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Women's worth, pray tell

Christie Blatchford writes that Canadians "do not accept the core belief of many ethnic groups that women aren't equal to men and are less valuable a creature" ( It's No Accident That Victims Were All Female - July 24). This isn't just an "ethnic" belief, it is enforced by religions.

All the major faiths began when society was patriarchal. It would be nice if all religions got with the times and treated women as equals instead of enforcing a false sense of male superiority. Unfortunately, until women demand this, I fear it will not happen.

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This isn't about being Canadian, this is about the degradation of women in major religions to this day. Until our religious leaders change their tune, my daughters and I will pray from home.

Diane Ferguson, Williamsford, Ont.

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Kingston Police Chief Steve Tanner is correct in saying the four female victims found in a submerged car "all shared the rights within our great country to live without fear." By adding, however, that they had their "lives cut short by members of their own family," Mr. Tanner fails to respect a fundamental right shared by all Canadians - the assumption of innocence until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, according to the law. By ignoring this democratic right, we become as uncivilized as the tribal communities Christie Blatchford condemns.

Denise Loader, Toronto

Shamed by Abdelrazik case

I have been increasingly sickened and shamed by the revelations of the actions of my government in the case of Abousfian Abdelrazik ( Abdelrazik Pleads To Clear His Name: 'I Want To Live Like A Normal Canadian' - July 24). Before this came the news that Canadians diplomats were acting in a manner that arguably amounted to ever so softly enabling the murder of a Canadian citizen ( Canada Was 'Indifferent' To Sudan's Threat To Kill Abdelrazik , Files Show - July 21).

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For the first time in 30 years, I regret being an atheist. If I weren't an atheist, I'd believe in God. And if I believed in God, I'd believe in hell. And if I believed in hell, I'd prefer Dante's version of inferno. And that is where I would delight to think of those bureaucrats spending eternity.

Mick Mallon, Iqaluit

Keep Nortel Canadian

As important as rail was to the founding of Canada, telecommunications is to holding Canada together today ( The Fight For Nortel - Report on Business, July 24). The federal government must intervene to ensure that Nortel's assets continue to serve Canada's strategic interest. A bailout does not make sense but ensuring the assets remain under Canadian oversight is in our interest.

Unfortunately, this government has willingly sacrificed the public interest before (the lumber industry, medical isotopes, wheat marketing). Stephen Harper's economic deconstructionism is making John Diefenbaker's sacrifice of our aerospace industry look trivial in comparison.

Eugene Parks, Victoria

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Pepper them to act on salt

Your article on sodium levels in common foods illustrated how Canadians can be poorly served by our government on important health issues ( The Cereal Killer: From All-Bran To Burgers, Study Finds Food Has More Salt In Canada - July 23).

Until Ottawa delivers an aggressive plan to reduce sodium levels - if ever - consumers must buy accordingly. I don't purchase canned soup, for example, because it's loaded with sodium, even the low-salt versions.

If we buy low-sodium brands, manufacturers will act when they see sales are down. For example, Fibre 1 cereal contains only 105 mg of sodium per half-cup serving. (I have, incidentally, no interest in Fibre 1 other than for my colon and blood pressure.)

Anne Coppinger, Calgary

Owners don't usually break in

Are we to believe that when the woman saw two men trying to break down a door in her neighbourhood, she should have said, "Oops, they're black, so I shouldn't assume anything nefarious and I won't call the police" ( Obama's Comments Trigger Racial-Profiling Debate - July 25)?

When the police arrived, should the officer have concluded he'd best not ask for identification in case he might be guilty of "profiling"?

We as a society have deemed it necessary to set up and maintain police forces to protect our daily lives. We also believe that house owners have keys to access their properties. When doors are being broken into, the generally accepted view is that this must not be the rightful resident. Then what exactly, in Henry Louis Gates's, and coincidentally, the U.S. President's opinion, should the neighbour and officer have done?

Maruta B. Pierce, Ottawa

Vote the OMB off the island?

In its decision to allow a controversial coastal quarry, the Ontario Municipal Board stresses the priority of property rights at the expense of the environment and the people of Ontario ( Lake Superior Quarry Project Gets Green Light - July 23).

Michipicoten Bay is the gateway to an ecological paradise: 300 coastal kilometres of parks and protected areas. This entire coast is free of aquatic invasive species found elsewhere in Lake Superior and throughout the other Great Lakes. Not for long, it seems, as lakers arriving to transport crushed rock from the quarry release ballast water into pristine Michipicoten Bay. Once deposited in a suitable habitat, invasives, having no natural predators, can be expected to take over entire aquatic ecosystems wiping out native fish species, and spreading outward from their new environment, in some cases, even up the rivers.

