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July 15: Letters to the editor Add to ...

Democracy inaction

I am grateful to C.E.S. Franks for writing about Bill C-9, as I am to The Globe and Mail for publishing it (Omnibus Bill Subverts Canada's Legislative Process - July 14).

I wish that Canadians generally were loudly and consistently questioning the attitudes and methods of the current federal government. Sad to say, it seems the government has a cynical but accurate read of the voting public. We are too distracted or cynical ourselves to realize that our form of government may once have been recognizable as a parliamentary democracy but no longer is, in fact.

It saddens and angers me that there is so little published discussion of this problem and so many reiterations published that we have little appetite for an election. If we lack the courage and desire to maintain the difficult parliamentary democracy model that took so many centuries to develop, we deserve our fate as disenfranchised nobodies in what is sure to follow.

Max Christie, Toronto


Thousands of Canadians are busy signing petitions, in angry disagreement with the Conservative government's arbitrary change to the 2011 census, and by doing so are exercising their democratic right - indeed, obligation - to dissent where that is needed, as it clearly is in this case.

By arguing that some of those petitions might be "cementing the government's resolve," the president of the C.D. Howe Institute (Knowledge Comes At A Price - July 13) leaves the distinct impression that we've strayed inside a rigid regime where every criticism must be weighed on a finely calibrated scale for fear of angering the powers that be. No doubt he is right.

Patricia Hanley, Toronto

People, and species, rejoice

Re Promoters Abandon Plan For Niagara-on-the-Lake Music Festival (July 14): It's a fair bet that if they were to know about it, the nine identified and eight probable species-at-risk in the last Carolinian forest on the shores of Lake Ontario would be pleased that more than 1,200 cars and up to 9,000 patrons per performance are not going to invade their special Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI) habitat for 17 weeks each summer.

As it is, members of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Conservancy and the Harmony Residents Group, totalling more than 1,000 residents, are delighted that wildlife interests will be served, and the traffic, pollution, noise and high costs that the music festival would have imposed on this small, special town are history.

Gracia Janes, president, Niagara-on-the-Lake Conservancy

Bhutan's unhappiness

A caveat is needed to the article Gross National Happiness: Bhutan's Lesson For All (July 13): The Buddhist kingdom's efforts to achieve greater general happiness have been expedited through ethnically cleansing the unhappy people.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, an initiative meant to protect the kingdom's Bhutanese nature, called "Bhutanization," climaxed in government forces moving into the south and orchestrating a campaign of home demolitions, mass arrest, torture, rape and killing of the Lhotshampa - a largely Hindu peasant class of Nepalese descent. Roughly one-sixth of Bhutan's population were subsequently forced to flee across the border with India into eastern Nepal.

With the Nepalese government unwilling to nationalize them and Bhutan refusing to repatriate them, the Lhotshampa have stagnated in the squalor of refugee camps for the past two decades. Though the United Nations has recently gained some momentum in resettling the refugees in Western countries, including Canada, there were still some 100,000 living in the camps when I visited in the spring of last year.

An article extolling the visionary leaders of Bhutan and their Gross National Happiness policies as setting a "valuable model for other countries" is an obscenity cast in the face of the Lhotshampa's suffering.

Spencer Osberg, Halifax

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