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Prime Minister Stephen Harper pauses while delivering a speech during a Conservative caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on May 21, 2013. (CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper pauses while delivering a speech during a Conservative caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on May 21, 2013. (CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS)

What readers think

May 22: The Prime Minister and accountability, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

PM’s accountability

Re Harper ‘Not Happy’ About Senate Expenses Scandal (online, May 21): The Prime Minister’s address to the Conservative caucus was a rehash of campaign speeches about how he was going to clean the Ottawa stables. He made no attempt to address in any meaningful way the possible ethical breaches and illegalities of public officials in both giving and accepting monies – all at the hands of his appointees.

Where are all those once-zealous Reform MPs, including Stephen Harper himself, originally elected to do politics differently?

Terrence J. Downey, Saskatoon

.........

I had a wry chuckle when Prime Minister Stephen Harper proclaimed during his Tuesday caucus meeting that “Canada now has one of the most accountable and transparent systems of governance in the entire world.” He had invited the press to cover the meeting, but refused to take questions. What a perfect illustration of his notion of accountability.

Susan Cantlie, Toronto

.........

Stephen Harper’s Conservatives promised Senate reform, but have presided over Senate scandals. They promised realistic action on climate change, but have presided over a carbon ramp-up. They promised fiscal responsibility, and have presided over deficits.

I only ask that the Conservatives refrain from making any more promises. I’m not sure how much more of their agenda we can take.

Thor Kuhlmann, Vancouver

.........

The Conservatives should not be surprised to find out about then-chief of staff Nigel Wright’s lack of judgment in his dealings with Senator Mike Duffy. After all, Mr. Wright was, shockingly, “a long-time camp counsellor” (Waking Up To Nigel Wright – May 18). And we all know, thanks to the Conservatives’ ads, that camp counsellors are not fit for the demands of public office.

Beverley Cooper, Toronto

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No harm? No foul?

Barrick Gold chairman Peter Munk would have Canadians believe that Nigel Wright’s cheque for $90,000 to Senator Mike Duffy was an act of compassion that caused “zero” harm (Duffygate – letters, May 21). Really?

I suppose you will agree with Mr. Munk, if you believe that allowing Mr. Duffy to pretend he was the one repaying improperly received tax dollars and refusing to co-operate with an audit that would expose his egregious expense claims results in “zero” harm.

How would Mr. Munk feel about this sort of conduct if it had occurred at Barrick Gold?

Craig Hall, Kingston

.........

Peter Munk, the chairman of Barrick Gold Corp., thinks that the harm done by Nigel Wright’s actions is “zero” while Mark Hilson, managing general partner of Romspen Investment Corp., thinks that Mr. Wright made a relatively “minor” mistake.

What is it with these gentlemen from Bay Street that makes them bury their heads in the sand? Don’t they understand that Mr. Wright’s actions undermined Canadians’ trust in their government and therefore undermined their faith in their democracy? Mr. Wright made a significant mistake. The impact on society is huge.

Ian Hargreaves, North Vancouver

.........

In light of Peter Munk’s suggestion that the treatment of Nigel Wright will only further deter the best people from entering public service, it is worth remembering that no government has done more to undermine and dispirit the federal public service than has the Harper government with Mr. Wright as chief of staff.

Matt Bergbusch, Montreal

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I have no doubt that Nigel Wright is smart and principled. However, running a country is very different from running a business. Shareholders can be appeased with profits. Canadians care about ethics; governments avoid the optics at their peril.

Monica Cullum, Ottawa

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Sins of the Senate

Because of the actions of four senators and in spite of the probable good behaviour of the others, there are calls to scrap the whole Senate. Abolition may be the right move, but not because of the doings of four ill-selected individuals. Do I hear a call to abolish the office of the Mayor of Toronto (Ford Faces Council For First Time Since Drug Allegation – May 21)?

Anson McKim, Erin, Ont.

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Unless all senators’ claims for entitlement are freely available online – as well as where they claim to live – there is no reason to expect that a reformed Senate would be any less subject to misfeasance.

Geoffrey Kemp, Mississauga

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Now I know why the Senate is called the Red Chamber: The institution gives off the rosy hue of collective embarrassment.

Jill Armstrong, Victoria

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Immigration design

Re Temporary Immigrants, Temporary Loyalties (May 20): The “temporary immigrants” are not immigrants but temporary foreign workers by nature and design. They applied on that basis and should have understood the nature of the process.

The sponsorship of spouses had been misused and abused for many decades due to marriage-of-convenience schemes; the change requiring a couple to live together for two years before the sponsored spouse can be considered a permanent resident is necessary and proper. Many other advanced countries use it, and it works.

Canada is in demand so much that the number of applications in the business class, skilled worker class, temporary foreign worker class and students is making the government confident that it can recreate the immigration system with ease and with no harm to Canada. The record shows that it is working thus far.

Elie Mikhael Nasrallah, immigration consultant, Ottawa

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Made in Canada

Bravo to Steven Borsook and his knitwear company for maintaining the Canadian location for Parkhurst berets, gloves and sweaters (Fashion’s Appealing New Label: Made In Canada – Report on Business, May 21). The news about dangerous working conditions in Bangladesh brought home with a shock what’s been happening to many fashion labels. As a consumer, I’d rather pay a bit more and keep production here. I love my colourful collection of Parkhurst berets all the more for knowing their country of origin.

Caroline Di Giovanni, Toronto

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His latest book

While in Toronto last week, I met Conrad Black on a very busy Adelaide Street (Lord Black Takes On America – May 18). I shook his hand and told him I enjoyed his latest book. He politely asked, “Which one?” and then informed me that another is coming out soon.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him I didn’t buy his last book; I simply borrowed it from the library. Allowing him to be a guest of the Canadian people is enough without putting money in his pockets.

Patrick Whiteway, Black Rock, N.S.

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