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(Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail)
(Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail)

What readers think

Oct. 9: The learning curve, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Learning curve

Re Liberal Arts And Commercial Utility (editorial, Oct. 6): While I agree that vast improvements could be made in our higher education system, the real issue is not between academic and skill-oriented institutions or even between the public and private sectors. The more compelling issue is Canada’s failure to value all learning, whether it’s acquired formally or informally, in educational institutions, at work, or through personal investigation and problem solving.

Perhaps we’d be better served if we: developed a national credit transfer system that enabled people to receive recognition for all their learning achievements; created a national system of credit-for-workplace training to foster greater collaboration among employers and educational institutions; supported professional regulators to offer more flexible assessment and modularized learning opportunities; and provided ways for individuals to receive low-cost, accessible and motivational guidance to encourage the development of new skills at any age, paying special attention to the needs of the internationally trained immigrants Canada so desperately needs.

In short, we need to become a “learning nation.” Until that time, nitpicking about which learning environment is better or more relevant is moot. We need it all!

Susan Simosko, Sidney, B.C.


There’s little point discussing the value of a university education if we ignore the hiring process that students will face once they graduate. Forget qualifications – discuss why enthusiastic and capable graduates are denied the right to even a job interview.

John Clench, Vancouver

Religious freedom

Julie Carmichael, director of communications for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, says “the Government of Canada is not in the business of picking and choosing which religions will be given preferential status through government funding” (Prisons To Lose Non-Christian Chaplains – Oct. 6). Yet, this same government will continue to fund Christian chaplains employed by Corrections Canada.

In what universe is this not a blatant example of our government’s “choosing which religions will be given preferential status”?

Laura Winopol, Edmonton


Vic Toews, who appears to favour punishment of prisoners over rehabilitation, insists that only Christian chaplains will now minister to all inmates. Will that be deemed part of the rehabilitation or part of the punishment?

Jim Young, Burlington, Ont.


When Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird gets his Office of Religious Freedom up and running, its first investigation should be into the firing of non-Christian chaplains from Canada’s prison system.

Richard M. Johnson, Toronto

How we die

Re Fighting For The Right To Life And Death (Oct. 6): In Canada, we’re fortunate to have choice in how we live and in how we die. We don’t have the choice to ask others to help us kill ourselves, but I’d argue that’s a choice we don’t really need, that Canada’s the better for that lack of choice.

It didn’t surprise me that Gloria Taylor “died peacefully and painlessly, as she had hoped.” Her fear of “a death that negates, as opposed to concludes, my life” is almost universal, but the reality I witness working in palliative care is that fear is not borne out and that most people achieve a peaceful death, unaware of pain.

I know in saying this that some will write back about their own agonizing experiences of witnessing loved ones who they feel suffered before they died. But I ask you to pause for a moment and feel some peace that in loving that person to their last breath, by not negating their life by hastening the conclusion of their death, you have served them, yourself and your society well.

For those seeking to legalize assisted suicide, know that you already have the choice not to prolong that period of dying. We’ll provide you with comfort as best we can and we’ll allow your natural death to occur. But don’t ask us to live with the moral residue of having killed you or assisted you in killing yourself.

All of us will one day die, and I believe that those who live beyond us need the choice to live at peace, without the act of hastening our death to be on their minds and in their hearts.

Jessica Simon, MD, Calgary

How we live

Naomi Wolf frames the issue of the future of female sexuality in a partisan and narrow context (The Next Sexual Revolution Is Long Overdue – Oct. 8). A healthy human sexuality is the expression of a healthy and satisfying life. Yes, because bio-physiological processes work well in these circumstances, in both women and men.

An existentially burdensome life – socially, financially and aspirationally – that denies a healthy and fulfilling life impairs and distorts sexuality and leads to its aberrations, in both women and men.

Juan E. Muñoz, associate professor of family medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ont.

How we win

In If You Love History, Read On (Oct. 6), Jeffrey Simpson lists the top six choices for the Cundill Prize. It appears your chances of winning are particularly good if your name is Stephen or Steven – three of the six answer to that appellation.

Laurie Johnston, Winnipeg


I note that five of the six semi-finalists for the Cundill Prize have war as their theme. O tempora! O mores!

Ken DeLuca, Arnprior, Ont.

Avro’s UFO

Your article Avro’s Astronomical Failure To Build UFO (Oct. 6) was fascinating but contained an etymological inaccuracy. The craft portrayed is not “UFO-style,” it’s flying saucer-style.

Space limitations (the puns almost write themselves) preclude me from listing all of the shapes of UFOs that have buzzed Earth in recent centuries, but suffice it to say that most of the famous big-eyed “greys” would not be caught de-animated in a saucer. They prefer cigar-style craft with plenty of room. Where in your schematic is there space for crop-circle creation wands or holding pens for the abductees?

I assume other quibblers are lining up to take you to task for not mentioning the “crashed UFO” source of this technology and that extraterrestrials, fearful of its might, were behind the cancellation of the Arrow.

Bryan Caddy, Red Deer, Alta.

Tough whodunit

Re Pope’s Butler Guilty In Leaks Case (online, Oct. 6): It’s always the butler, isn’t it?

Douglas Cornish, Ottawa

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