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Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is in the eye of a storm over his role, or lack of a role, in Conrad Black’s return to Canada. Today’s topics: a Black divide; the Prime Minister’s place in issuing pardons; front-page treatment of Canada’s Olympians; a top banker’s view of competition in the financial services industry ... and more (Chris Young For The Globe and Mail)
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is in the eye of a storm over his role, or lack of a role, in Conrad Black’s return to Canada. Today’s topics: a Black divide; the Prime Minister’s place in issuing pardons; front-page treatment of Canada’s Olympians; a top banker’s view of competition in the financial services industry ... and more (Chris Young For The Globe and Mail)


Aug. 4: A Black divide, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

A Black divide

Deny, deny, deny seems to be Harper government’s mantra (Lawyers Protesting Colleague’s Treatment Force PM To Defend Kenney – Aug 3).

Jason Kenney is the Immigration Minister. Even if we accept that he was not involved in the decision to permit Conrad Black to return to Canada, that does not absolve him of having any influence in the “Black Affair.” It was Mr. Kenney’s job to be involved, especially with such a high-profile candidate.

Kathleen Hanna, Picton, Ont.


It seems that more than 80 immigration lawyers have used their position as experts in their field to express their political opinion that they do not like the actions of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and the Harper government.

There is no reason to keep Conrad Black out of the country. These lawyers are using this issue as a ruse to criticize a government they do not like.

Jonathan Usher, Toronto


I am a lawyer with a small but busy practice in Southwestern Ontario. I try not to ruffle feathers. Much like the protagonist in Herman Melville’s short story Bartleby, The Scrivener, “I am one of those unambitious lawyers who never addresses a jury, or in any way draws down public applause; but in the cool tranquility of a snug retreat, do a snug business among rich men’s bonds and mortgages and title-deeds.”

I did, however, vote for the NDP in the last federal election. I also once wrote a rather sycophantic e-mail to left-wing scholar and activist Noam Chomsky. Moreover, I disagree generally with the way the Conservative government conducts itself.

Is Jason Kenney going to report me to the Law Society?

Bob McMaster, Cambridge, Ont.


Jason Kenney’s office blessed us this week with Conservative insight on the subject of more than 80 of Canada’s lawyers getting uppity and daring to doubt government pronouncements.

“Baseless accusations of misconduct and reckless character smears … poison the public discourse and debase the legal profession,” spokeswoman Ana Curic tells us.

May we now look forward to Mr. Harper’s political machine withdrawing its flood of scurrilous television commercials full of “baseless accusations” and “reckless character smears” against the Leader of the Opposition that “poison the public discourse” and “debase” the parliamentary profession?

Bill Piket, White Rock, B.C.


Pardon politics

I was taken aback at the headline on the article regarding prime ministerial discretion to issue pardons: Harper Pardons Convicted Farmers (Aug. 2).

When I was the chief of staff to solicitor-general Herb Gray, the task of issuing pardons was the purview of the National Parole Board and such decisions were taken at arms length and without any consultation with the government. I can only surmise that the arm is getting shorter, that the Prime Minister has given himself new powers that we didn’t know about – or was this hidden in Bill C-38 as well?

It is a sad day when quasi-judicial authority is assumed by politicians. When will we start call him Mr. President?

Douglas Kirkpatrick, Ottawa


I am so pleased to see the Prime Minister acknowledging the important part civil disobedience takes in Canadian society. By pardoning the farmers who circumvented the Wheat Board regulations and were therefore convicted, he shows us that Canadians need to draw the attention of government and society to laws that are bad, even if it means breaking them.

Stephen Harper has struck a blow for true democracy.

Peter Bangarth, Toronto


Front page, please

It is annoying and disconcerting to see the front page of The Globe and Mail prominently display pictures of medal winners from other countries, usually, the U.S. (Historic Leaps – Aug. 3). As our national newspaper, shouldn’t you promote our medal winners?

Canadians would have loved to see the women’s eight rowing team, which won the silver medal, pictured more prominently. I seriously doubt if any U.S. papers would ever bother to showcase Canadian winners, even on an inside page.

Usha Rangachari, Hamilton, Ont.


A banker’s view

There is more competition in financial services than many people realize, and not just the intense competition among the large banks (How To Break The Banks’ Market Dominance – July 27).

More than 70 domestic and foreign banks operate in Canada (at least 40 offer products and services to consumers); credit unions/caisses populaires and other financial service providers also provide stiff competition.

Fund manager Rob Wessel suggests a 10-per-cent deposit share cap to limit large banks in Canada from making acquisitions, a rule that they have in the United States. However, the U.S. has a fragmented, regional banking system that is much different than our national system.

Rules from south of the border often don’t translate well here. Do we really want to tinker with the Canadian model that has provided financial stability? Given the turmoil in the U.S. banking system over the last few years and the fact that 452 U.S. banks have failed since 2008, is that really a model for us to follow?

Bank customers can already access third-party mutual funds and investment products through bank-owned brokerage firms, so that choice exists. The bigger question is: Do we really want government policy to dictate what products a company can sell, as Mr. Wessel suggests? It’s a lot like requiring McDonald’s to sell Burger King hamburgers in its restaurants.

Terry Campbell, president, Canadian Bankers Association


A bigger big picture

Your editorial on the Quebec government’s opposition to Lowes’s bid for Rona (Doing it Wrong With Rona – Aug. 1) takes no account of issues that go beyond the corporate bottom line.

Is Lowes more or less likely than Rona’s current management to take environmental concerns seriously? To compensate workers fairly? To take account of all the ethical issues involved in product sourcing?

Is CNOOC (China National Offshore Oil Corp.) more or less likely than Nexen’s current management to treat the environment well, and to practice good corporate ethics?

The Globe looks to the interests of investors and “the broader interests of the market,” but seems unable to see that there may be issues even broader than these.

Don LePan, Nanaimo, B.C.


What it would say

Samantha Nutt’s column (Smile And Wave The White Flag – July 31) regarding the tendency to identify women by their marriage partners reminded me that another relationship figures in media coverage of accomplished women. Some years ago, when a Canadian woman surprised the experts by winning a gold medal in a shooting event at the Summer Olympics, a newspaper headline proclaimed: “Mother of two wins gold.”

If both marriage and motherhood are relevant regardless of the woman’s accomplishment, I assume that if I ever do anything notable the headline would begin: “Divorced mother of two …”

Penelope Codding, Victoria

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