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Fix French anthem, too

While contemplating gender-neutral lyric changes to the English version of our national anthem (Singing a different tune urged, Oct. 2), the parliamentary committee tasked with the review should consider updating the French version as well.

With the healthy immigration numbers Canada continues to champion, this country is no longer just the "Terre de nos aïeux" (land of our ancestors), nor do all its residents subscribe to Christianity ("Il sait porter la croix!").

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These outdated phrases ought to be replaced with more inclusive sentiments reflecting contemporary cultural reality.

And while we're at it, let's replace the clichéd "from far and wide" with the phrase "with hope and pride." It's just more comfortable to "stand on guard" in a posture that's optimistic, rather than one that's overextended.




I thought this controversy had been settled ages ago. I've been singing "in all our hearts' command" for decades.




Egypt needs consequences

Re: PM wants them home (Oct. 2). Perhaps Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird could expedite the release of the two Canadians presently held without charge in an Egyptian jail if, in consultation with Egyptian authority, he inferred the following potential consequences for Egyptian non-compliance:

  • The withholding of any Canadian aid or subsidy currently in effect with Egypt.
  • The curtailing of Egyptian imports into Canada.
  • The suspension of Canadian exports into Egypt.
  • Branding Egypt with a travel embargo as far as Canadian tourists are concerned.




Scars will last

Re: Keeping children with families key to fixing system (Oct. 1). The same morning I read this story, I met an Old Colony Mennonite lady in the local thrift store and asked about their children. She said they still didn't have them back. The wholesale removal of children in June of this year was something I would expect to read about in a book about war crimes, not in Manitoba.

There may be some abuse no doubt, and if so the abusers should be punished accordingly. But in my opinion this was also a crime that will leave emotional scars on the young children who were taken from their families.


Portage la Prairie


Sweeter side of chocolate

Re: Chocolate leaves bitter taste (Sept. 28). Patricia Desilets has not read my book and unfortunately has drawn the wrong conclusion. I have stayed on cocoa plantations with farmers in Peru and helped them with the harvest. I have visited owner-operated cocoa plantations in both Ecuador and St. Lucia as well.

These countries are now growing cacao in co-operatives for the most part. Families work together to grow and harvest the cacao. Some are even venturing into the chocolate-making business, and they are profiled in the first volume of my book. I am currently researching the second volume and will be adding to those stories.

I greatly respect the work that Carol Off did in her book Bitter Chocolate. But that does not mean that every book written about chocolate needs to dwell on the dark side. I have chosen to profile chocolatiers, chocolate makers and cocoa growers who are providing the world with delicious, sustainably grown chocolate in various parts of the world in a positive way.




To illustrate the Sept. 28 letter Chocolate leaves bitter taste, the Free Press chose a picture with Cadbury prominently displayed. Cadbury is one of the few mainstream chocolate companies that offer fair-trade options on some of its supermarket brands.

It is unfair to put that photo with the letter when there are other companies not taking that step at all.




Thank you to Patricia Desilets for raising the issues of child labour, trafficking and slavery as they relate to the chocolate business. I, too, was surprised that a feature on chocolate (Perfect pairing, Sept. 25) didn't make any mention of these significant social justice issues, particularly one written by Alison Gillmor, who usually demonstrates awareness of issues such as these.

I would also like to emphasize that there are many options available that are fair-trade-certified and delicious. Let's all pay attention, as we head into chocolate-friendly Halloween, Christmas and, just beyond that, Valentine's Day. That would genuinely be a perfect pairing.




Tapping into Europe

Oksana Bashuk Hepburn's Sept. 28 column, Ukraine at tipping point, sends a wake-up call to Ukraine.

What Ukraine must do is sign the free-trade agreements in Lithuania with the European Union. This agreement will tap into Europe's resources, set conditions for free economic activity of businesses and individuals, create better self-government and focus greater attention on the needs of the Ukrainian citizens.

It is clear that Ukraine's entry into the EU will not happen overnight. It will take hard work to achieve the fundamental value of freedom, economically and politically. As I see it, this is a crucial time; the decisions made will alter the geopolitical and cultural dynamics of Ukraine.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 3, 2013 A14

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