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Gerald Butts, principal secretary to Justin Trudeau, on the campaign trial with his boss in 2015. Mr. Butts and Katie Telford, the PM’s chief of staff, were reimbursed more than $200,000 in moving expenses. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)
Gerald Butts, principal secretary to Justin Trudeau, on the campaign trial with his boss in 2015. Mr. Butts and Katie Telford, the PM’s chief of staff, were reimbursed more than $200,000 in moving expenses. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

WHAT READERS THINK

Sept. 23: Expenses. In 2016. 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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Expenses. In 2016

Re We Are Moved By Your Expenses (editorial, Sept. 22): This is Canada. This is 2016.

The Liberal government promised change but the latest moving-expenses fiasco suggests it is no better than the previous government as it hides behind “current rules.” Enough already.

Shame on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his chief of staff Katie Telford and and his principal secretary Gerald Butts – and throw in Environment Minister Catherine McKenna for good measure.

They all can do better. Canadians expect no less.

Time for Mr. Trudeau to request partial repayment. Catherine, Katie and Gerald need to get out their chequebooks – and pass the orange juice.

Peter Kedwell, Port Hope, Ont.

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So one top Trudeau aide has been reimbursed nearly $127,000 for relocating from Toronto to Ottawa, and the other received more than $80,000. Yes, this is a lot of money but it is not an “unusual benefit,” at least not in the private sector.

Employees who find themselves obliged to buy and sell property as the result of a relocation requested by their employer cannot be expected to cover these costs out of their own pockets, so they need to be reimbursed. The question is whether the amounts reimbursed in this case is reasonable. The editorial provides no real evidence that they are not, and is silent on what sort of alternative arrangements should be made (telecommuting?).

Likely the best that the beleaguered Canadian taxpayer could hope for under these circumstances would be that the expenses would be at least partially reclaimed by the government in the event that the aide resigns his/her position within a certain period (say, two years). This sort of condition is common in the private sector. I won’t venture to guess whether it applies to the aides of Justin Trudeau; in fact, I wonder if we taxpayers have already committed to pay the same benefits when these aides return to Toronto in a few years?

Derek Riehm, Toronto

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What is most troubling about Justin Trudeau’s response to the question asked about his aides’ moving expenses is that “we followed all the rules.”

This response is not only a poor excuse and indicative of an incredible lack of judgment, but it shows a lack of leadership from the top down. Just because the “rules” allow an expenditure, it doesn’t mean unfettered licence to spend money, especially when it is the taxpayers’ money.

True leadership is about recognizing that often you need to go beyond the rules and simply say, “No, I will not support this.”

The Liberal Party should pay these expenses and the Prime Minister needs to apologize for the hubris this incident demonstrates. After all, it is 2016.

T.P. (Terry) Bourne, Oakville, Ont.

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It’s black and white

Re Competing Narratives Emerge After Police Kill Black Man In Charlotte, N.C. (Sept. 21): This and similar stories are evidence of competing narratives about the right to bear arms. If a black man carries a gun, he is armed and dangerous. If a white man carries a gun, he is exercising his Second Amendment rights.

Elizabeth Hay, Ottawa

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Extradite to China

Re Trudeau Defends Extradition Treaty Talks (Sept. 22): As Canadians watch a new relationship with China unfurl and our Prime Minister eagerly meets with Chinese leaders, it’s worth glancing away from the big picture and focusing on smaller, often disturbing facts.

CSIS has identified China as a country that spies on Canada in search of scientific, technological and economic information. China is dong irreparable environmental damage through widespread pollution. And human rights in China are – as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others point out – literally brutal.

Despite this, China is being encouraged to play a leading role in the development of the massive mineral-rich “Ring of Fire” region of Northern Ontario. We look the other way when it comes to questionable Chinese investment in real estate. And we thank leaders from the Middle Kingdom when they release a Canadian coffee shop owner and humanitarian imprisoned for two years on trumped-up charges (laid, it should be noted, in wake of the arrest of Su Bin in Vancouver on charges of stealing U.S. military secrets to sell to the Chinese).

Justin Trudeau approaches China as a “friend” of Canada. Truth be told, any new Canada-China relationship will be complicated and based on economic convenience, not real friendship.

David Napier, Halifax

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You report that the United States is hesitant to extradite to China because it is concerned about “the unreliability of China’s judicial system and mistreatment of prisoners.”

I wonder what is behind the U.S. government’s reluctance? Does it possibly think that China has a prison on some offshore island that is beyond the reach of normally accepted practices?

That China would torture prisoners there, including waterboarding, and suspend the right of habeas corpus?

David Shore, Richmond, B.C.

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PSA test? Yes

Re Prostate Cancer? Relax, And Don’t Rush Your Treatment (Sept. 20): While elevated PSA levels don’t always signify prostate cancer, often they do.

The PSA test is the best tool we have to alert men to prostate cancer when longer-term survival rates are at their highest – more than 90 per cent. Once the cancer has spread outside the prostate, survival at five years drops to 28 per cent.

There are men who could live well into old age without ever needing to know they had prostate cancer in the first place; there are also men who could die far too young if it isn’t caught early. That’s why we believe the approach to prostate-cancer screening should be tailored to each individual, taking into account personal risk.

We recommend men be proactive about their health and have a baseline PSA reading at age 40 to get ahead of things.

Each of the participants in the study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine had early prostate cancer and the choice that early detection affords. In each case, the diagnosis began with a PSA test.

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to prostate cancer, with pros and cons to each decision, patients need to be informed of their options when deciding which one is best for them. This study has reinforced that time is our greatest ally when faced with prostate cancer. With more time, we have more choice.

Early detection truly is key.

Rocco Rossi, CEO, Prostate Cancer Canada

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Born … wherever

Re Touted As Canada’s First Afghan-Born MP, Maryam Monsef Was Actually Born In Iran (Sept. 22): Does birthplace matter in Canada? Perhaps, if it helps explain such things as an affinity for the bagpipes.

But here, fortunately, citizenship trumps birthplace.

Mary Jane Chamberlain, Toronto

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