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Aug. 9: Immigrant. Refugee. Asylum. 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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Immigrant. Refugee

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The Immigration and Refugee Board was originally set up in 1989 as a quasi-judicial system to hear claims. However, it quickly became lawyer-driven, severely delaying claims. Immigration claims (mainly economic) should be handled by Immigration Department officials and refugee cases by the Refugee Board, with no legal appeal allowed, as was the original intent.

With two different objectives for claimants, the two processes should not have been combined in the first place. However, that barn door closed years ago.

Brian Marley-Clarke, head of training (retired), Immigration and Refugee Board; Calgary

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The term "asylum" (in a political context) means a place of safety. The people flooding across the border are no more seeking asylum than I am.

They are simply attempting to avoid possible deportation from the U.S. by skirting the legal Canadian immigration process in (well-justified) hopes that their cases will become so bogged down in our inherently cumbersome immigration process, that our government will forget they're here.

Recent pleadings by Justin Trudeau ("We want migration to Canada to be done in an orderly fashion…" and the Immigration Minister ("Anyone who is in the United States who is intending to come to Canada to make an asylum claim should do so in the United States …") have about as much impact on future illegal migrants as my pleas for lower taxes have on our governments.

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We need immediate action, not more empty words.

Peter A. Lewis-Watts, Barrie, Ont.

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Veggie might

Re How To Get People To Eat Their Veggies (editorial, Aug. 7): Every year, I tell my Grade 12 World Issues class that to get people to eat better, we should pay for veggies and other healthy foods with our health card, and pay for processed foods out of our own resources. For sure, people would put more greens and fewer cookies in their carts. Some students accuse me of being a communist, others say people would take more than they need. I correct the first claim to socialist. As for the second, I ask them how many people fail on purpose in order to get more free education?

Link "free" carrots to taxes and people will learn to self-limit.

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I partly do this just to get them thinking about things other than celebrity news. But I also do it because subsidies, even small ones, work. And cheaper veggies are way less expensive than the "free" health care required after years of a poor, but cheaper, diet.

Michael Bernards, Ottawa

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Sticks, carrots: To get people to eat veggies, use both. Finance the veggie subsidy with a sugar tax.

Gordon Barnes, Aurora, Ont.

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Identity and insight

Re The Making Of Joseph Boyden (Focus, Aug. 5): I nominate the following as author Joseph Boyden's unwitting contribution to the Great Canada 150 Lexicon: "Root ancestor fallacy (n.) The delusion that remote or fictitious Indigenous ancestry in the past invests one with Indigenous identity and insights in the present. q.v. 'Indigen'ish' (colloquial)."

John Moses, Upper Mohawk and Delaware bands, Six Nations of the Grand River Territory

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Joseph Boyden isn't perfect, and like all of us, has made errors of judgment during his life – perhaps even some whoppers. Weighed against his good works, however, both as a humanitarian and accomplished author, it's no contest.

It's baffling how the ongoing vilification of Mr. Boyden will help resolve the myriad legitimate issues that Canada's First Nations work so hard to address.

Move on, please.

Martin Adelaar, Ottawa

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Here are five articles I'd like to read before I read another word about Joseph Boyden:

Who is Richard Van Camp?

Who is Carleigh Baker?

Who is Norma Dunning?

Who is Katherena Vermette?

Who is Chelsea Vowel?

These I would read.

Liz Greenaway, Edmonton

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Fashion's burdens

Re McShopping Goes Global (Aug. 7): Konrad Yakabuski laments the demise of the world's cities' distinct fashion stores, which are being replaced by the "sameness" of globalized fast fashion. He also comments on the social and environmental sides of fast fashion, noting the availability of jobs in offshore factories, and the clothing that ends up in landfills.

Fast fashion provides low-quality jobs with tedious conditions at low wages. The environmental burden goes much further than clothes in landfills. Consider the virtual disappearance of the Aral Sea, once the fourth-largest lake in the world. Its disappearance has been linked to irrigating thirsty cotton crops in Uzbekistan, now the fifth-largest producer of cotton.

Further, consider widespread water pollution caused by intense pesticide use for cotton and other fibre crops, pollution from producing synthetic fibres, and from dying garments. This burden disproportionally affects poor regions with minimal capacity for environmental protection and impacts the health of millions through tainted drinking water.

Finally, consider the microfibres shed from cheap, synthetic clothing during laundering. Polyester microfibres now pollute the waters of the Arctic and Antarctic, and our seafood.

So, just as cheap fashion pollutes Madrid's Gran Via and Paris's Marais district, cheap fashion pollutes our environment and comes back to us in our food.

Miriam Diamond, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Toronto

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Never met him, but

I never met Jack Rabinovitch, and from all I read that's my loss (A Champion Of The Written Word, Aug. 7). But I do owe him indirectly for some fond memories.

During the 1990s and early 2000s, I was a bike courier in Toronto, and my company had the contract to deliver the Giller Prize dinner invitations.

Lovely things they were, black card stock, with the invitee's name in gold cursive, and to each was attached a single red rose in a tiny vial of water.

This made them a pain to deliver on a bicycle, but for an aspiring (okay, wannabe) writer, the chance to deliver to people, writers and otherwise, whose work I'd admired for years was priceless, even if all I said was, "Hello. Sign here, please."

That's how I met Peter Gzowski, who came to the door dragging an oxygen tank but still seemed to be having fun, and Al Waxman, who may have been the warmest, nicest person I ever met, even though we only spoke for a minute.

And I remember especially Barbara Gowdy in the runup to the invasion of Iraq. She was standing on her doorstep, already talking to someone and wearing a Soviet Canuckistan T-shirt. If she hadn't been busy, I'd have asked her where to get one. I still don't know where to get one, but I still smile at the thought of it.

Tom Sullivan, Toronto

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