Deeply skeptical …
Re Canada 'Deeply Skeptical' Of Tehran (Nov. 25): And Canadians are deeply skeptical of Ottawa, so what else is new?
Leo J. Deveau, Halifax
Re Harper, Wright Met On Feb. 22 (Nov. 25): The Abbott and Costello comedy routine of "Who's on First" employed by Stephen Harper and the Conservatives ain't working.
Craig Charbonneau Fontaine, Sagkeeng First Nation, Man.
I don't want to condone Nigel Wright's actions, but I do believe he felt what he was doing was right (it didn't cost the taxpayers anything) and expedient.
His business background was likely his undoing, as each day in the private sector individuals search for the best solution to a multitude of problems and many are delegated the power to act on their own initiative.
Political insiders and government workers understand this is not how problems are solved in their workplaces: Decisions are made at the very top and woe betide anyone who forgets that.
Mary Thomson, Chelsea, Que.
The so-called "Senate Scandal" should be rightfully called the "PM Scandal" or the "PMO Scandal." The problems originated exclusively from the PM and his office, starting with the appointment of a dubious senator.
Howard Gladstone, Toronto
Maybe it's not the Senate that should be reformed and/or abolished, but the PMO.
Gilles Coughlan, Ottawa
If the PM isn't responsible for the actions of the PMO, then who is?
Sue Yates, Duncan, B.C.
Re Conservatives Undermining Cluster-Bomb Treaty, Says Former Chief Negotiator (Nov 25): In 2011, we visited an NGO in Laos which provides support to people who have survived explosions. We learned of the incredible toll cluster bombs from the Vietnam War era still take. An estimated 80 million of these bombs dropped on Laos failed to explode on impact and are still maiming and killing farmers and curious children.
We are terribly disappointed that the government has inserted a clause in the bill on cluster munitions that would allow the Canadian Forces to be involved in the use of cluster bombs in joint operations with non-treaty signatories such as the United States.
Foreign Affairs Minister John. Baird assured reporters, "There'll be no member of the Canadian Armed Forces dropping cluster bombs on anyone, ever." If that is so, there is no need to tack on this contentious clause. It should be removed from Bill C-6.
Elise de Stein and Mike Colyer, Hamilton
Re Do Women Really Have It Better In Sweden? (Nov. 23): I never understand the hand-wringing over gender differences. The corporate ladder is a male construct: Why is it our yardstick for measuring success? Maybe most women aren't interested in climbing it. Gender equality doesn't mean the genders have to be the same, but given equal opportunities and suffer no gender-based discrimination. Can we not accept that maybe men and women have different values and goals in life?
Heretical, I know.
Tuula Talvila, Ottawa
'The mind boggles'
Re Loopholes Mean Crude Going Untested (Nov. 23): Transport Canada reacted to the horrendous Lac-Mégantic tragedy with measures that have had the effect of prompting some rail carriers to label all the oil they ship as highly explosive, but the department neglected to consider the lack of regulations requiring highly explosive crude to be handled differently than the least explosive crude. The mind boggles.
And it was only this month – the Lac-Mégantic tragedy was in July – that the Transport Minister asked a parliamentary committee to launch a study of Transport Canada's safety management systems, and to provide an interim report … by summer. I'm all for thoroughness, objectivity and patience. But after the human tragedy of Lac Mégantic, this sort of officious response is not just irresponsible. It is outrageous.
Stephen McNamee, Ottawa
Has any wheel been more often and more failingly reinvented than that of education? Two articles (Multi-Grade Classrooms Give Rise To A New Age Of Education; B.C. Will Be Lesser For Laissez-faire Learning, both Nov. 22) present recent fashions in how to dress a kid's hungry mind.
From my student days, I have memory of neither the curriculum nor the strategies that my teachers used to deliver it. What I do remember is how those teachers, as individuals not functionaries, made me feel about myself, about myself in the world, and about my prospects for continuing to learn independently of their instruction. Many of their best and most important lessons were unintended, driven somehow by the person they were rather than some fashion that fell from some educrat's head.
My experience as a teacher is that the most reliable learning wheel is round. Always has been.
Charlie Sager, Ottawa
Thanks to the well-balanced Folio (Build Your Own Oil Town, Nov. 25), I finally understand the petrodollar. It's the loonie you flip to decide which of two pundits is right on the issue of the oil sands.
Michael Derblich, Toronto
Don't admit it
Re Loneliness: The Trouble With Solitude (Focus, Nov. 23): It may seem counterintuitive, but the best way to address loneliness is, whatever you do, don't give the impression you're lonely!
It's very difficult to develop a real friendship if one party is perceived as being too needy in the social department. If you come out and say you're lonely, you're likely to remain that way.
George Parker, Cobourg, Ont.
Spoken like a Stoic
Re Keep Calm And Think On: How The Ancients Can Save Today's World (Nov. 25): While I long knew about the Stoic philosophers such as Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius, I only recently took the time to actually read their works. As I did, two things became immediately clear: First, how surprisingly well this ancient philosophy can be applied to everyday modern life; second, how unfortunate it is that it was never taught in school.
And while I think that both individuals and society would benefit greatly by having ancient and contemporary philosophy added to the school curriculum, I shall adopt a Stoic attitude and not dwell on the things that are out of my control.
Mark Bessoudo, Toronto