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Circus connection

The headline on John Doyle's column, Ford Nation TV Show Is A Stroke Of Genius (Life & Arts, Nov. 18), got me thinking: Could Canadians have become so bored with our own complacency that we cherish not only the schadenfreude of the story of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, but the fact that we can collectively stick it to the status quo?

I hope it's not just Monday morning talking, but I think several articles in Monday's Globe are connected.

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Aside from Mr. Doyle, on another page, we're told that the income gap in Canada is growing (Inequality: What's The Problem?). The 99 per cent feel disadvantaged, but we feel there is little or nothing that we can do about it. So, in essence, Mr. Ford is like us – being picked on, being disadvantaged. Witness, on another page, the headline: Ford Cheered At Game Appearance.

This man certainly has had a polarizing effect on Canadians. We are being talked about around the world, which Canadians love. We have found some kind of "identity" in this circus that we can all talk about together.

Peter Keleghan, Toronto

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Two decades ago, a big city mayor was captured on video smoking crack cocaine: Marion Barry was mayor of the District of Columbia when he was busted by the FBI. He spent six months in jail.

After his release, he was elected to council in 1992; in 1994, he regained the mayor's chair with a landslide victory. This may be a lesson for Toronto to think about.

In the U.S., big-name politicians, including presidents, have admitted smoking pot.

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Toronto is doing well, so perhaps Rob Ford is not a bad mayor after all. I'd bet my bottom dollar Mr. Ford would be elected again if an election were called today.

Vince Last, Brampton, Ont.

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Politics in Toronto is truly rich. On the one hand, in the Toronto Centre federal by-election, with the high quality of candidates Chrystia Freeland and Linda McQuaig, we have an embarrassment of riches. On the other hand, in the mayor's chair, we just have an embarrassment.

Ross Howey, Toronto

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Grief and JFK

Re Why We Can't Stop Grieving (Nov. 16): I never grieved: John Kennedy wasn't the leader of my country and it's not my generation. JFK is from the bygone era of boomer youth, so to add me in "we" is insulting because it doesn't speak for me.

Yes, it's significant that it has been 50 years since JFK was shot. But it's time to move on. Baby boomers need to realize it's not all about them, and the media need to stop being enablers in letting them think it is.

Cheryl J. Norrad, Fredericton

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Re Martyr Or Satyr – Which One Was Real ? (Focus, Nov. 17): The news of JFK's assassination was the worst day of my life. As a young air force fighter pilot in love with the new world of John Kennedy, my own "New Frontier" was blasted into eternity in an instant.

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That night, I tuned into Moscow radio, usually an hour of anti-American bashing. The female announcer started her program and suddenly stopped and could be heard crying. I then realized the world was in mourning.

Over the years, I have struggled to come to terms with the JFK of 1963, and his real world, as evidenced by the ongoing sordid revelations of his life. Andrew Cohen's article has finally allowed me to be at peace with My JFK.

Jerry Blumenschein, Victoria

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Driven by benefits

Re Electric Cars Riding On Taxpayers' Dime (Report on Business, Nov. 16): Subsidies serve the purpose of promoting positive social outcomes. Governments do this every day for every type of business and consumer, so why would I be troubled by an example that will bring environmental benefits, instead of just short-term economic benefits?

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Matthew Beatty, Toronto

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No longer pregnant

Re Miscarriage: Polite Society's Last Taboo (Life & Arts, Nov. 18): Leah McLaren says people resist discussing their miscarriages because of "cultural shame." Nonsense. It's because of something called "privacy." Most people are not interested in sharing personal details of their lives except with those closest to them.

I certainly do not want my boss to know the results of my Pap smear or my pregnancy history. It's not his or her business and I'd like to keep it that way.

Kathryn Dunlop, Ottawa

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Many women who are pregnant think of themselves as carrying a baby, rather than a fetus, and the grief they feel with a miscarriage is not only about the future child, it is about the baby they have grown to know and perhaps even love during the pregnancy itself.

Because of abortion politics, it is this reality that continues to be denied, much to the detriment of women experiencing the intense grief of miscarriage.

Bridget Campion, Cobourg, Ont.

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Learning poor

Re What I Learned At Law School: The Poor Need Not Apply (Facts & Arguments, Nov. 17): I believe strongly that no Canadian should be denied an education due to an inability to pay. This is a commitment the University of Ottawa shares, particularly at a time when the costs of education are outpacing available government funding.

That is why 9 per cent of the university's budget (some $70-million this year) goes to student scholarships and bursaries. This translates in my own faculty to $2.5-million a year in direct financial aid. Furthermore, law school tuition rates here are among Ontario's lowest. All our first-year law students in financial need receive an additional $2,000, with upper-year students receiving $1,500 a year at a minimum. We also offer a variety of solutions, including the work-study program and paid internships to help students in need.

Nathalie Des Rosiers, dean, University of Ottawa, Common Law

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Reading this essay made me think of my own story of escaping poverty and the challenges that are common for those of lesser means to overcome institutional hurdles.

Poverty meant I worked long hours in part-time jobs at restaurants and supermarkets as a student, while peers could devote themselves to studying or socializing. The part-time income disqualified me from student financial aid, even as less honest and affluent peers found ways to milk the academic loan system.

Coming from a family where my parents had just primary education and scraped by on minimum wage, I was clueless about the workplace for university grads, while my peers could rely on their family social connections to help them secure good employment.

Nevertheless, my story had a happy ending – I graduated with a doctorate and found gainful work that took me to Singapore, New York and now Dubai – though I know many capable people who were not as fortunate.

As reader Dianne Cooper (Talking Point, Nov. 16) notes, it should come as no surprise that fairness is not embedded in our society, since decision-makers are "walled off" from the reality that people in poverty face. Even well-intentioned leaders lack the empathy that is needed to help find solutions to a system that is inherently biased toward the privileged.

Kai L. Chan, Dubai

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