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Quebec Conservative MP Maxime Bernier is at the centre of an identity-politics storm.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

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#MadMaxDiscord?

Re Scheer Can’t Afford To Steer Clear Of Discussing His Former PC Leadership Rival (Aug. 17): According to a 2017 survey by Ekos Politics, 64 per cent of Conservative Party supporters believe that “too many” immigrants are “members of visible minorities.” By contrast, Liberal supporters poll at 15 per cent on this, while supporters of the other federal parties hover at around 30 per cent. About 36 per cent of Conservative supporters want Canada to be “more closed” to the world; other parties’ supporters ranged from 26 per cent (BQ) to 12 per cent (Liberals).

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The Conservatives’ problem, therefore, isn’t that Andrew Scheer has done too feeble a job controlling Maxime Bernier’s bozo eruptions about the perils of diversity. Rather, the problem is that the Conservative Party base itself is an outlier in its commitment to exclusionary nativism. The party doesn’t need better spin; it needs better supporters.

Gregory Millard, Port Moody, B.C.

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Re In Wake Of Tweets, Tories Advise Bernier To ‘Play On The Team’ (Aug. 17): Is this a calculated jump by Quebec MP Maxime Bernier into provincial election politics, or into building a new Quebec-based federal party in time for the next federal election? Or just another shout-out supplied by Mad Max? Stay Twitter-alert.

Ken Rubin, Ottawa

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While I wholeheartedly agree the Liberals would benefit greatly from taking a few steps away from the culture-war hysteria, that’s something Conservatives may want to consider too (Free Advice? Plenty – letters, Aug. 16).

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Conservative MP Maxime Bernier’s warning against more diversity isn’t so much a criticism of the culture war, as it is him taking a side on the issue, possibly to undermine Andrew Scheer’s leadership of their party.

Whatever his motivations, Mr. Bernier has waded into the waters and attracted the identitarians of the right-wing as a result. In the game of identity politics and culture warfare, the winning move is not to play.

Manjit Toor, Surrey, B.C.

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Could this be the beginning of another split within the conservative party, akin to the Reform and Alliance eras? The party has a bad habit of burning its bridges, to the point where its members have to rebuild all over again. It recalls the adage: May the bridges you burn light your way.

Douglas Cornish, Ottawa

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Saving Lives. Money, too

Re Ontario Is Putting Drug Users’ Lives At Risk (Aug. 17): Travis Lupick’s column notes that two of British Columbia’s risk reduction injection sites have a combined success rate of 100 per cent: 10,881 overdose reversals, against no deaths. Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott, however, suspects that “they’re not as effective as some people think that they are, not so much in terms of saving lives, but in terms of whether people can get into rehabilitation after that.”

Perhaps she has more data on this than I do, but I see the likelihood of people getting into rehabilitation being increased – perhaps exponentially – by their not being, you know, dead?

Garth Goddard, Toronto

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Marcus Gee points out that for addicts, safe injection sites “will give you clean needles so you won’t get a disease from injecting” (Why Ford Is Wrong About Supervised Drug-Use Sites – Aug. 15).

Ontario Premier Doug Ford was elected to show fiscal responsibility. By addicts’ injecting unsafely, there are the added OHIP costs of treating infections, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis (and the related risks of these diseases moving into the general population).

Perhaps the medical community/public officers of health could weigh in on what these total costs are to the taxpayer. I suspect they are stunning. Expanding safe injection sites could deliver some of the savings Mr. Ford hopes to achieve.

Rosemary O’Donnell, Sarnia, Ont.

Tone deaf to loss

Re Queening Ain’t Easy: Aretha Franklin Remembered For Transcendent Voice, Defiance (Aug. 17): How sad that the leader of the Free World remembers Aretha Franklin as … someone who worked for him.

Donald Trump makes the death of one of the greatest soul singers of all time all about him. His conduct gives us a new understanding of being tone deaf.

Jimmy Molloy, Toronto

Reasoning on guns

Re Firearms Do Not Belong In Canada’s Cities (Aug. 15): David Butt’s suggestion that firearm policy should be viewed in the same light as banning tobacco sales to minors is laughable.

How many kids under age 18 will manage to get their hands on a pack of smokes today? In all likelihood, any youngster with the money in their hand who really wants a smoke can get what they want (tobacco or other combustibles). Suggesting a ban on guns in urban centres will be exactly as effective in keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. Let’s start addressing this problem with a higher level of reasoning, please.

Bill Bergen, Calgary

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Make possession of a hand gun outside a gun range illegal. If Toronto wants to confront a growing epidemic of gun violence, there is no alternative but to keep it simple.

Robert Marcucci, Toronto

Zzzzz aloft. If only

Re The Travel Industry Wants To Put You To Sleep (Life & Arts, Aug. 15): I am so glad that Air Canada is taking a “holistic approach to sleep and restfulness on-board during a customer’s journey,” according to Andrew Yiu, vice-president of product for the airline.

Having just survived a return trip from Victoria to Toronto, I would like to remind Mr. Yiu that for many of us, “holistic” includes enough legroom, comfortable seats with backs that can move far enough to accommodate some sleep, and washrooms that can be reached without obstacles such as food carts in the aisles.

Ordinary travellers look forward to mood-lighting systems, of course, but will be more than happy with smaller and basic improvements.

Johanna Cutcher, Victoria

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Amid the welter of useful information designed to help you sleep on an airplane, there is this: “As soon as you get on the plane, adjust your watch to the time of your destination and sleep and eat according to that time schedule.” That’s good advice if you’ve got cash to spare and have an Air Canada Signature Seat. Then maybe you can set your own schedule.

But if you’re stuck in Economy, in the middle seat, with someone’s knees up your back and the guy next to you snoring and using all the arm rests, it’s hard to pretend you’re on Auckland time.

The thing to do is embrace suffering and snatch whatever fitful catnaps you can. We aren’t meant to be happy on a plane.

Geoff Rytell, Toronto