In the 21st century, one would expect that the OMB's protection of property rights would be tempered with common sense.

Torfinn Hansen, Michipicoten Bay

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In this blanket dismissal of sound principles of environmental stewardship, the OMB has ruled itself irrelevant and has voted itself off the island.

Douglas Higgins, Grafton, Ont.

A line in the water

Something is very wrong with using an injunction at Dump Site 41 in Tiny Township to block protesters fighting to preserve the site of some of the world's purest water ( Protesters Ordered To End Blockade At Landfill Construction Site - July 23).

Who can really believe that it is right or good to put a dump over these sacred aquifers and springs? Water is sacred to First Nations and we must do everything to protect it, like the blood that flows through our bodies.

What will the authorities say when court cases are launched against them for non-consultation with First Nations, whose ancestors drank from that very water before the white man came to dam it up, cut it down, pave it over, dig it up, etc. etc. etc. etc.

How long will we stand by and let our Mother Earth be raped time and again? Too many have no care for the world we live in, only the dollars they make from polluting and destroying her. Who is going to take the brunt of this? Our children and grandchildren.

This dump is a time to stand up: There should be a public inquiry over the handling of this site. We must all remember the admonition that we are not the lords of this Earth, we are her children.

David Grey Eagle Sanford, Toronto

Plastic fantastic ...

If the organizers of the Miss Plastic Hungary beauty contest hope to eradicate negative stereotypes associated with women who undergo cosmetic surgery to "get rid of their complexes," perhaps they should begin by putting the title under the knife ( Surgically Enhanced Beauty Queens Vie For The Miss Plastic Hungary Crown - Life, July 23). Then again, "Miss Plastic" really says it all.

Maribeth Adams, Kamloops, B.C.

Fed up in T.O. with both sides

My grandfather, Jack Lerette, was an organizer for the Rubber Workers Union for four decades, going across the country, Norma-Rae style, fighting for a fair deal for the workers. After he retired in the late '50s, he worked tirelessly for four more decades on behalf of senior citizens to establish fair social benefits.

When he was 96, I asked him what he thought about a strike that was on and this is what he said: "The unions are doing to the employers what the employers were doing to the workers to make us start unions in the first place." This from a man who gave his life to fighting to create an equitable situation for the little man.

Strike after strike, it seems more obvious union leaders have lost touch with economic reality and the goals and principles upon which unions were founded. The Toronto city workers' strike, which has already trashed one of our precious summer months, has convinced me union leaders are abusing their power and that there is a lack of leadership on the other side.

Marie MacNeill, Toronto

Modern prose, thank heavens

It was a relief to be told by Russell Smith that the "ornate quality of the description" in contenders for the Bulwer-Lytton Prize for bad writing is less common today than it once was ( Language: The Best Of The Worst - Review, July 23).

If it were common, we might come across this: "The opening movement is eerily sombre. The scherzo is acerbic, vehement, capricious and grotesque. The slow movement is like a latter-day Rachmaninoff étude tableau, with the piano contributing muffled bells and the violin alternating lyrical flights and ghostly high pianissimo, swiftly scampering arabesques" ( Canadian Violinist And Pianist Begin Tamely, Then Thrill - Review, July 25)

Whew! Thank heavens for the modernization of prose.

Graeme MacQueen, Dundas, Ont.

Web-exclusive letter: A worker distinction without merit

I bristle at the suggested distinction between future citizens and "temporary workers" ( The Temporariness Of The Temporary - editorial, July 23). I do not accept, as you suggest, that agricultural workers or live-in caregivers are "less invested" in Canadian citizenship. On the contrary, their existence is as, or more "arduous" than the immigrants with the latest "hot" profession or, for example, the investor class who can buy their way into this country.

I arrived here as a young child with my mother and siblings in 1963. My father, an agricultural worker, was welcomed into Canada as a refugee at that time, despite no appreciable level of education. My family prospered and clung to the core Canadian values of opportunity, hard work, thrift and civic participation. Indeed, just 23 years after my arrival as a refugee/immigrant, I was found to be suitable to be employed as a Canadian Immigration Officer myself. I play a lot of hockey and do my best to vote in every election. I sing O'Canada out loud. I don't grouse about my taxes. I contribute as best I can. You can rest assured, my kids know they are Canadians.

Our immigration policy is unbalanced, having turned our back to those around the world who appreciate Canada's values so much they resort to the relatively marginalized avenue of the temporary-worker class or, the for that matter, the strained refugee process. I am quite certain that if my father's arduous journey were attempted today, I would never have become a Canadian.

Ron Beram, Vancouver

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