- The Washington Times - Friday, May 20, 2005

Canada a good global citizen

How disappointing that Mark Steyn, in his column (“U.N. school of pretense,” Commentary, Monday), finds it necessary to insert gratuitous Canada bashing into a story about the United Nations. And then he gets the facts wrong.

Canadians, much like Americans, displayed an outpouring of support and generosity for the victims of December’s tsunami. The Canadian government offered to match funds donated by the public, and the result was an impressive commitment of $425 million (Canadian dollars) (U.S. $336.5 million), over five years, toward disaster relief measures, rehabilitation assistance and reconstruction.

This figure includes an estimated $212 million in Canadian dollars (U.S. $167.8 million) to match the donations to 27 eligible organizations made by individuals and groups.

Contrary to Mr. Steyn’s assertions, of this amount, the government of Canada, through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), has provided over $126 million in Canadian dollars (U.S. $99.7 million) for immediate relief and early rehabilitation, including $89.6 million in Canadian dollars (U.S. $70.9 million) through the matching funds program.

In addition, CIDA recently announced $9 million in Canadian dollars (U.S. $7.1 million) in funding for reconstruction initiatives. For more information on Canada’s tsunami-disaster response, we invite your readers to log onto www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/cidaweb/tsunami.nsf/tsunami.htm.

No country can lay claim to being “the perfect global citizen,” as Mr. Steyn suggests, but as Canadians we pride ourselves for helping those in need. Diminishing the good works of individuals — and governments — does him no credit.

JASMINE J. PANTHAKY

Deputy spokesperson

Canadian Embassy

Washington

Our nation’s crown jewels: the national parks

The “battle” set by the Senate to address our nation’s roads is an important one for our communities and for, as some might not realize, our parks (“Senate passes ramped-up highway bill,” Nation, Wednesday).

Infrastructure improvements made possible from this funding would also make possible improvements to road and travel conditions in our nation’s crown jewels — the national parks.

While transportation funding has stood still since 1999, so has traffic in the national parks, especially during high-visitation seasons.

This critical funding to address deteriorating park roads has been stuck in a pothole. By providing $330 million for the Park Roads and Parkways program, the Senate’s bill offers hope for improved park roads across the nation.

Although driving a fully funded highway bill to the finish will undoubtedly prove as treacherous as navigating the roads and trails running through the national parks, it is a trip worth taking. The Senate should be commended for boldly embarking on the journey. During the upcoming conference, the level of funding in the Senate bill must be maintained.

LAURA LOOMIS

Senior director

National Parks Conservation

Association

Washington

Israel needs to be a good neighbor

Louis Rene Beres, in “Israel’s nuclear posture” (Op-Ed, Thursday), insists that Israel ensure its safety with a nuclear arsenal that is “persuasive,” that it be able to withstand first-strike attack, and that any potential enemy understand the dire costs of an assault.

Israel’s security concerns are not unique — every country has an obligation to protect its population and borders.

Thus, such a militant stance toward its neighbors, none of whom has a nuclear capability, merely encourages a regional arms race and leaves Israel open to the well-founded charge of hypocrisy because it never ceases to complain about Iran’s mere potential for nuclear arms while Israel itself bristles with actual nuclear weaponry.

Let Israel sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and behave like a good neighbor in the region, and it, as well as the rest of the world, will be a far safer place. Let advice such as that of Mr. Beres go into the trash basket.

MIRIAM M. REIK

New York

Fishing limits and the Bay

?Agency plans hearings on fish haul caps? (Briefly, Metropolitan, Monday) says that the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ATMF) is considering changing the commercial netting limits for menhaden.

Let us hope the overwhelming representation of commercial fisheries on that commission does not skew the results of the vote toward little or no change to these limits. Menhaden are the primary food fish for the predatory fish of the Chesapeake Bay, and because of that, the resident rockfish and the migratory bluefish face an uphill battle finding enough food to keep them healthy.

In previous years, the ATMF has tried to skirt the issue, saying they (the commercial fisheries) are a major economic source for the state of Virginia. They may produce some economic benefit for Virginia, but the recreational fisheries provide far more in direct and indirect contribution, and the sport fishermen (and women) provide a far more balanced, rational approach to resource management of the bay, than do any commercial fisheries.

If the overall health of the Chesapeake Bay is of any concern, the commercial netting of its primary food fish needs to be severely curtailed. Let us hope the ATMF is up to the task.

NORMAN HENDRICKSON

Bowie

Smokers’ and non-smokers’ rights

I respectfully take issue with your editorial about a D.C. smoking ban (“Blowing smoke,” Thursday).

I will state upfront that I’m a militant nonsmoker. Having said that, I also think that if someone wants to smoke tobacco and is willing to risk the health hazards, that’s fine with me. However, it’s been scientifically proven many times that secondhand tobacco smoke is harmful to everyone else within an enclosed area where the smoker is. This happens whether they want it nor not.

In my case, I’m not worried about getting cancer or emphysema 20 years from now. I almost never smell smoke, but I react violently to it. I am terribly sensitive to tobacco smoke, to the point where just walking outside downwind of a smoker makes me sick.

I get a terrible burning pain in my nose and sinuses, along with awful congestion. It takes me hours to get rid of it. It’s so bad that I can’t even visit certain relatives’ homes because they smoke, which is also making their children sick. Yes, it’s unusual that I’m so sensitive, but if I’m affected like this, so are other people around me who don’t even know it.

I’d like to say that your right to smoke ends where my nose begins. I’m tired of being sick because of someone else’s addiction.

J. MARK HARL

Germantown

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