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(Laura Leyshon For The Globe and Mail)
(Laura Leyshon For The Globe and Mail)

What readers think

Sept. 3: Sticky stuff, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Sticky stuff

While I’m impressed there are thieves smart enough to know not only where there’s a Fort Knoxian supply of maple syrup (Lock, Stock, And Many Sticky Barrels: Millions Of Dollars Worth Of Maple Syrup Stolen – Aug. 31) but also, apparently, may have the wherewithal to fence the almost 10 million pounds of the sticky stuff, I’m even more amazed that the corporate world had the foresight to stockpile such a massive supply.

Nevertheless, while we’re assured that the stolen syrup is fully insured, no mention is made of how this catastrophic crime will affect the pancake industry.

I, for one, am thankful I was able to replenish my stock on a recent shopping outing. Though it may sound selfish, my flapjack dreams are secure.

Bill Engleson, Denman Island, B.C.

Seize the moment

The value of foreign students is far greater than their economic impact alone. While Amit Chakma’s list of ideas for achieving the goal of doubling the number of international students in Canada is impressive (Foreign Students Are An Opportunity, Not A Cost – Aug. 30), it neglects a key decision-making group: parents of international students.

Think about how most young people select a university. Parents probably have a bigger say in the matter than anyone else. They are usually the ones footing the bill, and they want a good return on their investment.

Convince them of the value of a postsecondary education in Canada, and you’re on the right track.

Chris Valiquet, Ottawa


Amit Chakma makes a clear case for not only admitting international students but also embracing their contributions. He also advances the value of Canadian students going abroad for part of their studies. This is critical to developing the internationally competent graduates we need to build the next generation of innovators and leaders.

But most Canadians are already convinced. In our nationwide poll, 90 per cent agreed that students should benefit from opportunities to study abroad. Our research also shows that 85 per cent of undergraduates would like to participate in exchanges, but most are unlikely to do so for financial reasons.

The Advisory Panel on Canada’s International Education Strategy, led by Dr. Chakma, urges investment by governments and private donors to give 50,000 young Canadians the chance to internationalize. Given the competitive nature of international education, the panel’s call to “seize the current moment” should be taken very seriously.

Karen McBride, president and CEO, Canadian Bureau for International Education, Ottawa


Canada can’t afford to lose the international battle for human captial, lest we fall behind in innovation, productivity and adaptation to changing world markets.

All sectors of Canadian life should press the federal and provincial governments to encourage students from China, India, the Middle East, Europe and the U.S. to think of Canada first when deciding on their postsecondary education.

The future depends on attracting the best and the brightest from all corners of the globe. The global village is becoming the global neighborhood.

Elie Mikhael Nasrallah, immigration consultant, Ottawa

Reshaping our kids

Re Road To Olympic Glory Should Start With Active Children (Aug. 17): There’s no denying that Canadians are less active than ever before, but investing in competitive sport is not the cure.

How bad is it? Nova Scotia has one of the highest rates of obesity in Canada, and 93 per cent of Canadian children do not meet the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity.

As a pediatric cardiologist, I have the responsibility to advocate for the health and well-being of Nova Scotia’s youth. The Department of Health and Wellness, for example, recently released its Thrive! strategy that focuses on the partnerships and dedicated people who take action to make communities healthier every day.

While it’s important to have role models to encourage Canadians to be active, investing in Olympic sports isn’t the only way. Working with provinces, community groups and government is a more sustainable method to reduce obesity rates in this country.

John Finley, president, Doctors Nova Scotia, Dartmouth, N.S.

Birdland security

Birds do not recognize borders, and Jeff Wells is correct in his insistence that conservation efforts take this into account (Listen To Nature’s Tweets – Aug. 27). But by concentrating on North America, he’s in danger of emphasizing the wrong borders.

The fact is that, unlike ducks, most of our migrant insect-eating birds (on which the continued health of our forests depends) do not winter in the U.S. but farther south, from Mexico to Brazil. It’s in these areas that international conservation efforts will yield the greatest returns.

Furthermore, due to “winter range compression,” preservation of areas where our songbirds spend more than half the year is even more important than anything we can do up here.

To take just one example, the Philadelphia Vireo (despite its name) breeds in a vast swath of forest from Alberta to the Maritimes but, in winter, is restricted to a much smaller area in Central America.

Hence chopping down an acre of forest in Panama is equivalent to destroying at least 10 acres in Northern Ontario.

In conservation matters, charity does not always begin at home.

David Brewer, Puslinch, Ont.

Ah! Sweet mystery

The article Really, How DO Writers Spend Their Day? (Life, Aug. 30) must have taken this writer days, weeks, to construct what is intended (successfully, at that) as a “journal” but is really (my trained eyes can smell it) a carefully articulated exposé on the trials and tribulations of “the life of the writer.” And he pulled this off without a single cliché (my trained nose can spot a cliché a mile away).

It all sounds remarkably like the life I once dreamed of.

Once upon a time, as a young writing student at a prestigious university, and under the tutelage of a seasoned novelist, I dreamed of days just like the one I dreamed I once held out for the hope of living.

I used to feel entirely productive if I could write 500 words a day. Sometimes, those words arrived in a neat little package, and I’d spend all of an hour getting them onto the page. And then I’d spend the rest of the day deleting 450 of them, or replacing them with other words, then repeating the process until I was ready to have a pint.

If everyone could write books, they would. But most don’t. It’s a serious gig.

John W. McFetrick, Edinburgh

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