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Gender wisdom

Re Men: Are They Obsolete? (Nov. 15): Considering that violence and hunger are two of the most pressing problems facing women around the world, a debate of this kind shows how off-base we are. Women are not only subject to brutal violence (rape, honour killing, homicide, humiliation, genital mutilation, bride burning, human trafficking and more), they are also the first to go hungry if food is short.

The problem involves more than men: They can plead guilty and still go free. Men's domination of society is embedded in human culture. Feminism failed for a reason: Women had underestimated the problem.

What we need is a change of mindset by both genders. The solution lies in a much-needed social and cultural transformation of our outdated norms of human behaviour. Men are not going anywhere. Bet on it.

Rama Singh, Hamilton


Males will never be obsolete. If they were, who would take care of the spiders and things that go bump in the night?

Don Cooper, Toronto


Energy on the move

Re Pipelines: Not Whether, But How (Nov. 15): David Emerson calls for a national conversation on our energy future. Good idea. Perhaps we should begin with a good dose of reality. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), two-thirds of fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground if we want to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius. That means no new infrastructure to support the carbon-based economy – like pipelines. The IEA is very clear about this. Pipelines are not innovative. Great innovation will come when we price carbon and invest heavily in the new clean-energy economy.

Cheryl McNamara, Toronto


Re Is Oil-by-Rail Boom An Accident Waiting To Happen? (Nov. 14): Rail's track record has improved significantly. The accident at Lac-Mégantic, Que., was atypical; 2012 was the safest year for railways yet, with fewer than 1.6 accidents per million train miles, down from three per million train miles in 2003.

Canadians have legitimate concerns about rail safety. That's why the industry has redoubled efforts to talk to communities about dangerous goods travelling in their area, worked with Transport Canada to implement new rules for rail safety and called for a phase-out of legacy tank cars and their replacement with safer cars.

Railways are currently moving about 3 per cent of crude oil in North America. There is a functioning market in transportation, with producers choosing pipelines, shipping, rail and trucking to get products to market.

While we all share a duty to move these products safely and responsibly, that is something any economist should be happy about.

Michael Bourque, president, Railway Association of Canada


A courageous stand

Re Ignore It (editorial, Nov. 14): While walking through the halls of Montreal's highly respected Jewish General Hospital recently, I could not fail to notice the rich mixture of employees wearing kippahs, turbans and hijabs.

Last week, the Jewish General took a courageous stand and said it will openly defy Quebec's values charter if it is enacted. In addition, the hospital has said that it will not apply for the temporary exemption being offered by the Parti Québécois government as an attempt to placate critics.

The Irish philosopher Edmund Burke once said, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

His sentiments were echoed by Holocaust survivor and political activist Elie Wiesel, who said that the 11th commandment should be, 'Thou shall not stand idly by,' that to remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all.

Kudos to the Jewish General for not remaining silent on this important issue. Let others follow its example and take up the mantle of moral responsibility to fight hatred, intolerance, and racism in our society.

Judith Levine, Westmount, Que.


Parents-to-work day

Re Take Your Parents To Work Day (Nov. 15): This headline made me laugh. A few years ago, when my daughter was 14, I composed a letter called "Bring Your Parents to School Day!"

Using school letterhead to make my communication look official, my document informed her that this new school activity was in response to Bring Your Child to Work Day: "Bring your parents to class and have them meet the teachers! Have them meet your friends while having lunch in the cafeteria!"

My daughter realized the hoax after seeing the April 1 date, but the horrified look on her face that first five seconds was priceless.

I hope Take Your Parents to Work Day catches on and becomes an annual event by the time she's in the working world. Now, that would be priceless.

Joan Slover, Waterloo, Ont.


Aboriginal disaster

Re Another Disaster For B.C.'s Aboriginal Youth (Nov. 15): The fundamental problem of all aspects of aboriginal policy is the funnelling of funding through a self-serving aboriginal industry of consultants, lawyers and other opportunists who attempt to buy off the leadership with sinecures, while encouraging more-of-the-same policies. This reality should be brought into the discussion in the current aboriginal education debates, where demands for more money and native control is sure to "squander another generation of aboriginal children."

Albert Howard, co-author, Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry; co-editor, Approaches to Aboriginal Education in Canada; Montreal


The Ford follies

Re Council To Put 'Firewall' Around Ford (Nov. 15): From a distance of 1,500 kilometres, it appears the barrels of ink spilled over the reports, analyzes, laurels, darts and directives aimed at Toronto's mayor have focused on several major themes, including but not limited to: fairness, compassion, public responsibility, elected accountability, due process and democratic will.

When this regrettable saga is over, perhaps Rob Ford's legacy will be to have reminded us of the principles held most dear to a functioning and progressive democracy. For that, he is to be more pitied than mocked, more valued than demeaned.

Mark S. Rash, Winnipeg


Take that, Vladimir Putin. With his choice of words, Rob Ford has given Toronto its very own Pussy Riot.

Paul Rapoport, Ancaster, Ont.


It's not the illegal drug use, the lies or the buffoonery. It's not the company Rob Ford keeps, the alleged drinking and driving or even that he threatened to close libraries. What, for some, has finally made the mayor too outrageous for service and hazardous to children? Using a naughty word for female genitalia.

It seems we've (still) got our prudish priorities in order.

Leslie Vryenhoek, St. John's


Thanks to the mayor's crude and now widely disseminated remark, Toronto has become a world crass city.

Paul McFedries, Toronto