Christmas Eve

Not too bad today cold but no snow. Nonny rang Mary fine not eating much rabbit for tea. Another computer died.


Arthur Butterworth

Arthur Butterworth Photo: Guzelian

Arthur Butterworth, the composer, who has died aged 91, took his inspiration from the open landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales, the rugged mountains of the Lake District and the melodic English music of the early 20th century.

A brass player by training, he was rarely in step with metropolitan musical fashions. Indeed, the only time his music was heard at the Proms was in 1958, when Sir John Barbirolli and the Hallé Orchestra performed his first symphony.

Although he studied at the Royal Manchester College of Music with Richard Hall – whose students included Peter Maxwell Davies and Harrison Birtwistle – only once did Butterworth humour his teacher with a 12-tone work: a trio for oboe, clarinet and bassoon. Instead, works such as The Path Across the Moors, describing a walk with his dog, The Quiet Tarn (Malham) and A Dales Suite indicate where his affinities lay.

There were other influences in his 100-plus works: a post-war spell in Germany led to an organ partita based on German church music; The Owl and the Pussycat (1978) emphasised his love of animals; and Sinfonia Borealis was inspired by the northern lights. The music of Sibelius also cast a long spell over Butterworth’s work. He was a prolific composer for brass bands, but was regarded with suspicion after voicing his doubts about their preoccupation with competitions in “A Cloth Cap Joke?”, an article published in 1970.

Arthur Eckersley Butterworth was born at New Moston, Manchester, on August 4 1923, the son of an electrical engineer. He was no relation to George Butterworth, the composer of A Shropshire Lad, although confusion often arose; the cover of one CD bears a sticker reading “Where George Butterworth appears, please read as Arthur Butterworth”.

Arthur was a choir boy, attended the Hallé’s concerts and learnt trombone, cornet and trumpet. He played with local bands before joining the prestigious Besses o’ th’ Barn band in 1939. At North Manchester Grammar School he had a supportive music teacher, but his family gradually became less enthusiastic about a musical career, even removing their piano. His father arranged for him to join a solicitor’s when he left school.

In 1942 he enlisted with the Royal Engineers, training near Lossiemouth, where he was inspired by the remoteness, and serving in North Africa. After demobilisation in 1947 he joined the Royal Manchester College of Music. He also took lessons privately with Vaughan Williams, who encouraged him to develop his own voice, regardless of the prevailing fashion.

Disillusioned with college, Butterworth left early to join the Scottish National Orchestra as a trumpeter, occasionally helping as a rehearsal conductor. He returned to Manchester in 1955, joining Barbirolli at the Hallé, where he stayed until 1962. He then taught brass in West Yorkshire schools until securing a post at Huddersfield School of Music, but found lecturing frustrating; he resigned in 1980.

However, he retained his connection with the area, serving as director of the Huddersfield Philharmonic Society (1964-93) and the Settle Orchestra, which he helped to establish in 1967. Despite his views on brass bands, Butterworth was guest conductor of the National Youth Brass Band from 1975 to 1984. He returned to conduct the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in 2008, which was now belatedly championing his music. The following year the sixth of his seven symphonies was premiered in St Petersburg.

Butterworth, who was appointed MBE in 1995, served as chairman of his local RSPCA. His house near Skipton was named Pohjola, a name from Finnish folklore used by Sibelius.

In 1957 he had dedicated his first symphony to his wife, Diana, whom he had married in 1952. After her death last year he wrote Elegy for Diana, which was premiered in March. “It now seems fitting that I pay this farewell tribute to her at the end of our long life together,” he told the Westmorland Gazette. They had two daughters.

Arthur Butterworth, born August 4 1923, died November 20 2014




Sir, The introduction of “drunk tanks” (News, Dec 22) is a depressing acceptance that getting “off your face” is socially acceptable. You quote Chris Hewitt as saying that, as a paramedic, he is expected “not to judge any patient”, but surely society has the right to “judge”. These “merrymakers” should not be wrapped in cotton wool. They deserve to be fined, named in the press and made to pay for the services they waste.
Leo McCormack
Sedgefield, Co Durham

Sir, My wife recently had to be taken to a London A&E. The ambulance crew was superb as were the hospital staff. However, ten of the 14 cubicles and three chairs were occupied by people — including a peer of the realm — with alcohol issues. Why isn’t the government focusing on this behaviour, which is clearly a cause of so many problems?
Geoff Codd
Osmington, Dorset

