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(Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP)
(Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP)

What readers think

Oct. 13: The Peace Prize shock, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Shock and awe

Re European Union Awarded 2012 Nobel Peace Prize (online, Oct. 12): Talk about the audacity of hope. What next, a Nobel Peace Prize for Barack Obama?

Ron Freedman, Toronto

Bullies and victims

Bullying kills. Period (Bullying Blamed For Port Coquitlam Girl’s Death – Oct. 12). How many more children/teenagers have to die before this message gets across to other teens and the adults who care for them?

A coroner’s inquest into the death of Amanda Todd is an excellent idea, since coroner’s inquests are designed not only to determine the cause of death but to look for preventable factors that led to the death.

It now takes a cybervillage to raise a healthy child.

Marshall Korenblum, chief psychiatrist, Hincks-Dellcrest Centre for children and families, Toronto


I honestly don’t know what distresses me more: the targeted shooting of a 14-year-old girl in Pakistan by the Taliban or the targeted bullying of a 15-year-old girl in Canada by her peer group.

Terry Parsonage, Winnipeg

Risk assessment

Re New Warning On Home Values (front page, Oct. 11): Industry and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. studies show that most Canadian homebuyers do their homework before making an offer to purchase a home and obtain financing.

Similarly, when banks look at a homeowner’s mortgage application, they, too, assess a multitude of factors, including the borrower’s source and level of income and the property’s value.

Finally, where mortgage loan insurance is required, CMHC will do its own risk assessment of the application, including the strength of the borrower, the property value and the housing market conditions in which the property is located.

Regarding the property risk assessment, CMHC looks at the specific characteristics of the property in question and uses different information sources. This includes the property’s physical characteristics, the municipal property tax assessment and current and prior sales activity. CMHC has the most comprehensive database in Canada, including information on eight million properties.

CMHC does not use property value averages but the specific characteristics of the property being assessed. The database and models are continually updated and independently reviewed by a third party.

This system is one tool used by CMHC underwriters to assess the homebuyer’s application for mortgage loan insurance.

Pierre Serré, chief risk officer, CMHC, Ottawa

Finding fluency

I read with appreciation your story of Murray Minchin passionately tackling a key environmental issue while struggling with his stuttering (The Quest To Stop A Pipeline: How A Stutterer Found His Voice – front page, Oct. 12). As a speech-language pathologist, I’m concerned about any implications regarding what would improve stuttering.

Clearly, courage and confidence are extremely important factors in determining whether one expresses himself well. Your readers should know, however, that there are several evidence-based treatment programs that can do wonders for people who stutter.

It’s not just something the individual has to live with.

Robert M. Kroll, executive director, The Speech and Stuttering Institute, Toronto


The fear of speaking that one who stutters feels, the courage required to speak and the relief felt at achieving some level of fluency would astonish those who have never so much as stumbled on a word. Many stutterers find their voices eventually, and even fluency, but the fear never goes away completely.

In Murray Minchin’s case, it was through his passionate devotion to a cause that he found his voice and fluency. Bravo, Mr. Minchin, we can hear you loud and clear.

Marc Doré, Montreal West

Flushing out truth

Kudos to India’s Rural Development Minister for outing the dirt on his country’s toilets, or lack thereof (Temples, Toilets: India’s Shame – Oct. 12). Millions of Indians know it but still accept open defecation as a part of life lived in poverty.

State governments have the funds to build more public toilets, but spending on public infrastructure has never been a priority with corruption rampant. So the shame is on the corrupt politicians, not on the slum dweller who has no choice but to defecate in public.

Suffice to say, I wouldn’t use a public toilet in India for any amount of money.

Gina Brown, Toronto


I read over and over again the words from V.S. Naipaul’s An Area of Darkness quoted by Amrit Dhillon with regard to the lack of decent toilet facilities in India. She says they’re full of hatred and contempt and humiliate those whose poverty leaves them no choice. The only hatred I can find in those words is of the poverty that forces this humiliation on those people. We debase debate when we cry “hate.”

Iain Clayre, Edmonton


I’m still trying to calculate the ratio of cellphones to public toilets in our “world-class city” of Toronto.

Peter Cullman, Toronto

Footwear fury

Re A Moment in Time, Oct. 12, 1960: As a United Nations correspondent, I was sitting directly behind Nikita Khrushchev in the press gallery and clearly saw him bang his shoe on his desk, and heard him threaten Britain with nuclear annihilation as prime minister Harold Macmillan stood at the General Assembly podium.

I was among many journalists who reported this stunning attempt to dishonour the United Nations. The only small country to challenge Khrushchev was Nepal.

It seems the revisionists, or apologists, will always be with us.

David Van Praagh, Ottawa

Suffix ending

Re Sexism Or Tradition? The Deep Divide Over Winnipeg’s Wesmen (Oct. 9): “Man” is the name given to the species and hence, by definition, is non-sexist. The fact that “man” also became, through usage, the name for the male of the species was the real problem.

Instead of correcting usages of “man or men” in language and documentation, and even possibly inventing a new name for a male man, feminists hung on to the word “person” – which is never defined as the name of our species but is even more sexist when you consider that “son” is never, ever female.

“Per-daughter,” anyone?

Gathorne Burns, Winnipeg

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