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Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh is shown in Vancouver on May 12, 2008. (LYLE STAFFORD FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh is shown in Vancouver on May 12, 2008. (LYLE STAFFORD FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

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Aug. 22: Driving Mr. Dosanjh – and more letters to the editor Add to ...

Security detail

Reading Ujjal Dosanjh’s commentary on security for politicians brought back a vivid memory (Security Is Best Unseen – Aug. 21). During his cost-conscious tenure as premier of British Columbia, I served as both his press secretary and – when we were in Vancouver – his chauffeur, driving him to events in my Volkswagen Beetle.

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A political neophyte, I only became aware of the unorthodoxy of this arrangement at a first ministers’ meeting, where I learned of the much more elaborate security detail maintained by then Ontario premier Mike Harris. But the biggest head-smacker came when a fellow staffer made an offhand comment about the threats that had been levelled against Ujjal during his successful leadership campaign.

Despite the strength earned through my regular yoga practice, I would have been no match for anyone bent on harming the premier. Nevertheless, Ujjal embodied his own advice, eschewing security and its associated costs in order to remain visibly accessible to the citizens he served. And his confidence inspired my own.

Shari Graydon, Ottawa

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With reference to the break-in at the Trudeau residence, one letter writer felt that RCMP protection for the family was justified, and concluded, “Would we rather have anarchy?” (Alarming – Aug. 21).

While I feel that housebreaking should be seriously punished, it certainly does not qualify as anarchy. Anarchy occurs when people are able to rampage freely through society, with no worries about the powers of law and order intervening. This we saw on Monday night at Montreal’s City Hall, when the local police chose to put union solidarity ahead of public order. (Police Refusal To Intervene in City Hall Raid Draws Ire – Aug. 20).

I feel nervous for Montreal’s citizens, and can only hope the police officers involved in this shameful dereliction of duty will be disciplined appropriately.

Dave Ashby, Toronto

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Fund it

Re: Society Should be Horrified (Aug. 20). According to the article, Tina Fontaine’s “petite” 15-year-old body was found – by accident – in the dark murky waters of the Red River wrapped in a burial shroud of “brown-grey plastic.” Tina’s fate, as one of the now more than 1,100 “known murdered and missing aboriginal women,” is forever sealed by the federal government’s unconscionable inaction. I wonder if Tina Fontaine had been a white, blonde, blue-eyed, smiling 15-year-old on the front page of the paper, would we have turned the page so quickly and written her off as: “not another one.” If Ottawa can fund a “181-page” report a year after the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster (Investigation Takes Aim At Ottawa’s Role – Aug. 20), why can’t Ottawa fund a report investigating these gender-based acts of violence. Justice Minister Peter MacKay is correct: “Now is the time to take action” – that action being to allocate funds to conduct a national inquiry into “the deaths and disappearances” of aboriginal women.

Patricia Hania, assistant professor, College of Law, University of Saskatchewan

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For the record

Peter McKenna’s column (Can Quebec Learn From Scotland’s McReferendum? – Aug. 20) leaves the impression that Quebec sovereigntists are only now coming around to the idea of asking a clear question in a future referendum. Actually, former Quebec premier Jacques Parizeau is on record as favouring a straightforward question such as: “Do you wish Quebec to become an independent country”? He said so in his 2009 book La Souveraineté du Québec – Hier, Aujourd’hui et Demain.

Tony Manera, Ottawa

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The first line of your article, Investigation Takes Aim At Ottawa’s Role (Aug. 20) states that Lac-Mégantic is “the worst rail disaster in Canadian history.” That overlooks the June 1864 crash of a Montreal-bound train and the death of 99 people, mostly new immigrants, and the injury of more than 100 others. Canadian history did not begin in 1867. Neither did that of the Globe, for that matter.

Arnet Sheppard, Ottawa

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Comparisons between 1914 and 2014 seem to have died down after the passing of the centenary of events leading to the First World War. However, thinking about the Islamic State movement, its goals and methods, along with the insensitivity, navel-gazing and weakening of empire, it isn’t hard to imagine that, had Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg died today, the Black Hand movement would have videoed Gavrilo Princip carrying out the event and posted it on YouTube (Islamic State Denounced After Journalist’s Execution – Aug. 21).

Lloyd Lovatt, Edmonton

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Consumption costs

Re: Liquor Monopoly Keeping Money From Ontario’s Coffers (online, Aug. 20):

A report by the C.D. Howe Institute concludes that Ontario could increase its revenues by allowing private alcohol retail sales. Its analysis is limited to the economics of different models of alcohol retailing. Broader economic, social and health issues were not part of the study, and that is where there would be costs to Ontario.

Alcohol consumption increases the risk of many common chronic diseases, serious injuries and death. Moreover, alcohol is a known human carcinogen that is proven to cause breast and colorectal cancers, two of the three leading causes of cancer death in Ontario (lung cancer ranks first). It also causes liver cancer and cancers of the head and neck, including oral cancers. In 2010, between 1,000 and 3,000 Ontarians were diagnosed with cancers related to alcohol consumption, representing 2 to 4 per cent of all new cancer cases in the province.

In numerous jurisdictions, shifting from public to private alcohol retailing, increasing alcohol availability and reducing product costs has been linked to increases in alcohol consumption. Any conclusions regarding potential increased government revenue with changes to the alcohol retail system must be balanced by projected health-care system costs and impacts on the health of Ontarians. Cancer Care Ontario strongly recommends that any changes to the provincial alcohol retail system be considered within a broader health and societal context.

Linda Rabeneck, vice-president, Prevention and Cancer Control, Cancer Care Ontario

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Death and the law

Re: CMA Softens Stand On Assisted Suicide (Aug. 20).

Dr. Louis Francescutti, outgoing president of the Canadian Medical Association, said the organization’s “conscience” resolution means the CMA supports a doctor’s right to refuse to hasten the death of a terminally ill patient, but it will also support a doctor’s right to hasten death if the law allows. “If the law allows” is the answer. When former justice Jack Major of the Supreme Court of Canada was asked for his opinion on doctor-assisted suicide, he said, “They just have to repeal the Criminal Code section” that makes assisted suicide illegal.

J.R. Kenny, Calgary

 

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