Taking on tyranny
No external pressure is going to stop Vladimir Putin’s headstrong madness (“Just try to stop him,” International, Aug. 11). Only internal pressure from the Russian people will have any effect. Western leaders need to close airports in the free world to all Aeroflot flights. Impose travel bans to free countries on all Russian people. Halt transactions with Russian banks. Stop the export of all goods, including food, to Russia. These measures will hurt us in the short term. Putin will probably retaliate by shutting off oil and gas exports to Europe. However, Russia is completely dependent on the revenues from those exports; when that revenue stream dries up, and Russian people begin to protest in the streets, Putin will listen to them. All the selective sanctions in place at the moment have no effect on his support from the Russian people. Hit him where it will hurt!
H. David Goldsmith, Chatham, Ont.
Your Aug. 11 cover headline reads, “Getting away with murder: Vladimir Putin’s ambitions have now claimed the lives of 298 civilians,” in reference to the downing of the Malaysian airliner. To be consistent, I would really like to see an even more imperious close-up of Benjamin Netanyahu on your next cover with the same quotation, maybe tripling the death count. A theory about the shot-down Malaysian airline is that it might have been a misfire and a mistake, but Israel was quite deliberately pulverizing Palestinians on their own soil. If one country is allowed and encouraged to “defend” itself like this in retaliation for a couple of rockets or a single teen’s life, then why shouldn’t Malaysia be backed to launch a military operation against Russia for 289 lives? Or does it even matter if the lost lives are neither Israeli nor American?
Tahir Yahya Yousuf Zai, Toronto
RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson suffers from the same delusional thinking and tunnel vision that characterizes many large-scale bureaucracies. The reasoning goes something like this: If it wasn’t the idea of the new captain of the ship to travel north, then the ship must, obviously, be headed in the wrong direction. To claim that my March 2010 report for the RCMP titled “Aiming for safety” didn’t include Canadian data, when it was based on more than 2,000 responses to survey questionnaires from police officers both in the RCMP and from across Canada, defies logic (“Dying shame,” National, July 28). Paulson is one of the principal reasons the RCMP are languishing behind other police agencies in North America, when it comes to dealing with armed adversaries who are brandishing assault rifles.
Darryl T. Davies, instructor in criminology and criminal justice, Carleton University, Ottawa
Our police ofﬁcers need to be properly outfitted in the latest body armour and firearms: no questions asked. The fact that cost and bureaucratic red tape may have compromised the safety of our first-line defenders is tragic. Ten years ago, gun shops were stocked with hunting rifles and shotguns, with satin-finish stock and beautiful etched receivers. Today, these same shops are stocked with black tactical stocks, and 5.56 x 45 mm NATO semi-autos. A properly licensed individual can purchase these firearms and, within six weeks, be at their local range using them. Yet the RCMP brass have allegedly taken years getting C8s into the hands of their officers. Cost and budget should never outweigh safety.
Mark Sellar, Paris, Ont.
I find it alarming that Maclean’s would feature a story about rushing assault weapons into widespread use by the RCMP, justified by the fact that other police forces already do. The U.S. is already encountering major problems with the militarization of police forces. Canada does not need to follow suit. Police are not shooting from ranges of 100 m (which is one of the justifications used in the article); proper shooting from those distances requires proper training and maintenance of marksmanship skills, all of which costs money and time— resources the RCMP and police in general do not have. To advocate arming the people who are supposed to be protecting us with military-grade assault weapons is ludicrous. Just wait for the first story of an errant round going through a house window and killing a child or parent, because the police ofﬁcer didn’t have the training necessary to make the shot. Of course, police need protection against better-armed criminals, but that’s what tactical units are for.
Jake Charbonneau, Azilda, Ont.
Your Aug. 11 editorial indicates that Canadians have not transcended all forms of bigotry, in that only 28 per cent of Canadian respondents to your survey said they had a generally favourable view of Islam. This view may not be bigotry, but outrage based on recurring incidents such as the one reported a few pages following the editorial (“The opposite of honourable,” This Week, Aug. 11), about an Afghan mullah proclaiming his innocence after raping a 10-year-old girl—by stating he thought she was 17 years old, not 10. It’s unfathomable how a religious person can respond this way. To top this off, the child victim is targeted by her own family for an “honour killing” because she brought shame to them. How can Canadians not feel prejudice against the Islamic religion when these atrocities against women and girls continue to occur, in addition to the constant reports of religious tribal violence and jihads?
