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President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney talk at the end of the first presidential debate in Denver, Oct. 3, 2012.Charles Dharapak/The Associated Press

Lines that haunt?

A letter writer suggests Justin Trudeau's statement that in "Stephen Harper's Canada … maybe I would think about wanting to make Quebec a country" will cause trouble for him (What Trudeau Says – Oct. 4).

I suspect it will be as much trouble as Stephen Harper's remarks, when the Liberals were in power, about building firewalls around Alberta – that is, not much at all.

All it shows is that Mr. Trudeau's passionate dislike for the Conservatives matches Mr. Harper's passionate dislike for the Liberals.

Erik Dravnieks, Ottawa


Romney versus Obama

This debate was so much calmer – dare I say civilized? – than Canadian debates (Showdown In Denver – Oct. 4). Mitt Romney appeared to be more like a regular politician; he ran out his mantra and talking points. Barack Obama looked more thoughtful, still had his talking points but made the effort to appear to formulate his responses, not just parrot them. Mr. Romney attacked more because he could afford to from his second-place position.

I would redraw the conclusions that the expert "pundits" are broadcasting: 1) Romney against Romney: Romney won; 2) Romney against Obama: No one took the prize outright. After all, it's a three-game playoff.

Lawrence Wardroper, Ottawa


It seems to me, from watching the various news cycles, that the facts of the debate are not nearly as important as the narrative various news organizations are trying to perpetuate. Worldwide, there is a wish to create this American election as a compelling story, to make it "a race" and an interesting competition. I thought news organizations were supposed to report the news – not try and twist it into apolitical version of Rocky Balboa.

Why is everyone trying to tell me what happened? Aren't people smart enough to make up their own minds?

Nikhil Joshi, St. John's


Prison comparisons

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews insults readers' intelligence (Needles In Prisons – letters, Oct. 4). Mr. Toews's dismissive reference to making Canadian prisons "more like Iran's" is disingenuous: Is it just as "ridiculous" to want to make our prisons more like Switzerland's? (Switzerland being one of many countries, like Iran, that has a prison needle-exchange program.)

If he wants to change my mind on the prison needle-exchange issue, Mr. Toews should address the substance of André Picard's argument (A Call For Pragmatism In Clean-Needle Debate – Oct. 2) and explain why, despite the fact that prison needle-exchange programs in other countries have diminished rather than increased the risk to prison guards, we should expect the opposite outcome in Canada.

Hilary Young, Fredericton


Politics, principles

Politicians' power to make rulings and penalize ministers and others should be taken away because they almost always make decisions based on politics and party lines, instead of principles and facts.

Ontario Energy Minister Chris Bentley faces being found in contempt by the legislature because opposition parties hold a majority of seats (Liberals To Be Forced To Testify – Oct. 3). There is no way he would have faced such a ruling if the Liberals had a majority.

The Speaker's power to make such rulings also should be taken away, because the Speaker, too, is a partisan politician.

The best way to ensure honesty, transparency and respect by all politicians is to pass an honesty-in-politics law, close loopholes in open-government laws, increase the standards of behaviour required in the legislature and have all complaints referred to the independent agencies that watch over integrity and open government.

Commissioners who head these agencies need to be made more independent (by requiring approval of appointments from all party leaders) and, in some cases, more accountable (by ensuring their rulings can be appealed to the courts if they make a factual or legal error).

These agencies have far more fair investigative and ruling processes than politicians do.

Duff Conacher, founding board member of Democracy Watch


25 years later: Mulroney's legacy

Your editorial Brian Mulroney's Lasting Legacy (Oct. 4) did not focus on his greatest impact on Canada – namely the debt that he promised to get under control. He and his entourage jeopardized Canadian sovereignty and its long-term stability because he refused to make the hard decisions that might have imperilled his government.

This selfish mentality is how he should be remembered. The current government would benefit from a refresher course.

Boyd Davis, Kingston, Ont.


It's not the teachers

The people preventing students from officially participating in sports are school board officials and administrators, not volunteer teachers (Cross-Country Track Meet Becomes Flashpoint For Parents – Oct 4). Boards, through their various athletic associations and constitutions, write the rules; teachers and students are required to follow those rules.

Those rules cover boards' liabilities regarding safety and injury and inappropriate behaviour from coaches, and they provide parents with accountability mechanisms. If the principals and boards' representatives wished, they could rewrite those aspects of their constitutions and allow unsupervised and uncoached students to compete.

Whether such action is desirable, including the ever present legal and safety issues, should be the focus of any discussion regarding school athletics.

Jon P. McGoey, London, Ont.


Barbara Ann Scott

Doesn't Barbara Ann Scott deserve more?

In the past, when a Canadian sports legend passed away – and there is no doubt Ms. Scott is one – The Globe ran an editorial analyzing the athlete's impact on the country. Ms. Scott, the gold medalist in figure-skating at the 1948 Olympics, received no such distinction, but she certainly deserved one (Obituaries, Oct. 2).

In addition to her Olympic triumph, which lifted the nation's spirits after the war, Ms. Scott was a three-time winner of the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award for Canadian female athlete of the year, and placed fourth in voting for Canada's athlete of the century in 1999.

The Globe did editorialize her in 1948, however, and captured much of what Ms. Scott was. Complimenting her for being her "happy, unspoiled and smiling self" in the afterglow of her great achievement, The Globe wrote that "By her charm as well as her skill, she has made friends for Canada."

Barbara Ann Scott's legacy may have been forged a long time ago, but that does not mean that she should be forgotten in the paper of record on its editorial page.

J.D.M. Stewart, Toronto