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A traffic sign on Highway 17 at the turn off to the Experimental Lakes Area near Kenora, Ont. that had the name Harper added to it is photographed Nov. 1, 2012. The research facility examines, using experimental lakes, the effect of human activities on lakes and their watersheds. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
A traffic sign on Highway 17 at the turn off to the Experimental Lakes Area near Kenora, Ont. that had the name Harper added to it is photographed Nov. 1, 2012. The research facility examines, using experimental lakes, the effect of human activities on lakes and their watersheds. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

What readers think

March 18: Why Harper closed ELA research station, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Research cuts

Obviously this is not an economic decision (Research Station Closure Called A ‘Travesty’ – March 16). The Harper government could have paid for this essential facility dozens of times with just the wasted advertising budgets used to remind us that there was a war in 1812 and a defunct Economic Action Plan in 2010. Mr. Harper’s ludicrous sop to the religious right – our $5 million per year wasted to establish an Office of Religious Freedom – could have funded this facility plus one and a half more just like it. So the real question becomes, is some scientist being punished for finding out things Mr. Harper doesn’t want to hear, or is it just Mr. Harper’s philosophy of exploiting the environment back at work again?

Bruce Mason, Etobicoke, Ont.

Early intervention

Our sympathies lie with Kit Skelly’s parents who have described their family’s struggle with schizophrenia (Pulling The Shroud Off Schizophrenia – March 16). Families often describe their difficulties finding services for their loved ones. In Kit’s case it is unfortunate that he was not connected with programs that are part of Toronto’s early psychosis network. Early psychosis intervention has been shown to lessen family burden and demonstrate good outcomes in terms of school, work, family relationships and symptom reduction. Efforts are under way to improve access to services in Toronto, but we need to do more to ensure people are able to access community mental health services. There are currently 5,500 people on the waiting list for supportive housing in Toronto, and wait times for other community services can be six months or more. We need to focus on the deficit in mental-health care and increase the mental-health share of health spending to make sure more families are able to get the help they need and deserve.

Steve Lurie, executive director, CMHA Toronto Branch

Seniors’ safety

The death of a Toronto nursing home resident, the hospitalization of another and the detention of a third is a tragedy – possibly preventable – that points to the urgency of political accountability and action (Man Charged After Senior Beaten To Death – March 15).

It is disingenuous to say we all care about our seniors, yet fail again and again to protect the safety of nursing home residents, not to mention tackling our health-care system’s capacity to care for people with mental health and behavioural challenges. If we want to prevent future tragedies, a thorough investigation must be opened immediately not only by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care but also by Ontario’s coroner, to uncover the systemic issues that led to this incident.

Funding for additional registered nursing staff and ensuring each nursing home has access to nurse practitioners to ensure faster medical action are likely to emerge at the top of the action list.

Doris Grinspun, CEO, Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario

Universe laughs?

I had a good laugh reading Uncovering The God Particle Reveals Deeper Mysteries (March 15). In my layperson’s view, it seems the history of the universe, including the evolutionary process, is characterized by an orientation toward deeper acquaintance – relationship, if you will.

That the work being done at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland in identifying the Higgs boson particle is worthy of a Nobel Prize, but that it is not obvious which individual to give it to, emphasizes the great difficulties that arise when we exist, on the one hand, in a culture that worships individualism and, on the other hand, among a relational universe.

In this case, we may have figured out the science, but I don’t think we’ve got the message. Maybe the universe is laughing, too.

Sheryl Spencer, Guelph, Ont.

Casino crap shoot

Round and round it goes. Gambling is risky, but it’s downright reckless to gamble with an outfit that doesn’t play by its own rules. Ontario Lottery and Gaming’s latest spin, a promise of extra dollars for Toronto should the city agree to take a casino (OLG Boosts Toronto’s Casino Take – March 15), breaks with the organization’s terms that it treats all proposals equally. In other words, a crap shoot.

Pamela Cuthbert, Toronto

...............

The OLG is trying to buy the City of Toronto as home for a casino. Ron Phillips, OLG’s chief executive, made it clear that Toronto would get a better deal than the standard formula for other cities.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has said that he knows how the people of Toronto feel and “how can people say no to this?”

Will we have a chance to say no to this?

Virginia Edman, Toronto

You’re under arrest

The vast majority of citizen’s arrests are carried out by an ever-expanding array of private security forces whose conduct, depending on the province in which you reside, may not be governed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Our Supreme Court has yet to weigh in on the issue of the application of the Charter to citizen’s arrest. The response by all major political parties to the plight of Toronto merchant David Chen was predictable, and political. There is not an epidemic concerning small shopkeepers being victimized by serial thieves and unsympathetic police forces. This was but one case, and one where the justice system, as with many true “citizen’s” arresters, bent over backward to accommodate the right of a shopkeeper to defend his property.

Mr. Chen was acquitted due to the finding by the trial judge that the perpetrator was committing a continuing offence of theft. There was no evidence before Parliament to suggest that such a drastic legislative response was necessary in the circumstances. This was pure politics from the Liberals, NDP and Conservatives, who all fell over themselves to propose such an expansion without properly considering the consequences.

Instead, the legislative response has served to expand the powers of private security and its ever-growing presence in the lives of ordinary Canadians. Parliament failed to listen. Simply put, this is a solution in search of a problem.

Leonardo Russomanno, Ottawa

Papal demise

In 1978, when Paul VI died, he was followed by John Paul I, who died about a month later. My wife and I had been camping in Banff National Park and knew nothing about John Paul’s demise. We pulled in to renew our park permit, and noticed that the flag was at half-mast.

I asked the young lady what that was about. She replied: “Oh, the Pope died again.”

Bill Cosgrave, Kelowna

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