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Genome analysis (Maggie Bartlett/NHGRI)
Genome analysis (Maggie Bartlett/NHGRI)

What readers think

Dec. 10: The Catch-22 of the Genome Project, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Genome ethics

Re Stacking The Deck – Our Time To Lead, Focus (Dec. 8): The Personal Genome Project is caught in a Catch-22. We can’t predict the consequences of knowing specific genomic data, anticipate issues and protect participants because we don’t have enough sequences to analyze.

Perhaps the solution is indemnification of the first 1,000 through national insurance? This would surely be better than limiting selection to those who could afford lawyers – hardly a random survey of Canadians.

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Jim Woodgett, Director of Research, Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital

............

I don’t get it. How can it be unethical for an insurance company to deny coverage based on genetic information, when a Harvard genetics professor, defending his rationale for getting his genome mapped, counsels a person who might find out about their predisposition to Alzheimer’s, with these words: “You could load up on long-term care insurance ...”?

John Van Sloten, Calgary

F-35s debunked

Seldom-mentioned facts about the F-35 (‘It’s Panic All Over’ As Ottawa Rethinks F-35 Purchase – Dec. 8):

It can do just one thing – destroy people and places. We already have weapons which do that quite well.

The manned jet fighter will soon be obsolete. The skies are already filled with unarmed drones. They are much cheaper, far more plentiful, can stay aloft far longer and pose no risk to controllers thousands of miles away.

The $40-billion could be spent on scientific pursuits creating lots of jobs. The Canadarm, for example, could be followed by the Canadaleg or Canadafoot. As for the F-35’s imagined 36-year lifespan, by 2048 it would be an old horse-and-buggy jet in a museum somewhere.

Joshua Cohen, Toronto

Power of language

Re Ontario Casts Wary Eye On Right-To-Work (Report on Business, Dec. 7): After using the qualifier “so-called” in front of the phrase “right to work,” your article goes on to use the phrase, unqualified, 11 times.

As George Orwell’s “Ministry of Truth” underscores, whoever names things has the power over them. Every time this phrase is used, it embeds the notion that in all these places, workers have been denied the right to work – and is it not, of course, ludicrous to deny someone the right to work?

It is also, in labour circles, the “so-called” “right to work for less” law, or the “right to plunder workers” law, but this simply tilts the error the other way. The Globe should identify it is as the “so-called right to work law” once, then find a neutral phrase for the balance of any articles.

Doug Norris, Toronto

463 per cent

Your editorial (Ottawa, Not Tehran – Dec. 7) misses the point. The Polaris Institute’s recent report on big oil lobbying in Ottawa was not about forbidding or even discouraging dialogue between the petroleum industry and the federal government.

The main point is that the lobbying system in this country is not transparent and is lopsided in favour of wealthy oil companies. In turn, such a system is in danger of ensuring that the policy-making process of governments is increasingly undemocratic.

Democratically elected governments are, by definition, supposed to govern in the public interest. Yet, a system which makes it possible for government officials to meet and communicate with oil industry officials 463 per cent more than with environmental groups, let alone First Nations communities and others affected by the industry’s operations, is hardly operating in the public interest.

Tony Clarke, executive director, Polaris Institute

Alberta-bound

I am an owner of a private wine, beer and liquor store in Alberta. Before privatization in 1993, Alberta collected $404-million from liquor sales; last year, it collected $687-million. In 1993, there were 2,200 items for sale in Alberta; today the number easily dwarfs the number of items available in Ontario (check the AGLC website).

You might be surprised to know just how many phone calls and e-mails we receive from Ontario residents (Keep LCBO, But – letters, Dec. 6) looking for items at a lower price than they pay in Ontario. Alberta has some of the lowest prices in the country on a regular basis, and when a sale can be found (pretty regularly, given how competitive the business is), the lowest.

For Albertans, the bottom line has been a better selection of alcohol at generally a better price than is available elsewhere in Canada, steadily increasing government revenues and, best of all, no strikes.

There is a reason why Ontario is against inter-provincial shipments of alcohol. The competition would put the Liquor Control Board of Ontario out of business.

Henry Sykes, Calgary

Before birth

I have repeatedly said that recognizing a child before birth as a human being would not resolve the abortion issue (Tory MP Presses For Ban On Sex-Selective Abortion – Dec. 6). Far from suggesting that Motion 312 aimed to bring in laws to restrict abortion, I have asserted that the aim was to bring 21st-century medical knowledge to bear on a centuries-old definition of human being.

I rejected the idea that abortion could only be justified by asserting a child is not a human being until the moment of complete birth. Even if legally recognizing this causes some people to change their minds about abortion, so what? The defence of democratic ideals is much more important than any preoccupation with abortion.

Stephen Woodworth, MP, Kitchener Centre

Define Canadian

Minister Fantino defends CIDA’s change in direction by arguing that it promotes Canadian values (Clear On Cida – letters, Dec. 8). The question is which Canadian values – empathy, fairness and service or self-interest, greed and profit?

Donald Smith, Ottawa

Trump that

I lift my brimming glass of Glenfiddich and propose a toast to a worldly man who has not grasped a simple truth: For every action (Trump Angered by Whisky Award Given to Arch Critic – Dec. 6), there is an equal, if not greater, reaction. I had never thought of imbibing Glenfiddich as an act of revolution, but here we are – and I am game.

Alan Mendelson, Hamilton

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