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Today’s topics: Called to account on the investigation of torture allegations; jilted, but not by Barack Obama; the battle for international students; hunting for information; Mexico’s drug war; the ABCs of swearing … and more (Les Perreaux/The Globe and Mail)
Today’s topics: Called to account on the investigation of torture allegations; jilted, but not by Barack Obama; the battle for international students; hunting for information; Mexico’s drug war; the ABCs of swearing … and more (Les Perreaux/The Globe and Mail)


June 29: Called to account on the investigation of torture allegations, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Called to account

The Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) was not able to find eight military police officers responsible for failing to investigate alleged transfers of prisoners to torture in Afghanistan.

Why? Because the Harper government stonewalled the investigation by not providing documents, shutting the military police out of the discussions, even sending them out of the room (Torture Probe Undone By Ottawa – June 28).

What does Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s office say about this damning report by the MPCC? It says that the report is more proof that Canadian soldiers did nothing wrong. Huh?

The evidence is piling up against this government. Their lack of accountability is scandalous.

Bert MacBain, Brentwood Bay, B.C.


Jilted, but not by Obama

It is both amusing and concerning that the opinions of a former ambassador and an academic are enough to generate the headline “Canada Feels Jilted ... Blames Obama” (June 28). Two men speaking is extrapolated to the views of the entire country? Please!

Which is not to say Canadians don’t feel jilted. We do – but we don’t blame Barack Obama. He had nothing to do with Stephen Harper’s budget, which eliminated environmental protection laws, slashed the environmental review process for major resource projects, cut Elections Canada funding in the midst of the robocall investigation, increased the age for Old Age Security payments and yet, somehow, against all odds, spared the Prime Minister’s bodyguards.

Michael Luba, Toronto


Fight for international students

If Canada wants to be a “fierce” competitor in the international knowledge economy, scholarships for international students are key (Canada’s Hunt For Foreign Students Just Got Fiercer – June 28). The private sector and alumni need to step up if our universities are ever to compete with private universities in the U.S. offering full financial aid.

If Canada were to streamline immigration policy to encourage international students to stay in Canada to use their talents, they would see an education and a future in Canada.

Finally, if Canada is going to promote its universities, its isolationism must stop. The closing of consulates and embassies is an obstacle to students who want to study in Canada, especially when they can walk down the street to get help from the offices of the French Cultural Centre, the American Corner, or the British Council. Canada cannot simply talk strategy; it must make firm long-term commitments if sweeping change is going to happen.

In the meantime, I will continue to guide students to countries whose opportunities are better.

Matthew McDonald, Skopje


The federal government, higher-education leaders and industry should put their shoulders into an “own the podium” strategy to generate world leaders – or better yet, world beaters – in areas where we have logical strengths.

We need to face the fact that we will not be world leaders (No. 1 or 2) in every field: IT, automotive development, pharmaceuticals and even aerospace come to mind as examples.

We do, however, have a strategic advantage in mining, petroleum, agriculture and biotechnology.

Derek Bezaire, Strathroy, Ont.


No time soon?

In a masterstroke of understatement, The Globe has offered up this gem: “The depth of the Brotherhood’s allegiance to liberal democracy remains doubtful (To A Dual Entente – editorial, June 27).

Now that the media pixie dust of 2011 has worn off, the “Arab Spring” can be accurately retitled the “Arab Springboard to Islamism.” Liberal democracy, pluralism and modernity will not be breaking out any time soon in the Middle East. More misery to follow.

Stu Woolley, Kingston


Hunting for information

Thursday marked 30 years since the Access to Information Act passing third reading in the Commons. The federal freedom of information legislation can be thought of as a magic wand that turns approximately 270 federal departments into public libraries.

Just as you are allowed to access books from a library, so, too, are you allowed to access materials from federal departments. Ignorance and political opportunism often construe the act in ways that discourage people from using the legislation that the Supreme Court of Canada says is intended to enhance democracy.

How to use it? Federal departments now post on their websites summaries of what people have been ordering through the act. It’s a great way to see how people are using the legislation.

Mark Weiler, London, Ont.


Gift for Mexico’s gangs

We should not mistake bullishness and bravado for effectiveness. Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s drug-war strategy has actually made the problem far worse (Calderon’s Gifts To His Successor – editorial, June 28). Contrast his strategy, which involves going after gang leaders through media campaigns, with Canada, where security forces infiltrate, gather evidence and eventually launch co-ordinated operations designed to disrupt the gangs’ front-line operations.

Mr. Calderon’s media campaign has gifted gang leaders with gruesome public images, which they in turn feel the need to defend through even more gruesome attacks. These attacks, which are by no means diminishing, are designed to intimidate and break the will of the security forces, as well as the general population.

Matthew Carpenter Arevalo, Geneva


Crime, victim

Research by the Centre for Race and Culture indicates that immigrants and non-white people (racialized) do not commit more crime than mainstream Canadians with similar life circumstances (Why So Many Somali-Canadians Who Go West End Up Dead – June 22).

Crime is higher for those who are unemployed, have low levels of education, come from single parent families, or live in poverty. These are all exacerbated by the discrimination that immigrant, refugee, and aboriginal people experience.

Why do racialized people consistently receive a lower quality of education, and have a more difficult time finding employment and income levels that are commensurate with their education and experience? We need to look to mainstream Canada’s individual attitudes and institutional behaviours to get the complete explanation.

Without immigrants, Canadians will face a shrinking economy. It is in all of our interests to work toward a harmonious, equitable society that values diversity.

Charlene Hay, Centre for Race and Culture, Edmonton


ABCs of swearing

John Roy suggests that the Harper government is methodically working its way through the alphabet in swear words, with Conservatives recently having claimed “A” and “B” (Brazeau’s Duties – letters, June 28).

The Liberals are way ahead of them, Pierre Trudeau having claimed “F” years ago. Better the MPs and senators seek the middle ground, as do all good governments in Canada. I’m trying to find a word beginning with “Q.”

Bill Knott, Portage la Prairie, Man.

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