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Ukraine's transition

Re Ottawa Moves To Back Kiev Transition (Feb. 26): The ongoing effort to align Ukraine with the West serves only to fuel the division of the country by encouraging an either-or narrative, with the EU on one side and Russia on the other. Given that Ukrainian public opinion is split on the issue, the trilateral negotiations between the EU, Ukraine and Russia offered by Vladimir Putin last fall could have led to a peaceful resolution, but unfortunately the EU rejected the proposal.

Ben More, Port Hope, Ont.

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Re Second Chance (editorial, Feb. 25): The only power Russian President Vladimir Putin recognizes is the old Soviet-style "jackboot in the face." To him, appeasement shows weakness. Ukrainians know their history – there is no negotiating with the Soviet-style gang – and that's why president Viktor Yanukovych had to go.

Vanessa Dylyn, Toronto

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After a PQ win?

Re A PQ Majority? Another Secession Sequel (Feb . 26): The Parti Québécois is not using the values charter as a divisive election ploy, but as an assertion of Quebec's secular identity. Characterizing this as "fear of the other"' is cheap sophistry.

To wear a religious symbol is to advertise that religion – just as the ubiquitous "M" advertises a burger chain.

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No office of the state should outwardly promote a product or religion. This extends to schools, where teachers are important role models and should encourage critical thought, not accommodation of irrational ideas.

Albert Howard, Montreal

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Jeffrey Simpson's observations on a potential Quebec "consultation" regarding secession are timely, given the prospect of a PQ win. While a majority is by no means certain, there are good reasons for Canadians to be prepared in the event that it comes to pass.

On the positive side, it is unlikely a PQ government would hold a third referendum on secession, unless it was confident of a strong victory. Three losses would doom the sovereignty dream indefinitely; even a narrow win would be fraught with huge difficulties.

On the negative side, there is not a united front in Parliament. It would be helpful if all federal political parties set aside their differences on this critical issue to speak with Quebeckers respectfully about the process required under Canadian law for a province to secede from the federation, as well as the consequences, as outlined by Mr. Simpson. This would not be fear mongering. It would be speaking the truth.

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Tony Manera, Ottawa

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State of confusion

Re The Jewish State, And What That Means (Feb. 26): Shira Herzog's thoughtful and informative analysis still misses the point on Israel's demand for recognition as a Jewish state.

Today, no democracy defines itself as a Christian or a Hindu or a Muslim state. That is because that kind of definition defeats the most important aspect of a democracy and one of its core values. That is that all citizens are recognized as equals and participate equally in the running of their country. Designating Israel as a Jewish state would automatically bestow second-class citizenship on all non-Jews.

Israelis pride themselves on being the only democracy in the Middle East. But that distinction carries with it some obligations. Granting equal rights and recognition to all of its citizens is certainly one of them.

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Michael Poliacik, Toronto

Editor's note: The original newspaper and digital versions of this letter quoted incorrect statistics about the percentage of Canadians who declare themselves Christians. That reference has been deleted from this online version.

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The demand by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state is too smart by half: It's comparable to the childish insistence that one's adversary cry "uncle."

A peace agreement with the Palestinians would not be enhanced by an endorsement that the Palestinian Arabs within Israel are something less than first-class citizens. What Israel does legitimately need is for the Palestinians to once and for all cease claiming a "right of return" to Israel proper and to negotiate a Palestinian state based upon small revisions to the borders existing before the 1967 war.

Mr. Netanyahu is not fooling anyone with his latest negotiating tactic. It is pure mischief-making.

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Simon Rosenblum, Toronto

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Organ-donor laggards

Re Organ Donations Rise, But Still Fall Short (Feb. 26): On Jan. 30, I donated a kidney to my younger brother. It was an easy decision as we knew he'd wait up to 10 years for a kidney and have to live on dialysis. We were lucky, we were a match and I am healthy.

When it comes to donating organs after death, Canada falls far behind Spain, France, Italy and the U.S. Our mindset needs to change: If you or a loved one needed an organ, wouldn't you want one? If someone wants to receive a gift of life, they should also be willing to register to be a donor, and to make sure their family knows and will follow through.

A donor can make such a difference in a family's life. The organ recipient can go back to a more normal life, back to walks around the block, back to watching their children grow up, graduate, get married, maybe even see their grandchildren.

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Some 230 families in Canada lost someone who was waiting for an organ last year. That is a tragedy. We need to look within ourselves and fix this problem.

Sandra Blane, Oakville, Ont.

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Keystone, climate

Re Governor's Comments Raise Hopes For Early Keystone Decision (Report on Business, Feb. 25): You report that the U.S. State Department said Keystone XL wouldn't contribute to higher greenhouse gas emissions be-cause the oil sands will be developed with or without Keystone.

The real problem for Keystone, however, is in what the department's report didn't say: According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, every energy scenario the report considered leads to ex-tremely high U.S. CO2 emissions. So high that they exceed current CO2 levels well beyond 2040.

That means the report's conclusion that Keystone XL would not contribute to higher greenhouse gas emissions is only valid in an extremely high CO2 scenario in which President Barack Obama, the U.S. and the world fail to meet their climate targets. As they say, context is everything.

You might be wondering what Keystone XL's climate impact would be in a scenario in which America actually meets its climate goals. Who knows? The report never bothered to evaluate any such energy scenario.

Barry Saxifrage, Vancouver

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Love and the bug

Re A Moment In Time, Feb. 26, 1936, Hitler Introduces The Volkswagen: The Beetle and VW bus were embraced in the sixties by "unwashed shaggy types"?

I'll have you know I showered every day. After I took off my love beads.

Chuck Corley, Mississauga

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