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A flag's past

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As Winston Churchill once said: You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they've tried everything else (South Carolina's Governor: Remove The Confederate Flag – June 23). Their collective decisions toward the right thing are now approaching two centuries.

Raymond Gilbert, Dundas, Ont.


The reaction would be interesting if Bavaria chose to fly a flag with a swastika, or Germany named an autobahn in honour of Hermann Goering. Yet South Carolina has been flying a Confederate flag and names highways for Confederate generals. And congressional leaders and presidential candidates still tie themselves in knots trying to defend obscene gun laws.

Don McCutchan, Toronto


Any Canadians feeling smug about the Americans' struggles with slavery's aftermath should visit a northern reserve in this country before wearing their sanctimony on their sleeve.

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Mark Simpson, Edmonton


Missing. Murdered

Since all 10 premiers have now called for an inquiry into Canada's missing and murdered aboriginal women, is it time for provincial and territorial leaders, in partnership with aboriginal leaders, to establish and fund this needed inquiry (Notley Apologizes For Alberta's Inaction On Residential Schools – June 23)?

The terms of reference might call for completion relatively soon (given the extensive work already done), with a report that is understandable to Canadians. And yes, the RCMP must be an important contributor, given the force's policing role in many provinces and its depth of knowledge on this issue.

Provincial leadership may now be the way forward.

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George Wright, Kingston


Aboriginal rights

The Globe praises "the delicate balancing" of indigenous and non-indigenous interests in the decisions of the Supreme Court (About That UN Native Declaration – editorial, June 20). Yet the same editorial denounces the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as tangled, confusing and bewildering for setting out similar balancing principles.

Your position echoes the federal government's longstanding campaign – out of step with the rest of the world – to denounce and discredit this crucial international human rights instrument. Although the declaration is already being used by courts in Canada to help interpret our laws and Constitution, the dire consequences predicted by the federal government and repeated in your editorial have never been borne out.

That's because the balancing of rights in the UN declaration and other international human rights instruments is already in line with the progressive development of Canadian law.

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A national commitment to implement the UN declaration, as recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, would provide a framework for governments to work constructively with indigenous peoples to uphold their rights today, rather than waiting for the results of decades of further court battles.

Alex Neve, Secretary-General, Amnesty International Canada



Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson repeats the Conservative mantra that Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau lacks foreign policy experience (Trudeau Criticizes Harper's Relationships With U.S., Mexico – June 23).

Just out of curiosity, how much foreign-policy experience did Stephen Harper possess when he became Prime Minister? In fact, how many foreign countries, other than the U.S., had he even visited before coming to office?

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Brian Grant, Ottawa


Political fixes

Proportional representation continues to be discussed as a cure for our "broken" system. Sounds fine in theory but how will it work in practice?

Consider two of the most important, positive policy decision over the past 25 years: the U.S. and continental free trade agreements, and the taming of the deficit. Would either have have been possible with a coalition government, the inevitable result of PR?

Steve Potter, Ottawa

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Somewhat lost in our current fixation with Senate spending is the excellent work the Red Chamber's done over the years.

As examples, a Liberal, Michael Kirby, led excellent policy work on mental health care. A Progressive Conservative, Pat Carney, took up the cause of B.C.'s small coastal communities and became their advocate in far away Ottawa.

Before we get rid of what should be a voice for the regions to balance the centralized powers of the PMO, let's take a good long look at the process for appointment.

We could have the provinces nominate their senators. Let them determine what process they want to use and forward the names to the prime minister for appointment. Any province foolish enough to appoint bagmen and hacks would pay the price.

Premiers would be under great scrutiny from their citizens to send high calibre, independent, respected citizens to Ottawa.

How's that for a start?

Jamie Alley, Victoria


Having spent all my 65 years as an Ordinary Un-entitled Canadian Hick (OUCH), I've concluded I've been living a lie. I now self-identify as a Canadian senator.

Please send the cheques to the subscription address on file at The Globe and Mail. I swear on my senatorial oath that this is my primary residence for matters of travel expenses.

Jim Young, Burlington, Ont.


Deficit diagnosis

In a letter to the editor, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa lauded his government for achieving the lowest program spending per capita for health among all provinces (Deficits Explored – June 22).

Here's what that means for patients in Ontario:

Hundreds of thousands of people don't have access to a family physician, as we have the lowest family physician per population ratio in Canada;

Hospitals, struggling with flat-lined budgets due to decreased funding from the provincial government, are making difficult decisions when it comes to cutting staff and changing patient care;

Surgeons and specialists who have been trained here are struggling to find full-time work because there are not enough resources to support them.

Mike Toth, president, Ontario Medical Association


Hmm …

Re Achonwa Joins Women's Team ( Sports, June 23): The report that Canada's Pan Am women's basketball team has a "12-man roster" begs for further elaboration.

In the meantime, the imagination boggles.

Allan Q. Shipley, Toronto

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