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Minister of International Co-operation Bev Oda, shown during a media availability on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, March, 2010

Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Over Oda

Re Amid Cries of Contempt, Harper Backs Oda ( front page, Feb. 16): The tale of Kairos, Bev Oda, and Stephen Harper speaks of integrity betrayed by politics.

The minister's admission was her resignation. Integrity demands it.

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Brian Marlatt, White Rock, B.C.

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Time and time again, Canadians have witnessed the Prime Minister's hijacking of Parliament. The Oda affair is yet another example of the dictatorship of Stephen Harper.

Harley J. Ast, Regina

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It would appear that Bev Oda's naughty behaviour has created a knotty issue for the Harper Conservatives. Mind you, if the Opposition's criticism becomes too intense, the Prime Minister can always run to the Governor-General and ask permission to evoke the "Not Withstanding Clause."

William Wiebe, Shawnigan Lake, B.C.

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Hot air

What I find astonishing in Marcus Gee's support for wind farms in the Great Lakes (Windmill Foes Full Of Hot Air - Feb. 15) is his tacit assumption that our insatiable need for electricity trumps preserving one of Ontario's greatest legacies - its landscape. Regardless of whether or not they pose health risks, wind farms in the Great Lakes would permanently mar the grandeur of these inland oceans, which are unique in the world and give land-locked citizens a rare glimpse of the infinite. What's next? A wind farm in the Grand Canyon or indeed, across Niagara Falls? It's hard to imagine a Group of Seven painting dotted with windmills. Somehow not the same. Surely the beauty of the Great Lakes is worthy of protection and must factor into future decisions about water-based wind farms.

Laurie Lynd, Toronto

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Red on green

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Every power source has its shortcomings but to focus only on renewables, as Professor Jatin Nathwani does, is disingenuous (Red Flags On Green Energy - Feb. 16). If the concern is "protection of sensitive ecosystems" he should critique coal-fired generation. James Hansen, the esteemed scientist, argues coal is at the very root of our climate crisis. And in Eastern Canada our culpability is especially great: Ontario's coal plants are the single largest source of greenhouse gases in North America. This fossil fuel threatens more than vulnerable ecosystems; as the main driver of climate change, it endangers all life.

Gideon Forman, executive director, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, Toronto

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If offshore wind farms are enough to raise red flags about the environment, then fossil fuels should be raising flags that are redder than red.

Mark Bessoudo, Toronto

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Mohawk's misstep

No matter how Mohawk College decides to spin its decision, the bottom line is that it appears to have caved in to elements whose interest is to stifle the kind of narrative that is sorely missing in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Activist Group May Seek Injunction To Allow Israel Critic To Talk At Mohawk - Feb. 15). While it is the right of such elements to protest and make their voice heard, it is incumbent on institutions of higher learning such as Mohawk College to uphold the principles of free speech and not to succumb to such pressure. Introducing the security fee after the contract has been signed and the venue legally booked is not only unprofessional but unbecoming of an institution such as Mohawk. At the very least, they should absorb the security cost since according to them it was identified after the contract was signed and not before.

Louay Jabry, Pointe-Claire, Que.

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Canadians should have the right to know what the issues are concerning the never-ending conflict between Israel and Palestine. Thank you for allowing your readers to judge for themselves whether free speech should remain a Canadian value or be subject to a security surcharge to protect the public's right to hear all points of view.

Andrea Summers, Montreal

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Charging this exorbitant amount (which would effectively quadruple the costs of the event to the sponsors) is obviously a thinly veiled attempt to have the speech cancelled. It should be in Mohawk College's interest to promote free speech and rational discourse, rather than just caving in to special interest groups.

Scholar Norman Finkelstein certainly is not a rabble-rouser, and there has been no violence at his previous appearances. Mohawk College should reconsider its demands, and should in fact promote this event to its students and interested Hamiltonians.

Gene Tishauer, Toronto

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The big house

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It seems a spurious argument to simply say that Ottawa should be blamed for overcrowded jails caused by new "tough-on-crime" laws (Ottawa Blamed For Overcrowded Jails - Feb. 16). Pierre Mallette, president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers cites the situation where two detainees, who end up in double occupancy in a cell, with one stabbing the other; this begs the question, isn't it the responsibility of the correctional officers to see that prison inmates don't have weapons? Maybe they need to run the inmates through one of our airline security systems? A second question, is it better to do away with laws that put such criminals away, and then just turn these punks loose on the public? Law-abiding citizens are fed up with this kind of thinking. We need to get those jails built.

Del Borggard, Calgary

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Immigration back then

I applied at the Canadian embassy in person in The Hague on March 2, 1966. I filled in the forms and was able to do my medical the same day (Tories Tread Careful Line on Immigration Policy - Feb. 15). I received the go-ahead to come to Canada 19 days later and arrived in Toronto on March 27 with $135 in my pocket. Started work as a computer operator with Fireco Sales in Rexdale on March 29. Retired January, 2006, as director, academic computing at St. Thomas University in Fredericton.

My qualifications in 1966 were - 19 years old, left school in Zambia at the age of 16 with a Grade 9 education and worked as a computer operator for Anglo American Corporation for two years. …

It seemed a lot easier back then.

Peter Dielissen, Fredericton

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Saluting service

In our constant quest for cheap, we so often lose sight of the value of service. Angela Self (The One-Month Wardrobe Challenge - Feb. 15) suggests we "shop in store to find the right fit and style, but buy online." If that is the case, shouldn't we pay these stores for their service in helping us to determine the right size and fit? eBay, and other online discounters, are making a lot of money on the unpaid backs of those store owners. If we want our local retailers to stay in business, we need to honour, and pay for, their service.

Lee Scott, Toronto

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