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B.C. is suing the opioid industry's big pharma and big retail, alleging they knew or should have known the drugs were addictive and were making their way to street peddlers, fuelling the opioid crisis.

Mark Lennihan/The Associated Press

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Drugs and their victims

So, “more than 120 health organizations and advocacy groups” are pressing the Ontario government on supervised drug-use sites.

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Unfortunately, these well informed and intentioned groups do not represent Premier Doug Ford’s base (Health Groups Urge Ford To Back Supervised Drug-Use Sites – Aug. 31).

The decision to distribute marijuana in Ontario via private sellers (mom and pop shops) suggests this government is ideologically committed to deliver social goods only if there is money to be made. The 120 groups should present themselves as entrepreneurs recommending innovative for-profit services. How about OHIP-billed safe injection sites operated at all-night drug stores – potentially instructive for those picking up prescriptions to witness the state of those sorry souls who may have started with a seemingly innocuous pain medication?

Even better, with recent concerns that cannabis risks have been underplayed, a local pot dispensary that offers OHIP-funded drug-abuse counselling. An internal referral service would guarantee business: “We’ve noticed that this is your third purchase this week. Would you like to speak to a counsellor?”

Chester Fedoruk, Toronto

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It’s a welcome dose of medicine to hear that British Columbia is going after pharmaceutical giants, including Purdue Pharma.

One hopes it will lead to Ottawa doing the same (B.C. Alleges 20 Years Of Deception In Opioid Lawsuit, Aug. 30).

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As a past opioid addict and slave to opioids' crippling clutches, my anger at Purdue will only subside if hefty fines and lawsuit settlements are paid, and victims start to get the help they need. With addiction comes – to name just a few things – the personal financial costs, the fear of nightmarish detox if stopped quickly, and the lack of sufficient ongoing-support networks.

Essential reading on this grave epidemic can be found in Sam Quinones’s Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic. Despite what Purdue says, I believe that, like the tobacco giants, Big Pharma doesn’t really give a damn and continues to this day looking for more victims.

Dan Fraser, Victoria

Pedophilia, chastity

Nancy Huston tries to connect the dots between celibacy for Catholic priests and the sexual abuse of children (An Open Letter To Pope Francis – Opinion, Aug. 25). I thought this line of thinking had been disavowed decades ago. Where is there any reference from experts in the field supporting this premise?

Referring to priests, she writes, “the proportion of true pedophiles among them is probably no higher than in the general population.” Really?

In Pennsylvania, a Grand Jury report found that 300 priests abused more than a thousand children; the report said there were likely thousands more cases where records were lost or where those who were abused as children were too fearful to come forward. Surely that’s not the norm in our society as a whole.

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Pedophilia is hardwired into people. Sometimes, they gravitate to careers that place them in positions of authority closer to their young victims, as a hockey coach, a teacher or the gymnastics-team physician. Or, for that matter, a priest. Being chaste, as unnatural as it is, doesn’t turn a person into a pedophile.

Jim Hickman, Bracebridge, Ont.

Ready, aim … gun ban

When a politician says “If it’s going to … stop one death from occurring,” you know that the proposal that follows has no basis in logic, evidence or science (Trudeau Urges Blair To Look Into A Full Ban On Handguns And Assault Weapons In Canada – Aug. 29). If the Mayor of Toronto wants to save lives, I suggest a total ban on bike riding and the seizure of all bikes in the city. We have evidence that people die every year riding bikes in Toronto. Where is the evidence of people being shot by legally owned handguns? Let’s save lives. Ban bikes in Toronto.

I am neither a bike nor a handgun owner – just trying to save lives using the mayor’s logic.

Laurie Woodruff, Toronto

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The question is not whether any guns should be banned, but where the line should be drawn. Somewhere south of handguns and assault weapons seems like a good place to draw it, as this does not affect the rights of people who simply want to go hunting.

On the other hand, limiting such a ban to large cities makes no sense, unless every person and vehicle entering the cities is to be searched. It is odd that this seems to be Toronto Mayor John Tory’s idea of a practical approach.

Michael Moore, Toronto

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It’s ironic that the Liberals would entertain a handgun ban while legalizing marijuana.

The fact that marijuana is currently illegal, yet readily available, proves the uselessness in banning drugs or guns.

Handguns have remained basically unchanged since their invention, but we as a society have changed, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. We tend to reward bad behaviour, instead of correct it. Focus on “me” instead of “we.” Create more distance with our differences, instead of sharing and rejoicing in them. Is it any wonder there is less value placed on a human life?

Passing more restrictions or bans on competitive shooters and hunters won’t accomplish anything of substance, while delaying real solutions as politicians are too busy grandstanding for the camera and campaigning for re-election.

Pierre Dupont, Courtice, Ont.

The Bard of Broadway

Growing up, plays like The Odd Couple, The Sunshine Boys, and California Suite were as integral a part of the family dynamic as playing catch and the Dairy Queen (Neil Simon, Playwright, 91 – Obituary, Aug. 27).

In 2005, my father and I flew to New York for a weekend of baseball, theatre, museums and delicatessens. In the air, we discussed proper protocol about interacting with celebrities: You don’t.

Later, as we were leaving a deli on 57th Street after lunch, I turned, looked at my father, turned again and whispered, “Neil Simon is sitting right there!” I took my dad’s quick advice – “You’re never going to get this opportunity again. If I were you, I’d do it” – broke our don’t-bother-them protocol and interrupted Neil Simon’s lunch.

“Excuse me, Mr. Simon?”

He looked up, an encouraging sign, and answered “Yes?”

“I just wanted to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed your material and what an inspiration it’s been for my own writing.”

Much to my surprise, the Bard of Broadway was gracious in his conversation. “Why thank you,” he answered. “Are you a writer?”

“Actually, I’m an accountant but I do writing on the side.”

That’s when he said, “I do accounting on the side.”

“Do you really?”

“No!” And then he went back to his tuna sandwich.

I still write on the side, a column for a hobby publication. And I don’t believe I’d be there without the inspiration of Neil Simon.

Maxwell Kates, Toronto