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Senator Mike Duffy raises a glass to photographers after giving a keynote address to the Maritimes Energy Association annual dinner at the Marriott Halifax Harbourfront Hotel in Halifax, Feb. 6, 2013. (PAUL DARROW/GLOBE AND MAIL)
Senator Mike Duffy raises a glass to photographers after giving a keynote address to the Maritimes Energy Association annual dinner at the Marriott Halifax Harbourfront Hotel in Halifax, Feb. 6, 2013. (PAUL DARROW/GLOBE AND MAIL)

WHAT READERS THINK

Feb. 11: Sober second thoughts, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

‘Taskless thanks’

If the recent actions of Senator Patrick Brazeau (New Scandal Hits Senate – Feb. 8) result in any meaningful reform of the Senate, the cost of paying his $132,000-plus salary until 2049 is well worth the price.

Terry Parsonage, Winnipeg

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Re Senator Mike Duffy, PEI Resident, Using OHIP Card – Feb. 9: When Mike Duffy was just an ink-stained wretch, he called the Senate a “taskless thanks.” Good line then; good line now.

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Paul Grant, Vancouver

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Little Mike Duffy

Sat on a ‘toughie’

Where in the world live I?

If I say Kanata

I’ll be senator non grata

So I guess I’ll just say PEI

Gary Walker, Charlottetown

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Senators make and review laws that directly affect Canadians, in much the same way as MPs (With Its Reputation In Tatters, The Senate’s Future Grows Shakier – Feb. 8). But, unlike MPs, senators are not selected by the people. That is why the Harper government believes the Senate must change to reach its full potential as a democratic institution.

The best way forward is a term-limited Senate with democratic elections. Seeking the opinion of the Supreme Court now instead of later means that a legal determination on Senate reform can be made earlier, and reform can be achieved faster should a favourable opinion be received.

Tim Uppal, Minister of State for Democratic Reform

Tough on tears

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s display of emotion was a rare glimpse into the human side of a leader who too often seems coldly political (Harper Speaks As A Father – Feb. 9).

Sadly his announcement of increased restrictions for the release of persons found not criminally responsible is just that – coldly political and out of touch.

February 12 is Bell Canada’s Let’s Talk day when Canadians are asked to confront the stigma of mental illness. Increasingly in this country we have become more sensitive to the plight of those suffering from mental illnesses. There are remarkable enlightened approaches to helping these people, many of whom find themselves in the criminal justice system.

Being found not criminally responsible means that an offender has a mental illness – a health issue. No matter how serious or tragic the offence, we must never forget that an illness was at its core. Healthy reintegration to society is in the public interest.

Mr. Harper is showing insensitivity to the real advances that are being made to understand and destigmatize mental illness in this country and around the world.

Indeed his suggestion that there are glaring gaps in the justice system and his misuse of victims as a backdrop to his legislative tough on crime agenda is not only insensitive but politically irresponsible.

Bill Trudell, Chair, Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers

Captured by carbon

Jeffrey Simpson is proposing that Canada follow Australia’s lead and impose a carbon tax (Australia Taxed Carbon And The Sky Didn’t Fall – Feb. 8). Government will collect the tax and return 90 per cent to homeowners and businesses. Why bother?

Do we need another expensive and ineffective layer of government that does nothing to seriously improve the environment? Let’s emulate regulations that work – such as those that resulted in cleaning up the Great Lakes, reducing auto emissions and improving air quality from heavy industry.

A final note: Australians will be electing a new government this year. Opinion polls have the Labor Party, which supports the carbon tax, trailing the opposition parties that oppose the tax. If this trend continues, Australians might unscramble the omelette.

Bob Munro, Golden, B.C.

Final choices

Ruth Goodman’s last wish was a haunting advocacy for change in our “dying with dignity” laws to allow individuals the right “to choose how and when to end their lives” (Her Last Choice – letters, Feb. 8).

While there’s little support at the federal level, which is currently defending the law that prohibits assisted suicide in an appeal of a decision from a B.C. court, there’s growing momentum in other jurisdictions, including Quebec. In addition, various forms of liberal laws on the matter, as it pertains to the terminally ill, have been adopted in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and several U.S. states.

It’s fitting that the appeal in B.C. may end up in the Supreme Court of Canada, considering that the assisted-suicide ban hasn’t been examined, at that level, since 1993. Perhaps the judges might reflect on both the root word of “humane” and a quote by e.e. cummings before making their final decision: “Unbeing dead isn’t being alive.”

Jeffrey Peckitt, Oakville, Ont.

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Ruth Goodman was well-named. With her passing, let’s press on with the passing of a “Goodman Bill,” to remember her determination to die with dignity and claim this for ourselves.

Marilyn Bar-Or, Dundas, Ont.

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As a woman advanced in years who has had the privilege as a palliative care nurse to be at the bedside of hundreds of persons who were dying, I find Ruth Goodman’s letter before her suicide quite tragic. Aging naturally brings with it a certain loss of independence, often chronic discomfort and pain, and chronic illness. Do these problems of aging mean our lives are no longer of value?

Despite the fact that I live in chronic pain, I don’t believe it diminishes what I have to offer.

Jean Echlin, Windsor, Ont.

Lawyers’ pain

I never knew lawyers felt so put upon (Tired Of Rolling With Punchlines, Lawyers Plan Image Overhaul – Feb. 7). The next time I get a $500 bill from my lawyer for a half-hour phone conversation, I’ll try to be more sensitive.

Geoff Read, London, Ont.

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If the Ontario Bar Association wants to improve the image of lawyers, it should concentrate on the conduct of its own membership. Any benefit to society of due process is lost if the legal profession promotes and encourages protracted, irrational or unreasonable litigation in any form.

Drew Wilson, Cambridge, Ont.

Hoofing it

There’s no need for the University of Saskatchewan’s study on why moose feel moved to cross rural highways (Why Did The Moose Cross The Road? Study Begins This Month – Feb. 5). Much like the chicken, the answer is: to get to the other side.

Cassandra King, Clementsport, N.S.

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