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No 'small' story

Re Clearance Sale (editorial, Jan. 14): You rightly chide the Harper government for its clumsy closing of seven Department of Oceans and Fisheries research libraries. You note that the lack of consultation involved in the closings is symptomatic of the imperious way with which this government proceeds on so many issues.

But you also note that the junking of "decades' worth of environmental research" is in itself "a small story."

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This is an astounding declaration: Canada's national newspaper affirms that destroying the historical scientific record is of small moment! No wonder the brigands in Ottawa feel that they can get on with their task of ridding that record of inconvenient truths.

Colin Read, London, Ont.


Inclusivity trumps

Re York Is Not A Slippery Slope (editorial, Jan. 13): Last week, I drew on a proud feat of our best citizens and pointed out that one of the values that our Canadian Armed Forces fought and died for in Afghanistan was the right of women to attend school with men. It is deplorable that religion is also being used as a basis to segregate men from women in our postsecondary, taxpayer-funded educational institutions right here on Canadian soil.

This week, The Globe editorialized on my comments as if I had equated York University with the Taliban. I made no reference whatsoever to the Taliban. What I did do is stand up for what I and so many Canadians believe: that women and men deserve equal participation in postsecondary education. A university is by def-inition supposed to be universal.

If we believe that it is reasonable to consider allowing theology to undermine universality, we are indeed on the slippery slope toward segregation.

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In making my comments, I joined a chorus of Canadians with fair quotes and contributions in the same issue – such as Marina Nemat and representatives of the Liberal and New Democratic parties, who favour inclusivity over segregation.

The Globe should, too.

Peter MacKay, Justice Minister


If a man doesn't wish to study with a woman, he doesn't have to – but he also doesn't get to study in a public institution. The choice is his. To accommodate this particular religious practice is wrong. You've lost sight of the underlying principle of Canadian law, which is respect for men and women equally.

Allowing a man not to attend a mixed class is the same as refusing to allow a woman to attend a mixed class.

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Ellie Fuke, Kitchener, Ont.


Reports that the student who asked not to study with women ultimately participated in the mandated group work without incident suggest that the most valuable lesson available in the sociology class may have been the one that successfully challenged whatever bigoted orthodoxy gave rise to the request in the first place.

Shari Graydon, founder, Informed Opinions, Ottawa


It seems ironic that this controversy over rights revolves around a sociology student who wanted to refuse to … socialize. Is there something I'm missing?

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Steve Higgins, Kitchener, Ont.


Take pride in taxes

Re Make The Rich Pay? They Already Pay Enough (Report on Business, Jan. 14): The income tax system is used to ensure a more equal sharing of society's total output. The greater the after-tax income inequality, the less prosperous and healthy the society. A society that cannot share prosperity will not remain prosperous and healthy in the long run.

Those fortunate enough to be in the top income category should take pride in their success and in their capacity to share it with the less fortunate. The tax system is the simplest way to make this happen.

Dave Jobson, Edmonton

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Canadian generosity

Re When It Comes To Giving, Canadians Are Quietly Generous (Report on Business, Jan. 13): Barrie McKenna suggests that the calculations in our recent report, "Generosity in Canada and the United States: The 2013 Generosity Index," understate the generosity of Canadians compared to Americans. When it comes to private charitable giving as measured in the report, the opposite is more likely true.

Our report measures private charitable giving by examining donations to registered charities claimed on personal income tax returns. This is the best available method for comparing generosity across the 64 jurisdictions included in the report. In the 2011 tax year, a lower percentage of tax filers donated to charity in Canada (22.9 per cent) than in the U.S. (26 per cent). Similarly, Canadians (at 0.64 per cent) gave a lower percentage of their aggregate income to charity than did Americans (at 1.33 per cent).

Importantly, there's a feature of the U.S. tax system that likely understates the level of American giving. American tax filers may file either itemized or non-item-ized returns, though only those filing itemized tax returns can claim charitable donations.

In 2011, only 32.1 per cent of American tax filers itemized their deductions. Thus a whole group of U.S. tax filers may donate to registered charities but are excluded from the results.

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Hugh MacIntyre, Charles Lammam, Fraser Institute


Corporate fairy tale?

Re Hudak Proposes Corporate Tax Cut, Public Pay Freeze (Jan. 14): If it were true that lower corporate taxes mean more jobs, this country should be fully employed based on the actions of Canada's federal government.

Indeed, if the Conservative premise were true, Germany, with one of the highest corporate tax rates in Europe, should have the highest unemployment rate and Ireland, with one of Europe's lowest corporate tax rates, should be in far better financial condition.

When will we learn to ignore this fairy tale?

Tom Doris, Toronto


Jersey juggernaut

Re The Jersey Juggernaut Faces Heat On New Fronts (Jan. 14): Given the penchant for GOP-style politics by the Harper Conservatives, should the fired aide of embattled New Jersey Governor Chris Christie be expecting a phone call any minute now?

Dave Nonen, Victoria


T.O. as disaster zone

Re Council Vote Devolves Into Shouting Match (Jan. 14): After yet another display of utterly childish behaviour by Toronto City Council, it's clear to me that there is only one sure solution to the problem. Come October, do not vote for any incumbent.

Lyman MacInnis, Toronto


Council voted unanimously to ask the province to declare Toronto a "disaster area." Anybody observing the antics at City Hall this past year knows Toronto has been a "disaster area" for quite some time now.

Leonard H. Goodman, Toronto

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