Sir, I congratulate Libby Purves for “Let the believers hold midnight Mass in peace” (Dec 22). It reminded me of a Christmas Eve many years ago when my wife and I were sidesmen at a midnight service that was disrupted by drunks. It took Nick Bury, our young vicar, to put things into perspective. He asked us: “Don’t you think there were any drunks in the inn at Bethlehem?” Nick later became dean of Gloucester cathedral.
David Rhodes
Lindford, Hants

Sir, Your story on Paul McCartney’s daughter’s charity work (Times2, Dec 18) stated that the death of Paul’s mother Mary led to him writing Let it Be. The real inspiration was my late father Malcolm “Mal” Evans, who was the Beatles’ road manager. In David Frost Salutes the Beatles, a TV movie made in 1975, my father explains to Frost that while in India, “Paul was meditating one day and I came to him in a vision and I was just standing there saying ‘let it be, let it be’ and this is where the song came from.”

Gary Evans

Camberley, Surrey

Sir, I am sure that Simon de Bruxelles was not inferring that Zulus armed with assegais were superior fighters to the 24th of Foot, although this is the impression that some may get (“Horror of Rorke’s Drift”, Dec 22). The blame, if any there is, must go to the British leadership; to Lord Chelmsford, for splitting his forces, but also to the officer in command at Isandlwana, Colonel Pullein, who scattered his troops, enabling the Zulus to infiltrate and attack the British from the rear. It did not help that their ammunition boxes were screwed down and there was only one screwdriver. Later, at the battle of Ulundi, the British, having learnt their lesson, formed themselves into a Waterloo-style square and it was the Zulus’ turn to be wiped out.
Christopher White
(ex 24th Foot)
Beaminster, Dorset



An NHS sign with Big Ben in the background in Westminster

Andy Brnham wrote to Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, accusing him of treating Parliament with ‘contempt’ by keeping MPs in the dark over proposed changes to ambulance services Photo: PA

SIR – Accusations that Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, is playing politics with the ambulance service are hardly surprising, given that he has frequently accused the Coalition of privatising and generally mismanaging the NHS.

This is the same Andy Burnham who was health secretary and a minister in the last Labour government, which wasted billions on private finance initiative schemes, leaving many trusts struggling with horrendous debts; which presided over tick-box policies resulting in the horrors of Mid Staffs and other failing hospitals; and which negotiated the new contract for GPs, increasing doctors’ salaries for less work and leaving patients with no real cover after hours or over the weekend.

Michael Edwards
Haslemere, Surrey

SIR – Ed Miliband has proposed that it should be a criminal offence to undercut pay or conditions by exploiting migrant workers. He could start with the NHS. Thirty-five per cent of doctors and nurses in the NHS are immigrants from countries with far lower wage levels than Britain. The high number of immigrant employees has depressed the wage levels of medical staff trained in Britain and allowed working conditions to deteriorate.

It is not just pay. The quality and safety of NHS care have been put at risk by uncontrolled immigration from EU states with lower standards for qualification.

If the NHS is to be sustainable, then it has to be made an attractive place for professionals trained in Britain to work.

David James
Colby, Isle of Man

SIR – It’s worth noting that, in the majority of news reports showing A&E staff, they are doing paperwork, not treating patients. Members of my family working in that sector agree that they could easily meet government targets but for the fact that they have to treat patients between completing forms and information returns.

We have the staff at the front line, but most of them are being used as administrative assistants to an unnecessary level of middle management.

R P Draper
Burgess Hill, West Sussex

SIR – With all the recent controversy about the ambulance service and A&E departments, I would like to highlight my recent experience when my husband died suddenly and unexpectedly at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey.

From the moment I called the ambulance, my husband and I received exemplary care. In a very busy department they never gave me the feeling that they were in a hurry to move me on.

At this time of grief and sorrow I am eternally grateful to the staff, knowing that everything was done to help. They are the model that all NHS workers should follow.

Andrea Thomas
Wokingham, Berkshire

Online child protection


SIR – The Prime Minister has unveiled new measures to crack down on internet child abuse.

