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Feb. 22: African heartache, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

African heartache

In his column on the terrifying levels of violence against women in South Africa (In This War Against Women, Everyone Loses – Feb. 21), Justice Malala says men need to talk to other men about what’s happening. He’s correct, but his argument applies well beyond South Africa’s borders.

Violence against women in all its many forms is a global issue and, in most debates on the subject, men are by and large absent and silent. In my view, it’s this very silence that’s part of the oxygen that fuels the violence.

The conversation that Mr. Malala is urging needs to take place around the world.

Ray Jones, Toronto


It’s a pity that Russell Smith (South Africa’s Corrosive Narratives Of Fear – Life & Arts, Feb. 21) didn’t turn to Geoffrey York’s informed and on-the-spot appraisal of the actual level of violence in contemporary South Africa (Folio, Feb. 20) before jumping onto the Oscar Pistorius bandwagon.

His commentary on South Africa’s “corrosive narratives of fear” is based on antique anecdote and on the very personal perspectives of several novelists.

In his article, I recognize neither the country where I lived more than 50 years ago nor the one I revisited last month.

John Laband, Kitchener, Ont.


The Pistorius murder case seems hauntingly familiar.

Not only is it getting the full treatment from the media, but it features a famous sportsperson, his dead partner, a thoroughly implausible defence and a lot of police ineptitude.

What’s next? An artificial limb that doesn’t fit?

Nigel Brachi, Edmonton

Indian potential

Re China Beats Out Britain As Canada’s No. 2 Trade Partner (online, Feb. 20): At a recent meeting I attended at the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi, a senior Canadian official noted that “Canada will not get rich selling potash and pulses.”

There’s too much emphasis by Canada on the sale of resources that are either extracted or grown. This is a path of least resistance and a strategy for short-term success at best.

Canadians have sophisticated manufactured goods and services that are in demand in many places, but we shouldn’t delude ourselves that to sit in Canada and export these is easy, or even possible. Developing markets have low-cost production advantages over Canada but lack other capabilities.

This was demonstrated at a recent air show I attended in Bangalore where Indian companies showed an eagerness to engage in meaningful partnerships with Canadian companies.

Combine these Canadian capabilities with the enthusiasm, dynamism and explosive growth potential of the Indian market and there’s an opportunity for Canadian companies to expand in ways that will only benefit Canada.

I see too much complacency by private companies and governments. We need to act. The door is closing quickly.

Tim Runge, president, C&I Projects Inc., Guelph, Ont.


British Prime Minister David Cameron blew an opportunity by refusing to return the Koh-i-Noor diamond to India (Britain Will Not Return Famed Diamond, PM Says – Feb. 21).

Britain confiscated the diamond, now on display in the Tower of London, in the mid-19th century and it became part of the Crown Jewels when Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India. Indians see its retention as a continuing reminder of centuries of colonial exploitation.

Returning this symbol to India would cost nothing, yet reap huge rewards.

Michael Robinson, Toronto

Religious violence

Patrick Martin has done an excellent job of explaining the religious and secular power struggles in the Middle East (Sectarian Tensions – Folio, Feb. 21). Despite the horror and devastation experienced by many innocent Syrians, sending Western troops and/or munitions must be carefully thought out.

And replacing one oppressive regime with another is certainly not a good idea, as recent history has shown.

The cogent comparison between Islam and 16th-century (and later) Christianity is one that many in the West should be aware of.

Thomas J. McInnis, Toronto

At one with Demers

We wish to take issue with Lysiane Gagnon’s outrageous reference to our colleague, Senator Jacques Demers (Why Would We Want An Elected Senate? – Feb. 13). This is a violation of basic human rights and dignity.

Looking down one’s nose at people is unfortunately still a problem in parts of Quebec society, as well as other parts of Canada.

About 25 per cent of Canadians are illiterate, yet illiteracy certainly did not prevent our colleague from becoming one of Canada’s greatest hockey coaches, one of the most sought-after speakers in the country, and a highly effective and admired senator.

Mr. Demers is vastly closer to being a representative of Quebeckers and Canadians in general than Ms. Gagnon can ever hope to be.

Pierre De Bané and 49 other senators (Andreychuk, Raynell; Ataullahjan, Salma; Bellemare, Diane; Black, Douglas; Boisvenu, Pierre-Hugues; Buth, JoAnne; Carignan, Claude; Champagne, Andrée; Chaput, Maria; Cordy, Jane; Dagenais, Jean-Guy; Dallaire, Roméo; Day, Joseph; Duffy, Michael; Eaton, Nicole; Fortin-Duplessis, Suzanne; Harb, Mac; Housakos, Leo; Hubley, Elizabeth; Jaffer, Mobina; Johnson, Janis; Kenny, Colin; MacDonald, Michael; Maltais, Ghislain; Marshall, Elizabeth; McIntyre, Paul; Mercer, Terry; Merchant, Pana; Mitchell, Grant; Munson, Jim; Ngo, Thanh Hai; Nolin, Pierre Claude; Ogilvie, Kelvin; Patterson, Dennis Glen; Poirier, Rose-May; Rivard, Michel; Rivest, Jean-Claude; Ruth, Nancy; Seth, Asha; Sibbeston, Nick; Smith, David; Stewart Olsen, Carolyn; Stratton, Terrance; Tardif, Claudette; Unger, Betty; Wallin, Pamela; Wells, David; White, Vernon; and Zimmer, Rod), Ottawa

At one with science

Re Groups Seek Formal Probe Into Ottawa’s ‘Muzzling’ Of Scientists (online, Feb. 20): It’s important to keep in mind the sheer breadth and depth of federal scientists’ current activities.

In 2011-12, more than 20,000 scientific and professional personnel worked for the federal government in disciplines that included protecting us against unsafe products, pushing the boundaries of human knowledge and challenging our conventional understanding of nature.

The number of peer-reviewed articles, research reports and data sets that are made available by federal scientists each year stand as clear evidence of our government’s commitment to the scientific enterprise.

Last year, Environment Canada participated in more than 1,300 media interviews, and its scientists published 524 peer-reviewed journal articles in 2010. In the same year, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada issued 968 scientific publications, while Natural Resources Canada published 487.

The numbers show that we are making more of the data they generate available to Canadians than ever before.

Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology), Ottawa

Flogging a dead …

Further to your letters on the horsemeat scandal, I guess the old saw “A horse walks into a bar and the bartender says, ‘Hey! Why such a long face?’ ” can now be explained.

Ashley Walkley, Toronto

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