Stop the killing
To attack Syria with the sole objective being to punish Bashar al-Assad and his regime is foolish and naive and will only lead to more bloodshed (Obama Weighs Military Strike On Syria – Aug. 28). Mr. Assad doesn’t care how many of his own troops or civilians are killed or injured.
The objective has to be more than just punitive. It must stop the killing and any potential misuse of the chemical weapon stockpile by any government or group in the region. I’m not sure how we do that without placing troops in Syria but anything less will create a disaster for the civilian population. It is critical that the Arab world step up and play a major role in stopping this conflict.
David Bell, Toronto
Speaking of Syria
While Parliament is prorogued, is it actually locked or could MPs still show up, turn the lights back on and get on with doing what we pay them to do? There is certainly no shortage of topics to debate in these interesting times, including Syria (Harper Pressed For Syria Debate – Aug. 28).
With the lights back on and the Liberals and New Democrats up and running, it is surely inconceivable that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservatives would stay away for long.
Dick Moutray, Kitchener, Ont.
John Ibbitson says that “a mid-term prorogation is routine in the life of any government” (Why Prorogation Is Good For Trudeau And Bad For Mulcair – online, Aug. 22).
In 2008, the first time Mr. Harper employed it, the media had to spend much time explaining to the Canadian public what this “routine” measure was. Prior to that, the only example in recent memory was when Jean Chrétien prorogued Parliament to avoid scrutiny around the sponsorship scandal. These two events were abusive of process and the opposite of routine.
Kristen Porter, Calgary
There should be a moratorium on the use of tasers, not expanded access to them, until such time as we are satisfied that every police officer has received proper training and education on their use, combined with training in de-escalation and non-violent crisis intervention.
Every police force in Ontario should immediately establish a mental health and addictions advisory committee to work with consumer-survivors and others in the mental-health sector to address the very alarming trend regarding taser usage with individuals with mental illness or perceived mental illness.
Police services need assistance in understanding mental health, mental illness and addictions – only then will we have safe communities.
David Simpson, St. Thomas, Ont.
The Olympic privilege
Nikki Dryden is right on the money about the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia (Will The IOC Play By Its Own Rules? – Aug. 28).
If Olympic values have any meaning or teeth, the International Olympic Committee must cancel the Games, barring an unlikely reversal of Russia’s bizarre new homophobic legislation. Would Sochi have been selected as the venue had these laws been in place to begin with? As Ms. Dryden points out, membership in the Olympic movement is a privilege predicated on respect for human rights.
John Riley, Toronto
No national standard
David Andreatta’s article is correct to highlight critical shortcomings in how Canada screens newborns for health issues (Newborn Screening Remains A Patchwork – Life & Arts, Aug. 26). Sadly, there is also no national standard for screening infants for permanent childhood hearing loss, a condition that affects three to five per 1,000 babies.
Universal newborn hearing screening is inexpensive, quick, reliable and painless and can be administered shortly after birth, before the baby leaves the hospital. Early identification leads to early intervention, providing better outcomes for the child’s communication, social, emotional and academic development.
In the United States, 97 per cent of newborns are screened for PCHL. In Canada, screening is offered in some provinces and not others. Geography shouldn’t determine the quality of care that our children receive.
Joanne Charlebois, executive director, Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists
Voice wedded word
Re The Last Great Speech (Aug. 28):
A great speech has unity of purpose. But although the words lift off the page, they need a great speaker with unity of purpose.
The voice of Martin Luther King was actually ringing when he spoke about “freedom ringing.” The voice wedded the word, and speaker and speech were one.
Howard Greenfield, Montreal
While wait times might be increasing (Wait, And Wait Some More, Isn’t What The Doctor Ordered – Aug. 28), it appears amnesia is, too. When the 2004 health accord increased funding and developed benchmarks to track progress, wait times dropped dramatically. The secret to this success? Strong federal leadership attached to fair federal funding.
However, a year later, the Conservatives came to power and quickly gave up monitoring. With no oversight, the benchmarks became empty gestures and the provinces stopped trying to meet them. Now, the Prime Minister is refusing to negotiate a new health accord, preferring instead to give the provinces a lump sum with no strings attached. I’ll leave it to Jeffrey Simpson to speculate what the result will be.
James Hutt, Halifax
The weekly mail
Like so many Canadian snowbirds, we pay Canada Post over $100 every year NOT to deliver our mail while we’re away for months at a time (As Cash Crunch Looms, Canada Post Turns To Ottawa – Business, Aug. 28). When we return to claim the piled-up mail, we seldom find anything that couldn’t wait for a few more months, or couldn’t have been handled better by e-mail.
To think that we’re still paying someone to drive or walk to almost every address in Canada, five days a week, is simply archaic.
Maybe Canada Post should consider paying us to opt out of daily home delivery. It may be surprised at how many takers it’ll get and how much money it’ll save. Once a week is more than enough.
John Harder, Priceville, Ont.