Modern communications may help offenders to access indecent material, but it also enables law enforcement agencies to monitor and respond to evidence in ways that were never possible in the past, when grooming happened only by personal contact and pictures were sent by post.

The internet was designed to provide adaptable routing even after serious damage. This resilience, while helpful to us all, does make even well-intentioned censorship difficult. The protection of children from online exploitation and abuse is best achieved by parents following the excellent advice provided by GetSafeOnline and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection agency, and teaching their children to do the same.

There is no quick technical fix that will protect victims – the most effective approaches use education, responsible parenting and more resources for enforcing the law.

Professor Will Stewart
Institution of Engineering and Technology
London WC2

Cancer cash cuts

SIR – Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, said in a speech about cancer survival in Britain that “cancer is a key priority for this Government“.

While we all welcome the better cancer survival outcomes, Mr Hunt’s fine words are belied by his specialist commissioners at NHS England. They propose to reduce payments to hospitals for the main cancer therapies by an average of 6 per cent next year.

Worse, they propose to cut the payment to hospitals for additional cancer treatments over a 2014-15 baseline by half.

Mr Hunt acknowledges that hospitals currently see “51 per cent more patients with suspected cancer than in 2010”. At that rate of increase, how does he propose that these new patients should be treated?

While hospitals accept the need for further efficiency savings where possible, the people who are going to suffer are cancer patients.

If this Government truly believes that cancer is a key priority, it should put its money where its mouth is.

Simon Oberst
Director of Clinical Development
The Cambridge Cancer Centre

Far from fine

SIR – I’ve just received two penalty charge notices for the same traffic transgression in Croydon, taken by two cameras 100 yards apart.

Hopefully Croydon council will use my fines to improve the road signs to assist drivers in an unfamiliar location at night.

Jenny Wood
Meopham, Kent

2015 and all that

SIR – If Gerald Burnett (Letters, December 23) calls 2015 “two thousand and fifteen”, does he say that the Battle of Hastings was fought in “one thousand and sixty-six”?

Mike Jones
Chingford, Essex

Calling card

SIR – I too, recently lost a camera memory card. It was found on the summit of Mount Whitney, California, by a resident of San Diego, who traced me via a picture of a lodge in South Africa, despite being confused by photographs, among others, of the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen and Kilimanjaro.

Tony Baker

Cornish house-sellers pushed out local people

St Ives harbour –1,500 years after the outsider St Ia landed and gave it her name (Alamy)

SIR – Timothy James (Letters, December 22) blames outsiders for blighting St Ives, or Porthia. He states that Cornish families have been “pushed out” because house prices have soared.

In fact blame, if blame there is, lies exclusively with those families. No one has forced them to sell property to outsiders just because they offered to pay more than locals. The seller always controls the sale and is free to accept any offer he chooses, even a lower offer from a Cornishman rather than a higher offer from an outsider.

The conclusion must be that Porthians have brought higher prices on themselves by accepting offers that they considered to be in their best interests at the time, which has had the unfortunate effect of pricing other Cornish people out of the market.

Ken Rimmer
Chelmsford, Essex

In the black

SIR – When I was a young man living in Chelmsford in the Sixties, the street lights went out at 11 o’clock each night and, on the few occasions I was in the deserted town after midnight, I was stopped and questioned by the police.

Our village, like many others, has no street lighting, so I don’t have much sympathy with those who complain about their street lights being dimmed or turned off after midnight.

Mervyn Vallance
Maldon, Essex

SIR – It is difficult to comprehend the economics of reducing street-lighting hours, as most street lighting in Britain is controlled by photo-electric cells.

To reduce the hours requires installing some form of timing device. The capital cost of these devices and the labour costs of installing would surely take many years to recover.

Where is the saving?

Donald A Wroe
Ulverston, Lancashire

Judicious choice

SIR – Three cheers for Lauren Davidson promoting the correct use of the English language.

Among the glaring examples one encounters today are the frequent references to the “justice system”. When I was at school this was known as the judicial system.

Keith Haines

Battle for control

SIR – It is possible that, by placing the remote control on the television, David Watt’s wife hopes that he will take more exercise (Letters, December 23).

My husband falls asleep holding the remote so that I am unable to either lower the volume, change to another station or switch off.

Stella Bowman
Prestwich, Lancashire

SIR – I have a solution for David Watt: buy a second remote, put it on a cord and hang it around your neck.

