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Nov. 2: Secret bank accounts, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Blowing the whistle

The situation in Greece, where a journalist was arrested for publishing a list of 2,000 people with secret bank accounts in Switzerland (while no tax evader has been charged), provides a telling glimpse into how different people can face different treatment (An Assault On A Democratic Right – editorial, Oct. 31).

Here in Canada, journalists don’t have to worry about facing arrest for doing their jobs. But, in another way, Greece and Canada are disturbingly similar.

The case of Canadians with secret bank accounts in Liechtenstein is well-known: A list of 106 Canadians with accounts totalling more than $100-million was given to Ottawa in 2007. Five years later, less than a third of the money owing has been collected. And not a single charge.

Check the Canada Revenue Agency’s website. Scroll through the pages of convictions. Find many related to overseas tax evasion? Neither did I.

Percy Downe, Liberal senator (Charlottetown), Ottawa

Friend or foe?

So Quebec Premier Pauline Marois will be tabling a language law to “preserve the place of French as the common public language” (Marois Talks Tough On Corruption, Pledges Fiscal Restraint – Nov. 1). This, of course, means no English, given that the Parti Québécois and its acolytes view English as their enemy.

Sophisticated Europeans embrace English as a friend, as they can cherish their native languages at home and use English to engage the world. On a recent visit to Budapest, we watched our German tour guide negotiate with a Hungarian concierge – in English, their common language. I doubt that either felt a threat to their respective cultures.

Robert Cairns, Cobourg, Ont.

Cry us a river

U.S. election coverage is reducing a four-year-old girl to tears (‘I’m Tired Of Bronco Bamma And Mitt Romney’ – online, Nov. 1)? I know exactly how she feels.

R.G. McGillivray, Oakville, Ont.

Generic question

Re Generic Drug Use Must Be A Priority (Nov. 1): Last March, Canadian generic drug manufacturer Apotex Inc. voluntarily recalled one lot of its five-milligram ramipril capsules used to treat hypertension because some of them were found to be empty. But even if you’re fortunate enough to get a generic brand that contains the drug you were prescribed, who determines whether there’s any “negative impact on optimal patient care”?

Louis Desjardins, Belleville, Ont.

Financial literacy

Re Financial Literacy Still Elusive In Canada (Report on Business, Oct. 30): Yes, Canadians are carrying record high levels of debt, but the Bank of Canada has also indicated that our accumulation of household debt is starting to slow, while those carrying debt are doing a decent job of managing it as the percentage of loans in default stands at 0.4 per cent.

Thanks to the efforts of groups across the country that are offering financial education programming, Canadians are increasing their financial knowledge and making better decisions.

If we truly want Canadians to improve their financial literacy, we need to recognize that non-profits, community organizations, corporations and governments all need to play a role in promoting accessible and inclusive financial literacy programs.

Jeffrey Schwartz, executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc., Toronto

Scary stuff

Margaret Wente slams me for scare tactics without mentioning my efforts to gain a House debate on the Canada-China investment treaty (The Chinese Are Coming! – Nov. 1). The PM is now entitled to ratify it, despite the fact there’s been no review, debate or vote in Parliament. While we can exit NAFTA with six months notice, there’s no exit from this treaty in less than 31 years.

The treaty allows China to make claims for damages if Canadian decision-making at municipal, provincial, territorial or federal levels, or even by our courts, reduces their state-owned enterprises’ expectation of profits. And the claims would be arbitrated behind closed doors.

China is now suing Belgium for $3-billion over a bank investment that didn’t deliver expected returns. Australia, with China its top trading partner, has refused to enter into a treaty such as the one Stephen Harper has signed.

I don’t need scare tactics. The facts are bad enough.

Elizabeth May, Leader, Green Party of Canada

Passport tweaking

Your article New Passport Watermark Images Lacking Diversity, Report Says (online, Oct. 30) may have left the impression that the redesign of Canada’s new passport doesn’t represent all Canadians, specifically women and visible minorities.

The Phoenix Strategic Perspectives study found that many participants in the focus groups felt there should be more images of women and more inclusions of Canada’s diverse communities. Passport Canada did change some of the images to reflect those comments.

There are female RCMP officers, a girl playing hockey and visible minorities playing football. We also honour Nellie McClung and the other women of the Famous Five. As for Canada’s cultural diversity, the passport displays a beautiful image of Pier 21 in Halifax, a port of arrival for hundreds of thousands of new Canadians.

Christine Desloges, CEO, Passport Canada


Your article explaining the birth of Hurricane Sandy (‘Frankenstorm’ Joins Lexicon Of Weird Weather Events – Oct. 31) mentions higher-than-normal ocean temperatures and Arctic ice melt as causes of Sandy’s unusual power and impact. Curiously, there was no mention of climate change.

Climate change is the reason temperatures are rising and ice is melting, and it makes the Frankenstorm our own creation.

The fact that we have the power to break our addiction to fossil fuels and lessen the risk of such disasters in the future makes Sandy’s tragic costs all the more unacceptable.

Matt Horne, director, climate-change policy, Pembina Institute, Vancouver

The mummy’s curse

Re That’s A Wrap (Nov. 1): The reason it’s hard to find volunteers for mummification experiments is that you have to constantly convince people that you’re not just running a pyramid scheme.

Rob Cruickshank, Toronto

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