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Matters orange

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After six weeks of an intense campaign, voters still don't know who Thomas Mulcair really is.

Traditional NDP supporters worry that policies dear to them have been pulled from the party's website: Mr. Mulcair is now firmly on the side of balanced budgets – even when faced with high unemployment numbers. On this issue, he is close to the bluest of Tories. Then again, he trumpets the cause of the middle class over the wealthy, which puts him close to the red Liberals.

On the environment, he is on the side of the Greens, though he doesn't oppose the oil sands project entirely. On national unity, he's a blue sovereigntist, sticking to his formula of 50 per cent + 1 in any future referendum in Quebec.

We can learn how all this happened from his past political moves. He initially ran for the Liberal Party of Quebec, under premier Jean Charest, who was a Progressive Conservative federally. When Mr. Charest lost to the PQ, Mr. Mulcair talked to the Conservatives, under Stephen Harper, about becoming an adviser on the environment file.

That didn't work out; he ran federally for the NDP in Quebec under the leadership of Jack Layton. And so he was part of the Orange Crush in the last election.

No wonder voters are confused!

Nini Pal, Ottawa

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Stephen Harper cut the corporate tax rate from 21 per cent to 15 per cent during his tenure, in order to "create jobs." Yet relatively few jobs were created. No less personages than Mark Carney and even Jim Flaherty complained that rather than reinvesting tax savings, the corporations socked the money away against a rainy day.

Now, Mr. Mulcair proposes to raise the corporate rate to 17 per cent, still 4 per cent below where Mr. Harper started, and the big corporate heads and lap-dog conservative economists bay that 200,000 jobs would be lost.

Pray tell, what jobs will be lost? The ones not created when the rate was cut? Of course not, those jobs don't exist.

The big corporations – actually happy about the move – will use this as a pretext to downsize from their already too-low levels of staffing. What's that saying about lemons and lemonade?

And so it goes.

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David Remski, Toronto

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Canada needs in

Re Push for TPP Deal Set For End Of Month (Sept. 17): The negotiations over automotive rules of origin are very important for the entire auto-supply chain stretching across North America. Signs are that we are close to a resolution of that issue. The bottom line remains: If a Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement is reached, then Canada needs to be part of it. We cannot afford to be left outside the deal.

Jayson Myers, president, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

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Refugees, polls

Margaret Wente (What Canadians Really Think About Asylum Seekers, Sept. 17) throws a lot of math at us – poll numbers and percentages, refugee numbers, numbers we can/should admit.

How can we make sense of the math? Look at a typical 400 metre track near a school. Walk around it twice: 800 metres. If that is represented by the population of Canada of about 35 million, what is the distance we need to go to reach the 10,000 refugee mark, oft-quoted by political parties?

Do the math. Ten thousand is 1/3500th of our total population or 1/35th of 1 per cent or the distance between your wrist and your elbow.

Look at the track again and multiply by two. Look at your arm and draw your own conclusions.

John J.C. Myers, Toronto

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We're often told about results of polls about voters' reactions to various political proposals, like the one on refugees. I have to wonder about their accuracy. Not only is there a history of pollsters getting things wrong, but a growing resistance to giving answers.

My first question to any pollster is, "Who is your client?" They are usually unwilling to say. My response: Why should I volunteer information about my private views to an unknown questioner?

Maybe someone should take a poll on how many people would give a similar reply. The results, of course, would be inaccurate.

Ian Martyn, Toronto

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Niqab's appeal

As a non-religious person, and a non-Muslim, I find this ongoing persecution by the government of a woman who wishes to express her religious piety through her dress reprehensible (Tories To Appeal Niqab Ruling – Sept. 17).

Why do Canadians, and in particular those who believe their religion requires certain attire, stand by as the government singles out one group for persecution? When the rights of one group are under attack by the government, and that is tolerated, the rights of all are at risk.

The seeming acceptance of stereotypical depictions of Muslims as a threat, or as too different to be admitted as refugees, is reminiscent of the sentiments about individuals of the Jewish faith attempting to enter here before the Holocaust.

We claim to have principles of equality, inclusion, tolerance and acceptance. I am heartbroken that the Canada I love has seemingly moved so far away from these principles when it comes to people of the Muslim faith.

Elizabeth Sullivan, Toronto

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Re Unappealing (Sept. 17): I can only assume from reading your editorial that you haven't been to a Canadian citizenship ceremony. I have. Very recently. The swearing of the oath is taken very seriously. Officials actually walk down the aisles checking that people are really saying the words. I'm not sure they could do that with anyone wearing a niqab.

Adam Tayler, Ottawa

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Bonus backlash

The outrageous news that Pan Am Games executives are sharing millions of dollars in bonuses says everything that needs to be said about these costly sports circuses (Wynne Under Fire Over Pan Am Bonuses – Sept. 17). This is a textbook case of socializing the risk and privatizing the profit.

Torontonians owe Mayor John Tory a big thank you for putting the kibosh on the Olympics bid. Imagine the epic looting of the public purse that would have happened if that had gone ahead.

Andrew van Velzen, Toronto

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Politics' wild pitches

Describing the Blue Jays' feat of scoring four runs with just one hit against the Yankees, Cathal Kelly quips, "It was like the miracle of loaves and fishes. But with runs" (Jays Looked Their Only Competition In The Eye – Sept. 14).

His imaginative writing adds to the pleasure of watching the Jays pursue the elusive pennant. Like several of the Jays' batters, he consistently delivers the long ball.

Mr. Kelly should be seconded to cover the seemingly endless federal election campaign. It feels like we've just entered extra innings without the luxury of being allowed to leave the stadium. The occasional touch of humour to lighten the mind-numbing tedium of wild pitches would be so much appreciated.

David Greer, Victoria

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