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Margaret Sutherland's "Emperor Haute Couture" (cropped here) is currently on display in an Ontario library.

Talk of retreat

Let's keep it simple ( Off To The __ For The Weekend – Focus, May 19):

A cottage is a retreat with waterfront. A cabin is a retreat without waterfront. A chalet is a retreat on a mountainside, not a hill, and if it's at the base of a mountain, sorry, it's just a cabin. A shack is a single-room sleeping unit found in a camp. A camp is a group of cabins, cottages or shacks with shared facilities. A lake, is well, an actual lake and not a place to live unless you are a fish. And finally, a summer home is a place where everyone wishes your ego will go drown itself, eh?

Sheila Zerr, Burlington, Ont.


Playing defence

In many countries, newspapers are stalwart defenders of civil liberties. If it weren't for freedom of expression, they would have nothing to do. But your editorial board takes a different approach ( The Freedom Of Peaceful Assembly – May 19). It acknowledges that the Charest government's special law is unconstitutional, but defends it nonetheless. It seems The Globe and Mail is more comfortable defending privileges than rights.

Derek McKee, Sherbrooke


Square the circle

Margaret Wente had me worried with Tuesday's column about the uphill battle university graduates face ( Educated For Unemployment – May 15). You can only imagine my relief to read ( Tuition Protesters Are The Greeks Of Canada – May 19) that the Quebec students' job prospects are actually "among the best in the world."

Aaron Brown, London, Ont.


Instead of just criticizing the students, why don't we look at ways to make the system more efficient at delivering quality education? With high-speed broadband Internet service, we are more than capable of providing education in a format that's economical for all.

Robert Croghan, Toronto


Canadian fantasy

The simple answer to Doug Saunders's question What Would A Canada Of 100 Million Feel Like? (May 18) is "awful." Most Canadians won't benefit from a larger population. Real-estate developers and a few others certainly will, but the quality of life of the average Canadian in larger cities will decline significantly. A recent survey indicates that the vast majority of Torontonians, Vancouverites and Calgarians think their cities already have enough people – if not too many.

The proposed increase in population will have a massive impact on the environment both at the national and global level as most newcomers have ecological footprints in Canada four times what they had in their countries of origin.

In terms of labour markets, we will continue to have periodic shortages in some sectors but, as research has shown, most such shortages can be met from within our existing population if we have adequate training programs and incentives to draw people into the work force. Imported labour will be necessary only in exceptional cases if we get things right.

The case for our having 100 million people or, for that matter, any major increase in population is based on fantasy rather than fact.

Martin Collacott, Centre for Immigration Policy Reform, Vancouver


Contracted out

The changes to employment insurance ( EI Shakeup To Target Repeat Users – May 18) reflect the understanding of a government that thinks that everyone is in a permanent job that they lose only if they are lazy or incompetent (except if you are a cabinet minister). But his is a contracted-out world. Many and growing numbers of people are out of work frequently and regularly. Collecting EI a second time is reflective of nothing buy a spotty and erratic ("flexible") job market.

Having created the flexible work force, governments now punish workers for playing by their rules. But as Jeffrey Simpson says, this government is all about punishment (Time And Punishment – May 18).

Bill Cowie, Ottawa


Stay off the grass

Marcus Gee hits the nail on the head, as does the B.C. review he cites ( That Old Green Grass Of Home Is Starting To Look Pretty Seedy – Toronto edition, May 19)

Requests to three successive Ontario environment ministers requesting data that contradicts the findings of the Pest Management Regulatory Agency of Health Canada have all met with no answer. That is because they have no data. Organizations such as the Physicians for the Environment support the ban but they, too, have no data.

Underlying this legislation is a deprivation of rights to Canadians – a rights withdrawal that is 100 per cent politics and 0 per cent fact. It's time this act was repealed.

Martin Pick, Cavan, Ont.


If you look up 2,4-D, the pesticide used to kill dandelions, you can read that it was one of the components of Agent Orange, and according to a scientific study in the posting a definitive factor in the destruction of sperm. It is well known that pesticide exposure has led to prostate cancer. Yet some advocate returning to the use of this pesticide in order to eliminate dandelions. Surely there is a compromise solution that is healthier. Ironically, this Victoria Day weekend thousands flee the city to enjoy nature, the woodlands, streams and paths where all forms of wild plant life prevail. The urban obsession with lawns does not support human or animal health.

Diane Sullivan, Toronto


All run together

As someone who basks in the delight of silent retreats, and who runs alone and in groups, I do not object to Katrina Onstad's delight in solo running ( At the Speed of Solitude – Focus, May 19). What I don't understand is her problem with those who enjoy the accountability, community and camaraderie of running together. Running allows us all the space to participate in whatever way we enjoy.

Ted Dodd, Winnipeg


He was framed

Just saw the article and picture of our Prime Minister that you saw fit to publish ( 'Nude' Stephen Harper Painting Causes A Stir – online edition, May 18). How can you be so disrespectful? Have you no concern at all for his family? Why anyone would go into politics is beyond me.

Barbara Morrison, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.


Note to angry Conservatives: Lighten up! It could be worse. The coffee on the saucer could be orange juice. The dog could be a sheep with Peter MacKay's countenance. And the figure on the couch could be John Diefenbaker.

Don Macpherson, Saskatoon


This is one occasion where Mr. Harper may prefer the benefits of a private member.

Jim Rea, Markham, Ont.