'Might it make more sense to make wearing religious insignia compulsory?'

Letters from our readers

Roger Lemoyne

Valuable exchange

I wish that your story on “Quebec’s war on religion” (National, Sept. 30) had adequately sought out those of us who support the idea behind Quebec’s “values charter.” I am a 30-year-old brown-skinned female immigrant who has been living in Toronto for the past five years, and I fully support PQ’s proposed values charter. If my nurse or doctor was wearing a head covering or a prominent cross, I absolutely would not be comfortable seeking medical advice on abortion, birth control or same-sex sexual relations, especially knowing the stance various religions take on these topics. There has to be a limit to religious accommodation. Segregated gym class, certain religious people being exempt from wearing helmets—if my religion demanded that I wear a necklace made of fresh meat every other week, would that also be accommodated in a government office, or would people finally admit that there is a limit to what can be accommodated, especially when one represents the government?

Dasangi Chinth, Toronto

I wonder if the PQ have got it backwards? Might it make more sense to make the wearing of religious insignia compulsory—then one could tell at a glance the religion of each person. It would stop common embarrassments such as asking a Catholic doctor for advice on birth control, or asking a Jewish dietitian for advice on how to cook pork, or telling a Muslim policeman that you are an atheist. It really would make life easier. In fact why stop there? Maybe add sexual orientation and dietary preferences? We might even leave room to denote that you are a Canadian.

John Cocker, Stouffville, Ont.

Not too long ago, a Jewish group in Montreal harassed a women’s fitness club to tint their windows because it was too tempting for men passing by on their way to their place of worship. What of the Muslim teacher who told her female students that she covers up to protect her from being hurt by the men in her family and community? What about the teenage girls who go back to their parents’ countries of birth under the pretext of a family vacation, only to find they are being forced into a marriage of convenience. These are not Canadian values. Parents in Canada fought to keep religion out of public schools, and now these same schools are being forced to provide prayer rooms. Pauline Marois is not a racist. She is protecting the basic human rights and equality that Canadian women fought so long and hard for. It is time for all provinces to take a long, hard look at the crimes being committed because of religious laws that are in direct conflict with human rights in Canada.

Claire Leblond Schmidt, Windsor, Ont.

I’m with Pauline. I never thought I’d be in agreement with a separatist, but I am on the “values charter.” Marois has been very courageous (some would say suicidal) to face the tidal wave of establishment anger coming her way. So 40 per cent of Ontarians agree with her? Pauline might be surprised to find that she has millions of new fans all across the country—like me.

Ray Givens, Ilderton, Ont.

Bailing out

Although the Canadian bail system does have flaws (“Why our bail system creates more crime than it prevents,” From the Editors, Sept. 30), it is based on the principle of balancing an accused’s rights with the protection of the public. When imposing conditions, our judges have to assess the level of risk an accused person may pose and decide if the risk can be managed in the community. Taking someone’s freedom of movement is serious, and that’s why a more reasonable option is managing risk through conditions. The suggestion that more accused persons be on bail with fewer conditions could lead to more serious crimes happening and a loss of faith in the justice system’s ability to protect Canadians, and could leave the public in danger.

Greg McCormick, Chilliwack, B.C.

Dead batteries

Durability of car batteries is only one small aspect of electric cars (“Running on fumes,” Business, Sept. 23). Car batteries and their prices are the elephant in the room that everyone, especially the environmentalists and the hybrid makers, love to ignore. Battery prices will go up as demand rises, simply because nothing else is easily available to take its place. Have prices of batteries for small computing devices dropped at the same rate as the prices of the devices themselves? Batteries for laptops are disgustingly expensive. Recycling car batteries is neither cheap nor easy. It’s also dangerous. All that cost will be built into the price of batteries, especially if makers are eventually forced to take responsibility for recycling them. Finally, the amount of resources needed for manufacturing millions of car batteries has never fully been brought into the open. You think environmentalists are upset about fracking?

Gary Dickson, Port Coquitlam, B.C.

