to bolster Quebec electoral support, Mr. Singh has had to make a call on how he presents his religion. It feels like a stunt, and an unnecessary one at that.

Greg Schmidt Calgary

Brexit breakdowns

Re 'The People Of This Country Will Have To Choose’ (Sept. 4): Boris Johnson keeps saying Brexit must happen because that is the will of the people as expressed in a three-year-old referendum.

If he is so concerned about the will of the people, why wouldn’t he determine what it is now? Why not hold another referendum? The people now have a much better and more honest understanding of what Brexit involves. Indeed, the new referendum question should start with the words: “Knowing what you now do about Brexit…"

Polls in Britain suggest the “Remain” side would win such a referendum. Perhaps that is why Mr. Johnson won’t hold one.

Peter Hirst Oakville

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I’m a British expat who voted for the country to remain in the then European Communities in the 1975 referendum. If I were still a resident in 2016, I would still have backed the “Remain” option.

However, I now have cause to reconsider my position on Brexit, after what I saw as arrogance and disrespect on the part of European Union negotiators toward the naive, yet civilized, approach of former prime minister Theresa May. Perhaps the EU deserves the rough-and-tough treatment now being meted out by Boris Johnson.

J.G. Lover Victoria

So an election in a democracy is considered a threat now. Ain’t that just wonderful.

Hal C. Hartmann West Vancouver

Thundering Thunberg

Re Political Convention Hits New Low As Bernier Targets A Teenager (Sept. 4): Greta Thunberg said it best: “When haters go after your looks and differences it means they have nowhere left to go.” Those who deny climate change really are left with nowhere to go. They are up against solid scientific evidence, manifested in an increasing number of extreme weather events that are impacting people and economies.

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Tackling the climate crisis requires courage and innovative thinking, qualities lacking in those who cling tightly to the status quo. Happily, more and more communities, governments and businesses worldwide are rising to the challenge of transitioning to a clean-energy society.

Ms. Thunberg has certainly made a few enemies as a result of her powerful stand to safeguard her generation’s future. She has also made millions of friends willing to stand with her.

Cheryl McNamara Toronto

Kids keep on trending

Re Kids Today (Letters, Sept. 4): A letter writer suggests that corporations, or clothing manufacturers, are partly responsible for clothing decisions made by young people. Insofar as corporations make trendy clothing available for purchase, this is true. But manufacturers are not responsible for what I call “trend traps.”

As one example, let’s look at holey jeans, the ones that look as if they’ve been fed into a blender on high speed. Are we to believe that manufacturers started producing such items out of the blue, hoping to find a market? Companies respond to trends – and trends, even ones for half-destroyed jeans, seem to be what interest many young people.

Peter A. Lewis-Watts Barrie, Ont.

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Cycling back to roads

Re Cyclists And The Road (Letters, Sept. 2): “Bikelash” is prevalent throughout North American society for the simple fact we don’t have a biking culture.

I rented a bike in Zurich and Osaka this summer, and was almost expecting similar drama to what I have grown accustomed to on Vancouver Island. At home, at least one truck would drive too close or I would get cut off, leading to a close call. Abroad, nothing happened at all. Vehicles always kept a safe distance, and I always felt safe despite being in mass metropolitan centres.

Nearly all drivers in those cities cycle. Most drivers at home do not cycle. If more people biked here, there would be a lot more empathy toward cyclists on the road and less “bikelash.”

Julian White Courtenay, B.C.

Cyclists do in fact contribute to taxes that pay for road infrastructure.

Most cyclists are, at least occasionally, also motorists paying gasoline taxes. Many cyclists pay property taxes (some of us even in the highest brackets). Most also have jobs and pay income taxes (some of us in the highest brackets there, too). All but the most minimalist cyclist contributes to general revenue when paying GST or HST on their purchases.

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While cyclists take advantage of the road systems because they are there, our infrastructure needs are much simpler – and lower-cost – than those that exist for motorized vehicles. Ultimately, the avid driver should encourage everyone else to get out of their cars and onto bikes, so as to reduce the number of vehicles impeding their own daily commute, not to mention reduce wear and tear on the roads.

Danielle Takoff Ottawa

How to really teach math

Re The Math On Math (Letters, Sept. 2): A recent letter suggested the adjustment of teacher training to encourage a love of math, or at least a reduction of fear, so that teachers could more easily persuade students to embrace the subject and thus excel.

My late wife was a lifelong teacher who was often recognized for her work by peers, administrators and, most of all, parents. Her career was spent mostly in the middle-school grades, an age group she loved.

Sandra had no specific training as a math teacher, but math and the teaching of it was a passion. The early part of her work day was often spent with colleagues, helping them to become better math teachers. This was done mostly by reducing their fear or dislike of the subject.

I have personally witnessed the value in encouraging a positive attitude toward success that naturally flows to students. The only thing teacher testing will do is reduce the number of them willing to take on this important role.

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Ken Duff Vankleek Hill, Ont.


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