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Oct. 31: Fair-trade agreements, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Fair-trade deal?

So Canadians overwhelmingly favour Barack Obama in next week’s election (Mitt Romney’s Military Myopia – Oct. 30)? Wanna trade? Stephen Harper for Mr. Obama?

Tom DeMull, Green Valley, Ariz.

U.S. politics

Hurricane Sandy will no doubt add yet another contradiction to the U.S. election campaign. Voters will complain that government was too slow in responding to the hurricane and demand that it repair the damage quickly. Meantime, they’ll continue to insist that government get off their backs and lower their taxes.

Bill van Geest, Woodbridge, Ont.

Canadian passion

I enthusiastically agree with your editorial Two National Languages Still (Oct. 30), but your last sentence – “[English and French] remain the right choices as the two official languages of Canada” – is way too tepid.

How about a passionate paraphrase of a declaration by Sir John A. Macdonald? “A bilingual country we were born; a bilingual country we will die.”

John E. Marion, Toronto

Histrionic history

Kudos to Margaret Wente (A Mugging at Queen’s – Oct. 30). Michael Mason was trying to teach imperial and neo-colonial history at Queen’s University by showing his students how racial epithets illustrated that era. It didn’t mean he advocated racism but, rather, showed the progress we’ve made since then.

Didn’t his students realize they were in a history class?

Nirmala Shear, Oakville, Ont.


This is exactly what happens when students are expected to be “creative” thinkers without the fundamental knowledge with which to think creatively.

Doretta Wilson, executive director, Society for Quality Education, Toronto


As a professor in a liberal arts department at Queen’s, I was saddened to learn from Margaret Wente that my university is “obsessed” with gender and racial politics; that my students’ lively interest in such drama-worthy subjects as race, class, gender and “the sins of dead white males” is merely “the usual faddish attention”; and that “there’s no place for faddish academics any more.”

I, for one, will be sorry when this fad has run its brief course and we all return to the values of those not-distant-enough days when race, class and gender were virtually taboo topics; when racism, sexism and homophobia, thriving in the vacuum thus created, were considered the norm; when our only heroes were dead white males; and when women were not usually allowed to write newspaper columns.

John Lazarus, associate professor, Drama Department, Queen’s University


In 2011, as a postdoctoral fellow at Queen’s, I accessed “politically correct” campus services repeatedly. They often enabled me to help students get the tools they needed to succeed, and I found them to be a valuable component of my university teaching.

I also accessed the university’s human-rights office, on the basis that students, staff and faculty should be able to decide for themselves if they want to listen to a speech on rape and sexual assault. At the time, this rape speech was broadcast once an hour, every hour, on a loudspeaker outside the main campus library. Several of us thought this was inappropriate.

Over all, I found the services to be valuable, professional and entirely devoid of the petty politics Margaret Wente presents in her column.

Melanee Thomas, assistant professor, Department of Political Science, University of Calgary

Kiddie fat

Reason #237 why I’m glad I’m retired from classroom teaching: Glen Hodgson of the Conference Board of Canada saying The Battle Against Obesity Begins At School (Oct. 29). Great! Another job for the teacher.

Bring up my child, please. I may have been stuffing him with chips since he was a baby; I may have been feeding him processed industrial garbage from a takeout window and calling it dinner; I may have bought him high-tech distractors just to shut him up and keep him on the couch; I may have insisted on door-to-door school bus service; and I may have bubble-wrapped my child from life’s risks – so, of course, the teacher will trim off those extra pounds and get him to choose an apple over a bucket of deep-fried mystery meat.

Sure. After the teacher has responded to the science lobbyists, the math lobbyists, the music lobbyists, the art lobbyists, the multiculturalism lobbyists and the tree huggers, we’ll make sure your kid eats his veggies.

Fraser Petrick (grumpy retired teacher), Kingston


Food Secure Canada agrees that the battle against obesity must begin at school. But where’s the national school food program?

If we’re to alleviate pressure on our health-care system, we need a coherent strategy across the country, one that all children can benefit from.

Amanda Sheedy, Food Secure Canada, Montreal


Glen Hodgson makes a good case for battling childhood obesity in schools, but he may be overlooking the impact of underlying social determinants (such as income and housing) on our children’s health. School nutrition matters, but research shows these other factors have a stronger effect on our children.

Canadians with the lowest incomes are more likely to suffer from chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, to live with a disability, to be hospitalized for a variety of health problems, to suffer from mental distress, and to die earlier.

The rates of diabetes and heart disease among the poorest 20 per cent of the population are more than double the rates of the richest 20 per cent of the population.

Improving nutrition at school is a wonderful idea, but we have to do more. We need to address the social determinants of health if we want to solve the problem long term.

Battling obesity in itself is not enough.

John G. Abbott, CEO, Health Council of Canada, Toronto

The MVP goes to …

Roy MacGregor’s A Primer To The Beer League (Sports, Oct. 30) should be required reading for all who delay hanging up the Tacks until well past their best-before date. While he pretty much nails the key components of the tradition, some may argue over who actually deserves the MVP title.

While the guys who know how to work the defibrillator have considerable value, their services – fortunately – are rarely required. Some believe there’s only one most valuable player each game, and that’s the person who brings the beer. Especially if you file off the ice and quickly discover they put the suds on ice!

Jeffrey Peckitt, Oakville, Ont.

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