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June 1: Letters to the editor Add to ...

Dark forces

Amid the ongoing body-parts-killer drama it is difficult for the contemporary observer not to recognize certain broader trends in the figure of suspect Luka Rocco Magnotta (Dismemberment Suspect Has Long Web Trail – May 31). Indeed, as presented, he seems to be a sort of uncanny pop-culture ghoul; an agglomeration of webcam vamping, blog-induced megalomania and “porn-chic” aesthetics.

In a certain sense, he is to contemporary culture what satirist Bret Easton Ellis’s investment banker, Patrick Bateman, was to the atmosphere of excessive materialism and individualism during the 1980s – a grotesque distillation of the prevailing cultural climate. Unlike the Bateman fiction, unfortunately, this drama is all too real.

Anthony Lungu, Toronto


Society is well aware that dark forces within some people will result in dramatic and disgusting acts. These acts should not receive the coverage they do. Once a case is reported, the media could use much more restraint; those members of the public who feed on these incidents should be denied the prurient details, and those innocent members of society who simply are disgusted should be spared.

Let the criminal justice system take its course. Focus media coverage on issues that deserve public discourse and build, rather than destroy, social good.

Greg Flynn, Toronto


Pots-and-pans democracy

Present-day Quebec is neither 16th-century feudal France, nor Pinochet’s Chile of the mid 1980s – although the current noise in the street is consistent with Allende’s Chile of 1971. And prudent fiscal measures have kept the Canadian banks from meeting the same outcome as those in Argentina and Iceland.

So, for historical context, I suggest that Jonathan Sterne and Natalie Zemon Davis (Quebec Manifs Casseroles Are A Call For Order – May 31) listen to our bubbies (grandmothers) for another interpretation of the charivari tradition: Hak mir nisht ken tshaynik (Don’t bang me a tea kettle). That is, the rattling of a boiling kettle lid becomes louder and more annoying as the content empties.

Stephen Halman, Toronto


At the midweek “pots and pans” rally in Toronto, I counted 1,200 people coming out of Dufferin Grove Park. By the time we marched downtown, it had doubled. Many people grabbed pots and spoons, came off their porches and joined us to support Quebec students in their fight against tuition hikes and the draconian Bill 78. Is this the beginning of a “Canadian Spring”? We will see.

David DePoe, Toronto


Imagined enemies

With leaders like Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall defending against imaginary enemies, it is a good thing the West doesn’t have real ones (Brad Wall, Defender Of The West – May 31).

Any reputable economist will agree that: Canada’s export boom in raw materials is causing upward pressure on our dollar; a higher dollar makes exported manufactured goods less competitive in global markets. There are more causes of manufactured goods’ lower competitiveness, but a boom in exports of raw crude from the tar sands contributes.

I have never been a supporter of Thomas Mulcair or his party, but in this case, the NDP leader is right. We have the Dutch disease. The only issue is the severity of the symptoms.

Doug Bjorkman, Vancouver


Maladies, cures

Preston Manning claimed that NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair’s allegation that Canada suffers from Dutch disease is “readily disproven” – but failed to actually disprove it (Beware The Greek Disease – May 31). He cited several facts from a recent study by the Institute for Research on Public Policy to support his position, but didn’t note that the study concludes that “On balance, the empirical evidence indicates that Canada suffers from a mild case of the Dutch disease …” and that it suggests that policies be adopted to counteract this economic malady.

Mr. Manning’s diagnosis of Greek disease is more interesting but he failed to note that Dutch disease and Greek disease share a common cause. Both result partly from an overvalued exchange rate. In the Dutch case, it is because of high resource prices. In the Greek case, it is due to membership in a currency union.

Eric Monkman, Oakville, Ont.


Mr. Manning feels Mr. Mulcair delivered a divisive, misleading economic diagnosis and cites a study in support of this position. This is ironic, if not laughable, given the proclivity of Reform protégé, Stephen Harper, to practise wedge politics and ignore studies in favour of ideology.

Keith Rose, St. John’s


Spill coverage

So, there was a pipeline spill of 22,000 barrels of oil and water – “among the largest in North America in recent years” – covering 4.3 hectares of northern Alberta muskeg (Big Cleanup In Alberta Spill – Report on Business, May 31). It’s disturbing enough that the article appeared in the business section, rather than the news section, but then to read that the spill killed “one duck”? An update, please. The front page would be nice.

Kaia Toop, Toronto


Details of biological and economic costs of oil pollution take time to surface. The environmental concerns are far greater than a simplistic reference to “one duck.” What about the contamination of ground water and the broader ecological damage? There are broad issues involved here, such as restoration, environmental oversight and improving the technological capacity of the oil and gas industry.

Roland Wilhelm, Vancouver


Argentina's reasons

Your editorial on Argentina gives no reasons for the Repsol expropriation (A New Argentina – May 28). As reported in the Spanish-language press, when the Estate oil company was privatized in 1999, Repsol invested $13.2-billon. Since then, Repsol has recovered $21.9-billion through profit repatriation and sale of shares.

Despite these good results, Repsol has refused to invest in new equipment and technology. Oil production dropped drastically last year forcing the country to import fuel for the first time in decades at a cost of $9.4-billion. Such dismal performance convinced Argentines a new oil strategy was necessary. No wonder the expropriation received 90 per cent of the senators’ votes.

Juan Miranda, Toronto


When it rains, it …

I am not a professional archivist or curator (Museum’s Collection Damaged In Montreal Downpour – May 31). However, it appears that my four summers of working at a small provincial museum may have taught me more than the professionals responsible for preserving the art at the Musée D’Art Contemporain de Montréal.

In my archival training sessions, the very first thing we were taught was that basements are the worst possible place to store art, historical papers, fabrics and photographs. You know, because they are prone to flooding…

Teresa Cooper, Winnipeg

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