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Today’s topics: doing the right things with experimental drugs; traveller surcharges; ancestors, armies and the War of 1812; an I-get-it moment in the euro crisis ... and more (LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS)
Today’s topics: doing the right things with experimental drugs; traveller surcharges; ancestors, armies and the War of 1812; an I-get-it moment in the euro crisis ... and more (LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS)

What readers think

June 19: Doing the right thing with experimental drugs … and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Do the right thing

Darcy Doherty’s predicament cannot be categorized solely as a case for compassion (When A Risky Drug Is The Last, Best Hope – editorial, June 18). Mr. Doherty, who is dying of melanoma, would be on this drug were it not for an arbitrary exclusion in the wording of a clinical trial. Institutions need to fortify themselves in castles where walls of silence deflect arrows of litigation.

Expediency, not safety, prevents this dying man from receiving treatment. Under these circumstances, how can there be no means to throw this fighter a weapon that is just beyond his reach?

Mr. Doherty’s enemy is not the pharmaceutical company but the cancer that devours him from within. His is an exceptional circumstance that cries out for a champion, just as Sabrina’s Law did for peanut anaphylaxis.

Where is our leader who would advocate for a “Darcy Doherty’s Law” to protect and thereby enable any pharmaceutical company to just do the right thing?

Clive J. Schwartz, assistant professor, pediatrics, University of Toronto

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Going, not coming

So, the Hotel Association of Canada wants to put a “$15 fee on on all inbound foreign air travellers to finance Canadian tourism promotion” (New U.S. Tourism Campaign Puts Canada On Back Foot – June 18). That means we are going to penalize the people who respond to our advertising, rather than those who respond to the U.S. advertising of a country that “looks remarkably like this one.” How does this make any sense?

A fairer levy would be on Canadians who left Canada, by any means, for more than 48 hours.

Penelope B. M. Hedges, Vancouver

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Fat chances

With almost two out of three Canadian adults now overweight or obese – and an even higher ratio in the U.S. – how can this possibly be primarily an income-related problem (The War On Obesity Is A Big Fat Flop – June 16)? The highest rate of obesity in Canada is among high-income men.

Valerie Tarasuk, Toronto

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Science non-funding

In order to achieve continued funding for a project from this federal government, you have to persuade them that it is of benefit to the oil and gas industry, or that you can build superior gazebos, or that one of the royals has taken a keen interest in the initiative, or that you can do a re-enactment of the War of 1812. Then dollars will flow. Failing all that, I will fall in line behind Jayson Laplante (Conduct Unbecoming – letters, June 18) and support private funding for the Experimental Lakes Area.

Helen Godfrey, Toronto

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Ancestors, armies

Many thanks to Doug Saunders for reminding us of what Canada lost when we won the War of 1812 (My Ancestors And The Worst Thing That Has Ever Happened To This Country – Focus, June 16).

Along the Niagara frontier, this was a civil war, dividing communities and families. Joe Willcocks, a popular newspaper publisher who also served in the Upper Canada Legislative Assembly, opposed measures to suspend civil liberties. Yet, General Isaac Brock entrusted him with the mission of bringing the Iroquois onside. He fought with distinction on the British side at Queenston Heights.

But as the war continued and the government imposed draconian wartime measures, he concluded Canada might be better off as part of the republic to the south. He led a unit of “Canadian Volunteers” who served in the American army.

Victors write the history. Willcocks and his followers have been forgotten by most, or relegated to the role of traitors. The bicentennial is an opportunity to re-examine the clash of ideas as well as armies. Many of the values that Willcocks espoused 200 years ago have become mainstream ideas we take for granted today.

Don Cummer, Ottawa

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Just think: If we had only lost the War of 1812 and joined the United States, we could have participated in the extermination or removal of the first nations, waged the Seminole Wars, fought to steal the southwest and California from Mexico and then spent five years fighting the Civil War. Who could possibly choose peace order and good government over the American dream?

Terry Copp, Salem, Ont.

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End of life

As a senior in relatively good health, I know there will eventually be an end (Physician-Assisted Suicide – June 18). My concern is not when, but how. There are those who will detail how the right to assisted death could be abused. These concerns can be resolved with legislation.

We know how many terminal patients view it. A national poll of seniors may give a better view.

Frank Gilmore, Leamington, Ont.

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Ethicist Margaret Somerville refers to research that shows “the most likely reasons people want assisted suicide/euthanasia are fear of being abandoned – dying alone and unloved – and of being a burden on others.”

According to the annual report of the Oregon Health Authority, however, “the three most frequently mentioned end of life concerns were: decreasing ability to participate in activities that made life enjoyable (90.1 per cent), loss of autonomy (88.7 per cent), and loss of dignity (74.6 per cent).”

The first question in one poll cited by Prof. Somerville was: “Do you believe euthanasia should be legalized when a person does not give their consent?”

Euthanasia without consent is murder. Posing such a question confuses respondents and leads to potentially biased results.

Wanda Morris, executive director, Dying With Dignity Canada

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Debt’s big interest

Much editorial emphasis has been put on irresponsible sovereign borrowers and the lack of accountability in democracies, and not enough guilt attributed to the lenders (Democracies Can’t Live In Perpetual Stimulus; Going Deeper Into Debt Won’t Solve The Euro Zone’s Debt – June 18).

Where were the rating agencies and risk managers when banks made unsustainable loans to governments that borrowed beyond their means? Why did Greece, etc. get charged low interest rates on mounting debt, encouraging demand for more?

Now those same financial institutions are asking others to make sacrifices to repair a problem they helped create – severe austerity to extract recovery of their loans from the poorest of citizens, and unlimited capital guarantees by the world at large to shore up their diminished balance sheets.

In a true free market, shouldn’t lenders bear much of the brunt for loans gone bad? Shouldn’t their behaviours be examined as closely as those of the borrowers?

Otherwise, what incentive do they have to get it right the next time?

Jim Evans, Mississauga

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Re Europe’s Best-Laid Plans Crumble (Report on Business, June 16): I think I get it now. The EU wants global support (but not everyone wants to give it), some EU countries want Germany’s support (but not everyone wants to give it), and the Greeks want their government’s pension and wage support (but not everyone wants to give it). On one hand, everybody wants help. But on the other, nobody wants to give it.

John Van Sloten, Calgary

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