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(A student’s request to be excused from course work on religious grounds so he would not have to interact with female students has opened a fractious debate./REUTERS)
(A student’s request to be excused from course work on religious grounds so he would not have to interact with female students has opened a fractious debate./REUTERS)


Jan. 10: Religion and gender: Where rights collide – and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Where rights collide

Re Religious Accommodation Case Highlights a Collision Of Rights (Jan. 9): This is the thin end of the wedge. It seems that increasingly, religious rights trump all else in our world, including gender discrimination, even at a secular public institution like York University.

Any trainee, citing religious beliefs, could equally claim that working with gay or atheist students was not possible. Would that be acceptable?

What if the tables were turned and teachers with strong religious convictions refuse to teach certain “categories” of pupil?

Hats off to sociology professor J. Paul Grayson and his departmental colleagues for trying to keep the finger in the dike.

Robert V. Harrison, professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto


Sobeys’s 1% solution

Re With Safeway Deal Complete, Sobeys Demands Price Cuts (Report on Business, Jan. 9): Will Sobeys provide my partner and me with a “synergy savings rate”?

Since moving in with my partner, we are purchasing our groceries together, and we “expect to fully leverage our new consolidated scale” by requiring the grocery chain to pay us a retroactive 1 per cent rebate. Furthermore, we will not accept “cost of goods increases” through 2014.

Daniel Wirz, Ottawa


Redress the balance

Re Abe’s Militarism Defies History (Jan. 9): I am a Japanese Canadian who greatly appreciated the Chinese ambassador’s article criticizing Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan.

Most leading newspapers in Japan have been very critical of Mr. Abe’s nationalistic and militaristic stance. The Japanese emperor, in his New Year’s message, tactfully stressed that after the Second World War, Japan has scrupulously adhered to its constitution and rigorously defended its policy for peace and democracy, and stated his hope that this cherished tradition will be carefully continued.

Unlike Germany, Japan has not sufficiently expressed its remorse for its wartime crimes. Canadians should exert constructive pressure on Mr. Abe to abandon his militaristic policies.

Haruo Konishi, Fredericton


This article by Zhang Junsai, China’s Ambassador to Canada, is a classic pot-calling-the-kettle-black item. Unarmed Japan, lacking the means to support an aggressive foreign policy, necessarily pursues peaceful co-operation with other nations. China, which has the world’s largest army, has been adding aircraft carriers to its impressive arsenal.

Its foreign policy is provocative and aggressive. Ignoring the territorial claims of neighbouring coastal countries, Beijing claims almost the entire oil- and gas-rich South China Sea for itself.

China this month began expanding its police powers in the disputed sea, requiring foreign fishermen to obtain Beijing’s permission to operate within most of the area. This move follows China’s late-November assertion of a new air-defence zone in the area, defying other nations’ fly-over rights.

Can we really blame Japan for seeking some way to redress the balance?

Robert H. Barrigar, Victoria


Once you’ve noticed

Re Molar Opposites (Life & Arts, Jan. 9): I had to smile at James Adams’s fear that all films he sees will now be viewed through the prism of its performers’ pearlies.

I had a similar epiphany some years back watching Ben Kingsley on the silver screen, only to realize that when shot close up, he had absolutely no nostril hair.

James Adams says it’s hard not notice something once you’ve noticed it. It’s not “hard” – it’s a curse.

Derek Complin, Kingston


Undiscovered math

Re Provinces Defend ‘Discovery Math’ (Jan. 9): Memorizing multiplication tables is an essential prerequisite to mastering math, in the same way that memorizing the alphabet is essential to mastering reading and writing skills.

Would any reasonable person suggest that a good way to tackle Hamlet is through “discovering” vowels and consonants and the way in which they form words and sentences?

Michael Poliacik, Toronto


Nuclear realities

Re Canada And The Middle East: A Reality Check (Jan. 9): Derek Burney and Fen Osler Hampson’s support for Israel would make a little more sense if they promoted unfettered access to Israel’s nuclear facility at Dimona as well as Iran’s nuclear facility.

It would also be helpful if they would encourage Israel to sign the nuclear nonproliferation treaty as Iran has already done, or just to have Israel admit that it has a nuclear facility.

Barry Fisher, Lethbridge, Alta.


Sun Life in Quebec

Re Jan. 6, 1978: Sun Life Announces It Is Quitting Quebec (Moment in Time): Reading this, it struck me how the world and our company have changed in the 36 years since Sun Life announced it was moving its head office to Toronto.

As Sun Life’s first Quebec president, I have the privilege of being surrounded in the Montreal office by more than 1,800 talented and proud employees.

In corporate life, chapters are being written and, as much as we can look back, we find it much more exciting – and perhaps much more relevant – to look at the new chapter Sun Life is committed to writing in Quebec. This is a story where Quebec talent has the opportunity to shine and be part of a global and very successful company. This is a story where our Quebec clients are our raison d’être and where decisions about them are made in Montreal.

Isabelle Hudon, présidente, Financière Sun Life, Québec


Next up: rodents

Re Did ‘Frost Quakes’ Exist Before Social Media? (Jan. 8): Homeowners hit hard by the recent “polar vortex” should brace themselves for another blow this fall.

As a survivor of the Great Ice Storm of ’98 in Kingston, I recall the unprecedented demand for pest control services the next autumn. Turns out the loss of branches and entire trees in many parks and neighbourhoods forced a rash of rodent residents to seek shelter in nearby buildings.

Come spring, start filling in any cracks and fissures in your homes.

Nancy Dorrance, Kingston


To the rescue?

Re Grounded In T.O. (letters, Jan. 9): A letter writer suggested getting the help of the Royal Canadian Air Force in dealing with Toronto’s weather problems at Pearson International Airport.

May I instead suggest the Royal Canadian Air Farce? Way more amusing and probably just as effective.

Ashley Walkley, Toronto

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