Ronnie Baker
Beaminster, Dorset

Does anyone still carve turkey at the table?


SIR – Does anybody carve their turkey at the dinner-table these days, as in the picture with Xanthe Clay’s article?

Julian Andrew
Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire

SIR – I received a note from the Royal Mail telling me that a small package awaited collection and that there was £1.20 to pay: £1 handling fee and 20p excess postage.

On collection, I found a Christmas card sold by Tesco – a delightful gingerbread man of felt stuck on to cardboard, too thick to qualify for normal postage. On checking at my local Tesco, I found no warning on the packaging of these cards, so I’d guess that every one posted incurred a penalty.

Jenni Beddington
Yatton, Somerset

SIR – Christmas is a charitable time, but are there too many charities?

Duplication and fragmentation risk wasting people’s generous giving.

Our daughter was greatly supported by charities until her death in September. They have continued to support our family and to use her story for their causes.

It would have been understandable if we had set up yet another charity in her memory. However, by working with existing, experienced charities we feel that money will be better used and our daughter’s voice more clearly heard.

Richard Luscombe
Flitwick, Bedfordshire

SIR – Some years ago an acquaintance phoned me just before Christmas. I told her the sad news that my husband and I had separated and would soon be divorced.

When her Christmas card arrived it was addressed to both of us but with my husband’s name scored out. I suppose she must have been on a tight budget.

K S Swanson
Blanefield, Kinross-shire

Globe and Mail

Irish Times

Irish Independent



Globe and Mail

Carl Bildt

The international battle for Santa Claus’s house

Merry Christmas

Though Santa Claus has not commented on the matter, it is now clear that he could choose several passports when he travels the world on Christmas Eve. In 2007, a privately funded mini-submarine planted a Russian flag directly beneath his alleged home. And two weeks ago, Denmark, which has sovereignty over Greenland, staked its own territorial claim, also covering the North Pole.

By filing its claim with the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, Denmark has joined our era’s “great game:” the contest for economic control over a large part of the Arctic. And Denmark’s claim is massive. Not only does it seek sovereignty over everything between Greenland and the North Pole; it is also extending its claim to nearly 900,000 square kilometres, all the way to the existing limits of the Russian economic zone on the other side of the Pole – an area 20 times Denmark’s size.

How to assess countries’ claims to Arctic territory hinges on the status of the Lomonosov Ridge, a vast formation that rises from the sea floor and stretches 1,800 kilometers from Greenland to the East Siberian continental shelf. Everyone agrees that it is a ridge. The key question is whether it is an extension of the Greenland shelf or an extension of the East Siberia shelf.

Denmark, together with the government of Greenland, now claims that it is the former, giving it the right to extend its economic zone across a huge area at the top of the world. Though nothing is yet known about the claim that Russia says it will present in the spring, there is no doubt that it will argue the opposite.

And what about Canadians and their claim? That remains to be seen, but there have been reports that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is dissatisfied that Canadian scientists are not being sufficiently aggressive in pressing the country’s case.

Nonetheless, for all the hype about a “race for the Arctic,” and despite the rather icy atmosphere among the claimants, there is little reason to fear conflict. Under the terms of the 2008 Ilulissat Declaration, all of the countries bordering the Arctic Ocean agree to resolve their claims peacefully and based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. According to settled procedure, a UN commission will first judge whether the claims have merit. If they are overlapping, which is highly probable, bilateral negotiations will be held.

Such talks, to put it mildly, could take time. Norway and Russia negotiated over a far smaller territorial delimitation for four decades.

Both Denmark and Russia have been devoting significant resources to exploring the Lomonosov Ridge. Denmark has hired Swedish icebreakers for repeated expeditions, and Russia has been deploying special submarines to obtain samples from the ridge and the ocean floor.

The Arctic region has always been strategically vital for Russia, accounting for roughly 85 per cent of Russia’s natural-gas production, which is based primarily in Western Siberia. The Kremlin has activated a new military command for the Arctic, and is busy reopening air bases and radar stations along its Arctic shoreline.

But it is a very long way from these new Russian bases to virtually everywhere. And, in addition to the vast distances, there is the harsh climate. A Canadian military commander, asked what he would do if foreign soldiers attacked his country’s Far North, calmly replied that he would dispatch an expedition to rescue them. Though Russia had hoped for a rapid increase in shipping along the Northern Sea Route, commercial traffic this year fell by 77 per cent.

