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Oct. 14: Gentlemen don’t snoop – and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Gentlemen don’t …

Re How To Reclaim The National Security Agenda (Oct. 11): It appears that Wesley Wark comes from the Henry L. Stimson school of diplomacy: Gentlemen don’t read each other’s mail. And his solution of layering bureaucracy upon administration is the perfect solution to the challenges of espionage in the modern world.

Ron Freedman, Toronto


Looks like there’s panic over the allegation that Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) was spying on Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy.

The last thing we need is a committee of Parliament overseeing Canada’s intelligence agencies. Anyone who thinks a similar committee in the U.S. doesn’t leak intelligence to the press for political gain, should think again.

If there must be increased oversight of the CSEC, change the scope and size of the civilian Security and Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) and add CSEC to its mandate.

Curt Shalapata, Oshawa


Canada has already tied our foreign aid to the oil and mining industry, so why not our spying?

It’s okay to spy on friendly nations, because all nations spy on each other. It’s also okay to have an us-versus-them enemies list, because every political party has one. And Canada is only responsible for 2 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, so inaction is okay.

It’s all cool – in the real world, this is just how the conservative brain is wired.

Doug Paul, Toronto


It’s my life, my death

Re Court Willing To Adjust To A Changing World (Oct. 11): Laws dealing with euthanasia gradually will have to be gradually divested of the religious morality on which they were based and replaced with legislation appropriate to a liberal democracy.

The use of the “slippery slope” argument in this context is contradicted by the experience of jurisdictions which have introduced assisted suicide.

The only real argument that opponents of assisted suicide – jurists and lay people alike – are left with is a not-so-thinly-veiled religious belief that life is a “gift” from a deity who alone has the right to end it. As an implicit corollary to this, when confronted with pain which no amount of palliative care can alleviate, these same opponents, though they will not admit it openly, consider this suffering to be good for one’s immortal soul.

They have a right to their convictions. But my life and my soul – if I have one – are my own.

Mike Hutton, Ottawa


Author, author

Re Alice Munro Nobel Laureate (Oct. 11): I love these lines from Alice Munro’s short story, The Shining Houses; they remind me of a weathered homestead here in Calgary, still standing incongruously in a small Prairie pocket near a high-speed, multi-lane ring road and new subdivision: “these surviving houses …walls unpainted and patched and showing different degrees of age and darkening, rough sheds and stacked wood and compost heaps and grey board fences around them – these appeared every so often ... dark, enclosed, expressing something like savagery in their disorder and the steep, unmatched angles of roofs and lean-tos; not possible on these streets, but there.”

This story is assigned reading in many high school English classes, including mine, because Alice Munro writes brilliant short stories that speak to who we are and illuminate the places we inhabit.

L.N. Fox, Calgary


Your pictures, memoirs, appreciations of Alice Munro were so marvellous. I am a contemporary of hers, lived in London, went to Western, came to The Coast, was an aspiring ’60s and ’70s writer, had three kids – and there our paths diverged, in my case at a few short stories published.

But she said it all for most of us in that era, and now for my daughter, and my granddaughters, and happily, I see, for the world of readers.

After I heard the news that she had won the Nobel prize, I had a furtive notion to go to the address near us in Vancouver where she and her young husband and children lived for a year. It seemed a bit odd: She’s not dead, she is wonderfully alive in her work, in your photographs, in her interviews and just across the Strait with her daughter in Victoria. But, I reasoned, it is the sort of inexplicable thing one of her characters might do.

Shirley Bradley, Vancouver


$1-billion. Ka-ching

Re Auditor: Savings Possible In Gas-Plant Cancellations (Oct. 11): A billion dollars – isn’t that far less than the annual loss of provincial revenues because a Conservative government in 1999 had the common sense to sell off the 407 highway?

A billion dollars – isn’t that far less than the annual revenues generated by the LCBO, which the latest incarnation of the Progressive Conservative Party wants to deliver into private hands?

Yes, the power plant debacle is a devastating waste of money and the sorry legacy of a departed premier. But I’ll take this one-time hit if the alternative is another round of short-sighted fiscal stupidity delivered by our version of the Tea Party.

Brian Ellison, Oakville, Ont.


The other culprit in this billion-dollar travesty is the NIMBYs of Oakville and Mississauga.

The power plants were to be located there as that was where the power would be consumed. Now, thanks to the NIMBY noise of the good folks of Oakville and Mississauga, the province is condemned to the added cost of getting gas to Napanee and then transmitting the electricity back the 200-plus kilometres from Napanee to Oakville/Mississauga.

Perhaps a surcharge on electricity for these municipalities would discourage such silliness.

Bill Trussler, Round Lake Centre, Ont.


Campus assaults

Re Why Campuses Are Too Often The Scene Of The Crime (Oct. 7): Since 2007, Status of Women Canada has provided 21 organizations with close to $4-million for projects that specifically address violence against female students, including sexual assault and harassment. These organizations are working with campus communities across Canada to implement these projects.

We’ve also taken a tougher stand against offenders by ending house arrest for sexual assault involving serious personal injury and aggravated sexual assault, and increasing penalties for those who import, produce and traffic in date rape drugs.

Kellie Leitch, minister, Status of Women



Changing a name is sometimes good, and sometimes not. As it turns out, it certainly didn’t do much to help Research in Motion.

However, it occurs to me while I observe users of smartphones bumping into people, falling off curbs, crashing cars – the list is too long to complete here – a name change is in order: dumb phones. Dumbphone addicts would at least have an excuse.

Gary Reid, Toronto

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