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Feb. 11: Selling to the Saudis. Plus other letters to the editor

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Selling to the Saudis

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Re Saudi Deal Exempt From Global Treaty, Ottawa Says (Feb. 10): Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion's floundering for escape clauses to go ahead with the secretive $15-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia is bewildering. He needs to come clean about the details of the deal's vetting process around human rights.

The new Trudeau government is facing a test of its world view versus that of the Harper government it replaced. Unfortunately, the tone is quickly beginning to sound all too familiar.

Ali Manji, Thornhill, Ont.


If Canadians had sent a mandate letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, surely it would have stated that we want jobs that build peace and security, not ones that undermine our well-being. It is time to question economic orthodoxy when our government continues to support an arms deal that would not be acceptable under the Arms Trade Treaty we have committed to sign. Why do we act as if we must pursue such deals in order to have jobs?

Jan Slakov, Salt Spring Island, B.C.


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In 2008, I met an Irish arms dealer who worked out of Turkey. I asked him "How do you live with yourself?" The answer: "Money!"

Mr. Dion's acceptance of the arms deal with Saudi Arabia due to a technicality that Canada has not yet signed the 2014 Arms Trade Treaty certainly puts Canada's principles in jeopardy.

Dianne Dunham-Martin, Ottawa


At this time, we need to support Saudi Arabia in our joint battle against the Islamic State (Ottawa's LAV Deal With Saudis To Be Challenged In Federal Court, Feb. 6). This includes the equipment we sell to them. While we don't like all of the laws and actions of the Saudi government, we won't change things now by cancelling this armoured vehicle sale.

For more than eight years, my daughter and her family have lived in Kuwait, a country closely allied with Saudi Arabia, and I've learned that we can only change their beliefs and way of life by working with them and demonstrating that we have a way of life that can work for them.

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William Baldwin, Toronto


Bombs not away

Jeffrey Simpson is right to note that bombing Islamic State forces "inevitably creates collateral damage, which in turn can turn civilian populations against the air attackers" (Bombing Islamic State Is The Best Of The Bad Options, Feb. 9). Mr. Trudeau avoids criticism of bombing simply because the United States and many coalition partners find bombing an easy way to show resolve in defeating IS.

It is also evident that the way to defeat IS is to improve living conditions and train local forces, since having Western boots on the ground is counterproductive. This is why U.S. authorities praised Canada's new approach.

Resolving the complicated mess created by the invasion of Iraq won't be easy, but Canada is showing the way that other coalition partners could learn from.

Masud Sheikh, Oakville, Ont.


Mr. Trudeau's obsession with sunny idealism and image control could well be his Achilles heel in the long run. His government's decision to withdraw from the bombing campaign against Islamic State forces has much to do with his past, misguided, "whip out our CF-18s" comment.

Great leaders acknowledge and accept past mistakes, constantly reassessing situations as they develop. The electorate is increasingly wary of spin, image control, and politics as usual. To understand this, all one has to do is observe the presidential nomination races in our neighbour to the south.

Doug Malcolm, Hamilton


No, and yes

Just to be clear about the two Feb. 10 editorials (Legal Pot Means More Law, Not Less; and Bad Public Relations): I need to be reminded that pot is still illegal in Canada, and that independent dispensaries providing access to recreational marijuana should be closed so that the government has time to impose a cartel that will restrict access and likely boost prices.

On the other hand, it's fine for a multinational company (Uber) to encourage ordinary drivers to illegally use their own cars as taxis (UberX), while refusing the government time to develop regulations, because it's in the best interest of Canadian consumers to dismantle a taxi-licence cartel.

Jay Mallany, Toronto


Sleepy time

It seems people deal with insomnia in different ways (The Best Therapy For Insomniacs? Getting Things Done, Life & Arts, Feb. 8). My cure for insomnia was discovered inadvertently.

I very much enjoy Stuart Mclean's Vinyl Cafe stories and several years ago was delighted to discover that his program was broadcast after the 11 p.m. news on CBC. Unfortunately, I quickly realized that I always fell asleep soon after it began. I then discovered the podcasts. However, they seemed to have the same unintended effect: soon after I started listening to them, I fell asleep.

Now, whenever I find myself awake in the small hours, I put on a podcast. I have heard very few because they always cause me to fall asleep. (I haven't yet gone to a live show, fearing that my snores might cause a disturbance!) It seems I will have to settle for reading his wonderful stories.

Avril Taylor, Dundas, Ont.


Here's a thought …

Donald Trump's win in New Hampshire reinforces what a lot of us have realized for many years – that U.S. elections are far too important to be left to the average American voter (Sanders, Trump Triumph In New Hampshire, Feb. 10). Instead, the next U.S. president should be selected by a panel of educated Dutchmen and Norwegians.

These are people who speak several languages, are aware that there is a world beyond their own borders; appreciate that there are many issues, domestic and foreign, that are too complex to be solved with a 10-second soundbite; do not get confused between Eye-ran and Eye-raq; and are appalled, rather than impressed, by bombast and buffoonery.

Might need a slight change to the U.S. Constitution, but the end result would be entirely positive.

David Brewer, Puslinch, Ont.


Reader gets a smile!

Re Sens Get Phaneuf! Jays Sign Donaldson! (Sports, Feb. 9): I have lamented the dropping of the Morning Smile from your paper for some time now. But Roy MacGregor's astute observation on the Dion Phaneuf trade that Ottawa now has a senator who actually lives in PEI, had me grinning from ear to ear.

Tom Scanlan, Toronto

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