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Flickering candles

The best weapon against an authoritarian male leader? A girl.

It's instructive that you published two stories on Wednesday about young women exposing the paucity of male leadership and judgment (Teen's Love Of Learning Made Her A Target Of The Taliban, and Moscow Court Frees One Jailed Pussy Riot Member). Our hearts weep with joy at their determination, and weep again with anger and sadness at the price they pay.

Malala Yousafzai lies in a Pakistani hospital fighting for her life after being shot in the neck, while Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot sit in jail after being convicted of hooliganism.

The men who injured these bright spirits are absurd to all of history but themselves.

Lesley Ann Patten, Halifax


As Mahatma Gandhi observed during the darkest days of the Second World War Two, tyrants may seem omnipotent for a while but inevitably fall. So it will be with the Taliban. They offer neither ideas nor inspiration, only ignorance and fear.

Malala and her family are like flickering candles in the darkness. Their raw courage will expand exponentially, ultimately reshaping their world.

Michael Lennick, Toronto

Outrageous headline

While I share your revulsion at the shooting of Malala Yousafzai, the headline of your editorial, Death To The Taliban (Oct. 11), is inflammatory and in very poor taste.

Geoff Read, London, Ont.


What a barbaric header, announcing, in effect, an editorial fatwa. Surely our Criminal Code still prohibits incitement to murder? It's justice that's the prize, never death.

Angus MacMillan, Stratford, Ont.

Just wondering

Re Koran-Burning Pastor Terry Jones Barred From Entering Canada At Border (online, Oct. 11): Over the past few years, hundreds of mosques, containing thousands of Korans, have been damaged or destroyed by car bombs, shelling and aerial bombardment in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. Incinerated along with those Korans have been thousands of human beings. But we see no mobs in the streets, no cries of "blasphemy."

Yet, when some irrelevant preacher in Florida takes a lighter to a Koran, suddenly Muslims are deeply "offended" and there's endless controversy over his "hate speech."

How does anyone take such phony outrage seriously?

Jan Burton, Toronto

Tricky coronation

Someone in Justin Trudeau's growing entourage should let him know that the only people not free to proclaim his coronation acceptable (Trudeau Dismisses Harm of Coronation – Oct. 11) would be Justin himself or members of his family.

That he has now proceeded to do just that is thus unseemly and serves only to confirm a critical truth at the core of his candidacy: The son is not the father.

Charlie Sager, Ottawa

Tricky description

As one who served with and admired the ordinary, able and leading seamen of the Canadian navy, I object to the use of the word "sailor" to describe Sub-Lieutenant Jeffrey Delisle (Theft Of Secrets By Russia's Spy Frayed Canada's Ties With Allies – front page, Oct. 11). The only "sailing" he might have done was when he slipped into the Russian embassy and sold out his country.

SLt. Delise was a commissioned officer. Let's not sully the rank of those lower-deck members who form the backbone of the Royal Canadian Navy.

Bill Fitsell, Kingston, Ont.

The real indictment

Mike Moffatt's critique of David Suzuki's remarks on externalities (David Suzuki Needs An Economics Refresher Course – Report on Business, Oct. 11) misses what I expect is the key point Dr. Suzuki is trying to make (if inelegantly): It's not that economists don't care about externalities (they do), but that markets fail to incorporate the resulting costs or benefits in prices.

So, really, the indictment is of the market system, not economics. Prof. Moffatt refers to externalities as "unintended" costs or benefits, but they may also be intended – where a pulp mill, say, sends effluent up a smokestack because the air is a "free" good, rather than internalizing the cost through treatment.

This is rational behaviour from the mill's perspective because it's the least-cost option. The market fails in this example because there's no basis for pricing air quality, so the polluter doesn't pay the real cost.

If we're going to continue to operate within a market system, then the challenge is to develop a pricing regime that reflects the true social costs of using resources. I expect we could all use a refresher course on markets and market failure.

Michael Gardner, Halifax

You go, colleges

The Globe's Our Time To Lead series on higher education argues that Canada's postsecondary institutions do not provide quality education leading to employment. This is simply wrong.

Canada's public colleges (including institutes of technology and polytechnics) are referenced, but the analysis focuses on universities. And the suggestions for reform in universities reflect the strengths of Canada's public colleges, which are mandated to meet the demand for highly skilled business, technical, health and trades professionals required by employers.

Higher education in colleges is characterized by close ties with industry, exceptional student and employer satisfaction, and high placement rates (85 per cent to 95 per cent within six months of graduation). It targets advanced skills for employment, combining theoretical and applied learning, enhanced by the soft skills of collaborating in the workplace.

Colleges are key drivers of Canada's social and economic development.

James Knight, president and CEO, Association of Canadian Community Colleges, Ottawa

O ye of little faith

I don't know why people are so upset over Vic Toews's decision to cut non-Christian prison chaplains (Faith Behind Bars – letter, Oct. 11). Isn't it obvious that our Minister of Public Safety is acknowledging that only Christians commit crimes?

After all, he has access to all the facts on faith in prisons.

Margaret van Dijk, Toronto