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Hay River residential school children, circa1920s. (NWT ARCHIVES)
Hay River residential school children, circa1920s. (NWT ARCHIVES)

WHAT READERS THINK

July 19: Canada’s shame over First Nations children, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Canada’s shame

Re Acknowledge Nutrition Test ‘Horrors,’ Atleo Tells PM (July 18): Canadians conducted experiments on aboriginal children? We starved them on purpose to see what it would do? I’m sickened.

We say that was long ago, that wasn’t me. But we enjoy the benefits every day of the dehumanizing, the displacement, the resource theft. Our homes and cities are built on it. And it isn’t over.

We are in the thick of it. Hungry children, child suicides, unclean water, no housing – that is Canada today.

Those “historical skeletons” are real people, human beings, children. There are treaties, there are ethics and there is the incontrovertible truth.

I want to say to First Nations people: We need you to give us a clear policy to support, written on your terms, spoken directly to us, not to the politicians. We’ll hold our politicians accountable. There are millions of Canadians who will stand beside you.

This is a national shame. It has to end today.

Jordan Oxley, Toronto

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Stand your ground

Re America Needs More From Obama On Race (July 18): Barack Obama is President of all American citizens, not just black citizens. If he criticizes the outcome of what appears to have been a properly and lawfully conducted trial, it would undermine the separation of the judiciary from the executive branch of government.

The fact that the acquittal is a result of a misguided “stand your ground” Florida state law reflects the onslaught on civil rights by far-right zealots, who command a presence in southern state houses and the federal House of Representatives far beyond their actual popular support nationally.

Until there is more widespread realization and condemnation of the roles being played by this nefarious group, progress will be constantly undermined, in spite of the shining beacon of hope that Mr. Obama’s consecutive elections have represented.

Frank Malone, Aurora, Ont.

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Nuclear’s elephant

Re Staying Cool? Thank Nuclear (July 18): To “thank nuclear” and be happy, one must ignore the massive glowing elephant in the room – the two million bundles of spent nuclear waste that the industry has cranked out so far in Canada and which the Nuclear Waste Management Organization estimates may cost as much as $24-billion to safely store.

David Wood, South Bruce, Ont.

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Every nuclear project in Ontario’s history has been late and massively over budget – on average by 2.5 times. Those cost overruns have been passed on to Ontario’s electricity consumers.

Cheap nuclear power is a myth. Contracts with renewable and natural-gas-fired power producers won’t let them pass on overruns. Nuclear should be held to the same market discipline.

If nuclear has to compete on a level playing field, the market will reveal that it is the highest cost option to keep our lights on.

Jack Gibbons, chair, Ontario Clean Air Alliance

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Medicare for all

Cuts To Refugee Care Hurt Only The Deserving (July 18) explains the folly and injustice of this policy very well. Canada seems to be saying: We think being a refugee is your own fault, we blame you for your homeland’s problems, so stay where you are. I want to know that, as a population, we are all getting cared for and vaccinated, otherwise the health-care system doesn’t work for anyone.

Trish Bongard Godfrey, Toronto

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Memories of Colville

As a radio broadcaster, I interviewed Alex Colville in 1995 at an exhibition of his drawings (Alex Colville And The Disturbance Beneath The Tranquility – July 18). He mentioned that his father came to Canada in the 1920s and found work as foreman of a riveting gang during the construction of the Welland Canal.

I asked if his father spoke to him of the tragic collapse of a giant lock door in 1928 as it was being erected, killing a number of workers on the floor of the canal. Mr. Colville said he never forgot the day his father came home grim-faced and spoke of the likelihood there would be no benefits of any kind offered to the widows and families by the company.

I wrote Mr. Colville after that interview to tell him my grandfather was there that day too, working on a riveting gang led by a Scottish foreman. Grandfather spoke of the diverse workers on that job and their special skills, such as the Swedes who were known as excellent cable splicers. He described his Scottish foreman as a “beautiful man,” and sadly recalled construction supervisors scolding them to forget about the accident and get back to work, the sad sentiment Mr. Colville’s father brought home that day as well.

In a letter to me, Mr. Colville stated: “I thought a lot of my father who, like your grandfather, had a kind of life that few people today can even imagine.”

I treasure the opportunity I had to discover our shared experience with working people.

Bob Bratina, Mayor, Hamilton

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Your front page picture of Alex Colville’s nude self-portrait was a bit much. I can only speculate why it was chosen to commemorate his talents as an artist.

Patrick Barry, Saint-Lambert, Que.

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Rx for drug costs

Re EU Still Hoping For Trade Deal: Diplomat (July 18): Matthias Brinkmann, the EU Ambassador to Canada, says the concessions Canada is expected to make on intellectual property, i.e. extending patent protection for brand-name drugs, will conform with international standards of patent protection. What he doesn’t say is that this three-year patent extension will cost Canada $3-billion annually in additional drug costs, because lower-cost generic-drug replacements will be delayed by a further three years.

George Fleischmann, lecturer, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

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Subway taxes

Re Ford Hails ‘Historic Day’ As Council Approves Subway Plan (July 18): I very much suspect this will prove to be a Pyrrhic victory for Toronto’s mayor. Rob Ford, who campaigned on “no new taxes,” will be forced to explain why he chose to increase property taxes to pay for his pet project when there was enough funding to cover the cost of an LRT. As noted, a three-stop subway line will not serve Scarborough residents nearly so well as a seven-stop LRT would have done.

The existing subway line cannot provide anything close to the needed level of service because the aging switching system breaks down repeatedly. Even if the switches still worked to their maximum ability, the TTC can’t run more trains on the existing lines because those switches were never meant to handle higher capacity. Passengers are forced to wait as trains go by that are so crowded, it’s impossible to get on.

I hope the new stations on the Scarborough line are architecturally compelling, because people will have lots of time on their hands to admire them.

Steve Soloman, Toronto

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