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Feb. 27: Letters to the editor Add to ...

Another fine mess

Whether or not the federal Conservatives conducted a vote-suppression campaign with automated phone calls (Canada Entering A ‘Nixonian Moment' After Alleged Voter Suppression: Rae – online, Feb. 25), there's only one response: Results in the targeted constituencies must be voided and by-elections called.

Ross Dobson, Winnipeg

.......

From in and out to out and out.

Reuel Amdur, Val-des-Monts, Que.

Free booze

Last fall, as your article Harper Personally Approved $22,000 Hospitality Tab For Visiting European Bureaucrats (online, Feb. 26) notes, Wayne Wouters, Clerk of the Privy Council, asked the PM to sign off because budgeted costs exceeded the $5,000 threshold. “As host,” Mr. Wouters wrote, “Canada is expected to provide a certain level of hospitality, including a reception to welcome delegates on the evening of their arrival and an official dinner.”

By all means, provide hospitality. But we need to define the parameters. BYOB, for example. Or better yet, the Senate could finally be of use and start bottling its own wine.

Bill Engleson, Denman Island, B.C.

Good doc, bad doc

I remember vividly the morning my patient had her hip-fracture surgery delayed 24 hours because I forgot to stop her blood thinner the night before (What The Doctor Ordered – Focus, Feb. 25).

As a resident physician in orthopedic surgery, I'm well aware that errors happen, but I also know that, in those moments, physicians are self-critical and intensely concerned with the patient's outcome. At the end of an operation, it's routine to ask: “What did we do well? What can we do better next time?”

As the next generation of physicians begins to practise, the list of patients we lose sleep over because we contributed to a poor outcome will get shorter. And the list of those patients we helped return to full health will quickly increase because of the honesty and openness of our mentors.

Luke Harmer, Calgary

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In 2008, I was diagnosed with a life-threatening condition requiring immediate surgical intervention, but both of my doctors failed to inform me. Sudden death within six months was a very real threat, but I carried on for another two years before I became so ill that I had to return for more tests.

My health care is my responsibility. Doctors are human, and they will make mistakes. But doctor error doesn't absolve each of us from taking responsibility. When one is sent for a medical test, one has an obligation to follow up with the doctor's office to get those test results.

Doug Wilson, Kitchener, Ont.

Awakenings

I've been following the story of Graham James and his persistent exploitation of young hockey players put in his charge. And I've been appalled, like all Canadians, at what they suffered and must continue to suffer. And yet, until Saturday, it was as if I were somehow viewing the whole thing through a window from somewhere outside the scene.

Ken Dryden's moving essay of his personal links with young player abuse (The Tragedy Of Doing Nothing – Feb. 25) opened the door, brought me inside and stirred me emotionally as nothing had before. I congratulate Mr. Dryden on bringing this disturbing memory out into the open, and The Globe on its publication.

Don Lennox, Edmonton

Truth and healing

Your editorial Building On The Apology (Feb. 25) is correct in asserting that “more concrete action must be taken to address the tragic consequences of forcibly separating 150,000 Inuit, Métis and First Nations children from their families.” The federal government should establish an Aboriginal Healing Foundation and fund community-based healing projects.

Jack Hicks, Iqaluit

Just asking

Re Canada Suspends Meetings In Afghan Ministries After U.S. Shooting Deaths (online, Feb. 26): Who did greater harm to the Koran's message – the U.S. soldiers who burned a few copies or the Muslims whose reactions disgracefully flew in the face of the Koran?

Ahmed Sahi, Stoney Creek, Ont.

Old school?

Give me a break! Now we have Katharine Birbalsingh (‘We're Doing Something Wrong' – Focus, Feb 25) beating the same horse as Hilda Neatby back in the 1950s. Dr. Neatby wrote the bestseller So Little for the Mind, a manual for technocrats who wanted to snuff out schooling as a human experience fostering independent thinking and generosity of spirit.

Ms. Birbalsingh says making a piano bench was a waste of time because she could have been studying Keats. Surely that's nonsense in any discussion of the essential features of education.

Public schooling remains the best alternative for a democratic society where robust citizenship is tested every day.

Peter H. Hennessy, professor emeritus, Queen's University

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Katharine Birbalsingh is right to question why we have different expectations according to a student's socio-economic background. It reminded me of my teaching practice (many decades ago) when I was assigned to an inner-city school first, then an all-boys private school.

I had told my father that I could wear a T-shirt to the former but had to wear a tie at the latter. His blunt response surprised me: Why would I dress down for the poor kids, yet put on my finest for the rich ones?

The words stung. From that time on, I always wore a tie.

John Clench, Vancouver

Ford-speak

“People want subways,” we keep hearing from Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford. Yet, according to Marcus Gee (Fords Kick Into Re-Election Campaign Mode – Feb. 25), Doug keeps his Lincoln Navigator parked behind City Hall because it's too big to go in the underground garage. Perhaps if he used the subway every day, more people would take him seriously.

Michael Bolton, Toronto

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To capture Torontonians' hearts and minds, Doug Ford says, “we're going to start pounding the e-mail and pounding the robocalls.” Does this stuff just write itself or what?

Vicki Ziegler, Toronto

Exit poll

Renowned actor Christopher Plummer, asked about his Oscar nomination (From Reformed Rogue To Oscar Fave – Arts, Feb. 25), is quoted as saying: “Look, I'm an old man. How can I get exited?” Well, he could play Antigonus in The Winter's Tale, and “exit, pursued by a bear.”

Judging by the ovations that greet Mr. Plummer's stage appearances, however, audiences are clearly more excited by his entrances.

Jacqueline Dean, Dundas, Ont.

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