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Cossacks attend a rally in Stavropol to support the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea to Russia on March 18, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin, defying Ukrainian protests and Western sanctions, signed a treaty on Tuesday making Crimea part of Russia. (EDUARD KORNIYENKO/REUTERS)
Cossacks attend a rally in Stavropol to support the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea to Russia on March 18, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin, defying Ukrainian protests and Western sanctions, signed a treaty on Tuesday making Crimea part of Russia. (EDUARD KORNIYENKO/REUTERS)

WHAT READERS THINK

March 19: Crimea’s choice – and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Crimea’s choice

Re Kremlin Embraces Independent Crimea, Mocks West’s Sanctions (March 18): U.S. President Barack Obama’s sanctions on Russia: Talk loudly and carry a small stick.

E.W. Bopp, Tsawwassen, B.C.

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Western governments’ reaction to the situation in Crimea seems strange, bearing in mind this issue would never have arisen had not Nikita Khrushchev, with no consultation, given Crimea to Ukraine in 1954.

Had he not done so, it would have remained part of Russia when the USSR broke up, and its people would not have needed to go through this tortuous process to return to where they clearly – in view of the referendum results – felt they belonged.

Given that Russian President Vladimir Putin – about whom I hold no illusions – apparently did not act outside the terms of the treaties with Ukraine before the referendum results were in, is it not time for us in the West to mind our own business?

Or do we not believe in democracy unless it delivers the results that we, rather than the voters themselves, want?

Elspeth Christie, Ayton, Ont.

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It’s good to see Stephen Harper standing up to Vladimir Putin. Mr. Putin is a bully who thinks he can get whatever he wants; he doesn’t care what anybody thinks.

If we let him get away with Crimea, who knows what he will do next? He might try to unilaterally change the election laws.

Andrew Hodgson, Ottawa

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If it ain’t broke …

Re Undemocratic Reform (letters, March 17): As a Canadian residing in the U.S., I am dismayed that the Conservative government is leaning toward the same shenanigans limiting voters’ rights as have been tried by some state governments, specifically by passing various voter-ID laws. The net effect is to impede voters who are poorer, less white and less likely to vote Republican.

In January, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration issued a report, concluding that fraud is rare. The commission, headed by voting-law experts of opposing political parties, was set up to address the unbearably long lines in 2012 at the polls.

So while the U.S. government searches for ways to facilitate voting, the Canadian government looks to encumber that process? Or are Canadians more likely to perpetrate fraud and hence the Fair Elections Act is necessary?

Dale Pitman, San Francisco

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Liberal infighting

Re Redrawn Riding Boundaries Trigger Liberal Infighting (March 14): As a former Liberal Party staffer who worked in a couple of campaigns in Trinity-Spadina, I can attest to the existence of “intimidation and bullying” and the toxic environment it created for many volunteers.

Kudos to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau for abandoning the fantasy of trying to uphold an open nomination process. He’s finally beginning to look like a future prime minister, not a student council president.

Carl Warren, former manager political operations, Northern/Toronto regions, Liberal Party of Canada (Ontario)

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Teens, tans, cancer

Re Alberta To Introduce Tanning Bed Legislation This Year (March 17): Teens are falling into the trap of thinking that being tanned makes them look healthy and beautiful. The Canadian Cancer Society says one in three 17-year-old girls in Alberta has used indoor tanning beds, with most starting by 15. This is ridiculous: Parents shouldn’t be allowed to let children under 18 expose themselves to cancer.

They would never dream of giving their kids cigarettes, why agree to let them tan?

Bethany Pile, Toronto

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Politics and principle

Re Redford Hit With Second Defection (March 18): When was the last time Albertans, or Canadians for that matter, witnessed a politician resigning from a ministerial post and the caucus on a matter of principle?

Donna Kennedy-Glans says she quit because of an air of entitlement, a dearth of fiscal conservatism and a failure to listen to voters. Politicians with this sense of responsibility to the electorate and their own principles have almost vanished from public life. More of them should embrace the same sense of accountability.

As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, where an elder statesman is giving advice to his son, “To thine own self be true.” Good advice in the 17th century – and now.

Gerry Stephenson, Canmore, Alta.

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When vets need us

Re What We Owe Our Vets (editorial, March 17): In light of Ottawa’s attempt to scrimp and save when it comes to meeting veterans’ basic needs, the declaration that “We support our troops,” emblazoned on bumper stickers across this country, should be amended to add “until they need our real, concrete help.”

Shameful.

Sid Shniad, Surrey, B.C.

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Fear of death

Re Discussions That People Don’t Want To Have (March 14, Life): We’re pleased Sandra Martin used statistics from the recent Harris/Decima poll commissioned by our national initiative, The Way Forward, about the reasons Canadians don’t like to talk about end of life. Her article ends by promising to take the next step of “having the tough conversation about an Advance Care Directive .”

The Hospice Palliative Care Association has free tools and resources to make that conversation easier for Canadians – including workbooks, wallet cards and videos to support people as they share their wishes for care.

Yes, it may seem like a tough conversation but it’s one of the most important ones to have.

Sharon Baxter, executive director, Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association

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Rock the ages

Re Sixty Degrees Of Denial (Facts & Arguments, March 17): At age 60, my marriage ended. When I turned 64, I got my first full-time job with benefits. At 65, my children took me to Peru and we did the four-day trek to Machu Picchu (the hardest thing I’ve ever done). The year I was 67, I spent a week working in Haiti at a hospital hard hit by cholera.

At 69, I applied for and received a fellowship to work in Malaysia. When I was 70, I visited my son and his family in Kathmandu, then went on to work for seven weeks at an NGO based in Penang. This year, I announced my retirement and my plans to establish a business in a field that I love.

In July, I will be reporting on my Penang work at an international conference in Arizona. In August, my youngest daughter gets married. Next year, I plan to do some gentle treks in the Himalayas.

As for sex? It happens, but we will be discreet. Don’t despair at getting older: We may need more upkeep but let’s live until we die. (The Sonoma Valley sounds like just the ticket.)

Eileen Shea, Hamilton

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