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Aug. 30: Bank profits, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Bankable advice

It’s good to see Canadian banks increasing their profits (Banks Defy Gloom With Profit Surprise – ROB, Aug. 29).

Just a thought, though: Instead of increasing dividends, why not increase wages for the lowest paid employees?

Alistair Thomson, Oshawa, Ont.

Republican wit

Looking at that gallery of those who aren’t welcome at the Republican National Convention (Hi! Thanks For Not Coming – Folio, Aug. 29), I found myself thinking of an embarrassment of riches.

On second thought, I think we should call them the riches of embarrassment.

Nigel Brachi, Edmonton


Only Republicans would be surprised by the appearance of a hurricane in the hurricane season.

Alan Bown, Fonthill, Ont.

Just asking

Margaret Wente (Nightmare in Quebec – Aug. 28) says the proposal by Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois to make immigrants pass a French test before they can run for public office “smacks of Europe’s anti-immigrant right wing.”

Yes? What would be her reaction to anyone, immigrant or otherwise, seeking public office in Ontario without being able to speak English?

Doug Bale, London, Ont.

Hippocratic oath

Re Physician-Assisted Suicide Poisons The Mission Of Medicine (Aug. 28): Let’s be clear. Physicians are not bound by the Hippocratic oath. Many, if not most of us, were not even asked to take it. We obey provincial and federal laws, and are governed by provincial licensing regulations.

But even if assisted suicide becomes legal, there are many of us who feel it would be best for such a service to be provided by a regulated non-physician specialist. Two reasons are patient safety and trust. A dedicated specialist would avoid “doing it wrong.” And not providing this service would help preserve the relationship between doctor and patient.

While I respect the aims of “dying with dignity,” I believe they’re targeting the wrong profession.

Hershl Berman, palliative care physician, Toronto


When I was a medical student, it was obvious that successful treatment wasn’t always possible, that everyone dies sooner or later, and that dying could be a very physically and psychologically traumatic process. We were told that, regardless of circumstances, we were “to comfort always.”

But paramount are the wishes of the patient. How can one comfort when one is acting against the strong wishes of a patient. With active treatment, the process of dying can be prolonged long after the patient has had enough. At that point, I see nothing wrong with helping to release him/her from this mortal coil.

I was taught there was a difference between prolonging life and postponing death. When the line is crossed, then – when requested – a bit of help to speed things up is a blessing.

But it’s a legal risk for the physician. Surely it’s time to be allowed to openly help those who need and request it. Other jurisdictions are doing this with appropriate safeguards. Why not in Canada?

Archibald Wilkie Kushner, Greely, Ont.

Foreskin insight

Should Boys be Circumcised (Folio, Aug. 28)? Let’s rephrase the question: Should children of either sex routinely have normal, healthy parts of their genitals removed?

Last time I looked, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms grants rights equally to both genders. And the right to bodily integrity is surely among the benefits.

We must protect both boys and girls from mutilation of any kind until they are mature enough to consent to it.

Judith Anderson, Burnaby, B.C.


Have any of these medical professionals asked intact men how they feel about their foreskins. Speaking for myself, I love my foreskin; it’s an essential part of my sexual function, and I can’t imagine sex (or life) without it.

Paul Brunt, New Westminster, B.C.


Most people will agree that helmets are much more handsome than anteaters.

Robert D. Wagman, MD, Toronto

Happy rednecks

Oh boy, can you spell “overintellectualization”? That was my reaction to the defence of the Here Comes Honey Boo Boo reality show by John Doyle (Why Honey Boo Boo Strikes Fear In Bourgeois Hearts – Review, Aug. 28).

“When critics find Honey Boo Boo ‘revolting,’ they are reacting against a group of people – dirt-poor and happy – who cannot be Disneyfied,” he writes. “There might also be a touch of fear … that the world of Honey Boo Boo and her family is the future for the majority of Americans.”

I would suggest that the negative reaction Mr. Doyle decries as narrow-mindedly bourgeois is simply a visceral cringing some of us feel when watching human beings behave like monkeys in a zoo, spouting references to various bodily functions, exhibiting greedy, grabby values and a view of the world that’s downright scary – behaviour, by the way, that’s most likely amplified by the existence of cameras and hefty paycheques for the family.

Nothing new here – the show is just the most recent offering in the “shock-em, sock-em” genre that earlier TV programs such as The Gong Show and The Jerry Springer Show paved a way for.

Monica Kucharski, Mississauga

Fordian moments

Some Torontonians are highly critical of Mayor Rob Ford’s actions (Ford Says Voters, Not Court, Should Decide His Fate – Aug. 29). But, after all, they’re only Fordian slips.

Lawrence Ballon, Toronto


To my surprise, I just experienced a burst of affection for Rob Ford. To save our money, the mayor of Canada’s most important city refuses the offer of a car or a chauffeur. Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, has 700 automobiles at his disposal, not to mention 58 planes and helicopters and four yachts, including one with a spa pool, waterfall and wine cellar (Putin On The Ritz – Aug. 29).

Veronika von Nostitz-Tait, Ottawa

Runway racket

According to Plane Protest (ROB, Aug. 29), London’s Heathrow is the busiest airport in Europe, with 13,000 landings and takeoffs a day. That works out to one every seven seconds. Is there anyone around left to protest?

Arthur Gordon, Mississauga


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