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When jihadis 'R' Us

Re Can The Jihadi Tourists Be Stopped? (Sept. 25): The cancellation of passports is not the same as the revocation of citizenship. Cancellation of passports potentially applies to all Canadians, whether born here or naturalized, whether dual national or not. Revocation applies only to those with dual nationality (or with the right to another nationality).

Take an example from a Calgary terrorism cell. Canadian-born extremist Damian Clairmont would not have been subject to revocation while "cell mate" Pakistani dual national Salman Ashrafi, who came to Canada as a child, would have been. Both are dead, but there are comparable cases.

Two different punishments for the same crime. Hard to see how this would not be successfully challenged before the courts.

Far better to use the Australian approach, as stated by Prime Minister Tony Abbott: "If you fight with a terrorist group, if you seek to return to this country, as far as this government is concerned, you will be arrested, you will be prosecuted and you will be jailed for a very long time indeed."

Andrew Griffith, Ottawa


Fracked from office

New Brunswickers will buy fracked gas to heat their homes – but only if it comes from outside New Brunswick (Rural Voters Reject Tory Gas Plan, Spur Liberal Win – Sept. 24).

How hypocritical is that?

Barry Parker, Calgary


Asked, not answered

I read with considerable amusement that the Speaker of the House declined to intervene with respect to concerns over repetition and relevance in Question Period (Speaker Says He's Powerless To Intervene – Sept. 25).

Andrew Scheer, quoting former speaker Peter Milliken, tells us that answers are not required in Question Period because it's called "Question Period" and not "Answer Period."

In linguistics, failure to provide an answer to a question is termed a "dispreferred response." There is a communicative expectation that an answer will be provided to a given question.

In this situation, where Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair put questions to the government about the deployment of 69 soldiers in Iraq, answers were provided but none that directly related to the questions asked.

The Speaker's reaction to such dispreferred response was to say that relevance is inconsequential in Question Period.

If relevance in speech doesn't matter to the House Speaker, one can only question the relevance of his own position, since he has constructed Question Period as a kind of Tower of Babel.

Marcia Macaulay, Toronto


Practise vs. preach

Resolutions at climate conferences do not mean a thing if, on a personal level, we only pay lip service to green living.

A point of reference would be how the climate demonstrators in New York behaved and what they left behind. The demonstrations marking the UN summit were full of strong words about how we do not do enough about climate change. That was expected. What was not expected from such a fervent, dedicated crowd was the tons of garbage left behind by the righteous and concerned demonstrators.

Is this a case of do what we want you to do, but leave us alone in what we do?

One would think that if you preach "clean environment/climate change," you would start by being responsible and doing what you're preaching in the first place.

If we can start with personal responsibility by doing what's right, we can win. But if we act like the climate demonstrators in New York, there is no hope.

Norman Ostonal, New Westminster, B.C.


Loonie's flight path

Re Is This Man Making The Loonie Fly Low? (Sept. 25): A rapid normalization of economic activity in the United States convinces the Federal Reserve to tighten monetary policy. Canadian growth appears anemic in comparison, while most of Europe continues to stagnate. Meanwhile, China is slowing rapidly, which has translated into a sharp fall in the price of commodities.

As any first-year economics student would predict, the U.S. dollar is appreciating across the board, its value reaching a four-year high just this week. Equally predictable, the currencies of commodity producers such as Australia, Brazil and South Africa have been taking it on the chin.

In this context, Konrad Yakabuski links the recent weakness in the Canadian dollar relative to the soaring greenback to Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz's attempts to "talk down" the dollar, notably because he grew up in Oshawa and worked at Export Development Canada.


Bernard Lahey, Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Que.


All about leaders

In response to a column by Jeffrey Simpson that was critical of Stephen Harper's lack of concern for, and inaction on, climate change, letter writer Philip Beaudoin cites polls that put climate change (or global warming) near the bottom of a list of priorities that has such issues as education, health care, and the economy at the top (Climate's Rank – letters, Sept. 25; Harper's Base Couldn't Care Less About Climate – Sept. 24).

Mr. Harper is Canada's leader. A real leader is one who looks at the larger picture and the long term, as opposed to the electorate's generally self-interested focus on the here and now. A real leader attempts to open the electorate's eyes to what may ultimately have greater consequences than tomorrow's paycheque.

Mr. Simpson's analysis is, sadly, spot on: By consistently catering to the short-term interests of the Conservatives' base, Mr. Harper proves that, in the most crucial sense of the word, he is no leader.

Bruce Speyer, Toronto


Lawrence Martin does a good job of comparing the controlling tendencies of prime ministers Jean Chrétien and Stephen Harper. I find it ironic, however, that he casts the historic-Chrétien in a positive light, but the today-Harper in a negative one (What Harper Learned From Chrétien The Street Fighter – Sept. 23).

At its best, democracy is a soaring representation of the will of the people. At its worst, it's a popularity contest. Tough decisions are rarely popular. I often disagreed with Mr. Chrétien but I am thankful now that he didn't twist with every change in the wind.

Mr. Harper has made unpopular decisions. The adults in the audience will understand that doesn't mean they are wrong.

Darryl Squires, Ottawa


Many can't seem to utter the name Justin Trudeau without adding "young," "inexperienced," "pretty boy" or similar age-based slights. I must assume that any-one who considers a 42-year-old to be a youngster is from the boomer generation or older. How many of them are old enough to remember a president named Kennedy assuming the White House at 43? Did they dismiss him as too young? I could also mention that Jesus was thought to be no more than 33 when he gave the Sermon on the Mount, but politics, age and religion would be too much for one paragraph.

David Lee, Oshawa, Ont.