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Rue Britannia?

Once again, the Conservative government has set out to prove that it has no understanding of French Canada (Canada, U.K. To Share Embassies – Sept. 24).

Normand Frenette, St. Catharines, Ont.

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Why stop at the Foreign Affairs Ministry and sharing space with Britain? It's a good start, but rather timid and lacking ambition.

After all, Industry, Defence and Border policies could be just as – logically? – handled by the United States, Fisheries and Oceans by Japan, Finance by Switzerland, National Revenue by Liechtenstein, Agriculture by Saudi Arabia, Environment by China, Justice by Russia, Citizenship and Immigration by Zimbabwe, and so on.

As ever on the international stage, the Harper government leads with its good sense and sovereign actions.

Michael Slattery, Toronto

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Sharing consular office space with the British seems like a judicious idea, especially in the prevailing environment for fiscal prudence. But we need to execute it with great deliberation and caution. Resentment against the British in some former colonies is still fresh; there, flying our flag alongside Britain's might rub ill will onto us, too. This will take sensitivity and care.

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Amar Kumar, Burlington, Ont.

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What was the point of patriating the Constitution if we're going to move back in with the tea-and-crumpet set? This feels like settling into granny's basement. Measured against our national pride, any money saved here is small potatoes.

Nadeen Saunders, Saint John

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What a lovely thought that the antics of the Royals, another Falklands/Malvinas war or Britain's neo-imperial stand in parts of the world would rub off on us.

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Hal C. Hartmann, West Vancouver

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Next thing you know, we'll be replacing our own paintings in government buildings with portraits of the Queen. Now why does that sound familiar?

Graham Watt, Sackville, N.B.

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This arrangement is neither earth-shaking nor a dire threat to our cherished sovereignty.

For several years in the 1970s, Canada had a one-room office – with our own safe – within the British embassy in Kabul. Members of the Canadian embassy in Islamabad travelled to Kabul and worked out of that office performing consular, passport, aid and sometimes broader diplomatic work.

I was a very junior officer at the embassy from 1975 to 1977, with primary responsibility for our work in Kabul. We even had an official stamp reading "Embassy of Canada, Kabul."

This office arrangement with the British worked very well, much better and more secure than trying to work out of a hotel. Moreover, we were able to avail ourselves of the Brits' very considerable local expertise.

Mark Collins, Ottawa

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What golden age?

Re Africa Next: A New Golden Age? (Focus, Sept. 22): Next? When was the prior golden age in Africa? The European colonial era from about 1860 to 1960 saw Africans and natural resources exploited.

The past 50 years of self-government has, for too much of the African continent, been a period of Big Man misgovernment, deadly disease and misery. A new era of the pirating of natural resources will simply prolong the inequality and squalor. The economic growth enabled by this pillage is propelling the global climate destabilization that will have the greatest impact on the people of Africa.

Derek Wilson, former project manager, Zambia Railways, Port Moody, B.C.

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'Dubious plan'

By all means, use tax dollars to support Canadian jobs. But a Canadian "defence industrial policy" sounds like a dubious plan that will just create a made-in-Canada arms industry (Tories Plan 'Buy Canada' Military Budget – Sept. 24).

Encouraging companies to build for the defence market when military spending is declining here and internationally makes no economic sense. The future is in global products such as Bombardier's new passenger planes, not fighter planes.

Experience has shown that arms industries become dependent on public funds. Let's leave the military-industrial complex to the Americans, and create a world-class manufacturing sector Canadians can be proud of.

Steven Staples, Rideau Institute, Ottawa

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It's wearing thin

After 18 years of negotiations to achieve a Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, the Chinese ambassador says that for Canada to obtain guarantees its companies will get greater access to investment and markets in China, we actually need to negotiate a comprehensive free-trade agreement (Canada-China Free-Trade Pact Touted – Sept. 22).

That, we're told, might take a few more years but less than a decade. Presumably, China intends to continue to widen its large trade disparity with Canada, while interminable negotiations work to "address" Canada's concerns.

And, according to the ambassador, over this period Canada's concerns over allegations of widespread human-rights abuses in China will also work themselves out through "improvement and development."

After 30 years of Chinese officials urging Western patience over trade and human-rights concerns, this line of argument is starting to wear a bit thin. Clearly, the ambassador hopes to continue to play to Canadian naïveté and gullibility for as long as it can be sustained. The Chinese regime appears to be "laughing all the way to the bank."

Charles Burton, former counsellor at the Canadian embassy in Beijing, St. Catharines, Ont.

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The Conservatives could not tolerate a Petro-Canada in the hands of the government of Canada. Curious how they seem quite happy to have one in the hands of the government of China.

Rick Taves, Wheatley, Ont.

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Loosey-goosey

I have tried every trick in the book to try to get Canada geese to leave my beach on Stoney Lake (Urban Beasts Among Us – Sept. 24). DVDs floating on fishing line sparkling in the sunlight didn't do it; expensive water sprinklers that splash with great strength at any detected movement didn't do it; a large, tethered inflated alligator bobbing frightfully at every ripple didn't do it. Owning three barking (but not biting) dogs didn't do it. A starter's pistol I could never find and a toy cap gun didn't do it.

Hundreds of geese eat my grass and poop on my beach. They pollute the water and stink up the property. I am helpless in their presence.

Charge them taxes, I say. Fine them; if they don't pay, take away their flying permits. All those in favour say aye!

Andrea Marcus, Toronto

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