Letters to the Editor: January/February 2024

On Kabul, Leonard Cohen, and the Trudeau split

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Trudeau’s India Problem

I read “Heavy Meddle” (December 2023), Sushant Singh’s examination of Canada–India diplomatic relations surrounding Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s murder, with great interest. Singh is an important critic of the emerging Hindu Rashtra (Hindu state) in India. However, there is a lacuna in Singh’s reporting: Trudeau’s failed India policy. Trudeau has, since his rather embarrassing 2018 visit to India, where he was mocked for cultural appropriation (wearing Bollywood-style Indian clothing), conducted domestic politics via foreign policy. His policy toward India is geared not to further India–Canada relations but rather to appease his Canadian Sikh constituency. Given that he is dependent on NDP leader Jagmeet Singh—who, as the writer points out, has “made statements that can be seen as being pro-Khalistan”—for his political future, his current posture toward India appears more like a desperate attempt to preserve his minority government than to advance Canada’s interests in the critical Indo-Pacific region. Rising powers from the Global South, such as Saudi Arabia, China, and now India, have found Trudeau, the leader of a G7 nation, an easy target to bully. Trudeau, I fear, has repeatedly undermined Canada’s international stature.

Muqtedar Khan
Newark, DE, US

Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye

In “The Darker Side of Leonard Cohen” (November 2023), Myra Bloom’s 2018 story which The Walrus reprinted for its twentieth anniversary issue, Bloom asks if Cohen’s two novels still deserve to be included in any academic curriculum. In her attempt to explore this question, Bloom reveals a culture that struggles to distinguish between author and narrator, with many presuming that Cohen’s “darker side” has been missed by his readers and listeners, apparently too naive to see past all those cheerful messages concerning sex and death that dominate his work—including “Hallelujah.” By the same token, the article offers some significant insights into the ongoing moral revolution in literary criticism, which is particularly pertinent in 2023. It is easy to foresee a future in which authors will be denied literary awards on account of an “illegitimate” romantic affair, a “failure” in parental duties, or the inclusion of a morally ambiguous character who is not clearly identified as a “bad person.”

David Koloszyc
Montreal, QC

Return to Kabul

Ahmet Sel’s 2002 portrait series “Inside a Different Kabul” (November 2023) captured the profound human spirit of the Afghan people during the war. In a time when the world was primarily exposed to sensationalized images of Afghanistan, Sel’s approach to photography was unique and empathetic. He didn’t merely point and shoot; instead, he forged meaningful relationships with his subjects. This portrait series was reprinted in The Walrus’s anniversary issue, and since the story was first published in 2004, the Taliban have returned to power. Afghan people have experienced this conflict before, and while life is not exactly what it was from 1996 to 2001, Sel’s photographs still have a resounding message: even during hardship, Afghan people show resilience and hope for a brighter future.

Dawood Qayomi
Ottawa, ON

State of Affairs

In “Of Course We’re Interested in the Trudeau Split,” Michelle Cyca describes how Trudeau’s carefully cultivated image as a family man justified much of Canadians’ guilty curiosity when it went up in flames. Trudeau campaigned with his family, displayed them proudly during diplomatic trips, and fully embraced his “Hot Dad” persona, so of course, we’re a little interested. The recent rumours that Sophie Grégoire Trudeau was engaged in a steamy affair makes gossiping all the more irresistible. Although his personal life definitely doesn’t deserve criticism, it does mean that there will be a shift in the persona that Trudeau meticulously crafted, and journalists and citizens don’t need to feel guilty talking about it.

Leo Brown
Toronto, ON

“The time has come,” The Walrus said, “to talk of many things.” Send us a letter or an email (letters@thewalrus.ca) or tag us on social media. Comments may be published in any medium and edited for length, clarity, and accuracy. Mail correspondence to: 411 Richmond St. E., Suite B15, Toronto, Ontario, Canada  M5A 3S5