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Aboriginal walkers make their way to Parliament Hill on March 25, 2013. They trekked 1,500 kilometres in support of better conditions for first nations people. (Dave Chan For The Globe and Mail)
Aboriginal walkers make their way to Parliament Hill on March 25, 2013. They trekked 1,500 kilometres in support of better conditions for first nations people. (Dave Chan For The Globe and Mail)

What readers think

March 27: First-nations walkers deserved better, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Picture it differently

Your front-page editors would like to show me that Tiger Woods, who repeatedly cheated on his former wife, and who is not a Canadian citizen, is back on top again (Winning Ways – March 26). Oh, and that the Prime Minister of Canada met with Fed Ex-ed pandas.

Meanwhile, a group of young first-nations people completed an epic 1,500-kilometre walk, during which they hiked and snowshoed and camped through extreme weather, ending their journey Monday at Parliament Hill, in hopes their efforts might bring attention to the needs of their communities (Trek To Ottawa ‘Not The End’ – March 26).

But then, putting their photo on The Globe’s front page might have reminded us of our collective agreements and responsibilities toward all the people who live in Canada, including those who were here first, and put us off at breakfast, and made us feel guilty. Or maybe we would have felt inspired, who knows?

Maybe you should try a whole lot harder, dig a whole lot deeper and show us what really matters to Canadians.

Carrie Snyder, Waterloo, Ont.

.........

Canadians are spending millions of dollars to have two pandas in Canada (A Black And White Issue – March 26). What takes your top display? A lying, cheating U.S. golfer who won millions of dollars walking around a golf course.

I see that the Prime Minister and the pandas made the front page – but played second fiddle to a “Tiger.”

I am disappointed and offended.

L.E. O’Brien, Kingston

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A better way?

It would appear negotiations with first nations have gone much better in Yukon than elsewhere (You Say You Want A Devolution? In Yukon, It’s Reality – March 25). Premier Darrell Pasloski tells us that 11 of Yukon’s 14 first nations have already signed modern-day treaties and are self-governing.

In the provinces, land-claim negotiations have become a morass, fraught with failure (and expense). Are there things that the Yukon land-claims-settlement process can teach us that we need, desperately, to know?

Stephen McNamee, Ottawa

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Impossible things

Reading Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article reminds me of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, where Alice is invited to believe six impossible things before breakfast (A Visionary Reinvention Of The Two-State Solution – March 26). The wonky proposal on offer involves Israeli Arabs being required to transfer their citizenship to a West Bank-Gaza Palestinian state, and both Jews and Arabs being able to live wherever they choose in Israel and Palestine, as long as the Jews are citizens of Israel and the Arab are citizens of Palestine. Ms. Slaughter asserts that this will be more popular than a conventional two-state solution. Only with real-estate agents, I suspect.

Contrary to her assertion, majorities of both Israeli and West Bank Palestinians are still in favour of a two-state model along the lines of the Clinton parameters of 2000. The task, as difficult as it may be, is to find ways to bring Israeli and Palestinian leaders to support what most of their peoples still know is the only realistic path to peace.

Simon Rosenblum, Toronto

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Backs to basics

Re MRI Scans For Back Pain Often Unnecessary (March 26): You quote a researcher commenting that “it will be a challenge to train family doctors to make the proper referrals for scanning.”

It shouldn’t be. We’ve long had a tool for it. It’s called a relevant clinical education, sadly lacking as schools too often focus on practice fields more likely to bring in big-dollar research grants. The most important tool in clinical spine care is the patient’s symptom history. “Red flags” are well established and should be common medical knowledge. They’re not.

When it’s missed, neglected spine pathology can lead to paralysis and even death, just as definitively as brain tumours can. You’d think that would be rare in a modern health-care system, but it isn’t. As a dedicated adult-spine surgeon, I’ve long had a growing concern about qualifying cases being missed too frequently. At least once a month last year, I treated a patient with catastrophic neurological compression not from classically missed pathologies, like cancer or infection, but from simple spinal stenosis. Surgeons from across the country have expressed similar concerns.

The answer lies in the curriculums of medical schools and family doctors’ training programs, where even one simple dedicated lecture might serve us all very well indeed.

Drew A. Bednar, clinical professor of orthopedic surgery, adult-spine surgeon, McMaster University

.........

Pipeline economics

This irrational pipeline debate would be merely irritating if it wasn’t so damaging to the economy (Has Northern Gateway Poisoned The Well For B.C.? – March 22). As Gary Mason points out, the oil industry and our ability to export oil is absolutely vital to Canada’s economic well-being. What federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and his anti-oil friends don’t get is really very simple: “It’s the oil, stupid!” That’s what keeps our economy humming.

Andrew van Velzen, Toronto

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No company can move forward on a project in B.C. unless it can answer tough questions on its environmental impact. British Columbians should expect no less, from Enbridge or anyone else. We are committed to building the Northern Gateway project to the highest environmental standards anywhere in the world, and to answering every question and concern British Columbians have in the spirit of openness and transparency. It’s only in that spirit that we will come to lasting decisions that benefit our economy, people and environment.

Janet Holder, executive vice-president, Western Access, Enbridge Inc.

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Scrapping CIDA

With the Canadian International Development Agency now being absorbed by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, it raises the question, why keep it at all (Julian Fantino: Why CIDA Merged With Foreign Affairs – online, March 26)? The merger is just another step in consolidating power, and as a development professional, I’ve seen how dangerous a weapon foreign policy can be when it’s disguised as aid.

If the Harper government’s intention is to use foreign aid to ultimately benefit Canadians, and not the 1.4 billion people living under the poverty line, then taxpayers are better off donating that money directly to charities and NGOs themselves.

Ariane Cartwright, Ottawa

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Panda pull

All this fuss about pandas reminds me of visiting China. Rural Chinese would stand next to us foreigners to be photographed; tall blondes were especially popular. Our charming young guide explained it this way, “To us, you are like pandas.”

Lynne Murphy, Toronto

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