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WHAT READERS THINK

Oct. 12: Taking and leaving a referendum. 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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Referendum cake

Re Referendums: Democracy’s Blight? (editorial, Oct. 11): You call referendums “democracy’s blight” and in 13 well-argued paragraphs, you prove the point, concluding they are “politically motivated gambits designed to trick people into voting in favour of a thing they might well vote against on a different day.”

But then, in paragraph 14, you say: “There are moments that cry out for them, such as the Trudeau government’s plan to end Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system,” before concluding with, “They [referendums] are anything but exercises in real democracy.” Why didn’t you just call the editorial: Having Our Cake And Eating It, Too?

Justus Havelaar, Campbell River, B.C.

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Asbestos shame

Re Liberals Drag Their Heels On Promise To Ban Asbestos (Oct. 11): While I impatiently understand our federal government moving slowly on some challenging issues, such as electoral reform, it is more than disappointing to see its complete lack of progress on the relatively easy but urgent matter of banning asbestos. As Canadian mines have closed, there’s not even a business case to allow it into the country. One can infer either incompetence or a lack of focus.

Peter D. Hambly, Hanover, Ont.

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A long way off

Re Obama Sets Goal To Send Humans To Mars By 2030s (online, Oct. 11): President Barack Obama’s goal of sending humans to Mars is misguided for several important reasons.

Robots can do a lot of exploration at lower cost and without risk to human safety. Once robotic exploration has reached its limits, it may be time to consider sending humans, but that’s a long way off. If the private sector wants to take this on, let it. Just don’t put up taxpayer funding.

A much more pressing problem needs to be resolved right here on Earth. Climate change calls for a “Manhattan project” type of research that the U.S. can lead, with collaboration from othercountries such as Canada.

There are enormous climate challenges that should be pursued, whether it’s renewables, or reducing emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, or finding better ways for the large scale storage of intermittent energy sources (wind and solar), or solving the nuclear waste issue.

Planning to send humans to Mars only detracts from what should be our No. 1 priority – investing all our intellectual and financial resources to tackle climate change.

Tony Manera, Ottawa

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Backstage brawl

Re Saturday Night Live Debuts On NBC (Moment in Time, Oct. 11, 1975): One could be left with the the impression that Bill Murray was in the original Saturday Night Live cast, as he appears in the photo which accompanies the text. He didn’t join the show until the second season, when he replaced Chevy Chase.

The photo, which includes both Bill Murray and Chevy Chase, is from an episode in February, 1978, during the third season, when Mr. Murray was a cast member and Mr. Chase had returned to host. The happy faces in the picture give no hint of the infamous backstage altercation between Bill Murray and Chevy Chase at the end of that episode – but that was another moment in time.

Dan Parr, Toronto

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Health-budget ills

Re Cutting Through The Numbers On Health-Care Funding (Oct. 11): I fully support the current federal government’s plan to proceed with implementing the formula introduced by the former Conservative government, to limit transfer payments to the provinces to cover health-care costs. If the provinces cannot live within the budgetary guidelines that have been established, perhaps the federal government should take over responsibility for both the funding and delivery of health care. At least we would have consistent national standards and some economies of scale.

Murray Jackson, Ottawa

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Inclusivity’s measure

Re How Much Diversity Do Canadians Want? (Oct. 11): Margaret Wente’s column brought back our own experience in emigrating from Northern Ireland to Canada in the sixties. As part of the process preparing us for our new country, we attended a series of information sessions. One included a short film documenting a family from England. The film showed them gradually settling into their new life, with images of their housing, jobs, schools – all of it very much like what we are seeing today. The kicker came at the end of the film, when the family decided to return to England.

Their reason: “It was just not Tottenham.” The point made by the narrator was that Canada had a lot to offer prospective immigrants, but that it required them to understand that it had some customs and standards they would be expected to accept.

When I consider the suffering of so many people in other parts of the world, as an immigrant and a Canadian citizen, I am proud of the way this country has responded, but after more than 50 years the memory of that film remains.

I hope that we are not trying to remake it with a new ending: We’ll make it into Tottenham.

Gene Hunter, St. Catharines, Ont.

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Margaret Wente says many Canadians “are not thrilled when their Prime Minister promotes inclusivity by visiting a mosque where the women have to sit upstairs.”

How do they feel about him visiting a Catholic church where women are excluded from the priesthood and same-sex marriages are not allowed? Or an Orthodox synagogue where women and men are separated?

Michael Warden, Toronto

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Betting ‘bigly’

Re GOP In Turmoil As Defiant Trump’s Prospects For Victory Fade (Oct. 11): Trump supporters rushed for the exits on the weekend, one quivering hand on the forehead and pearls clutched shakily in the other. These Republican representatives would have you believe that their nominee’s behaviour had finally crossed some moral Rubicon.

Considering Donald Trump’s past comments describing Mexican immigrants as rapists, his physical mocking of a disabled reporter, his looks-based disparagement of female opponents (and others) and …do I really need to go on? His shocking behaviour has become almost trite.

I know these ship-jumpers have been paying attention, so the only conclusion to be reached is that they have finally realized that not only will he lose “bigly” – but he will drag them down in tow.

David Strachan, Toronto

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The New Word Order:

1. Donald Trump opens mouth;

2. Numerous people in his campaign team rush to explain what was meant;

3. Someone in the campaign apologizes for what was said;

4. Repeat.

Jerry Steinberg, Surrey, B.C.

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