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Culture of sex

The self-righteous outrage that attends the unseemly and hysterical coverage of Jian Ghomeshi is paralleled by that directed at the NDP MPs who blew the whistle on the long-standing culture of sexual harassment on Parliament Hill (Media Circus Surrounds Fallen Star As Ghomeshi Faces Sex-Assault Charges; Sex On The Hill, Theatre Of The Absurd – both Nov. 27).

The female MPS are widely condemned because they failed to treat all men, in this case, their male colleagues, as potential predators, thus failing to heed the lesson that most women, sadly, must learn early.

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This sheds light on why some men – allegedly the male Liberal MPs and Mr. Ghomeshi – assume they are free to take advantage of women who have been so incautious as to let their defences down, even momentarily.

Public attacks against both the men who take advantage of women and the women who trusted them raise fundamental questions about who is ultimately responsible for sexual predation, since we collectively blame both parties while doing nothing to challenge the social norms that perpetuate it.

Julie Guard, Winnipeg

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Where are the questions about the ethics of women who make veiled accusations but hide in the shadows afterward, so that the truth becomes impossible to get at?

The two female NDP MPs have truly defined what it means to have things both ways.

This whole thing has made my respect for the NDP take a nosedive. Can you imagine the self-righteous indignation with which they would have attacked Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau if he had attempted to sort things out behind the scenes, as they now claim should have happened?

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Ellen Pye, Delta, B.C.

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I deplore Margaret Wente's casual shaming of the female MP (Sex On The Hill, Theatre Of The Absurd – Nov. 27).

There is only one question that matters: Did the victim want to have sex? She says she did not.

I call the alleged conduct of the male MP Rapist's Roulette. Instead of establishing consent ahead of time, the player has sex, and then finds out afterward if they had consent. Often they do, of course. But sometimes they don't.

I deplore Ms. Wente's column because she is yelling "You look ridiculous" at a victim.

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Julius Davies, Abbotsford, B.C.

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What's the definition of "explicit consent"? Would "Here's a condom" work?

Bobbie Jean Huff, Ottawa

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A very black Friday

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Despite pledges by the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP 25 years ago to eliminate child poverty in Canada, some 1.3 million kids still live in poverty. This gives Black Friday, a silly American import that celebrates consumerism at its most disgusting, a whole new meaning.

Let Black Friday instead be a day of remembrance for all those in Canada – and for that matter, the United States – who have nothing and who will have no reason to celebrate this holiday season.

Andrew van Velzen, Toronto

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Pipelines, politics

Your editorial Pipe Dreams (Nov. 27) lauds Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall for defending TransCanada Pipeline's proposed Energy East project. You despair that Ontario and Quebec are demanding the weighting of upstream carbon emissions and suggest "that's a separate matter." You end by saying Canada is an oil exporter and it "needs a GHG reduction strategy. The two are not mutually exclusive."

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You say pipelines are safer than rail, with the usual reference to Lac-Mégantic. You don't mention the pipeline failures and accidents across Canada: Between 1962 and 2014, at least 45 Canadians died in these accidents, which caused millions of dollars in damage. And premiers Kathleen Wynne and Philippe Couillard are right not to throw caution to the wind: Canada has no meaningful GHG strategy.

It appears that Mr. Wall and your editorial board are only interested in making a buck.

Willem Hart, Toronto

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I agree totally with Brad Wall and your editorial. Besides the GHG issue, I would pose another question that must be answered in the debate surrounding "ethical oil." Should Canada continue to purchase crude from countries that use oil revenues to support international terrorism, or should it move to find a way to make Canada energy self-sufficient?

Mark Greenberg, Toronto

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Help? A 'no-brainer'

You'd think that having the government agree to give support to 95 Canadian thalidomide victims whose deteriorating health is directly attributable to a lack of government oversight would be a "no-brainer." Why then did the Harper government continue to stonewall the applicants until it was finally pressured into taking action? Could it have to do with the fact that it was another Conservative government – John Diefenbaker's – that approved thalidomide and that was slow in removing it from the market when evidence of its adverse effects became known?

Chris Marriott, Chelsea, Que.

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What cameras see

You argue that equipping police officers with cameras would cause officers to think about their actions and prevent brutality (Monitor The Police – With Police Cameras, editorial, Nov. 27). This sounds logical, but there are two important caveats:

1) It makes a huge difference whether the video is publicly accessible or held by an independent authority other than the police departments. Video that is merely stored by the police themselves makes such a system vulnerable to corruption and convenient "technical failure"; and, even more fundamentally,

2) If it was the case that being filmed prevented brutality, why is it that so many instances of police violence that we are able to see on the Internet and the nightly news are already filmed with the full knowledge of the police themselves, by bystanders, CCTV cameras and, yes, police dash cams and body cams?

Cameras are not a magical solution to deep social problems of racism, prejudice and inequality, of which police violence is merely one aspect. We know from studies of the effectiveness of CCTV cameras, particularly in Britain, which has a longer history of public video surveillance, that cameras in themselves do not prevent crime or brutality. Indeed, in a society in which we are saturated with shocking images of terrible actions and where so many have become blasé about being filmed doing even the worst things, they could even encourage it.

David Murakami Wood, Canada Research Chair in Surveillance Studies, Queen's University

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Buy Canada, eh

Re Buy America Rules Prevail For B.C. Ferry Terminal Project (Nov. 26): I trust Ottawa will respond by applying a rigorous "Buy Canada" policy when construction of the new, Canadian-funded multibillion dollar Windsor-Detroit bridge gets under way.

Erik Nilsson, Toronto

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