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Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper shakes hands with former Montreal Canadiens coach Jacques Demers at Laval University in Quebec City Aug. 27, 2009. (MATHIEU BELANGER/REUTERS)
Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper shakes hands with former Montreal Canadiens coach Jacques Demers at Laval University in Quebec City Aug. 27, 2009. (MATHIEU BELANGER/REUTERS)


Feb. 18: You don't know Jacques Demers, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Zuckerbergs, unite!

Margaret Wente is right about the bright future for young entrepreneurs (The Jobs Outlook Is Brighter Than You Think – Focus, Feb. 16).

In addition to capitalizing on the digital tsunami and creating new services we don’t yet know we need, they’ll more than fill the gaps left as 60 per cent of our business owners retire over the next 10 years, and they’ll conquer global markets beyond the U.S. The more we can encourage young people to think and act entrepreneurially, and help them with funding, mentoring and business resources as they do, the better off we’ll all be.

Julia Deans, CEO, Canadian Youth Business Foundation

A disgrace? No way

Lysiane Gagnon opened her column on Senate reform (Why Would We Want An Elected Senate? – Feb. 13) with the words “in an ideal world.” In that world, she suggests, everyone is apparently literate. Those who aren’t are dismissed as a disgrace.

“Some of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s [Senate] appointments were a disgrace,” she writes, “the worst that of Jacques Demers, a former hockey coach who, by his own admission, was illiterate.” Mr. Demers was, and is, a success despite being illiterate. For years, he functioned in a world that required intense communication between many layers of society.

Had Ms. Gagnon taken the time to find out what Mr. Demers does in the Senate, she would have learned of his sensitivity to those less fortunate, his speaking out on bullying and, yes, even his revelation of once being illiterate.

Senator Larry Campbell, British Columbia


It’s a sad day for all of us when a reporter uses the power of her medium to attack policy-makers instead of examining and questioning the policies they make.

I have appreciated working with Senator Jacques Demers and commend his remarkable skills as a team leader. He’s a successful person in his own right who has contributed to the success of countless others, on and off the ice. To those who have met him, heard his life story and worked with him, he’s the ultimate role model.

In an age where many have grown cynical about politics, Mr. Demers reminds us of the great contributions that can be made in public life.

Senator Richard Neufeld, British Columbia

Refugee rights

On Thursday, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney expanded Canada’s Designated Country of Origin (DCO) list to include Mexico, Israel and six other countries. These countries, along with 27 others, are considered “safe” by the Canadian government and, as such, refugees seeking asylum from them have severely restricted rights.

At Access Alliance, patients we see from Mexico have some of the most horrific stories of abuses that our medical team hears. Calling this country “safe” is absurd, and fast-tracking these individuals will certainly result in errors in decisions that will see legitimate refugees deported.

By putting countries like Mexico on the DCO list, individuals from this country have limited time to gather vital documents for their hearing, no rights to appeal decisions, and no safeguards that ensure that they are not being deported back to place where they could be killed or tortured.

Further, these refugees effectively lose their health-care coverage, which can potentially cause them and other Canadians irreparable harm.

Front-line agencies like ours, which serve refugees on a daily basis, know the realities of the dangers refugees face in in their native countries.

This bureaucratic decision will surely result in the loss of lives. The government should reverse its draconian cuts to refugee health care, rethink Canada’s position on Mexico, and remove it from the DCO with immediate effect.

Axelle Janczur, executive director, Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services

An Arab pope?

Re Benedict Shocks The Vatican (front page, Feb. 12): Last year, Bechar a al-Rahi, the Patriarch of Lebanon and Antioch, was made a cardinal. He has a great reputation in Lebanon. A Lebanese friend describes him this way: “He is excellent in his thoughts, his balanced views, in wisdom and openness to the world.”

Since Roman Catholics and Muslims each represent more than a billion followers, it could be a wonderful change in the dynamic between these two great religious traditions. The Lebanese Catholic Maronites are Arabic and have a tradition hundreds of years old of living peacefully with Muslims. They speak the same language and have much common history.

Cardinal al-Rahi has Roman experience, having studied at the Lateran and having worked with Vatican Radio for Arabic broadcasts. In 2011, he was decorated with the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour by then French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

Since most Catholics seem to agree that we need a Pope who comes from the world beyond Europe, perhaps he should be regarded as a potential replacement for Benedict XVI.

Rev. Greg MacLeod, Sydney, N.S.

So it goes

“What Al Capone was to beer and whisky during Prohibition, [Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin] Guzman is to narcotics.” The sheer irony of this statement, quoted in your article Drug Dealer Is Named Chicago’s Public Enemy No. 1 – Feb. 15), is too much to bear.

Gangsters in the 1930s were stopped by abolishing Prohibition, not by the police. Yet, Mr. Guzman’s “time is coming,” says a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration official. What time – when he’s gunned down and replaced by someone else five minutes later? Are the obscene profits created by drug prohibition laws going anywhere?

Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Or better yet, as Kurt Vonnegut wrote, so it goes, so it goes.

Christopher Price, Toronto

Grunt and groan

I support the International Olympic Committee’s decision to drop wrestling (IOC Plays Down Wrestling’s Exit After Global Uproar – online, Feb. 13). Wrestling already gets lots of coverage on TV. And the behaviour of some of the wrestlers is terrible: trash talk, blindsiding, ignoring the referee, diving off the ropes onto an opponent, hitting opponents with chairs.

The way it’s choreographed, it almost looks fake. But we know it’s real because they’re so mean. What I’ve seen certainly doesn’t embody the Olympic spirit.

Bruce Dalton, Calgary


As long as the IOC is dispensing with wrestling, why not make some other changes? How about introducing tap dancing and cookie baking?

Michael Conrad, Vancouver

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