Of course, the stakes are too high for Canada, Denmark, and Russia to allow the region’s remoteness and its hostile environment to influence how resolutely they press their claims. Boundaries like these are fixed once and forever, and no one knows what discoveries, technologies and opportunities the future might bring.

But for the time being, neither Santa Claus nor anyone else has reason to be worried. The nature of the Lomonosov Ridge will be debated for years to come, while his thoughts – and ours – are likely to be focused on more immediate issues.

  (Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail)


Dentistry has a far larger ‘boys’ club’ problem

Joan Rush, LLB, LLM (Health Law and Ethics) is a former adjunct professor in the faculties of law and dentistry at the University of British Columbia.

Why are we surprised to discover, through a scandal involving abusive Facebook posts, that discrimination and harassment are present at the Dalhousie University Faculty of Dentistry? Leadership of the dental profession and of Canadian dental education remains a white male bastion. The deans of all ten faculties of dentistry in Canada are men, and of the 18 directors of the Canadian Dental Association, only one is a woman. There are no people of colour on the CDA board, yet many dentists reacted angrily to a July 2013 online post in the Journal of the CDA by Dr. Ernest Lam calling for greater diversity in the leadership of the profession. One dentist argued that rather than worry about diversity, CDA leaders should limit the number of graduates to promote greater profitability for working dentists

Like all forms of discrimination, the misogyny and callousness at Dalhousie have been carefully taught. The CDA and the Deans Committee of the Association of Canadian Faculties of Dentistry should reflect on the message sent by their glaring lack of diversity and their failure to care about the growing number of Canadians who do not have access to essential dental treatment.

The “tone at the top” in the CDA and in dental faculties creates a sense of entitlement among dental students and encourages a lack of empathy for the many Canadians who need their care. Dental students receive no mandatory training in treating special-needs patients and are taught that, because dentistry is private, they can offer any service and charge any fee they wish. The result is a profession that does a great job providing cosmetic dentistry and Botox to wealthy Canadians while failing to provide essential dental treatment to Canadians who are poor, disabled, elderly or living in remote communities. The Canadian Institute for Health Information reported in November 2013 that, relative to the 34 countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Canada performed “poorly” in insuring equitable access to dental care.

The women of the Dalhousie dental faculty are within their rights to demand an appropriate response to the sexual harassment they experienced. In addition, Dalhousie must assure all Canadians that the university does not accept the culture of hatred and chauvinism that developed in some of its male dental students and faculty. Dalhousie can use the revelation of degrading and misogynistic behaviour as an impetus to change the culture of the dental faculty into one that places a priority on empathy and commitment to care.

The members of the Dalhousie dental “Gentlemen’s Club,” which was responsible for the offensive comments, could dedicate their first year of practice to working, under supervision, in hospitals, geriatric residences, not-for-profit clinics, and in remote areas of the province, to serve patients who desperately need dental treatment. The chauvinistic professor who showed his class a safety video featuring bikini-clad models could dedicate time to supervising the Gentlemen’s Club members during their year of service, as could Dr. Tom Boran, Dean of Dalhousie’s Faculty of Dentistry, who has so far remained silent about the culture that developed within his Faculty.

Canadians pay a lot for dentists to be trained. Tuition fees for dental school are shockingly expensive, but still represent less than a third of the real cost of training. Taxpayers make up the difference. It’s time that Canadian dental faculties ensure that their graduates are trained to be respectful and empathetic to each other and to all Canadians, so that dentistry can become the partner in health care that Canadians need it to be.



John Cook is President of Greenchip Financial Corp. Andrew Heintzman is President of Investeco Capital Corp.

Recently, the first Canadian university joined a growing global movement to divest endowments from fossil fuels. Concordia’s $5-million was largely symbolic; it still has $95-million invested in oil and gas companies. But its decision was another signal that the divestment movement is gaining momentum.

In fact, divestment is creating a significant new challenge for an oil industry that is already fighting hard to maintain its pre-eminence in the world of energy.

