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Ma'lik Richmond, stands with his father, Nathaniel Richmond, left, and attorney Walter Madison in Juvenile Court in Steubenville, Ohio March 17, 2013. Two high school football players from Ohio, Trent Mays, 17, and Richmond, 16, were found guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl at a party last summer. (POOL/REUTERS)
Ma'lik Richmond, stands with his father, Nathaniel Richmond, left, and attorney Walter Madison in Juvenile Court in Steubenville, Ohio March 17, 2013. Two high school football players from Ohio, Trent Mays, 17, and Richmond, 16, were found guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl at a party last summer. (POOL/REUTERS)


March 25: Refusing to turn a blind eye, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Mob mentality

Re Standing By When Horror Happens – Focus, March 23: In a most unlikely place, an oil refinery in Kazakhstan, I saw posted these six words which have stayed with me ever since:

“You See It, You Own It!”

While intended to encourage employees to take action on safety hazards, it is in fact an exhortation never to be a bystander in any aspect of our lives.

Michael Wills, Toronto


Bean machine

Barrie McKenna may be right to suggest that supply management is preventing Canada from producing and exporting more chicken, dairy and egg products (Canada’s Supply-Managed Stranglehold – Report on Business, March 23). But, guess what,

that’s a good thing. Just as the

developed world is waking up to the fact that animal protein production is inefficient, environmentally unsustainable and cruel, the last thing we need is

to become some sort of livestock superpower.

A smarter, more far-sighted goal would be to develop the new plant-based protein industries being promoted by investors such as Bill Gates. As the world leader in the production of pulses (lentils, peas, beans) Canada is in a perfect position to sustain such industries.

Peter Fricker, communications director, Vancouver Humane Society


CIDA’s fate

Almost since its creation in the 1960s, CIDA’s dedicated core of development specialists and their allies among Canada’s vibrant NGOs fought off attempts by the mandarins of Foreign Affairs, other bureaucrats and Canadian industry, to get control of Canada’s development budget (Agency Rebranding Shifts Control To PMO – March 22).

Now, without consultation or parliamentary committee discussions or white or green foreign policy papers, our obsessively inward-looking PM and his Toronto cop, International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino, have assumed the legacy of our internationally admired development agency to further the government’s narrow political and economic aims.

The vision of Pearson, Trudeau and the many gifted CIDA staff who learned the hard lessons of development by volunteering for CUSO, SUCO and WUSC is no more. (By the way, if CIDA has been dysfunctional of late, look to the uninformed, revolving-door ministers imposed on it!)

Charles Morrow, retired director of information, CIDA


CIDA, the agency meant to respond to global inequities, has been fully co-opted into the Harper government’s agenda that puts the economic interests of the few ahead of the social interests of the many.

Will we accept the immorality of exploiting natural resources from poor nations while throwing in a school or a clinic to make it look like we’re interested in global social equality? Canada will be judged on the world stage by the way it exercises its political entitlement and “development arrogance” in this neo-colonial approach to international assistance.

Jill Allison, St. John’s


PSAC responds

I agree that federal government workers aren’t more susceptible to disease and injury than any other workplace undergoing restructuring and downsizing (Absent Feds Are Too Expensive – editorial, March 20).

In the private sector, if you’re sick and you don’t get sick leave, you take vacation. You go on EI. You take unpaid time. Or you go to work sick.

Your editorial described sick leave as a “perk.” But there’s no cashing it in. There’s no giving it to your kids along with your Aeroplan points. You carry sick leave forward from years when you don’t need it, in case there are years in which you do.

I won’t suggest the federal government is problem-free. There has been a 37-per-cent increase in disability claims since the Conservative Party took office in 2006. The government’s Employment Assistance Program crisis line is getting three times as many calls related to suicide now as it did in 2009.

Viruses don’t care about silly human debates over the virtues of private and public, union and non-union, Habs versus Leafs. They’ll go anywhere we let them. People should not be penalized for stopping the spread of disease. We’ll all stay healthier that way.

Robyn Benson, national president, Public Service Alliance of Canada


‘Real’ Bobby Orr

The first time I was asked if I were “the real Bobby Orr” happened at the freight counter in the train station in Fredericton, when I handed over my trunk for return to my home in Ontario for the summer (No. 4 Turns 65 – Sports, March 20). I was an undergraduate at UNB, circa 1965. I think Bobby was playing for Oshawa at the time and, to be honest, I didn’t know who he was then.

I have a number of humorous recollections, but by far the best happened a couple of years ago on an Air Canada flight to Europe. We had just boarded and buckled up in economy when a male flight attendant hurried down the aisle with a pair of boarding passes. He quietly asked us to gather our things and move forward.

We were seated in a pair of business-class pods. It turned out our new best friend had run back into the terminal and had new boarding passes issued for his hero. To be fair, particularly when we were younger, many people commented that the other Bobby Orr and I looked alike. When it became obvious I wasn’t the man, they weren’t about to move us again, so we toasted hockey’s hero with our complimentary AC Champagne Bobby.

Bob Orr, Burlington, Ont.


Labouring’s value

Jeffrey Simpson highlights the success of apprenticeship programs in Germany and attributes it to the “deep co-operation between labour and enterprises that extend back to medieval guilds” (Health Costs, Elderly Loom Large Over This Budget – March 22).

The guilds established the value of working with one’s hands, of physical creation, making life-enhancing products. The co-operation in Germany is based on a profound respect and understanding of the value of physical work and labour done superbly well. The Germans are nobody’s fool. They understand the true meaning of real work.

Elizabeth Locicero, Toronto


So much nicer?

Re Be Better, With Science (Social Studies, March 21): I thought it was fascinating that the study by Harvard and University of California psychologists found that exposure to scientific research inclined individuals “to condemn unethical behaviour and [be] more inclined to help others.”

Do you think the Harper government just doesn’t realize that having more scientific research could help them be ever so much nicer?

Judith Stricker, Sidney, B.C.

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