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May 2: Letters to the editor Add to ...

Seeing Black

Recent drastic changes to federal policies regarding family reunification, sponsorship and the delivery of language and settlement programs are making it more difficult for worthy applicants to establish viable lives for their families in Canada.

How very ironic that, at the same time our Department of Citizenship and Immigration is restricting access for law-abiding folks from around the world, it welcomes Conrad Black, a convicted criminal who discarded his Canadian citizenship to pursue his egomaniacal dreams elsewhere (Ottawa Approves Conrad Black's Request To Live In Canada – online, May 1)

Will the Immigration Minister help me explain this to my English classes for new Canadians who have tried for years, unsuccessfully, to sponsor family members in difficult circumstances?

Harold Neufeld, Winnipeg

Seeing red

I see that the Canadian government is funding a tour of Canada by Prince Charles and Camilla (Royals To Visit Canada In Honour Of Jubilee – May 1). It's ironic that the same government has just decided to cancel funding for the British Association for Canadian Studies, the organization that promotes awareness of Canada in Britain by, for instance, paying university libraries to stock books about Canada.

Given that this government says it wishes to strengthen ties with Britain, it was an odd decision to end funding for the one body that combats the astonishing ignorance of Canada that's so rampant in the U.K. A professor of international relations recently confessed to me that he “couldn't name the president of Canada.”

Andrew Smith, senior lecturer in history, Coventry University, Coventry, England

Noble needs

While I agree with Amanda Lang's assertion that children need to learn the art of losing gracefully (Why We Need To Teach Our Kids How To Fail – April 30), she might want to read Sport Canada's long-term athlete development program before picking on it.

As a coach, and the parent of two young athletes, I've seen how an overemphasis on competition above other crucial aspects of sport (such as skill development, physical fitness and, yes, “fun”) leads to many children dropping sports altogether as they approach their teen years.

Both Cross Country Ski Canada and Triathlon Canada run excellent development programs on the LTAD model that teach children to first love what they do, then compete in what they love. Yes, winning is important, but physical activity is a nobler goal.

Nicola Lyle, Lakefield, Ont.

$chool daze

There's a simple solution to the problem Margaret Wente raises (These Kids Are In For A Shock – May 1). Universities could make courses in petroleum geology or electrical engineering dirt cheap while charging sky-high fees for sociology and victim studies. Both students and society might benefit from such a change.

Sidney van den Bergh, North Saanich, B.C.

The big sell-off

So the plan was to sell art and buy arms (John Baird Halts Sale Of Canadian Masters – May 1)? To dump our cultural treasures for a pittance in the name of budget cuts while spending billions on weapons of war? Stephen Harper's vision of Canada writ large.

Tim Jeffery, Toronto


Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is right to stop his department's sale of Canadian artworks. He should go a step further and conduct an inventory of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade's nooks and crannies at home and abroad to determine whether there are more Canadian masterpieces under threat. And do it before someone cooks up another scheme to sell off our culture.

Iris Nowell, author, Painters Eleven: The Wild Ones of Canadian Art , Toronto

The scrapie affair

It's important to put the recent scrapie incident in perspective (Eradicating Scrapie – letter, May 1). The neurodegenerative disease has been around for at least 280 years; the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's scrapie eradication program has been in existence for fewer than 10 years. Obviously, sheep and goats made it through the centuries without this government program.

There's good reason to question whether the program is an effective use of taxpayers' dollars. Some studies have indicated that the slaughter of specific genotypes to prevent one form of scrapie predisposes the “national flock” to greater susceptibility to other forms of disease. Some experts have questioned whether eradication is possible at all.

A CFIA official has acknowledged that, sometimes after a spike in cases, “nobody wants to report a case because of the bad economics … [so suddenly] you have two years of very few cases.” In other words, the draconian nature of the program may promote the practice of “shoot, shovel and shut up.”

Karen Selick, lawyer for Montana Jones, Belleville, Ont.

Crude truth

Neil Reynolds is so excited that Our World's Not Coasting On Empty After All (April 30) that he ignores several “inconvenient truths.” The warnings he ridicules are 40 years old, but, as recently as March, a new generation of MIT researchers said that, unless world demand for resources slowed, there'd be a “global economic collapse” and “precipitous population decline” by 2030.

Mr. Reynolds might be excited by the idea we're swimming in oil, but swimming in the local water in most parts of the world would be just as deadly.

Roger Smith, Lantzville, B.C.


Neil Reynolds is entirely correct when he points out that the world isn't about to run out of oil and other commodities – right now. But his argument reminds me of Winston Churchill's description of the fyrd, the Anglo-Saxon militia, before the 1066 Battle of Hastings. “The local ‘fyrd' … in true English style, came to the conclusion that the danger was past because it had not yet arrived.” And we all know what the result of that was.

David Brewer, Puslinch, Ont.

Speak softly …

Teddy Roosevelt would love all this attention (Where's Teddy When You Need Him? – May 1). As his daughter Alice once said, he “always wanted to be the corpse at every funeral, the bride at every wedding, and the baby at every christening.”

J.D.M. Stewart, Toronto

Pachyderm plight

I have a modest proposal regarding Toronto's three elephants (Health Questions Stall Council's Plan To Relocate Aging Elephants – May 1). Why not put a fence around City Hall with our mayor, councillors and zoo staff inside and charge admission? The revenue would surely pay for sending the elephants to a better place.

Steven Diener, Toronto

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