This year alone, over 800 organizations with more than $50-billion in assets have officially committed to divestment. These include the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, the World Council of Churches, the University of Glasgow, Stanford University, and a pending vote at the University of California. In Canada, several faith-based organizations have signed up as well, including parts of the United Church. Their congregations are well versed in the issues and highly committed to pushing divestment from oil the way they did from tobacco 15 years ago.

On campuses throughout the Western world, students and faculty are forcing their governors to vote on divestment. Last week Dalhousie became the first university in Canada to vote. The result was 15 to 3 (with several abstentions) to keep its investment in oil stocks. George McLellan, the committee head, said afterwards: “If we turn our backs on a number of [big oil] companies, why would they put their money in here?”

Indeed, the arguments in Canada track those in America and Europe: a battle of philanthropic and research support versus moral, scientific and investment arguments. But votes are pending at the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto and the University of Victoria; McGill, Trent and Simon Fraser University are all likely to vote in the next twelve months. The implications of the “no” vote at Dalhousie could go both ways, providing ammunition to university advancement teams, but also steeling the resolve of students and faculty.

The moral argument for divesting has taken on a new nuance. As University of Toronto student Ben Donato-Woodger recently said, “It is a structural injustice against young people to have people who won’t be paying the price make judgments that will harm the next generation. Failing to divest would be a clear act of not caring about their students.”

Simon Rockefeller admitted on a recent webcast that the $50-million of fossil fuel company shares his foundation planned to sell would quickly be picked up by other investors. But he also said that focusing on the money misses the point; it’s about leadership and awareness. Politicians will have to think carefully about ignoring the growing wave of engaged students, professors, church-goers and other voters.

They’re less patient and more organized than their forebears in the South African Apartheid divestment movement in the 1980s, who were told divestment was hopeless and would never work. They know that it eventually did.

It isn’t hurting their cause that the operating economics of the fossil industry are deteriorating as quickly as the price of oil is falling. Even over longer periods, the argument that investment returns would significantly suffer without oil doesn’t seem to bear out.

· In the past five years, the TSX with all its oil and gas constituents has significantly underperformed the TSX 60 excluding fossil companies.

· Over the past 10 years, the performance is almost identical with or without oil and gas in the index.

· According to the New York Times, U.S. universities hold an average of just 2.1 per cent of their assets in fossil investments. If this is so, it will be an even easier argument in the States that divesting won’t really affect investment returns.

Indeed, sector past performance and “investable universe” arguments are small potatoes. The real risk investors face sits on the balance sheets of the petro companies. As much as 80 per cent of fossil reserves may be worthless if the oil, gas and coal is kept in the ground by regulation or capital constraints.

Even Bank of England Governor Mark Carney told a recent World Bank seminar that the “vast majority of reserves are unburnable” if global temperature rises are to be limited to below 2C. But to stay within that 2 degree limit, we can only emit 565 more gigatons of carbon. Yet oil and gas companies have five times that amount frozen in their fossil fuel reserves.

Activism doesn’t come naturally to Canadians. But this battle has legs and divestment is finding its historic place in the transition to a more sustainable energy future.

A Christmas mystery

When I was a kid, it seemed as though Christmas came every five years or so. Now that I’m in my 60s, Christmas is here every three months or so.

What gives?

Peter Dielissen, Fredericton


Watch the skies

Re Rise Of The Drones (Dec. 23): As a private pilot, I applaud your editorial on drones, their dangers and your call for responsible use – with one objection. You say “yield to commercial aircraft.” That should be “yield to all aircraft!”

I fly a four-seat Cessna 170. If a 70-pound drone (or even a 10-pound one) hit my aircraft at my modest cruising speed of 100 knots (190 kilometres an hour), the effects could be catastrophic. If it came through the windshield at that speed, it could kill me or my passengers; strikes on prop, wings or tail could lead to loss of power, jammed controls or worse.

Besides staying well away from airports (including hospitals where helicopters may land), the guidelines long used by model-aircraft enthusiasts are proven to be safe: Keep it below 400 feet, always in the operator’s line of sight, preferably with a spotter to warn of any approaching aircraft.

The danger of these machines lies in the ability of the operator to “fly” it while watching the video screen rather than the sky. These things are being sold, often without adequate warnings, to people who have no idea of the dangers they can pose to aircraft.

Alan Salvin, Ottawa


Faith, ruled

Leah McLaren raises an important question: Is it possible to be a church and be free of doctrine? (Is It Church If There’s No God Or Dogma? – Dec. 18).

