As someone with deep ancestral roots in Canada, it has been eye-opening to see a Canadian consulate representative at every public meeting involving the potential movement of heavy crude Alberta tar-sands oil across Maine to be offloaded into tankers in Casco Bay.

The most current appearance was April 11, at a Portland Water District informational meeting.

Trustees of the Water District and community observers also listened to a U.S. government representative, a New England Petroleum Institute representative and Portland Pipe Line Corp. officials present their case for the transmission of heavy crude from Montreal to Portland Harbor.

I probably shouldn’t be surprised by the consistent Canadian presence here. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is also energetically lobbying its own citizenry, since community groups in Canada from British Columbia to Montreal are objecting to tar-sands oil being pumped through their neighborhoods and offloaded into tankers in their coastal waters — just as we are in Portland.

Why wouldn’t the Harper government send emissaries hither and yon when so much of the Canadian economy has unfortunately been dumped into the Alberta tar sands basket?

It also should not be lost on anyone that the Portland-to-Montreal pipeline is majority owned by ExxonMobil’s Canadian subsidiary Imperial Oil and Canadian oil giant Suncor.

We have a classic David-and-Goliath story unfolding all over Canada and the United States as small community groups face off against these petroleum potentates. In the days that come, we will need to decide which side we are on.

Nicole d’Entremont

Peaks Island

Lawmakers’ support of MD research appreciated

In February my youngest son, Patrick, and I traveled to Washington to advocate on behalf of those in Maine affected by muscular dystrophy, seeking reauthorization of legislation directing the National Institutes of Health to continue treating these disorders as a priority and the Centers for Disease Control to update “best practices” information for treatments.  

I’ve made this trip annually, since 2001, when the original Muscular Dystrophy Community Assistance, Research and Education Act was sponsored by Sens. Susan Collins and Paul Wellstone. This law must be periodically renewed.  

Considering that the age of survival for patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy has increased by 10 years and that research on these disorders has attracted many millions in private-sector investment leading to new drug development, I believe this legislation has been worthwhile.

Patrick and I visited each office of our Maine delegation.  

We met with Sen. Collins, who again chose to be an original co-sponsor to reauthorize the act, stating she wanted to sustain the momentum this law has established. My family and I are grateful for her steadfast support.  

We had a lengthy conversation with Sen. Angus King about muscular dystrophy, our hope for current research and the work being done at the Jackson Laboratories in Bar Harbor and how the lab supports research related to this legislation.  

We met with the aides who focus on health-related issues for Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud. Reps. Pingree and Michaud have consistently supported my efforts.

I am pleased Maine’s entire delegation has joined Sen. Collins as co-sponsors. I want to thank each member and their staff for the time spent discussing the effects of muscular dystrophy on families and the importance of research for those living with these disorders.

Brian Denger

Biddeford

Thanks to all who shoveled snow for elderly over winter

I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely and heartily thank each and every person who shoveled snow for all the elderly folks, ages 65 and over, all over the city of Portland in the winter of 2012-13.

This was a particularly bad winter for storms of all sorts. And all the shovelers deserve a great deal of appreciation for the jobs well done.

The seniors really appreciate this service, and it makes their lives so much safer!

I would also like to thank the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office for their shoveling support. I couldn’t run this project without the whole department’s help.

To date, about 150 addresses are being shoveled — free. My sincere thanks, again, to all of you!

Joan Sheedy

founder-director, Senior Snow Shoveling Project

Portland

Story failed to differentiate between groups, terrorists

Tom Bell’s April 20 article (“Maine’s Russians: Don’t lump us with terrorists“) describes the fear locals from central Russian have that they will be viewed as belonging to the same Chechen ethnic group as the Boston Marathon bombing suspects.

I understand why people like Lilia Zhdanov do not want to be mistaken as members of an ethnic group not their own. No one deserves to have important aspects of their identity and history misunderstood.

However, there is a major difference between mistaking individuals as coming from particular ethnic or religious groups and mistaking them for terrorists.

I am afraid the article does not acknowledge that difference, leaving dangerous room for readers to interpret that we should be worried about particular ethnic and religious groups — not violence and terrorism itself.

The article goes to great lengths to establish the “huge difference” between Chechens, like the Islamic militants behind the 2004 violence in Beslan, and Maine residents from Kazakhstan, who are mostly Baptist Christians.

In the absence of more context and perspective on the history of Chechnya, I hope the comments that Chechens have a “culture of vengeance” and “blood for blood” do not lead readers to assume every ethnic Chechen in the United States is violent. Likewise, journalists need to be very careful to not insinuate that violence can be equated with Islam.

Most of the almost 2 billion Muslims in the world are nonviolent, and many live here in Maine and make wonderful contributions to our community.

Let us try to remember some of the mistakes of stereotyping and fear that our society has made in the decade-plus since 9/11.

In times like these, we must come together to celebrate diversity of all kinds — as well as to condemn violence, wherever it originates.

Emily Thielmann

Portland