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Cancel the Saudi deal

Re Saudis Defend Use Of Combat Vehicles (Aug. 17): It seems quite obvious that the Saudis used Canadian-made combat vehicles against their civilian population. Pictures and videos confirm this; now even the Saudi government admits the fact by issuing a statement defending its recent deployment of these armoured vehicles.

What has our government done, other than announcing that it is "deeply concerned" and is launching an investigation?

The investigation is over.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs to do the only right thing and cancel the contract.

Michael Gilman, Toronto

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No 'mere tweaking'

Re U.S. To Seek Tough NAFTA Rules Of Origin In Auto Sector: Trade Czar (Aug. 17): We're told that Donald Trump wants major concessions in NAFTA, not "a mere tweaking" of the deal.

During negotiations in the 1990s, the United States was importing some 10 million barrels of oil a day, and the oil crisis of the mid-1970s had not been forgotten. The American negotiators conceded a lot to ensure future oil supplies, but now that the country produces so much of its own oil, the concessions they made then seem superfluous.

Considering the size of individual economies, the trade with Canada and Mexico is not as significant for our southern neighbours, while it is of critical importance to us. Donald Trump knows this and there is no reason for him not to push this advantage as far as he can.

Sudhir Jain, Calgary

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Sanitizing the past

The controversy over removing statues and monuments to the Civil War is becoming a flashpoint in American politics. Donald Trump's stand is partly for the wrong reasons, but there is an argument for his position.

Because of extremist acts in the U.S., a negative attitude has developed over the monuments. Perhaps there should be a moratorium on new monuments and statues, but existing and long established statues should be kept, as long as the context is made clear.

A Friedrich Engels statue, discarded in Ukraine, has been removed and erected in Manchester, England, a city where Engels spent time doing research on social issues. Buster Keaton took a sympathetic view of the Confederate South when he made The General. It wasn't important who won as it was a comedy.

Mr. Trump would be advised to convene a committee to study and weigh the pros and cons, what should be removed and what preserved. He could draw experts from university professors, politicians and historical societies. The past is what we remember, so we do not repeat it.

David Lindsay, London, Ont.

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To those who wrongly equate removal of Confederate statues with revising or erasing history, I'd like to share something comedian Jim Jefferies points out: Germany doesn't have statues of Adolf Hitler, yet we seem to do a good job of remembering him.

Ann Campbell, Vancouver

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Re Not Just Statues, U.S. Army Bases Also Need To Be Renamed (Aug. 17): The contention that every memorial to the Confederate cause (including military base names) must be scrubbed from the landscape is disturbing, when the fundamental purpose of all history studies is recalled.

History has immeasurable value when past events are placed in their appropriate context. Slavery, and the related states-rights causes the Confederacy advanced until its 1865 surrender, are not promoted or endorsed if the statutes and army base names remain. Context encourages a fuller appreciation of why certain Confederate leaders were venerated by their communities.

When properly treated as teaching tools, Confederate memorials contribute far more to our collective knowledge than the reflexive and profoundly reactionary thinking on offer in this article.

Just as those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it, those who sanitize history beyond recognition are doomed to never fully understand it.

Bryan Davies, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

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Devoted to kindness

In the midst of the racial hatred being spewed around the world, we would all benefit from reading about the life of John Forman Howes, recounted in Lives Lived (Aug. 17).

He is described as a man who was "devoted to random acts of kindness," a U.S. Navy language school graduate who, after he landed in Japan in 1947, "spontaneously helped people through the nation's worst time" and was eventually conferred Japan's highest civilian honour.

What a joy to read such a story in such unsettling and dangerous times. If only President Donald Trump would read this and learn.

Ann Sullivan, Peterborough, Ont.

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Three questions

Re U Of T Blocks Far-Right Group From Holding Campus Rally (Aug. 17): University of Toronto president Meric Gertler goes badly awry in explaining why he is refusing space to a Canadian Nationalist Party (CNP) rally.

In claiming "unwavering commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion," he raises these questions: Why does diversity not include the CNP? Why is the CNP not being treated with equity? Why is the CNP excluded from inclusion?

The university cannot have things both ways. Inclusion includes everyone.

Peter Ferguson, Kimberley, Ont.

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Less to the top

Re Metro Warns Of Price Hikes As Labour Costs Rise (Report on Business, Aug. 16): Here's an idea executives or members of the compensation committee at Metro (or Loblaw, Hudson's Bay etc.) should consider to counter the minimum-wage increase coming into effect in Ontario in 2018: Reduce executive compensation.

Not only would it partially offset the minimum-wage increase, it would be a small step toward reducing the income-inequality gap between executives and all the other employees who really make such organizations work.

Metro CEO Eric La Flèche and others can mitigate this structural cost increase by totally revamping the company-wide compensation structure itself.

Provide more compensation to the bottom and middle workers and less to the top. The income-inequality gap has been widening for long enough. This is a good opportunity for compensation committees everywhere to stop, think, and restructure.

Catherine Lowes, Toronto

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Hmm …

Re Resale Homes Should Carry Energy-Use Label By 2030, Environmental Groups Say (Report on Business, Aug. 17): Here's news for the groups that want resale homes to carry energy-use labels: They already do. They're called hydro bills. Prospective purchasers need only ask.

Ron Freedman, Toronto