The early church developed concise summaries of belief called “ruled faith.” It was the difference between playing street hockey and being in the NHL. The church’s doctrines, or core convictions, are intended to shape its life. They are not the game itself, but they give shape to the game.

These core convictions guided Champlain as he engaged with First Nations people with respect. They shaped the civil rights movement of Martin Luther King. Far from stifling wonder, they have led to the creative work of Bach, Brubeck and Rembrandt.

The church’s doctrines are intended to nurture life, not stifle it.

Ray Harris, Winnipeg


ERs? Bring a book

It was a pleasure to briefly dream of a future in which simply changing the design and culture of an emergency department made everything right again (Organized Emergency – Life & Arts, Dec. 22).

Sadly, the utopian vision is just that. Emergency crowding is a reflection of hospital overcrowding. It almost never occurs when hospitals function at 85-per-cent capacity and practically always does when hospital bed occupancy rates hit 95 per cent. Most Canadian hospitals routinely face occupancy rates greater than 100 per cent.

Crowded emergency departments, with their cumulative misery shared by patients, their families and staff will not be solved by more space and verdant courtyards bathed in natural light. A more aggressive redesign of the health-care system with a view to improving bed availability in both the hospital and the community is required.

Regrettably, evidence of a shared vision is lacking from most governments in Canada today. Better bring a novel on your next visit to the ER.

Alan Drummond, Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, Ottawa


Expel them

It astounds me that the president of such a prestigious academic institution as Dalhousie University needs to circulate a questionnaire seeking remedies for dealing with a group of misogynist dental students (Dalhousie Measures Fallout From Misogynistic Comments – Dec. 22).

Expulsion is the obvious and only appropriate disciplinary action. We do not want this group of cretins practising dentistry in Canada.

Jon LeHeup, Rothesay, N.B.


Mind the language

We like to keep our home free of casual or gratuitous profanity. It’s a conscious choice we’ve made to maintain a dignified, uplifting and supportive environment for ourselves.

Of course, this is a constant struggle and I, too, am not entirely innocent. However the casual use of profanity or the creeping of profanity into our home is something we wish to avoid.

Your Broadsheet Music: A Year In Review (front page, Dec. 20) listed a band called “Fucked Up” in capital letters.

I know this is a group’s name, but I don’t want to be confronted with it on your pages. Its presence pollutes our sanctuary.

Michael Hahn, Grimsby, Ont.


Globe letter writer Catherine Johnson says that she could think of a stronger word than “pimp” to describe what the Wildrose defections did to democracy, but that The Globe wouldn’t print it (‘Jim Prentice’s BFF’ – Dec. 22).

Not only would you print it, you did. On the front page, and in capital letters, no less.

Tim Baikie, Toronto


Pols on the move

Re Manning Says Sorry For Urging Defection (Dec. 23): Heather Forsyth, the new interim Wildrose Leader, crossed the floor herself from the Progressive Conservatives in 2010? She is now replacing Danielle Smith, who defected from Wildrose to the PCs.

At the rate political defections are occurring in this country, I’m surprised the various legislatures haven’t installed leader boards and crossing guards to direct the pol traffic.

Robyn Murphy, St. John’s


If this is what advice from the head of the Manning Centre for Building Democracy looks like, I’d hate to see what advice from the head of the Centre for Tearing Down Democracy looks like.

Roger Huang, Calgary


Crossing the floor? Dozens of politicians have done it just since 2000. It’s increasingly common.

Remember Vancouver MP David Emerson? He crossed the floor less than three weeks after being elected. No wonder people don’t trust politicians.

Candidates should tell us before they are elected if this could be in their (dance) cards.

Will they, won’t they, will they, won’t they, will they join the dance?

Will your politicians take an unexpected stance?

Will they trip a light fantastic, make a sudden move

Will they cross the floor ignoring you who don’t approve?

Do they have a strategy that gives you lots of spin

And make you trust their program so you want to let them in?

And do they choose the music so you’re dancing to their tune

And leave you in the lurch when there’s a chance more opportune?

It used to be, but now it seems it’s never quite the same

That when you went to dances that you left with whom you came.

Anne Spencer, Victoria

Irish Times


Irish Independent


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