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July 17: Letters to the editor Add to ...

Canada by the numbers

Industry Minister Tony Clement claims that Statistics Canada has told him that moving from the mandatory long-form census to a voluntary survey would not create problems (Refusing To Reverse Their Census Decision, Tories Find A New Way To Go Populist - July 16). Ivan Fellegi, who was the chief statistician for 23 years, has explained why that is not true and suggested that the people inside Statistics Canada must actually be very unhappy with this decision. Where is the current chief statistician in all of this?

Decades ago, we established that the Bank of Canada needs to operate at arm's-length from political interference. The same should be true of the national statistical agency. If statistical collection changes with the ideological whims of the government, the very basis of government decision-making, transparency and trust is shattered.

We need a chief statistician who is willing to stand up for Statistics Canada as an independent institution. Where is Munir Sheikh?

David Green, economics department, University of British Columbia, Vancouver

.........

Tony Clement says that scrapping the mandatory long-form census and replacing it with a voluntary form was due to complaints received by several Canadians. So if enough of us complain about our taxes, can we make them voluntary, too?

Jeff Morrison, Ottawa

.........

The arrogance of Industry Minister Tony Clement is difficult to comprehend. He destroys what is conceivably the greatest source of information for the history of Canada, without prior notice or consultation with the communities most affected. He would be well-advised to pay attention to the complaints of the people he is supposed to represent. To do otherwise might seal his doom in the next federal election.

I can guarantee that since the government's non-announcement on June 26 through an order-in-council published in the Canada Gazette, there have been many more complaints about the removal of the long-form questionnaire than were ever received to prompt that move. Mr. Clement has thumbed his nose at all of us.

The timing of this decision has been impeccable. Even if it were reversed today, it would be too late for the upcoming 2011 census.

Gordon A. Watts, co-chair, Canada Census Committee, Port Coquitlam, B.C.

On being Catholic and female

Re Female Ordination And Sex Abuse Of Minors ( July 16): The Vatican says the "attempted ordination" of women is one of the gravest crimes under church law. We've recently read about that kind of flagrant hatred of women, like that appalling case that involves flogging and stoning. Why is the Catholic Church so afraid of women?

Stephen and Stacey Smith, Whitby, Ont.

A higher calling

In reading your lead editorial (Taking Stock After The Summits - July 16), which states we do not need an independent inquiry on policing during the G20 summit in Toronto, I could not miss the irony of it appearing below Junius's admonition on your masthead that the true loyal subject is one who neither advises nor submits to arbitrary measures.

During that weekend, hundreds of innocent Canadians were illegally arrested by the police and detained in conditions worthy of any totalitarian regime. On top of that, we had a provincial law passed in secret and then, when discovered by the public, state officials misrepresented its application. This was one of the worst demonstrations of state abuses of civil liberties we have ever seen.

If this kind of draconian and arbitrary law and police action do not merit an independent review in The Globe's eyes, it is time to remove your masthead. Junius should not be aligned with such hypocrisy.

Paul Cavalluzzo, lawyer, Toronto

Most-wanted police

Now that we know how the Toronto Police Service hopes to identify violent protesters during the G20 summit (Groups Criticize Use Of Banks' Software To Identify G20 Suspects - July 15), what software will be used to identify which of our police officers broke the law that weekend?

Charles Klassen, Toronto

And don't forget ...

William Johnson writes (In Quebec, Meanwhile, The Queen Is Still Wolfe In Sheep's Clothing - July 16), "In Asia and Africa, all former colonies of the British Empire repudiated the British Crown. Only the majority white former British colonies retained the reflected glimmer of a borrowed absentee Crown."

Mr. Johnson is apparently unaware that Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Grenada, Belize, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are not majority white. Yet all are constitutional monarchies with the Queen as sovereign.

This means there are 12 non-white countries retaining that "reflected glimmer" of an "absentee Crown." Quite some oversight on Mr. Johnson's part.

Mark Collins, Ottawa

A questionable expense

If for no other reason, in-vitro fertilization should not be funded because of its low success rate (The Risk Of Multiples Reduced - July 15). Provincial health plans are all under stress, and most of them don't cover the costs of prostheses for those with missing limbs, or hearing aids for those with profound hearing loss, or wheelchairs for any citizen otherwise covered by the provincial plan.

It's a lovely dream that the taxpayer should fund fertility treatments, but when the success rate is less than 10 per cent and each attempt is very expensive, other health needs should take priority. That the Quebec plan will fund only three attempts should be a fair warning that this procedure is not cost-effective.

Alice Mawhinney, Toronto

The F-35 debate

Jeffrey Simpson seems to think the F-35 is just another fighter out of the Cold War, ready to defend against a wave of Soviet bombers (Just What We Need: A $16-Billion Fighter Jet - July 16). His repeated (and disparaging) use of "fighter jet" suggests he never actually looked into the role of this aircraft.

He states that "more heavily armoured planes would be better suited to support infantry," completely ignoring the fact that the F-35 is in line to replace the USAF's A-10 Warthogs, long the king of close air support. Further, the F-35 was specifically designed to be eight times more effective in air-to-ground combat, and three times more effective in reconnaissance and suppression of air defences than existing aircraft.

This is not just a "fighter jet" for defending from the Russians; it is a multi-role fighter that can perform the many tasks that the Canadian Forces require. Further, our CF-18s are approaching the end of their service life and these jets will be their replacement.

Coleman Rooksby, Edmonton

.........

The Conservatives have no qualms about blowing national funds on such a gargantuan expense, likely to benefit America and Lockheed Martin more than Canada. This country will find little use for the F-35 aircraft. Wouldn't it be more intelligent investing billions in innovative sciences, and researching greener solutions to our lives - something this government neglects in its rush to waste countless billions of accumulated wealth.

So much for $16-billion invested in infrastructure, high-speed railways, greener industries, medicare and education. I suppose we can expect to see billions cut from these services in the coming years.

Cory Keleher, Montreal

Food for thought

Margaret Wente says the surplus produce that volunteers will pick for the Ontario Association of Food Banks is "subpar" (Let Them Eat Carrots! - July 15). It is not. It is top-quality produce that was abandoned only because it did not look pretty enough for consumers who are too posh to buy something that has an unusual shape or size.

Kudos to the OAFB, and organizations like Toronto's Not Far From The Tree, for making sure top-quality local fruits and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste are picked, shared, eaten and enjoyed.

Derek Smith, Toronto

.........

I was most surprised to learn that Loblaws "leads the pack in corporate social responsibility," given that the company is currently demanding from its unionized workers a wage cut of up to 25 per cent, an increase in waiting times for benefits and a reduction in full-time jobs.

Peter Gorman, Toronto

A fundamental choice

When did wearing what you want become a fundamental human right? Saira Nargis claims that the choice of whether to wear a head covering is a personal choice (Under A Veil Of Prejudice - July 16). Fair enough, and I agree. And you can wear any sort of head covering you like, unless it covers an area where your face must be visible.

I also have the freedom to wear any head covering I like, but I suspect if I wore a mask into a bank, I might be questioned. Is that a violation of my human rights? And religion is no excuse. That, too, is a choice.

Ralph Siferd, Oro Station, Ont.

Stock up on spandex

So, the new CEO at Sprott Inc. said "the fund manager could double in size in five years" (Sprott Bucks Downward Trend - July 15). Better warn his tailor.

John Grimley, Toronto

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