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Aug. 18: Exporting arms. Plus other letters to the editor

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here: letters@globeandmail.com

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Exporting arms

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The choices for controlling military exports are not to either "block arms sales to anyone who might actually use them" or "be realistic about weapons sales" (Ottawa Comes Clean On Arms Exports, editorial, Aug. 17). The point of export controls is to block arms sales to anyone with a penchant for using them unlawfully.

As for being "realistic" about weapons sales, should Canada export weapons to any country not specifically defined as an enemy, without any regard for a recipient's disrespect for the rule of law – for human rights, the laws of war, or the protection of civilians? Is that "maturity"?

The government's policy changes flout at least two fundamental principles of responsible military export controls: that military commodities are a special category of goods, the international transfers of which are to be restricted in ways not applicable to most civilian commodities; and that weapons suppliers are culpable if they knowingly ship weapons to customers with a demonstrable inclination to use them unlawfully – for example, against civilians.

Ernie Regehr, Waterloo, Ont.

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What your editorial terms the Trudeau government's "maturity" in modifying Canada's arms-export rules to align with its actions in the sale of military equipment to Saudi Arabia, I and others see as a moral abdication.

Rather than removing the contradiction between existing rules and its approval of the sale of light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia, the government chose a course that will continue to lend support to a regime known for its human rights violations. The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has bombed four hospitals supported by Doctors Without Borders in the past year, including an Aug. 15 attack that killed 14.

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Stanley Greenspoon, North Vancouver

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How doctors voted

Re Physicians Remain Divided Over Deal With Province (Aug. 17): Only 55 per cent of Ontario Medical Association members voted on the proposed fee agreement with the province. But it's no wonder the response was so low. First we were told there would be an Internet ballot. Then that was cancelled and replaced with a general meeting and vote in person or by proxy.

Then somewhere in the myriad e-mails advocating pro and con, came an e-mail with instructions for voting. Then a letter with instructions for voting (didn't I already do that)? Then that process was cancelled and replaced with a new one. More e-mails and instructions for voting again. Then another letter with instructions, again!

I persevered through the confusion and voted, but I can understand why many of the membership didn't bother.

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Karen Phillips, MD, Ancaster, Ont.

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Churchill's ship

Re In A Divided World, The Past Offers A Path Forward (Aug. 17): Bob Rae's excellent column about the meeting between Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt aboard HMS Prince of Wales in Placentia Bay in August, 1941, referred to the ship as "HMCS." No doubt Canada would have been glad to have her in the Canadian Navy but at the time she was the pride of the Royal Navy.

M.J. Stewart, Oakville, Ont.

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Mr. Rae's commentary brings to mind a letter Roosevelt sent to Churchill in January of 1941, when Great Britain and the British Empire, including Canada, stood alone against the onslaught of Nazi Germany. In it, Roosevelt quoted Longfellow's poem, The Building of the Ship. He wrote: "Dear Churchill, … I think this verse applies to you people as it does to us: 'Sail on, Oh Ship of State! Sail on, Oh Union strong and great. Humanity with all its fears With all the hope of future years Is hanging breathless on thy fate.' As ever yours, Franklin D. Roosevelt."

Churchill drew great inspiration from the message and it presaged the ensuing partnership between the two leaders and the alliance between their countries that would soon follow.

Fraser Laschinger, Prescott, Ont.

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Mother's plea

Re Mother Of Abducted Children Feels Trudeau Has Failed Her (Aug. 15): Alison Azer's struggle to bring her children home from Iran, where they were taken by their father, brought back painful memories of my own efforts to bring my husband, Maher Arar, home from a Syrian dungeon.

Even though many years separate the two events, it seems the actions of government remain the same: a lack of initiative, a lack of coherent strategy, and most of all a lack of a genuine political will.

In light of the steps Ms. Azer took herself, at great risk, to move things forward, Ottawa's reaction cannot be understood. Did Canada not respond to a call from Iranian officials, as she says? Which is more important, political protocol or the precious lives of four young Canadians denied the right to see their mother and family in Canada? Yes, the Liberal government can blame the previous Conservative government for cutting diplomatic ties with Iran, which makes communication between the two countries difficult, but let's put political partisanship behind and find out, concretely, what has been done to bring these children home.

As long as the Azer children are not back at home, Canada has failed its obligations

Monia Mazigh, Ottawa

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To the point

Re: Vancouver Real Estate Tax Strikes A Nerve With Chinese Home Buyers (Aug. 16). Bull's eye!

W.E. Hildreth, Toronto

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The article reports that a Vancouver real estate agent "has helped Chinese investors buy 30 to 40 condos over the past two years." That pretty much sums up the problem: Vancouver needs families (or occupants, if you will) to be buying condos, not investors.

Stephen Rowat, Ottawa

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Master class

Re Pride and Joy, photograph of gold medalist Derek Drouin (Sports, Aug. 17): A great sports photograph tells the story in a glance – who, what, where, when and sometimes, why. Knowledge of sport, excellent planning, superb positioning and lightning-fast eye-hand co-ordination result in the shutter being tripped at that Cartier-Bresson "moment."

The superb photographs crafted by The Globe's John Lehmann at these Olympics constitute a master class in sports photojournalism.

John Harquail, Toronto

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Who needs a jet?

If I hear another "expert" tell me that the way to prevent jet lag is to shift my routine to a different time zone days before a zone-crossing trip, I'll scream (Don't Let Jet Lag Keep You Down, Arts & Life, Aug 16). Their advice to prevent a case of jet lag is to self-create and self-impose one before you go on your trip. What??

Swire Chin, Toronto

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