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Tommy Douglas, in 1983, with the Parliament buildings in the background. (CHRIS SCHWARZ/CP)
Tommy Douglas, in 1983, with the Parliament buildings in the background. (CHRIS SCHWARZ/CP)

What readers think

Dec. 20: Medicare milestone, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Medicare milestone

Jeffery Simpson nails it with “potted history” to describe the Harper government’s attempt to nurture a national observance of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. I had not heard the term “potted history” before but, as an avid gardener, I do know what it is to put a plant in a pot and place the pot in a showy situation, even though, because of shade or climate, for instance, it does not really belong there and cannot possibly take root.

Fifty-year-old medicare, on the other hand, does grow here (The Anniversary That Wasn’t: Medicare At 50 – Dec. 19). With moderate, intelligent, ongoing husbandry it can continue to be a source of national pride.

Lloyd Lovatt, Edmonton

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What Saskatchewan introduced was not only health-care policy, but also policy that was motivated by the desire to both prevent poverty – through avoiding high medical and hospital costs – and to diminish its effects by providing access to the poor. Medicare remains an important poverty-prevention and poverty-reduction policy today.

Sid Frankel, Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba

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Jeffrey Simpson states that “Canadians consider medicare their most important national symbol.” He continues: “In a sense, this identification is weird, for no other people in the world identify themselves through their health-care system.”

I challenge that!

The Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics in London included a lengthy tribute to Britain’s national health-care system. Organizers said the segment was to honour “two of Britain’s greatest achievements: its amazing body of children’s literature and its National Health Service.” In one of the Olympic media guides, ceremony organizers said, “The NHS is the institution which more than any other unites our nation.”

It seems that Canadians are as weird as the Brits. Thankfully, we haven’t totally shed our ties to our colonial past.

Mark Pfaff, London, Ont.

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Policy palmistry

Re A Complicated Case Of Crime And Citizenship (Dec. 19): Perhaps the government’s plan to exploit a legal technicality to deport a citizen, Deepan Budlakoti, to a country he’s never even visited would make more sense if they also arranged for the extraordinary rendition of Robert Pickton to Flintshire in Clwyd, Wales, apparently the ancestral seat of most Canadian members of this otherwise distinguished family.

On the other hand, according to the Domesday Book of 1086, the origin of the Picton line dates to the Norman conquest, when William granted Picton Manor to a minor Norman noble. It therefore may be more in keeping with the spirit of this new policy (and the Conservative fetish for celebrating historical minutiae) if he were deported to France. It’s win-win – well, except for France and anyone still clinging to the notion that public policy should be informed by rational thinking.

Atul Sharma, Montreal

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With, without guns

I cannot share in the optimism that events in Connecticut might jump-start efforts to control the availability of weapons (U.S. Legislators Show Signs Of New Attitude To Gun Control – Dec. 18). There are still too many ideologues willing to sacrifice other people’s children for their cause.

Frank Loomer, Victoria

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In Canada, the firearms certificate system introduced the idea of pre-vetting citizens wishing to purchase or borrow a gun. Along with the requisite safety training and background checks, certification mandated parental or spousal permission. In addition, a mechanism was implemented for police to revoke the certificate and remove firearms from an individual in the event of a public safety concern.

Who better than family and friends to ensure an individual is able to live up to their responsibilities, and if not, to get them the help that they need? While it does not address criminal action (we have other laws for that), this is the only “gun control” measure that makes sense and, ironically (for some), it is not directed at guns, but rather at the individual.

Robert S. Sciuk, Oshawa, Ont.

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As a victim of gun violence, my heart is with the survivors of the mass murder at Sandy Hook. The stories of the children they have lost resonate with me as a mother who lost a child.

We’ve ended the long gun registry. Further erosion of our gun laws has been proposed. If you own or have access to a gun, you are more likely, not less likely to experience a gun fatality or injury. They do not make us safer.

Although imperative, gun control is not the only necessary intervention for tackling gun violence. Addressing root causes such as poverty, racism and mental illness are also needed.

My hope is that this horrific act of violence will propel both the U.S. and Canada toward stronger gun laws. Gun laws inform gun culture. Gun culture either promotes or inhibits gun violence.

Karen Vanscoy, Hamilton, Ont.

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Every time I hear the “O.K. Corral” mentality behind gun lovers’ reasons to have everyone possess guns, I think of what they forget: Legend has it that Wyatt Earp made everyone check their guns before entering town. Maybe he got something right that has been lost in time.

Bob George, Red Deer, Alta.

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More than ‘freeze’

Re Curb Expectations (editorial, Dec. 18): The agreement between the Ontario Medical Association and the Ontario government does much more than “freeze” fees for two years. At the end of the two years, the average reduction in fees will be 5.2 per cent, which includes a payment discount of 0.5 per cent on all physician payments effective April 1, 2013.

Doug Weir, president, Ontario Medical Association

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Transparent? Very

Bill C-377 is part of a concerted government effort to weaken a leading force for equality and democracy in our society. The bill has nothing to do with creating transparency (Transparency Benefits Labour – Dec. 19). If it did, why were other tax-exempt professional associations excluded?

Union constitutions mandate financial disclosure; unions are among the few mass-oriented organizations that function according to the principle of one person, one vote. You can’t get more democratic – or transparent – than that.

Dave Coles, president, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada

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Just wondering

Re Arrests Made In Huge Maple Syrup Heist (Dec. 19): This article raises a fairly obvious question: Is someone missing several million pancakes?

Steve Soloman, Toronto

 

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