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Nov. 8: Beyond the U.S. election. Plus other letters to the editor

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Beyond the U.S. election

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Arguably this U.S. election is proof positive of America's decline, and Canadians and our media are captivated by the buffoonery. But I have to conclude Canadians are also in decline, being both smug and lazy.

We are allowing this election to distract us from three damning issues here at home: We have a man held in solitary without trial for four years, we have our national intelligence agency admitting structural lying and withholding information from federal judges; and two law enforcement agencies in Quebec found to be spying on the press.

Our rule of law is trampled by those entrusted to administer it and Canadians seem only mildly interested. Collectively we haven't mustered a protest to equal the gender-pronoun controversy at the University of Toronto. Shame on Americans?

Canadians need to do some reflections of our own.

James Thomson, Calgary


Ringing the bells

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Kenneth Whyte's essay on Senate reform sets the alarm bells ringing (Be Careful What You Wish For, Focus, Nov. 5). A Senate of national leaders, who have earned their positions through their contributions to society, goes some way to restoring the original philosophy behind the Constitution, that it should be a balanced structure which respected the value of democracy, but also minimized its limitations.

A glance at the money-driven "democracy" south of the border is enough to raise the remaining hair on this reader's head. The present appointments to the Canadian Senate, and the institution's tradition of respect for the primacy of the Commons, has a real potential for good.

With the current appointees, I could see, in a positive light, senators initiating bills, or delaying and suggesting amendments to Commons bills. But the ultimate primacy of the Commons has to be embedded in self-denying legislation, preferably initiated in the Senate, along the lines of those which limit the powers of the British House of Lords.

Nicholas Tracy, Port Maitland, N.S.


Mr. Whyte has an insightful comment on the new (unelected) Senate that will eventually have more power than Parliament and it really indicates why the Senate should be abolished. It is inconceivable how one can argue that an unelected Senate strengthens a democracy. If we were starting everything from scratch, nobody would even suggest that we create this monster.

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David Enns, Cornwall, Ont.


If Kenneth Whyte really thinks people aged 75 are in their dotage, he should read the obituary for Fred Roots (A Legend Of Polar Exploration, Obituaries, Nov. 5). In fact he should try to read it twice, younger folk having a reputation for short attention spans and all.

Bob Halliday, Saskatoon


Trinity tussle

Re Freedom's Balancing Act, editorial (Nov. 5): If Trinity Western had the only government-sanctioned law school in British Columbia, a case could be made that it should not be allowed to place religious restrictions on its students. But it is not the only law school in British Columbia.

Further, if the law society in any province is concerned that Trinity Western grads will spread their beliefs once they graduate, the law society must examine all graduates from other law schools. Many individuals attending law schools other than Trinity Western may have beliefs about sex similar to those of TW grads.

If we assume that individuals have the freedom to hold certain religious beliefs, we cannot single out one group and deny them rights that similar individuals have.

Rick Hird, Whitby, Ont.


We can forgo all the hoo-hah over competing "rights" at Trinity Western. Pierre Trudeau got it right: "There's no place for the [university] in the bedrooms of the [students]."

Peter Ferguson, Kimberley, Ont.


War and peace

Re We Remember (Nov. 4): It seems our world has the idea that soldiers are soulless robots, that any struggles they face postwar will be nothing compared to the horrors of fighting. But the battle is not over for them when they return home. It has only begun.

It makes me question our perception of Remembrance Day. Is it only for those we consider to be our heroes, the ones who died in the world wars, the ones who left behind diaries and papers? What about the others? It shouldn't matter what war, in battle or out of battle; they gave up their lives so that we may live in peace. The least we owe them is accessible mental health treatment.

Chantal Elias, Toronto


With such a toll of suicide on veterans, why are we even considering a "peacekeeping force" in African countries where likely they will be exposed to and witness similar horrors?

Riho Kalda, Vancouver


Your editorial recommends that Senegal be the focus for renewed peace operations by the Canadian military (Start In Senegal, For The New Peacekeeping, Nov. 4). But the government has made it clear that the point of such missions is to support UN-led peacekeeping operations; unfortunately, there is no such UN operation in Senegal to support.

It seems much more probable that the government will commit some military personnel to the UN mission in Mali, with Senegal serving as a logistics hub to support both them and the UN mission more broadly.

The editorial also states that "a counterinsurgency in a chaotic, arid country such as Mali ... would be outside the experience of most members of the Canadian Armed Forces." That "arid country" sounds like Kandahar province in Afghanistan where thousands of Canadians fought a counterinsurgency against the Taliban from 2006 to 2011.

How soon we apparently forget.

Mark Collins, Ottawa


That sounds good

Re Liberals Prepare To Pitch Infrastructure Bank To Investors (Nov. 4): Dominic Barton and his colleagues on the Advisory Council on Economic Growth approve the establishment of a government-backed investment bank that would enable institutional investors like themselves to invest in established public assets, particularly those with a clear revenue stream. Why wouldn't they?

Dan Cameron, Regina


Twinkle toes

Re Symposium Spotlights Dance Therapy (Life & Arts, Nov. 5): Scottish country dancers the world over have known for years the physical, mental and social benefits of dancing with friends. Wouldn't it be wonderful if schools introduced the activity at a young age to encourage lifelong dancing?

The world would be a better place if they did. The kilts are merely a bonus.

Peter Richards, chair, Vancouver Royal Scottish Country Dance Society

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