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The gray jay (whiskey jack) has been chosen as Canada’s national bird by the Royal Canadian Geographic Society. (Jonathan Hayward/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
The gray jay (whiskey jack) has been chosen as Canada’s national bird by the Royal Canadian Geographic Society. (Jonathan Hayward/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

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Nov. 19: What’s in a name? 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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What’s in a name?

Re Gray Jay Named Canada’s National Bird (Nov. 17): Most drinkers of potable beverages will know the difference between “whisky” and “whiskey,” the former being of the Scottish/Canadian variety and the latter of the Irish/American.

It would therefore be appropriate to refer to the gray jay by an alternative Canadian name, the whisky jack, rather than the American-style whiskey jack.

Ralph Whitney, Kingston

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The choice of the gray jay as our national bird is inspired. It is very Canadian – quiet, polite (although it gets what it wants), doesn’t gather in flocks and scream at other birds (it doesn’t even twitter), thinks ahead and stores food for the winter, and survives that dreary season.

I can recall working as a land surveyor, cutting lines through the bush in Northern Ontario in the winter, being visited by these friendly birds. They would quietly land on the transit, or our shoulder, or our axe handle shoved in the snow. Sure, they wanted a piece of our lunch, but we didn’t mind – it brightened the day for a cold, wet and weary survey crew. Once the chainsaws started again, they would disappear, only to reappear the next day at lunch.

It is already known as the Canada jay; it’s time it is recognized as such.

Craig Stewart, Niagara-on-the-Lake

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If we even need a national bird, let it be the majestic Canada goose that is ubiquitous, known worldwide, and already has Canada in the name! I’ve lived 76 years in B.C., Quebec and Ontario, and visited nine provinces and I’ve never seen a single gray jay. Is it possible this proposal, down to its American spelling of grey, is a clandestine promotion for the Toronto Blue Jays?

Peter Gallop, Toronto

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Sour side of liquid sugar

We agree with André Picard that “a tax on sugary drinks “is justified but not sufficient” and that it “is not a magic bullet” (The Taxing Problem Of Sugary Drinks, Nov. 15). It is not true however that “Big Soda” is an “easy, lazy target.”

Sugary drinks are a particularly unhealthy source of sugar. Our bodies do not detect liquid sugar as calories, so we do not decrease subsequent solid intake. It also has a unique ability to raise blood lipids and fatigue the pancreas; and sugary drinks are a risk factor for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Working to levy a tax on sugary drinks is not easy given that Big Soda spent more than $40-million this year fighting pop taxes in the United States.

Despite the fierce opposition by Big Soda, it is science, not laziness, that makes sugary drinks the target of taxation for the World Health Organization and all major Canadian health-oriented NGOs.

Tom Warshawski, chair, Childhood Obesity Foundation, Vancouver

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If this isn’t a problem …

Re Stephen Bannon Is Not The Real Problem (editorial, Nov. 17): Your argument appears to be that because Mr. Bannon only “used” racist ideology for Donald Trump’s electoral advantage, he is somehow less vile than we might think.

This suggests that there is a relevant moral and political distinction we should be making between an advocate of racism on principle, and an unprincipled individual who stops at nothing to advance his own ends and at the cost of giving licence to racist discourse.

Mr. Trump is known to be an inconstant and wavering individual who has changed his policy stances a number of times over the years. So isn’t it precisely relevant who is whispering in his ear during his tenure in the White House?

Rebecca Kingston, Toronto

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Letter-writer Gerard Shkuda says, “Americans have spoken …they have placed their faith in Donald Trump. They want change, not more of the same” (Power Talks, letters, Nov. 16).

Americans have indeed spoken, but they didn’t get what they voted for. Most of them cast their ballot for Hillary Clinton, but the U.S. electoral college system gave the presidency to Mr. Trump instead.

Brian Perry, Glace Bay, N.S.

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They can do it

Bravo, Mark Kingwell, for putting columnists and commentators in their place for their ill-informed and misplaced criticism of millennials (Generation Snowflake: Not The Millennials I Know, Nov. 17).

As a parent of an articulate, intelligent, and socially responsible millennial, I can vouch for Mr. Kingwell’s observations of that generation. We should have faith in the next generation who are strong and smart enough “to know what works and what doesn’t.”

Bruce Burbank, Woodstock, Ont.

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Be on the lookout

Dinosaurs still walk the earth. There are reliable reports that the dreaded T. Rump has been spotted south of our border. As its name suggests, the T. Rump moves backward – generally making extreme right turns.

It is known for dumping all over its foes or crushing them. Its offensive smell repels other species, and it is known for its violent mating habits. Unlike its predecessor the T. Rex, the T. Rump is extremely thin-skinned and can often be found at ponds gazing at its reflected image.

Michael McDonald, Vancouver

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