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The G-G's mission

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Re Governor-General 101: Don't Insult Canadians; Payette's Secular Spiel Jeopardizes Her Impartiality (both Nov. 6): Governor-General Julie Payette undoubtedly struck a wrong note in her mocking tone when criticizing those who fail to acknowledge scientific evidence.

But her critics need to be equally careful: Last time I checked, Pope Francis has acknowledged both evolution and anthropomorphic climate change – and no one could accuse him of mocking religious belief.

Scientific skepticism and obscurantism can be found in both the secular and religious communities. It is obscurantism that Ms. Payette was criticizing, not religion.

Ron Chaplin, Ottawa

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Please extend my apology to the Governor-General and Prime Minister for my archaic belief that it is true that a Divine Being created the heavens, the Earth and life. I must be an embarrassment for them that I hold such beliefs to be true.

Terry Cretney, Port Hope, Ont.

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The G-G gave an impassioned address on the importance of science to a group of science policy people. She was not expressing a view or a Liberal opinion; she was stating facts. Evolution is a fact, not a theory. Sugar pills can't cure cancer. Climate change is real, astrology is a hoax. The suggestion that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's verbal support of science and of Governor-General Julie Payette's comments represents a lack of support of Indigenous people and many religions is both absurd and cheap.

Mark Poznansky, Toronto

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Grace, the final frontier. This is the challenge for our Governor-General. Her five-year mission: to explore strange new responsibilities, to stave off new strife and new trivializations, to boldly go where everyone has gone before.

Alec Cooper, Quebec City

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Bay Street barriers

Re Who Belongs On Bay Street? (Focus, Nov. 6): After reading Hadiya Roderique's excellent article, any Jewish lawyer who entered the profession in the 1960s or early 1970s must have said to himself, "So what else is new?"

What people of colour are going through in the legal profession resembles in many ways what Jews went through when the large, old, established firms were considered off limits to Jewish law grads. The profession was a bastion of ultra-conservative WASPism and reflected the culture of the city.

Take a walk through Osgoode Hall. Those portraits of old guys staring down at you are not your uncle Mordechai or cousin Max. And note that in the first sentence I said "himself," because there were then so few women in the profession.

Law has always been a profession with barriers, but those barriers have always been breached. And so it wasn't that long before we had a Jewish chief justice on the Supreme Court of Canada. And not too long after that, other Jewish jurists were appointed to the high court.

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My law school class had five women, today women account for about half of law school grads. Today, what religion a lawyer is matters not a whit, and so it should be. But it took us some time to get there. The day will come – one hopes very soon – when skin colour will be as irrelevant and meaningless as religion.

Our profession changes. It sometimes just takes a little more time.

Alfred M. Kwinter, Toronto

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Re Equal Outcomes Have Replaced Equality Of Opportunity (Nov. 4): Traditional measures of "excellence" are the problem, not the solution. Despite best intentions, they have been found to weed out women and minorities unfairly. The result is to preserve largely male and white leadership positions in the commercial and professional worlds, even though diversity has been shown to benefit the profitability and quality (yes, excellence) of the end product.

The year-old Law Society report that Margaret Wente cited capped exhaustive research by the society and independent consultants relating to systemic racism in the legal profession. Our work confirmed the anecdotal evidence we had heard about for 15 years, which is eloquently reflected in Hadiya Roderique's article, Who Belongs On Bay Street?

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Few would dispute that it serves the best interests of lawyers, and the interests of their clients and the public, to give careful thought to the unintended results of hiring and professional policies, and commit to removing barriers. That is the sum total of the Statement of Principles requirement which the Law Society adopted a year ago as an ethical obligation of every lawyer and paralegal who is given the right to serve the public of this province.

Raj Anand, Bencher, co-chair, Working Group on Challenges Faced by Racialized Lawyers and Paralegals

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Pensions in peril

Re A Lesson From The Sears Disaster: We Must Fund Pensions Properly (Report on Business, Nov. 6): As a Nortel pensioner, I heartily agree pension funding must be addressed.

When I retired from Nortel, I had life insurance, guaranteed not to fall below a certain level. Well, it certainly can't go any lower than $0.00, can it? That's how much life insurance I now have. The medical insurance I had is also non-existent now. I did have a pension, and still do at this point, but it's considerably less than it was, and also likely to disappear.

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Although considerable time has elapsed since the Nortel situation came to light, obviously nothing has really changed. Much of the Nortel matter is still with the lawyers.

Tony Rhodes-Marriott, Steinbach, Man.

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AIIB accountability

Re Join AIIB? Caution (letters, Nov. 1): Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is a multilateral development bank (MDB) with 80 approved members. It has voluntarily adopted the list of sanctioned firms and individuals under the Agreement for Mutual Enforcement of Debarment Decisions. This means that nearly 1,000 entities debarred by five leading MDBs are also cross-debarred by AIIB.

While only in our second year of operations, we have received AAA ratings from all three international credit-rating agencies that independently assessed our governance and operations as meeting international best practices and standards.

AIIB actively co-finances infrastructure projects with major international financial institutions, including the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and European Investment Bank.

Our commitment to accountability is clearly evident.

Hamid Sharif, managing director, Compliance, Effectiveness and Integrity Unit, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

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Horror. Again

Re Gunman Opens Fire At Texas Church, Killing More Than Two Dozen (Nov. 6): It's time to stop putting these mass shooting stories on the front page.

While they are definitely sad, they are occurring so frequently, they are becoming the modern equivalent of a "dog bites man" story.

Since there is virtually no will in the United States to address the root cause, there seems to be little point in dwelling on the unsurprising effect. The headline we all want to read is: U.S Takes First Baby Step Toward Gun Control.

Paul Bennett, Richmond Hill, Ont.

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If President Donald Trump thinks the shooting deaths of so many in Texas do not have anything to do with gun laws, what do they have to do with?

Diane Bethune, Ottawa

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