Images are unavailable offline.

U.S. President Donald Trump's former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty this week to campaign-finance violations. He said Mr. Trump told him to pay hush money to two women he feared could hurt his chances to become president.

BRENDAN MCDERMID/Reuters

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

..................................................................................................................................

Close(r) to Trump

Re Ex-Aides’ Convictions Bring Russia Probe Closer To Trump (Aug. 22): Well, at least one of Donald Trump’s campaign promises is showing signs of being kept. The swamp is beginning to drain.

Story continues below advertisement

John Lazarus, Kingston

...........................................

Donald Trump has a habit of associating with aides and helpers who tend to come into difficulty with the law. They also seem to have a history of faulty remembering. As does Mr. Trump.

As Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen have discovered in their recent encounters with the Mueller investigation, at some point (for most folks in democratic societies), there is public accountability, and there are clear consequences. Fraud convictions are not a happy outcome.

I seem to recall a Donald Trump-led litany of “Crooked Hilary” not so long ago …

“Crooked Trump, Lock Him Up,” anyone? Or, better still, “Impeach the Unaccountable, Lying President” anyone? Hmm.

Roy Maddocks, Ottawa

Story continues below advertisement

...........................................

As we see Michael Cohen plead guilty to campaign-finance violations pertaining to the Trump hush-money scandal, and Rudy Giuliani massacre the truth to protect the President, it is worth noting that Donald Trump learned a great deal from another cynical, dishonest lawyer, the late Roy Cohn, who was the legal brain behind Joseph McCarthy during the discredited Communist witch hunts of the 1950s.

Mr. Cohn, who was ultimately disbarred, was famous for promoting the “big lie” which, repeated forcefully, becomes a new truth in the mind of the public. However, it appears that 43 per cent of Americans still approve of their liar of a president. Now that’s truly sad – and frightening!

Michael Craig, Owen Sound, Ont.

Free is a hard sell

Re Why Medical Students Should Be Offered Free Tuition (Aug. 21): While it’s true that medical students graduate with high debts, how many other training programs virtually guarantee graduates will receive incomes within the top 5 per cent of Canadians, and most within the top 1 per cent.

Banks will issue credit lines of at least $200,000 with a letter of admission to medicine, making financing a moot point.

Story continues below advertisement

As a health priority, making one of the highest-paid professions even richer surely has to be less important than coverage of pharmaceuticals, mental health or home care for low-income Canadians. Postsecondary subsidies would be better spent on people entering programs that don’t promise a high income, but serve important roles in society, such as the arts, education or social work.

Ryan Hoskins, MD, North Vancouver

...........................................

Providing free education to future doctors whose career earnings are likely to total in the millions of dollars strikes me as a rather odd form of income redistribution. If the prospect of a heavy debt burden is a deterrent, a better way to finance the true cost of the training is to offer income-contingent loans, under which the repayment is linked to earnings.

With an appropriate interest rate and “tax” schedule, the borrower and lender thus share in the risk/reward trade-off.

Michael G. Kelly, Ottawa

Story continues below advertisement

Smoke, fire, politics

Re While The Planet Burns, Our Politicians Fiddle (Aug. 22): The planet has been burning for a long time, so perhaps it’s best that our politicians fiddle rather than burden us with taxes, and bind us to global accords with unachievable objectives.

Sixty-eight years ago in 1950, the Chinchaga fire raged through B.C. and Alberta for more than 200 days. Started by human activity, it was, and remains, the largest wildfire in North American recorded history. It created a pall of smoke that darkened skies as far afield as eastern Canada and the U.S., even causing streetlights to come on during the day in Toronto. High pressure systems caused a buildup of heat and dry air that increased the combustibility of the forest and drove intense winds that helped spread the fire.

Dry weather and both accidental and intentional human behaviour remain the main drivers of wildfires; some 95 per cent of California wildfires are human-caused. Climate change may be a factor, but if we’re looking for aspirational solutions to wildfire prevention, figuring out how to get people to act sensibly when high-risk conditions prevail holds far more promise than any tax or treaty ever will.

Colin Wright, Richmond Hill, Ont.

...........................................

Gary Mason is right on climate change when he says, “There isn’t a bigger issue before us.” But the headline – While The Planet Burns, Our Politicians Fiddle – sends the wrong message. Politicians who’ve put forward concerted plans to tackle climate change have been punished at the polls.

In Canada, Stéphane Dion’s “Greenshift Plan” was excellent (a little tweaking needed), but he went down in flames. The Ontario Liberal government under Kathleen Wynne brought in cap-and-trade and closed coal-burning plants. Doug Ford ran openly on getting rid of cap-and-trade. While it’s true that he won only 40 per cent of the vote, his party got more support than any other.

In the United States, think of Al Gore, so well versed on the subject, and defeated. Then there is Donald Trump, pro-coal and against clean energy, after Barack Obama signed the Paris Accord.

In Australia, a carbon tax was brought in, attacked immediately, weakened, then abolished. Axe the Tax worked. In B.C., fortunately, “Axe the Tax” did not work and the government that introduced the carbon tax (Liberal) was re-elected.

Voters must support parties with good plans and not fall for “Axe the Tax.” Citizens must punish governments that refuse to think of the future.

Lynn McDonald, former NDP MP and environment critic, Toronto

...........................................

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet have been in Nanaimo, where air quality is rated 10+, dangerously high. They are breathing smoke while supporting building a pipeline. What does it take to consider people, health and safety before politics and greed? How does this make us climate change leaders?

Helen Smith, Victoria

Vices of tomorrow

Re James Cook Lands In Australia (Moment in Time, Aug. 22, 1770): We have come to see that there were major faults with John A. Macdonald, Captain James Cook, Henry Dundas, Cecil Rhodes etc. For that matter, does Sir George Yonge, for whom Toronto’s main street is named, have a pristine past?

I wouldn’t be surprised if by today’s standards, most dignitaries of the past have major skeletons in their closets. In anticipation, we should start removing all statues and redesignate streets strictly by letter and number.

Irv Salit, Toronto

...........................................

Statues of Edward Cornwallis (who founded Halifax), John A. Macdonald (Canada’s founding father) … the list goes on.

The virtues of today are often the vices of tomorrow. Heroes (and heroines) and other nation builders, take heed!

E.M. Langille, Islay, Scotland