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The gray jay, chosen as Canada’s national bird. (Alexander Kolomietz/GETTY IMAGES)
The gray jay, chosen as Canada’s national bird. (Alexander Kolomietz/GETTY IMAGES)

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Nov. 18: Bird is the word. 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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Bird is the word

Re Gray Jay Named Canada’s National Bird (Nov. 17): Canada’s newly selected national bird, the gray jay, has a reputation for being a prankster and, as is noted, “may eat off your picnic table when you’re not looking.” It’s far bolder than that.

Decades ago, I worked for the B.C. Forest Service during the summer. At times, my co-worker and I would be deep in the woods, far from civilization and picnic tables. As we ate our lunch one day, a gray jay flew down and stole the bread I was just about to put into my mouth.

Brash adventurism – I didn’t know that was a Canadian trait.

Geoff Rytell, Toronto

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Although gray jay sightings may be common to some Canadians, it is not the case for many, including those of us who live in PEI, where the seed of Confederation was sown in 1864.

The Canada goose, on the other hand, is ubiquitous, easily identifiable by most Canadians, and possesses a built-in geographical name association. Given its current unofficial status as our country’s national bird, there is no need to look any further when the answer is in plain sight. We should all honk for the goose’s “official” status recognition in time for Canada’s upcoming sesquicentennial year.

Giselle Déziel, Cornwall, PEI

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I agree with the choice for the national bird, but I hope the spelling can be changed, to the greh jay.

Michael Haas, London, Ont.

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Common sense

Re Generation Snowflake? Not The Millennials I Know (Nov. 17): I was nodding along in agreement with Mark Kingwell until I read, “Common sense is a form of ideology … a myth of asymmetrical power disguised as the obvious.” Not so.

Common sense is that acute ability to cut through bombast and blather with essential knowledge and truth. Professor Kingwell seems to equate it with stating the obvious. Fact is, issues and arguments only become obvious once common sense spells them out.

Gordon S. Findlay, Etobicoke, Ont.

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Walks like a …

I read with incredulity your editorial about Stephen Bannon’s harmlessness (Stephen Bannon Is Not The Real Problem, editorial, Nov. 17). Three observations are apt.

First, whether Mr. Bannon is personally a bigot is beside the point. The question is whether his politics are the politics of bigotry and he has demonstrated conclusively that they are. The idea that he will abandon his history of pandering to and empowering white supremacists as soon as he enters the White House is simply wishful thinking.

Second, there is plenty of evidence that he is a bigot: his career as the architect of a website delivering racist, anti-Semitic and anti-female conspiracy theories and rants. If this were merely a commercial strategy, then Mr. Bannon would be even more dangerous and contemptible than if he were a mere bigot.

Third, as a practising Jew, it is irrelevant to me that the Orthodox Jewish editor of the Breitbart website thinks he’s a nice guy.

What matters is Mr. Bannon’s behaviour in the public realm, where he has been a pernicious force in U.S. public life.

Philip Siller, Toronto

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Probing mefloquine

Re Head Of Probe Into Death Of Somali Teen Urges Hard Look Into Dangers Of Malaria Drug (Nov. 17): How can Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan claim that troops now make their own informed choice about whether to take mefloquine or an alternative when the top brass can’t figure it out?

Douglas L. Martin, Hamilton

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Canadian civilians, such as myself, used mefloquine for years while working in Africa. It was most effective for what it was supposed to do. Examining the Armed Forces’ use of the drug should be balanced by examining civilian use as well.

Richard Fee, Toronto

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Too cozy

Re Trudeau Offers Fair Shake For Havana With Visit (Nov. 17): President-elect Donald Trump has been rightly criticized for cozying up to Vladimir Putin, a dangerous dictator with a bias toward attacking or interfering with neighbours and severely limiting the civil rights of Russians.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on the other hand, seems to be being praised for cozying up to a dictatorial regime in Cuba with well-established characteristics similar to those of Mr. Putin. The Cuban dictatorship has the added distinction of being a family business passed down from brother to brother.

Martin Birt, Markham, Ont.

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The Paris way

Re Canada Needs Pipelines Built The Canadian Way (Report on Business, Nov. 15): This argument overlooks Canada’s obligations on climate change. The most environmentally sound pipeline still carries climate-ruining fuel.

The Paris Agreement target to avoid climate disaster limits the amount of oil the world can burn. There is enough easily accessible, cheaper oil to meet that limit without an expansion of the dirtier, harder to reach, oil sands that need costly refinement. New pipelines will either be a waste of money or ensure climate chaos.

Elizabeth Snell, Guelph, Ont.

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Pipelines are not critical infrastructure, and it is ludicrous to compare them to public transit. A pipeline is a pipeline. There is no “Canadian way” to build one. Building pipelines will destroy our Paris commitment. Full stop.

Sharon Howarth, Toronto

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What next?

For decades we were told cannabis needed to be illegal because it would lead to addiction to harder drugs. Now we’re being told it “could be effective in weaning Canadians addicted to opioids off the deadly drugs” (Doctors Should Consider Pot To Treat Opioid Addictions, Study Says, Nov. 17).

As I get older, I find the world ever more confusing.

Hugh Molesworth, Amaranth Township, Ont.

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Mixed messages

The incoming Trump administration’s philosophy is curious (Trump Team Flags Canadian Livestock And Lumber As Targets In NAFTA Reset, Nov. 16). It plans to make amends with America’s Cold War enemy (Russia), while starting an economic war with its friends (Canada, Mexico, European countries). Will someone please explain?

Bohdan I. Shulakewych, Toronto

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Re Meaty Issues (editorial, Nov. 17): I can’t help thinking that any beef Donald Trump has with Canada’s meat exports lies in the fact that he has a steak in the outcome – and it has his name on it.

David Wood, Mildmay, Ont.

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