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Today's topics: end-of-life decisions; debt; climate; Lord Grey’s cup ... and more (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Today's topics: end-of-life decisions; debt; climate; Lord Grey’s cup ... and more (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

What readers think

Dec. 1: Letters to the editor Add to ...

Life, supported

I have great sympathy for Hassan Rasouli’s family, who are at odds with doctors over keeping him on life support (A Fight Over The Dying Of The Light – Nov. 30). When my father was incapacitated in an Edmonton cardiac unit, we got the standard “quality vs. quantity” speech by a rather gruff, unsympathetic heart specialist. When our family finally decided to turn off the machines, the staff seemed annoyed that we arrived late for the “event” the next day, reminding us of the cost of keeping him alive. We could almost hear them shout “Next!” as they hurried dad’s body out of the room.

The irony is that my father retired early from the hospital management system because he was so tired of bean counters setting hospital policy. Deciding to end someone’s life is a difficult experience, but one that must remain in the hands of the family, not accountants and the state.

J. Alan Harstone, Saskatoon

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On both fiscal and humanitarian grounds, Ottawa should make it illegal to artificially prolong life where a team of doctors officially agrees that, miracles aside, there is no hope.

Hugh McKechnie, Newmarket, Ont.

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I applaud Ed Shannon’s letter (End Of Life – Nov. 29). My husband opted for palliative care in our local Hospice House. At my insistence, we agreed I would first try to care for him at home with palliative-care help. It took only a week to realize this was impossible; he transferred to Hospice House. I stayed with him in his room the entire time, and his last few days could not have been spent more comfortably, with more care than I ever could have supplied. For that, I will be eternally grateful, as was he.

Norma Steward, Kelowna, Ont.

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Lisa Priest (Calculating The Spiralling Costs Of Dying – Nov. 29) highlights the increasingly unsustainable costs associated with care for the final year of life. She posits that more personal directives and living wills would help manage the problem. Without doubt, this is true. But, as one regularly in the “front line” facing such dilemmas, it is rare indeed for patients and their families to have such directives. I fear that society is a long way from comprehending the importance of these, however sensible to health-care providers they may seem.

Chris de Gara, professor of surgery, University of Alberta

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An app for that

In April of 2010, coincidentally the same week that the first iPad went on sale, consumer debt in Canada passed the $1-trillion mark. According to Statscan, combined federal, provincial and municipal debt in 2011 is $846-billion. It isn’t any wonder that consumers don’t want to pay higher taxes: We’ve bought too much stuff (Spend Like A Household – Nov. 30). Maybe there’s an app for solving the debt problem …

Doug Paul, Toronto

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Climate collision

The idea that “no single country … can diminish greenhouse-gas emissions on their own” is obvious (Progress In A Time Of Divergence – editorial, Nov. 30). What matters for Canadians, however, is that our government is doing everything it can to throw a monkey wrench into co-ordinating international efforts to tackle climate change and build a green energy economy.

Brendan Haley, Ottawa

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On average, carbon dioxide spends about 100 years in the atmosphere, so some people look back as well as forward when they talk about who owns the problem of emissions and who should be doing the most to prevent more. Can’t you just imagine the Chinese and Indian delegates shaking their heads and wondering whether this Kent person could possibly be even less informed than the angry Baird individual that Stephen Harper sent to harangue them last time (Kent Rejects Guilt Payment On Climate – Nov. 30).

Bruce Mason, Toronto

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Notwithstanding my nervousness about Stephen Harper, I’ve always agreed with his stance on Kyoto. Canada should ignore the international Robin-Hoodism of environmental alarmists who would have developed countries transfer billions of dollars to poor countries for no justifiable reason.

Kyoto is based on a tiny corner of climate science that focuses on carbon dioxide emissions. When we realize humans and other animals play a marginal role in affecting climate, we might be able to get on with issues that more justifiably command our financial and other resources, such as cleaning up the pollution of our air, water and land that humans do cause – soot, smog, sulphur and nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants that are far more injurious to human health and the environment than carbon dioxide.

Gerald Crawford, Mississauga, Ont.

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To tweet, or not to ...

Twitter does not foster literacy with a 140-character limit that promotes misspelling and contractions, nor can 140 characters promote deep engagement with anything, much less Shakespeare (Classroom Evolution – Nov. 30). Tweeting homework assignments prevents the children from using their brain-developing cursive writing and literacy skills, not to mention teaching them responsibility. In The Merchant of Venice, a character discovers that “All that glisters is not gold,” and that he must be “as wise as bold.” We should take the hint: Technology may augment, but it cannot replace the teaching of basic principles.

Katherine Magyarody, Toronto

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Primary teachers (Grades K to 3) spend an average 13 minutes per day in printing instruction. As printing instruction is not curriculum-based, teaching and evaluation methods are inconsistent and lack research. Printing instruction, for the most part, stops in Grade 3.

I’ve worked with brilliant children who have been labelled “learning disabled” simply because they can’t remember how to make their letters and numbers. Printing practice enhances reading skill, as the child learns to recognize letters through producing them. Children who are slow printers are often assessed by a team of education and health professionals (I know because I am one), categorized, and then provided with an IEP (individualized education program) and specialized assistance at an astronomical cost to the system. So, isn’t this problem really a “teacher disability”? The decline of literacy can be stopped by teaching children how to print.

Cris Rowan, CEO, Zone’in Programs Inc., Sechelt, B.C.

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Unhand that cup

Before the hoopla of the annual CFL festival and its bacchanalian cohort fades, it might be appropriate to recall that the Grey Cup was originally donated in 1909 by governor-general Lord Grey for “amateur rugby football.” It was soon – what’s a polite word for purloined? – utilized by Canadian amateur football and subsequently ended up with the CFL, which utilizes it as the centrepiece of a public relations exercise for “professional” Canadian football.

As Canadians, we like to apologize for the sins of the fathers. So I suggest next year the CFL mark the 100th Grey Cup game by restoring the cup to the Canadian Rugby Union, for competition in accordance with Lord Grey’s wishes with, of course, a full apology and compensation for the conversion of property, a polite term for what we used to call theft.

M. Raymond Moore, Charlottetown

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