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July 15: Settling up with Omar Khadr. Plus other letters to the editor

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: ‘The measure of a society – a just society – is not whether we stand up for people’s rights when it is easy or popular to do so, but whether we recognize rights when it is difficult, when it is unpopular.’ (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here: letters@globeandmail.com

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Settling up with Omar Khadr

Re PM Says Settling Khadr Case Saved Tens Of Millions Of Dollars (July 14): I very much support the payment made to Omar Khadr for the seven years stolen from his youth. He was a child soldier, no matter what the circumstances were; he made a confession under torture; his Charter rights as a Canadian were violated. Considering that a court action would have cost way more in the end, I applaud the decision by the Trudeau government.

Mr. Khadr and Canadians owe the aggrieved family in the United States absolutely nothing. Clearly, it appears that child soldiers and victims of torture are not protected under their Constitution. Not our problem.

My message to Mr. Khadr: Use the funds well, Omar. I wish you the very best. I know you will make us proud.

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The Liberals needn’t have apologized to Omar Khadr on my behalf or used my money to pay him. When someone leaves Canada, their country of birth, and goes to another country to fight against it and its allies, how far should the protection of rights under the Charter be stretched?

Mr. Khadr “allegedly” killed one man and partially blinded another, taking away the rights of two young children to grow up with a father and the right of another man to enjoy full sight. He planted land mines to kill American soldiers, but they could just as easily have killed Canadians. How many Canadian boys came home via the Highway of Heroes?

When an individual leaves Canada to commit acts of terror against Canada, is that person not a traitor who should be considered to have relinquished his rights under the Charter?

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Perhaps a less contentious way of handling this case would have been to give Omar Khadr an indexed life pension. It would need to be set at a “working class” level, allowing him to live the same type of life as that enjoyed (or endured) by so many other people (with his name, finding a job might be difficult.) He would pay tax on that income, and any other income he might make, just like the rest of us. Unlike a large lump sum, concerns about where the money might end up would be minimized.

As for Mr. Khadr’s “victims,” they must have had an inkling that in signing up for the military, they ran a good chance of coming up on the wrong side of a deadly encounter.

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I do not want one cent of my taxes to go toward a settlement with a traitor. I feel completely and utterly betrayed by my government.

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The destructible horse?

Re The Indestructible Cowboy (Sports, July 14): What about the destructible horse? The crowds watching and cheering these events are no better than our ancestors watching bear baiting, or modern crowds watching bull fighting. Animal cruelty should not be a part of anyone’s day.

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One has only to look at the face of the poor horse in your photograph to see its pain and panic. This is what it has to bear so that the rider can enjoy his “passion and love” of bare back riding. What a shameful way to make a living.

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Of architects and architecture

Re The Alt-Right Vs. The Avant-Garde (July 10): All too often, architectural debate turns into a confrontation between connoisseurs of design and the wider population. While it’s true that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” considerable research tells about how and why people (including architects) respond to buildings, streetscapes and natural environments. Unfortunately, it usually appears in academic psychology or neuroscience journals, so has limited impact on building practitioners or critics.

An example is the discussion of the art museum in Graz, Austria, which is largely based on the thoughts of Sir Peter Cook, one of the great architectural theorists of the 20th century. In ongoing research I am leading, an image of the museum was included. The overall responses from subjects in the U.K. and Canada confirms that the wider public does not respond well to the building. What is especially interesting is that in workshop sessions with architects and land economists, responses indicate that such connoisseurs rank it even lower.

While much research confirms that people who become experts (e.g. foodies or professional musicians) will evaluate things differently than the wider population, simply assuming the nature of any professional divide is inappropriate. The debate about a difference between connoisseurs and everyone else relative to this building isn’t the point. In this case, it appears a design has somehow managed to please very few people.

The real problem is that architectural visual design is rarely evidence-based. This makes it difficult to achieve sensible debate, or improve the quality of the design of our buildings and cities.

Ian Ellingham, chair, The Built Environment Open Forum; Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada; St. Catharines, Ont.

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Hmm …

Re A Bathroom With A View (Life & Arts, July 13): I was intrigued to read that “a bathroom with a view catapults you to the super-luxury calibre, not just the everyday luxury class.” Call me humble, but I could live with just the everyday luxury class.

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