Babies by design
Re Fertility Clinic: Doctor Alone On ‘Rainbow Family’ Ban (July 29): In trying to defend his refusal to help a white patient at a Calgary clinic get pregnant with sperm from a non-white donor, Calvin Greene cites Ottawa’s Assisted Human Reproduction Act, which discourages doctors from helping create “designer babies.”
An anonymous parent, who went to the same clinic a couple of years ago, said they wanted to “have kids that look as much like us as possible.” Wouldn’t such kids qualify as “designer babies”?
John Lazarus, Kingston
Why in NAFTA then?
Re Free Trade, Still Alive (editorial, July 29): If investor-state dispute settlements were designed “to protect developed-world companies from capricious actions by governments of countries without developed-world legal standards,” why were they necessary in NAFTA? And why is Canada facing over $2.5-billion in challenges from American corporations?
Maude Barlow, Council of Canadians
Rob Ford on stage
Re Ties To Company He Helped At City Hall ‘Irrelevant,’ Mayor Says – July 29): It is ridiculous for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to say he can’t see the very obvious conflict of interest he has in promoting a client of his family business that is trying to get a city contract.
It suggests that either he is a fool (which I do not believe he is) or he believes that the voters are fools. Judging by the number of people still willing to vote for him, he just may be right.
Kevin S. Beatson, Oakville, Ont.
Earlier this year, theatre critic J. Kelly Nestruck urged theatre-makers not to create any work about Toronto’s embattled mayor (‘Oh God. Not Another Show About Rob Ford’ – May 17). I was intrigued to find my own play listed in support of the plea, despite the fact no one had even read the script then.
My play premieres this week at the Edinburgh fringe festival and I can’t help but recall Mr. Nestruck’s comments. Rereading his piece now, it seems he has two problems with Ford-inspired plays. First, there are too many. Second, they “exploit the mayor’s self-destruction.”
Rob Ford and the scandal(s) surrounding his substance abuse are the biggest stories to come out of Toronto in decades. Artists of all descriptions can and should be responding to this defining moment in the city’s history through their work. If that work is undertaken with integrity and originality, why shouldn’t we have many more plays about Mr. Ford?
Yes, some may cross the line into exploitation. I can’t speak for other artists but this has been a huge concern of mine – one I’ve done my very best to avoid.
Jason Hall, playwright (21 Things You Should Know About Toronto’s Crack-Smoking Mayor); Edinburgh
Stripped of honours
Re Ottawa Eliminates Award Inspired By Feminist Icon (July 28): So, Stephen Harper has stolen Therese Casgrain’s award for partisan purposes. Despite Mr. Harper’s brave words, the distinction between him and Vladimir Putin becomes more blurred every day.
Rob Adams, Vancouver
How terrible. My family has a distant relationship to another notable Canadian, Agnes Macphail, who also blazed trails and stood for high principles. I was dismayed when I visited Parliament a few years ago and found no one at the information desk had heard of Ms. Macphail – the first woman elected to our Parliament.
Our family was always proud of even a distant connection, so I can’t imagine how the Casgrain family feels to have such rightful honours stripped away.
Bill Forman, Calgary
If Hamas is allowed to see itself as having won this war, everyone else, including Canadians, will be at increased risk. We cannot allow their tactics and manipulation of our natural sympathy and horror at the deaths and injuries of their civilian population to succeed, because that will lead to more deaths in the long run.
The civilian population has been used as hostages by Hamas, purposely put in harm’s way by sending rockets and tunnels into Israel until the Israelis were forced to defend themselves. These tactics can easily be extended by other, even more radical terrorist groups like ISIS to civilians everywhere.
When the Israelis voluntarily withdrew from Gaza, Hamas, instead of taking practical steps to build a Palestinian state, and using its location near both Israel and Egypt to build its economy, made it clear that what they want is the destruction of Israel.
Compare this to the Iraqi Kurds who have been so successful at establishing the infrastructure for a state, despite the increasing troubles in Iraq. What has Hamas built? Is this the side and philosophy we want to support?
Marcia Zalev, Toronto
The state of Israel is a failed experiment. After 66 years of existence, Israel is a state with an ambiguous border, located in basically hostile territory surrounded on three sides by Arabs who would like to see it gone.
All its vaunted military might will not save it because Israel, with all that firepower, cannot defeat the idea of a restored and whole country of Palestine with a Palestinian population returning from the squalid refugee camps where many now live.
Barry V. Fisher, Lethbridge, Alta.
Audits left and right
Re Charities Probe Even-Handed, CRA Says (July 25): In my national tax-law practice, I represent many large and small charities with both left- and right-wing views. Most of my time is spent advocating on their behalf in disputes with the Canada Revenue Agency.
I am neither a special friend of the CRA nor a shill but I can assure you that charities everywhere on the spectrum are being audited for political activities.
The difference is that the right-wing charities are disinclined to publicly self-identify because neither they, nor their supporters, are likely to believe they are the subject of a conspiracy.
Adam Aptowitzer, Ottawa
And in the next bed
Re Now Accepting Visitors 24/7 (Life & Arts, July 28): A few years ago, a concussion landed me in hospital. I was put in a semi-private room, where the fellow next to me, due to be discharged the following day, had what seemed like his entire family stay with him all night. I couldn’t sleep as a constant parade of people went past my bed to get snacks or chatted among themselves.
I was too ill to object; staff were too busy to police the situation, so I suffered in silence. A friend, in hospital for surgery, described how his roommate had a raging argument with his spouse, followed by make-up sex, which tops my story immeasurably!
Unless hospitals have the resources to provide private rooms to all their patients, or the staff to supervise 24/7 visits, this is a thoroughly bad idea.
Jim Bertram, Minden, Ont.