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Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton are in a race that pollsters say is too close to call. (AFP/Getty Images)
Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton are in a race that pollsters say is too close to call. (AFP/Getty Images)

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Sept. 28: Dystopian republic. 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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Dystopian republic

Re Clinton, Trump Offer Up Starkly Different Visions In Tense De-bate (Sept. 27): Donald Trump’s response to Hillary Clinton’s statement that the only tax returns of his that anybody has ever seen showed he did not pay any federal taxes was: “That makes me smart.” This is reminiscent of Leona Helmsley’s ill-advised comment that only the little people pay taxes.

Alan M. Schwartz, Toronto

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After watching the lady-in-red’s strong, well-prepared performance during the U.S. presidential debate Monday evening, it would have seemed particularly fitting to hear Donald Trump whisper “rosebud” as he left the stage.

Giselle Déziel, Cornwall, PEI

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John Ibbitson concluded his thoughtful column: “To want Donald Trump as president, you would have to be as angry and bitter as Donald Trump was Monday night” (Trump As President? No Reasonable Voter Could Want That After The Debate – online, Sept. 26). Which, of course, is precisely what almost half the American population is; the resultant “dying dystopian republic” was best painted with prescience in Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel, The Handmaid’s Tale. After Monday, practically required reading.

Adam de Pencier, Toronto

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Re How The Most Basic Rules Of Television Shaped The Outcome Of The Debate (online, Sept. 27): John Doyle listed six rules for politicians engaged in televised debates: 1) turn up; 2) wear camera-friendly clothes; 3) act in a genial manner; 4) smile; 5) make your point pithily; 6) never, ever whine or look threatening.

I would like to add a seventh rule: Don’t be sniffing throughout the debate. People might think you are high on cocaine.

Manuel Matas, Winnipeg

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Doctors wanted

Re Expecting Mothers In Rural Areas More Likely To Suffer Complications, Study Says (Sept. 27): I recently relocated to Kamloops and, to my dismay, discovered that there are no doctors available to take new patients.

When I called one clinic and asked about a waiting list, I was told that if they had one, there would be hundreds of people ahead of me on the list. This was confirmed by the local hospital.

The B.C. government needs to find solutions to the problems of medical care in rural communities. Increased incentives for nurse practitioners and doctors to practise in those communities would be a better use of provincial funds than freezing or reducing medical services premiums.

My husband and I are paying $136 a month in premiums to the Medical Services Plan of B.C. for a service that’s not available to us outside walk-in clinics and emergency wards. For many people, there is no available care for regular medical needs, which must be a huge stress on these services.

Tammy Farrer, Kamloops, B.C.

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The human factor

Re Risk Of Oil Spill From Freighters Isn’t Clear (Sept. 27): The executive chairman of the board for a firm that designs tugboats for tanker escort says standards for modern vessels are so high, the safety precautions so refined, that a significant accident of any kind involving an oil tanker in Vancouver harbour is almost zero.

The issue is not how safe tankers are today. The key factor is that they require humans to operate them. Think about the cause of major maritime disasters such as the Valdez, the Queen of the North, the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia, as well as the oil spill in Vancouver harbour in 2015. It’s human error.

No ship is fool-proof.

Bobbie Merilees, Vancouver

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Expenses foresight

Re Hindsight Is 20/20, And Also Convenient (Sept. 26): I found your editorial on the reimbursement of costs to senior PMO staffers to be both overwrought and bewildering. Until the Prime Minister’s Office becomes a partisan organization funded by the governing party, its members should be governed by prevailing bureaucratic rules.

It’s also interesting that you are suggesting a “profit test” for cost reimbursements – i.e. if a transferred bureaucrat reaps a profit on selling his home, then the reimbursement of associated costs is not permitted, but if he incurs a loss, then a reimbursement is presumably fine (but wait, the bureaucrat brought the loss on himself – he could have rented). Tricky business! Instead of expressing its muddled moral outrage, The Globe and Mail should focus on reforming the PMO and the Privy Council Office.

Harry Sutherland, North Vancouver

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Your excellent editorial makes very valid points, particularly the personal windfall “Katie and Gerry” must have made from selling their homes. Their decision to sell rather than rent their Toronto homes is curious indeed. Your editorial rightfully concludes that the optics are terrible.

Even though they appear to be a little short on ethics, as their expense claims demonstrate, Katie Telford and Gerald Butts proved themselves to be excellent strategists and tacticians who were crucial in getting Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party elected. One can only assume that the main – if not sole – reason for their transfer to Ottawa is to help Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party get re-elected, rather than provide a service to the electorate as a whole. Thus, all their expenses should have been paid by the Liberal Party, rather than saddling the taxpayer with it.

Alfhard Brandl, Mississauga

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If Gerald Butts and Katie Telford lost their jobs tomorrow, they would not be able to repurchase their former homes or the equivalent. They would be short the funds they paid for commissions on the sale. The numbers may be big, but Ms. Telford and Mr. Butts can’t help it if Toronto real estate values are what they are.

Peter Scholz, Limehouse, Ont.

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Hello …

Re Reasons To Get Chatty With Strangers (Life & Arts, Sept. 23): A couple of years ago, Oprah had an initiative to encourage people to reach out, say hello and see what evolves. As a serial conversationalist, this appealed to me.

While hospitalized, I had an encounter that confirms how enlightening this can prove to be. A patient was admitted to the next bed. She didn’t acknowledge me, just sat staring straight ahead for hours on end. Instead of offering a greeting, I assumed she might have a disability which didn’t encourage interaction.

The next morning my curtain was pulled aside and she said “hello.” She asked how I was feeling; the conversation flowed. I learned she was recently widowed, had moved to this new city and was sharing a home with her son and his family. She was overwhelmed by all the changes and with being a patient, and needed to talk. She’d been a chef, and there proved to be so much we had in common. My sister, who visited often, shared this new friend. When it came time to leave, we all exchanged hugs.

It made a wretched hospital visit a truly memorable, interpersonal event and reminded me to never, ever forget a greeting.

Maureen Arnaud, Bath, Ont.

Editor's Note: One of the letters to the editor initially said staff in the Prime Minister's Office are "technically bureaucrats." In fact, staff in ministers' offices are employed by the federal government, but are generally exempt from rules pertaining to other public servants.

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