Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

AdChoices
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks to Montreal businessmen at China-Canada Economic and Trade Co-operation Forum in Montreal on Sept. 23, 2016. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks to Montreal businessmen at China-Canada Economic and Trade Co-operation Forum in Montreal on Sept. 23, 2016. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

WHAT READERS THINK

Sept. 26: Dragon diplomacy. Plus other letters to the editor Add to ...

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here: letters@globeandmail.com

.......................................................................................................

Dragon diplomacy

Your coverage of the first official visit of a Chinese government leader in six years has been saturated with negative reporting on an extradition treaty.

While the Chinese legal system isn’t a model of justice, fair-minded coverage must acknowledge undeniable achievements in governance that allowed more Chinese people to lead better lives in a shorter period of time than any other country in human history. Given the effort the Chinese government and Communist Party expends on celebrating its achievements, editors dismiss this as a dog-bites-man story. Nonetheless, the purpose of our foreign policy is to advance the interests of Canada and Canadians. Forging a proactive partnership with the world’s second-largest economy and largest trading power both guarantees our prosperity and provides leverage on the global stage.

Our fates are intertwined, whether we like their system or not. It is imperative to inform Canadians on prospects for mutually enhancing our lives, including human rights. Demonizing improved relations diminishes Canada’s stature, imperils our future, and pre-empts any benign influence we may have on China’s development.

Jeremy Paltiel, professor of political science (specializing in China and Sino-Canadian relations); Carleton University

................................................

The wish list for Chinese officials and senior executives in talks on a free trade agreement includes “an extradition treaty that will see a speedy return of Chinese economic criminals and corrupt officials hiding in Canada.”

Sounds to me as if the alleged (sorry, I guess that term only applies to the accused in Canada) perpetrators of such crimes have already been tried in absentia.

One might well wonder whether their intended punishments have similarly already been determined (Li Defends Use Of Death Penalty While Defending Extradition Pact – Sept. 23).

Ralph Boardman, Gatineau, Que.

................................................

Awash in charges

Re Why Ontario Courts Are Overcharged (editorial, Sept. 23): Much of the problem of too many charges stems from two interwoven factors: plea bargaining and boilerplating.

Plea bargaining is the process by which the Crown agrees to drop one or more charges against an accused in return for a guilty plea on the remaining charge(s). This long-standing practice is defended on the grounds that it speeds things along. Boilerplating is also a long-standing practice, whereby police, knowing plea bargaining is likely to occur, charge an accused with as many offences as they believe might apply in the hope that one or more will “stick.”

More boilerplating leads to more plea bargaining leads to more boilerplating. Everyone involved, often including the accused, knows what’s happening. Everyone knows the dance steps, no one bothers to ask why they’re still dancing. The time-saving aspect of plea bargaining is compromised by the number of charges being brought forward. From the perspective of the victims of crime, plea bargaining looks distinctly like a discount: “Buy one, get another one free.”

Quebec’s model, wherein police must consult with the Crown before laying charges, appears to work, as the statistics you quoted would suggest. Clearly, something needs to be done to improve co-ordination between police and the Crown to put an end to the current self-defeating practices on both sides.

If our criminal justice system is serious about maintaining public trust, the appearance of offering discounts must also be addressed.

Steve Soloman, Toronto

................................................

Contraband smokes

Re Tobacco Industry Blows Smoke Following Plain Packaging Talks (Sept. 22): André Picard is correct to point out that the Canadian and Australian experience with contraband tobacco is different. Australia’s contraband problem is nothing compared to Canada’s.

In Ontario, about one in three cigarettes purchased is contraband. In Northern Ontario, it’s almost 60 per cent.

Canada, unlike Australia, has a major illegal manufacturing problem. The RCMP has identified 50 illegal factories here, each able to produce as many as 10,000 cigarettes a minute. The trade is the purview of about 175 criminal gangs. These aren’t paper criminals that skirt a few tax laws: Just recently, a ring leader was gunned down outside his home.

No one should smoke, and the government is right to explore ways of reducing smoking rates. But plain packaging has no impact on those who consume illegal cigarettes, except to make them more available.

Meanwhile, contraband tobacco’s low price and easy availability undermines the rest of Canada’s tobacco control regime.

Gary Grant, spokesperson, National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco

................................................

In its massive campaign against standardized (plain) tobacco packaging, with full-page ads in major Canadian papers, as well as radio spots across the country, JTI-Macdonald is now claiming that the proposed move will cost taxpayers $330-million more in annual taxes and that illegal cigarettes “grew” 21 per cent in Australia after the measure was introduced there.

But facts can be stubborn, awkward things. First, the last three surveys by KPMG on behalf of BATA (British American Tobacco Australia) confirm that no counterfeit plain packs were detected in 2013 and 2014, and only some badly made counterfeits were found in Sydney in early 2015.

Second, and more importantly, JTI-Macdonald paid federal and provincial governments $150-million in fines, as recently as 2010, after pleading guilty under the Excise Act to helping people sell and possess contraband tobacco, so its concerns for Canadians consumers’ pocketbooks seem a trifle insincere.

Stan Shatenstein, editor and publisher, Smoking & Tobacco Abstracts & News; Montreal

................................................

Born. Now prove it

Re Monsef Has ‘Paperwork’ After Revelation (Sept. 23): “I’m sure there’s a birth certificate somewhere,” says MP Charlie Angus.

Well, not necessarily. We had to go to great lengths to get a birth certificate when our son was born in Afghanistan in 1978.

Canadians, we were there on a CIDA project. The Afghans didn’t “do” birth certificates, so we created one with official U.S. Embassy letterhead signed by the U.S. doctor who was present at the birth at our home, stamps from UNDP and many stamps from the Afghan Foreign Affairs office, before the Canadian Embassy, then in Pakistan, would accept it. We were then able to get a Canadian passport for our son.

Adding confusion could be that, in the Islamic calendar, Maryam Monsef would have been born in 1406. My son was born in 1398!

Anne Moir, Toronto

................................................

Hmm …

Re Brown’s Private, Anti-Abortion Texts Exposed (Sept. 23): I think Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown’s problem is that his right hand doesn’t know what his far-right hand is doing.

David Arthur, Cambridge, Ont.

Report Typo/Error

Follow us on Twitter: @GlobeDebate

 

Next story

loading

Trending

loading

Most popular videos »

More from The Globe and Mail

Most popular