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Same-sex marriage advocate John Lewis kisses husband Stuart Gaffney during a celebratory toast to President Barack Obama's support of same-sex marriage at the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center in San Francisco, California May 9, 2012. Today’s topics: How sad is that – eight watchdogs kept busy; computers and warrants; same-sex definitions; immigrant engineers … and more (STEPHEN LAM/REUTERS)
Same-sex marriage advocate John Lewis kisses husband Stuart Gaffney during a celebratory toast to President Barack Obama's support of same-sex marriage at the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center in San Francisco, California May 9, 2012. Today’s topics: How sad is that – eight watchdogs kept busy; computers and warrants; same-sex definitions; immigrant engineers … and more (STEPHEN LAM/REUTERS)

What readers think

May 14: Letters to the editor Add to ...

How sad is that

What a sad reflection on the moral fibre of the members of Parliament we send to Ottawa that they require the oversight of eight watchdogs, with combined budgets of more than $313-million, to ensure MPs do the right thing (Watchdogs Of Parliament Forge Closer Ties – May 12).

What an even sadder commentary on the ethical behaviour of politicians that these guardians and their staffs of almost 1,700 seem to have little trouble finding egregious transgressions of the rules.

Rupert Taylor, Waterloo, Ont.

.........

Unions v. marriages

How is it evolving to apply the term “marriage” to a gay union (Obama’s Evolution – And Ours, May 12)? While I defend, indeed, see great value in a committed same-sex union, with all the legal protections of “marriage,” it is not a “marriage.” Calling a table a chair does not make it one.

To paraphrase Margaret Wente, asking us to call a gay union a marriage is asking us, for emotional reasons, to accept an intellectual contradiction.

Katrina Roberts, Edmonton

.........

My 1938 Funk & Wagnalls defines “gay” as “filled with light-hearted mirth or good spirits, cheerful, merry” – but makes no mention of homosexuality.

Since we now universally accept a new (sexual) meaning for the word gay, it should not be too big a stretch to accept the new-era meaning of the word “marriage” – that is, two people living together in a formalized and legally binding arrangement, irrespective of gender.

In 1938, we commonly referred to people who lived together in common law arrangements as being married, but not churched. Given time, however, perhaps a better word will emerge to describe a de-facto “marriage” that has also been sanctified by some religion or other.

Les Morrison, Burlington, Ont.

.........

Computer evolution

This case, where Michael Rafferty was found guilty on other evidence, is probably the best possible scenario for clarifying the need for a warrant to search a computer because justice was seen to be done independent of issues about his computer (The Police Are Not Prophets – editorial, May 12).

In the past, personal computers were thought of as simply tools for e-mail, the occasional spreadsheet or game and storing family photos. Not any more. Today, home computers contain virtually everything there is to know about a person – income tax returns, bank statements, spending history via credit card statements, personal interests and tastes via browsing history, not to mention often providing easy access to online password-protected sites. Never before in history has so much information about a person been concentrated in one place.

Granting warrants to gain access to such extensive, highly personal information, quite apart from home, car and business, deserves the full consideration of the judiciary. Rather than lament the unexpected onus put on police, we should be very satisfied that a killer has been brought to justice and, at the same time, that greater clarity has been achieved on respecting our private information.

David Kister, Toronto

.........

The now-old new-Cromwell

Elizabeth Renzetti (‘So Now Get Up’ – Arts, May 12) contends that until publication of Hilary Mantel’s deservedly acclaimed Wolf Hall, Thomas Cromwell “had been reduced to a pantomime villain in Tudor histories” and that the novelist has “thought her way into this cool, observant, pragmatic brain.” It takes nothing away from Ms. Mantel’s achievement to say this is nonsense.

In 1953, Geoffrey Elton’s The Tudor Revolution in Government first presented a picture of Cromwell not dissimilar from Ms. Mantel’s imaginative portrait. The fine biography of Henry VIII’s minister in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography confirms the now-old new-Cromwell. Since Ms. Mantel dedicated Wolf Hall to Mary Robertson, a scholar of the Tudor period, she was doubtless familiar with these sources.

Ramsay Cook, Toronto

.........

Doing it right

In Doug Saunders’s view, Germans do it wrong (Germany Needs To Loosen Up And Start Consuming – May 12).

We, of course, do it right. We enjoy life by shopping, that is, by drowning in stuff. Let’s crawl out of the box of North American conventions and try to comprehend that others may enjoy life by going to a concert, a drama or opera, a museum.

Which of the two lifestyles fits better with the looming threat to human existence caused by the world’s growing population, limited resources and degradation of the biosphere?

Lev Shakhmundes, Chatham, Ont.

.........

Step this way

Re Toronto’s New Tourist Attraction: Come See The Rob Ford Follies (May 12): I’m interested in visiting Toronto, not to see “The Rob Ford Follies,” but to get a better understanding of Torontonians – the people who made possible Rob Ford’s election and thus made Toronto “The City With The World’s Most Embarrassing Mayor.”

Viviana Chang, Calgary

.........

Oil sands royalties

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers’ most recent Statistical Handbook indicates that, in 2010, this industry sold $101-billion of oil and gas but paid only $12-billion in resource royalties.

Even Senator Pamela Wallin’s higher figure of $22- billion (Oil Sands’ Benefits – letter, May 12), which also includes general taxes applicable to all industries, amounts to only one-fifth of the resource value extracted by oil and gas companies.

Foreign investors eager to profit from this giveaway of public resources have been buying equity in Canada’s resource sector, which bids up the exchange rate to the detriment of manufacturing and other Canadian-based exporters.

Rather than attacking NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, Western premiers should raise resource royalties. In addition to collecting needed revenue, that would temper the inflow of foreign funds and help moderate the exchange rate to more competitive levels.

Erin Weir, economist, United Steelworkers

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Immigrant engineers

Your article might lead one to believe that prospective engineering immigrants with no experience who “chose” Canada would immediately find work (A Pitch Heard ’Round The World – Focus, May 12).

What Canada needs is experienced engineers who can step right into positions to design and build facilities. Canadian employers do not have a great track record in training. As such, the reality is that immigrants will not easily find entry-level positions.

Elio Comello, PEng., Camlachie, Ont.

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It seems as though the message has changed over the years: “You can keep your huddled masses. Send us your engineers.”

John Warden, Toronto

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