Misogyny home and abroad

The Sept. 23 issue of Maclean’s provided an interesting contrast. There was the article on sexual violence in Egypt, claiming 99.3 per cent of women have been sexually harassed (“No country for women,” International). Then Barbara Amiel offered a shallow and flippant defence of the misogynist chant from Saint Mary’s University (“How not to handle a frosh controversy,” Opinion). New university students have been seriously harmed with the “antics” of hazing. Rape of intoxicated freshman women has occurred. The sexually explicit chant about forced sex with underage girls condones crime. Amiel seems to feel “cool” as she quotes Eminem and Miley Cyrus for their sexually obscene rap and twerks. It is appropriate that both Colin Dodds, president of Saint Mary’s, and Jared Perry, president of the student association, have spoken about the inappropriate chant. They appear to be aware of the harm that can come from chants that make light of—or condone—violence against girls and women. Sexual violence is wrong. It should not happen in Egypt. It should not happen in India. It should not happen at St. Mary’s. It is not a laughing matter.

Doreen Farley, Calgary

Behind the wheel

There are more safe teen drivers than unsafe ones, otherwise there would be hundreds of dead young people every day (“ ‘First, act like an air-traffic controller,’ ” Help, Sept. 30). The claim that, until 25 or so, young people are unsafe because of their developing brains is disproved every day. In my generation, some of us were full-fledged fighter pilots before reaching our 20th birthday (I was one of them). Others were military drivers, of tanks and other vehicles. Would Tim Hollister, author of Not So Fast: Parenting Your Teen Through the Dangers of Driving, be willing to raise the voting age or the age of enlistment in the armed forces, or does the right to vote or defend your country not require a depth of analysis and judgment at least equal to that of driving a car? It is all in the training.

Michel Sastre, St. Catharines, Ont. 7

Breakbone is back

Thank you for bringing Dengue fever into the Canadian consciousness (“ ‘Breakbone’ outbreak,” International, Sept. 23). When my husband contracted it in the Puerto Vallarta area of Mexico last winter, we had very little knowledge about this illness. At 67, he led a very active lifestyle and was in excellent general health, very rarely even catching a cold. Thus, when he died suddenly of complications brought on by the illness less than two weeks after the first flu-like symptoms appeared, we were all in total disbelief.

Maureen McLeod, Calgary

Lawyers and lack of judgment

While we may not need more lawyers (“Barrister boom and bust,” Universities, Sept. 30), we definitely need more judges. Judicial backlog is a serious issue. Creating more opportunities for cases to be heard will inevitably hasten the progress of cases through our courts. Sadly, the longer a case takes to be heard, the more fees are charged to clients. The flipside benefit is that for every judge we appoint, we will be creating work for the younger lawyers identified in your article. Judges are appointed from the senior ranks of the profession, and their caseloads could not possibly be taken up by a new lawyer working alone.

Scott Thurlow, LL.B., Ottawa

Ethical pharma

Pharmaceutical companies and medical schools are inextricably linked (“Going pharma-free,” Universities, Sept. 30). Pharmaceutical companies have an important role to play in educating health care professionals about new products, their appropriate use and the science behind their development. But it must be done within an ethical framework that ensures high-quality knowledge transfer without compromising anyone involved. Since 1988, members of Canada’s Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx&D) have lived by a code of ethical practices that guides interactions with health care professionals, which is updated regularly to meet the highest standard of ethics, openness and transparency. This is essential to driving innovation in Canada, to bringing life-saving medicines and vaccines to Canadians and to ensuring the sustainability of the health care system.

Russell Williams, President, Canada’s Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies, Ottawa

Shipping out

Forgive me if I don’t get the warm and fuzzies after reading that manufacturing investment in new equipment and technologies has been steadily rising since 2010 (“A tale of two factories,” Business, Sept. 30). My personal situation is practically identical to my unfortunate friends in L’Assomption, Que., who are losing their Electrolux plant to Memphis, Tenn. Here in Simcoe, Ont., we have a huge multinational corporation calling the shots, a $108-million expansion at a plant in—guess where?—Tennessee, and our very own bitter labour dispute, brought on by demands for unprecedented concessions. I have a pretty good idea how it’s going to turn out.

Jane Blythe, Simcoe, Ont.

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