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Chief of Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance, shown at a news conference in Ottawa on Aug. 30, 2016, says the issue of mefloquine use by Canadian military personnel has his “full attention.” (FRED CHARTRAND/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Chief of Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance, shown at a news conference in Ottawa on Aug. 30, 2016, says the issue of mefloquine use by Canadian military personnel has his “full attention.” (FRED CHARTRAND/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

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Nov. 17: Bad trip. Plus other letters to the editor Add to ...

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here: letters@globeandmail.com

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Bad trip

The side effects of the anti-malarial drug mefloquine prescribed to Canadian military personnel reportedly include “anxiety, paranoia, depression, hallucinations, psychotic behaviour and, in rare cases, thoughts of suicide” (Military Rethinking Use Of Harmful Anti-Malaria Drug, Top General Says, Nov. 16). Strange, but these are the same side effects of LSD. I can’t believe that the Canadian Forces would permit its members to take this drug.

Brian Caines, Ottawa

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In 1991 I was privileged to open the office of the Canadian Embassy in Hanoi, as a prelude to establishing a full embassy. Having served in Thailand in the early 1980s, I was very aware of the debilitating effects of malaria. I asked Health Canada, then responsible for global health advice to our foreign service, what I should take as a malaria prophylactic. My question elicited an energetic debate among health experts about the pros and cons of anti-malarial drugs, including mefloquine, but no conclusion.

Given this lack of medical consensus, I decided to rely on the old anti-malarial standby, quinine as contained in original tonic water, to be mixed with another medicinal compound, gin. I later returned to Vietnam as ambassador and continued to avoid malaria with a G&T.

While there is considerable global effort being made to eradicate malaria, I would hope that our Canadian soldiers, in harm’s way, would receive better medical advice than simply being told they “can protect themselves appropriately.”

Marius Grinius, Canadian ambassador to Vietnam (1997-99), Ottawa

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Best and brightest

Re Ottawa To Ease Way For Skilled Workers (Nov. 15): It is unacceptable for the Liberal government to extend “invitations” to foreign postsecondary students, easing their entry to our job market, at a time when it has never been more difficult for young Canadians to obtain degrees.

Only a fraction of qualified applicants gain entry to fields such as engineering or medicine, yet many of our universities continue to focus on increasing their foreign-student “business.” Tuition costs continue to rise and student housing is expensive; many who graduate do so carrying a mountain of debt.

Immigration Minister John McCallum is fond of referring to foreign students as among the “best and brightest” – but their distinguishing feature is more apt to be their ability to finance the high costs of a Canadian education. Meanwhile Canada’s own best and brightest are too often left outside the campus gates, looking in.

Ronald McCaig, Port Alberni, B.C.

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CBC’s reach

Re Ottawa Pressed To Curb CBC’s Growth (Nov. 16): The CBC is required by law to make its programming available throughout Canada by the most appropriate and efficient means. It follows that digital distribution should be fully utilized by the CBC to fulfill its role as the nation’s public broadcaster.

The real issue appears to be advertising revenue. As I have noted on many occasions, the CBC should be funded in such a way that it does not have to rely excessively on commercial advertising for its core mandate. It would be more helpful to their cause if the commercial media would work with the CBC and the government to find practical methods for reducing such reliance. Successive governments have paid lip service to this notion, but no concrete action has been taken.

Tony Manera, former president of the CBC, Ottawa

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Trump’s impact

Re It Might Not Be All Bad (Nov. 15): True, it might not be all bad. Mussolini, after all, did make the trains run on time. But the fact is we have no idea what Donald Trump will do, not just because it’s hard for any president to achieve political change even with a Congress dominated by his own party, but because Mr. Trump himself doesn’t know what he’ll do or how far he will go given the opportunity.

When it comes to core values, he is a man blowing in the wind. So far we can affirm that he is angry, resentful, boorish, crass, unkind and untutored. By all means breathe deeply – it can’t hurt. But happy thoughts? I prefer to keep Maya Angelou’s advice in mind: When someone tells you who he is, believe him.

Anita Dermer, Toronto

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The condemnation of Donald Trump’s election confirms for me the blatant hypocrisy of Canadians. We proudly bury our heads in Canadian soil, refusing to look at the racial prejudices and attitudes rampant here toward blacks, Muslims, aboriginals, women, seniors, the poor. Our racism may be somewhat disguised sometimes as humour, but it is real and it is dangerous.

I travelled widely throughout Canada, and always voted “socialist,” whether for Pierre Trudeau or the NDP. In the past four years, after becoming a senior, I have toured by vehicle 70,000 kilometres in the United States. I have seen the horrors and blessings of that country, but I have seen the same horrors in Canada.

Sometimes one of our ostriches raises its head above the crowd to see what’s going on here and squawks alarm, but mostly our heads are buried deeply except when the southern vista beckons ... and then the hissing begins.

Bob Mosurinjohn, Lakefield, Ont.

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Class act

NFL quarterback Cam Newton, the league’s Most Valuable Player, insists that he and his fellow players should be able to express themselves after scoring a touchdown or making a great play (Newton Challenges Crackdown On Player Celebrations, Sports, Nov. 16).

Vince Lombardi, after whom the Super Bowl trophy is named, disagreed. He instructed the players on his championship Green Bay Packers teams about how to behave in the end zone after a successful play: “Act like you’ve been there before.”

John D. O’Leary, Toronto

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Proud papa

When I began reading “Letters from Dad” (Facts & Arguments, Nov. 16), I thought Dan Richards was writing about my two successful, accomplished, amazing daughters! Of course I knew he isn’t their father, but I did wonder how he could describe them so well. Thank you, Dan, for teaching all of us parents how to acknowledge the wonders who are our daughters.

Joy Ruttan, Gatineau, Que.

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Word for the day

Finally something good has come out of the U.S. election: Lawrence Martin has increased my vocabulary (Taking A Page From Papa’s Playbook, Nov. 16). What a perfect word: “kakistocracy,” relating to Donald Trump’s win. (Even sounds a bit Russian!)

Sarah Hoag, Toronto

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