Adele White, Ottawa
Don’t smoke it
I was shocked to read the story of Liam McKnight in Newsmakers (Aug. 11). Let me get this straight: Health Canada wants children to smoke their medication? Upon researching cannabidiol (CBD), for the treatment of epilepsy, I learned that there is a very small amount of THC (0.1 per cent) in CBD oil. The oil doesn’t create a high and has no observed side effects. This little boy and thousands of other Canadian children need a derivative of this plant. The side effects of Health Canada-approved epilepsy drugs can be horrific and can render children close to catatonic. I have seen this first-hand. Parents of these sick children want the seizures under control but don’t want their children stoned. CBD oil has shown remarkable results in the Netherlands, Israel, and the U.S., particularly Colorado and California. Results of children on CBD oil have given other parents a ray of hope, but it’s illegal in Canada: unless children can smoke it!
Debbie Gelineau, Northside East Bay, N.S.
Living with risk
As one of the “loved ones” mentioned in your Aug. 11 interview with Tim Jagatic, who is working with Doctors Without Borders in West Africa, I feel that I should give my opinion on my little brother’s observation that his family is “not the happiest” about him travelling to an Ebola zone. There are two things that help us deal with the fear of those real and significant risks that Tim faces every day. First is the fact that Doctors Without Borders take safety and security very seriously. Second is how important this work is. When Tim comes home from a mission and shares his stories, the common theme is how little it takes to significantly improve the lives of so many people. They are simple things: nutrition, hydration, mosquito netting to prevent malaria, antiseptics and simple antibiotics. We are immensely proud of the work he does on the ground. In that sense, “not happy” covers the fear of the risks he takes on every day, but he has our full support, respect and love.
Michael Jagatic, Windsor, Ont.
Stoplights for sex trafficking
It is a mark of Christian faith to stand up for the most vulnerable members of society, and those such as Rev. Bruce Bryant-Scott, who empathize with sex trade workers, seem well-intentioned (“Red light from the Church,” National, July 28). I believe, however, that they are misguided. I, too, have heard sex trade workers say that prostitution is their choice and that they need their work legalized to make it safer. Despite such statements, the reality is that women who sell their bodies are exploited by the men who have the power and, ultimately, the control; these women will always be at risk, physically, mentally and emotionally. In countries where prostitution has been legalized or decriminalized, prostitution, human trafficking and organized crime have increased. In countries that have adopted the so-called “Nordic model,” where women are seen as victims and those profiting from this sexual violence are prosecuted, there has been a marked reduction in sex trafficking and, therefore, a reduction in sexual exploitation of girls. Do we not want a bill that will protect the vulnerable and the marginalized from being coerced by men into modern-day slavery? Bill C-36 is a good start.
Elizabeth L. Allsopp, Orleans, Ont.
Social media show-offs
I agree entirely that instagramming is passive-aggressive (“Turning the dinner table on Instagram,” Emma Teitel, Aug. 11), and feel that the unfavourable aspects of social media’s ubiquity are based on self-publicity and making others jealous. As a 16-year-old with no social media accounts, I perceive instagramming as pretentious. Although the early days of picture-sharing and social media may have been about reconnecting with friends and expressing oneself, the practice has radically evolved into a ﬁerce competition over which user has a better life in relation to his or her so-called friends. Not only does Instagram effectively obliterate the last shred of one’s privacy, but it also allows users to deceive others into believing their “picture-perfect” lives are really as they seem. The days of simply posting the pictures of one’s family vacation for no ulterior motive are long gone; all that remains of social networking is ostentatiousness.
Neeki Motabar, Toronto
Strength in numbers
In your July 28 edition of the Quiz, you incorrectly listed the Gretzky brothers as the highest-scoring “siblings” in the NHL. Though Wayne and Brent are the highest-scoring pair, the highest-scoring group of siblings (i.e., more than two) are, in fact, the Sutters, with 2,934 to the Gretzkys’ 2,861.
Alex Kerzner, Ottawa
Canadians could be excused for being misled by the barrage of very costly Economic Action Plan ads, intended to create a feeling that we are all in very good hands, when it comes to jobs and the economy. As Jason Kirby writes (“Canada’s slow-motion job crisis,” Economy, Aug. 11), much evidence paints a different picture. It was comforting to read that a Nanos research poll for Bloomberg showed that 68 per cent of the respondents had a sunny outlook about their job security. Yet, two OECD reports, both covering the same 34 countries, had us 32nd in job security, based on 21 factors. We beat the U.S. and New Zealand. The other report had us at No. 20 in employment growth, taking into account population increases between 2008 and 2012. Our PM seems convinced that spin will trump facts.
Richard Ring, Grimsby, Ont.