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(John Shearer/AP)
(John Shearer/AP)


Feb. 26: Hollywood’s history, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

A Canadian story

Let’s face it: Hollywood does, indeed, rewrite history. But we should stop whining that the Oscar-winning film Argo bends the facts and fails to give Canada its due in the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979 (Affleck’s Oscar Nod To Canada Better Than Nothing – online, Feb. 25).

Canadian filmmakers have had years to tell our side of this heroic story, but, somehow, we lacked the audacity to do so.

Sunday’s Oscar ceremony honoured the work of a number of Canadians. So we have the talent. We also have had many Canadian heroes at home and abroad to celebrate in film.

We should get on with telling our own stories and recording our own history and not rely on Ben Affleck to do so.

Gary J. Smith, former Canadian ambassador, Arden, Ont.


The true tragedy for Canadians of Argo’s best-picture Oscar isn’t that Hollywood shortchanged history but that Canada isn’t what it used to be. Under Stephen Harper, we’ve closed embassies, outsourced diplomatic work to the British and got into bed with the Israelis. Could Ken Taylor get a job today?

There are reasons to weep for Canada, but Ben Affleck isn’t one of them.

Asif Hossain, Toronto

The first step

No one can deny Gordon Gibson’s claim that our Senate has done good things (Never Mind The Senate. Let’s Repair The House Instead – Feb. 25). But that’s overshadowed by the realities Mr. Gibson himself points out. The Senate is a partisan government-crony dumping ground. Its undemocratic nature leads to a lack of credibility amongst Canadians, and its closing of ranks around those who break the rules only confirms to Canadians that it has to go.

Getting rid of the unaccountable is the first step in making Parliament better.

Paul Rowe, Ottawa

The second step

There’s a surefire question that can cut through the murk of parliamentary residence: “What is the location of your largest TV screen?”

Ron Freedman, Toronto


So Mike Duffy is going to voluntarily return his housing allowance (Duffy Admits Error, Will Pay Back Housing Allowance – Feb. 23). Sounds like he and his Senate cronies are living off the avails of constitution.

Michael Farrell, Oakville, Ont.

Muzzle velocity

Kudos to Elizabeth Renzetti for her straight talk on the increasing scandal of muzzling scientists in Canada (Protecting Our Precious Liberties: Let’s Start With Government Scientists – Feb. 23).

In addition to the evidence in her column of restricted media access to government scientists and the new requirements that scientists who collaborate with them accept terms that require permission from the Canadian government before sharing their findings, recent Fisheries and Oceans Canada rules moved to shut down scientific research before it starts.

On Feb. 7, in a DFO e-mail to scientists, it was stipulated that they obtain prior consent before applying for research grants. As well, before submitting research to a peer-reviewed journal for publication, scientists must obtain permission from a departmental superior (who, no doubt, needs permission from the Prime Minister’s Office).

Search as I might, I can’t find suppression of science and research and the strangling of the free flow of information in the Conservatives’ 2011 platform. No one voted for this.

Elizabeth May, Leader, Green Party of Canada

Double or nothing

Hold on: Teachers’ retirement funds are connected to lottery profits (Ontario’s Privatization Gamble – Feb. 25)? Isn’t that a conflict of interest? What’s the impetus to properly teach math, economics and life management?

John Van Sloten, Calgary

Good pharma

In Alan Cassels’s review of Ben Goldacre’s Bad Pharma (Making Money Making Drugs – Books, Feb. 23), he omits one crucial point: Medicines and vaccines save lives. Dr. Goldacre himself says in his book: “Drug companies around the world have produced some of the most amazing innovations of the past 50 years, saving lives on an epic scale.”

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most highly regulated industries in the world. The science is increasingly complex, and each discovery adds to our collective knowledge about life science. Ultimately, Health Canada has strict rules on what information it requires to approve a new medicine, and our members follow these rules to the letter.

Canadians can be assured that their medicines and vaccines have passed the highest standard of scrutiny to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Russell Williams, president, Canada’s Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx&D), Ottawa

Good cafeteria

Your article about the processed food industry (Why You Just Can’t Help Yourself – Life & Arts, Feb. 25) offers fascinating insight into the science and marketing behind junk food. Though we’re addicted to the “unholy trinity” of salt, sugar and fat, we’re offered this guidance: “View the grocery store as a minefield” and tread carefully.

Another danger zone is the school cafeteria, where, despite attempts by provincial governments to regulate what’s sold, children are still being fed highly processed food. At many schools, multinational food service companies employ low-skilled workers to heat up meals prepared in distant factories. I’m convinced these meals are engineered so the next generation also grows up being unable to resist.

But there’s another way. Hire chefs passionate about cooking. Prepare nutritious meals from scratch. Buy homegrown ingredients. Plan seasonal menus. At Elmwood School, we’ve been cooking our own lunches for more than three years, and the results are dramatic. Our students eat better and, surprisingly, our menu is cheaper than when we used a food service company.

This model is proof positive that tempting children with delicious, nutritious meals is a much better strategy than preaching futile resistance.

Cheryl Boughton, headmistress, Elmwood School, Ottawa

Shaken, not stirred

Canada, I believe, has the only Catholic cardinal named for a popular cocktail (Q&A: Thomas Collins – Feb. 25). This should count for something, somewhere.

Geoff Smith, Kingston, Ont.

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