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Today’s topics: Stephen Harper’s staying power; counting the gun deaths; kids and carnage; being Canadian abroad ... and more

HENRY ROMERO/REUTERS

Staying power

Why on earth would you want to stop a prime minister whose goals are, as John Ibbitson says, "sound finances, free trade, safe streets and an alliance-based foreign policy" (Like Energizer Bunny, PM Could Go On And On – July 23).

I'll have more of what Mr. Harper's having.

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C.A. Sinclair, Toronto

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John Ibbitson notes that Stephen Harper is "the hardest-working prime minister in living memory" and "has a better grasp of the files than most of the ministers responsible for them." Two more reasons to vote for this man and to continue to encourage fellow Canadians to do likewise.

Hayley Goodman, Vaughan, Ont.

.........

Stephen Harper may well be the hardest-working prime minister, but all that hard work doesn't seem to have anything to do with shoring up respect for Parliament. Is there a Canadian left who doesn't know what "prorogue" means?

Joanne Bell, Winnipeg

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Monumental losses

According to the Brady Campaign, almost 32,000 Americans die from gun violence every year, so Bill Gillies's proposal (Carve Their Names – letters, July 23) that a Second Amendment memorial be built in Washington seems truly inspired.

The only problem I can foresee would be with the memorial's design and maintenance, since almost 90 names would have to be added to it every day: A traditional monument would have to be six times the size of the Vietnam memorial within 10 years.

Of course, maybe that's the point. As the Second Amendment memorial starts to overshadow everything else on the Mall in Washington, perhaps even the gun lobby will begin to understand.

Nigel Brachi, Edmonton

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There is no constitutional right to bear arms in Canada; indeed, handguns and semi-automatic firearms are ostensibly strictly controlled. But there is no reasonable means to stop, or even stanch, the flow of guns across our border and into private hands. The controversy and demise of the well-meaning, but perhaps poorly executed, gun registry illustrates that Canadians face a gun control dilemma that has no easy, unanimously acceptable solution.

The simplistic response of "Get tough on crime" or "Ban them from my city" is political opportunism and cowardice. How do you exile or jail a feeling of separation from humanity that would allow someone to kill and maim so indiscriminately?

Surely we deserve something more profound and effective in dealing with root causes and remedies to an apparent epidemic of gun violence.

Warren Wolfe, Delta, B.C.

.........

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Kids and carnage

The victims in the Colorado shooting "included a six-year-old child. A four-month-old baby was treated and released" (Searching For Answers Amid The Carnage – July 21).

How many people have wondered what young children were doing at a midnight screening of a PG-13 movie that features violent scenes of torture and death? Perhaps exploring that will provide at least one answer amid the carnage.

Gareth Lind, Guelph, Ont.

.........

Michelle Nguyen (On And Off Screen – letters, July 21) makes an eloquent point regarding the progressive desensitization of our children to violence. Half the responsibility for this rests with parents like those in Colorado who took three- and four-year-olds to the premiere of the ultra-violent The Dark Knight Rises.

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The other half belongs on the shoulders of entertainment moguls who have abdicated their moral and societal responsibilities in favour of ticket sales and "freedom of expression." While it is true that not every child exposed to violence will become a mass murderer, it is also true that not every child will go unscathed.

It only takes one bullet in a chamber. How long will we, as a society, continue to spin the cylinder?

Mark Hertzberger, Stratford, Ont.

.........

The how, the why

After reading Margaret Wente's article on the Danzig Street neighbourhood in Toronto where two people died in last week's mass shooting (Portrait Of A Killing Zone – July 23), I paused for a moment and tried to imagine life there.

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A page or so later, I saw a description of a $4-million home that boasts a mahogany library and an 1,100-bottle wine cellar. You know the big predictor of violent crime in a city? Income inequality.

Jennifer Mills, Toronto

.........

Following the bloodbath in Colorado, people are asking "How could this happen?"

For it to happen, three conditions must be present: There must be a gathering of innocent people; there must be a person who, for whatever reason, has become so angry or depraved that he will resort to killing; that person must have access to a high-powered weapon.

As there will always by gatherings of innocent people and, sadly, there will always be someone desperate enough to kill them, the only solution is to restrict access to high-powered weapons.

G. Duncan McTaggart, Kanata, Ont.

.........

Shift the focus

Your editorial Energy Policy Needs Everyone At The Table (July 23) states that "It is time for Canada to adopt a national energy strategy that takes into account the interests of government, business, environmentalists and first nations."

Given that, in addition to energy, we need clean air and water, and a climate that supports dependable food production, perhaps we should focus instead on a national healthy environment strategy that takes into account the interests of the energy industry.

Marjory Loveys, Brockville, Ont.

.........

Canadians abroad

I, too, once travelled as a proud Canadian backpacker – my flag displayed prominently on my pack (The Shrinking Allure Of Being A Canadian Abroad – Travel, July 21). Not any more.

During my most recent travel experience, I was advised by locals in Guatemala that I should tell people I'm American. In many eyes, "Canada" is equal to "mining"; the damage done by the industry is truly staggering.

Stephanie Hughes, Halifax

.........

No way do I travel with a Canadian flag in Europe any more. All it does is invite comments about the seal hunt and asbestos exports. If you can avoid that, it's the tar sands (believe me, they don't call them the oil sands). Being a Canadian abroad is not something to advertise. "Don't-hate-me camouflage" sounds about right.

Mike Simmons, Victoria

.........

Rumour has it

Intrepid researchers have discovered that impoverished mothers suffer from anxiety (Low-Income Mothers Prone To Anxiety – July 23). Rumour has it their next project will focus on the question of whether or not the Pope is Catholic.

Jeff Fairless, Kanata, Ont.

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