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Bridal thoughts

The "impressive résumé" of Nazanin Afshin-Jam, the woman Defence Minister Peter MacKay just married, includes the fact that she's a pilot (MacKay's Bride Also A Sultry Singer – Jan. 6). Can she fly a helicopter?

Don Macpherson, Saskatoon

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Peter MacKay's actions as a public figure are fair game, but leave his wife and her honest efforts, however feeble you might find them, out of it.

Catherine McKay, Hanover, Ont.

Dipper synergy

Jeffrey Simpson doesn't understand the relationship between what he likes and what he fears about the NDP (What To Like, What To Fear About The Dippers – Jan. 6). He ignores increasing evidence that economic inequality and poverty decrease wealth creation.

The NDP's focus on these issues, therefore, is not antithetical to wealth creation but an important element of a wealth-creation strategy.

Sid Frankel, associate professor, Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba

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Jeffrey Simpson criticizes NDP leadership candidates for being skeptical of free-trade agreements, in support of an active role for government in industrial policies, and increased taxes on corporations and top incomes.

He should also criticize the OECD, which recently noted that trade integration doesn't appear to have benefited most workers and called for higher taxes on top incomes, and the Expert Review Panel on Research and Development, which urged the federal government to play a more active role in industrial policy.

NDP leadership candidates know their constituency: workers whose real wages haven't increased in decades, while corporations such as Caterpillar buy out their workplaces, get millions in tax breaks and threaten to cut their wages in half or ship their jobs overseas, while the federal government doesn't lift a finger.

Toby Sanger, senior economist, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Ottawa

Dipper substance

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As a candidate for the NDP leadership, I was surprised to read Sylvia Bashevkin's column on female NDP contenders (Offer Substance, Not Just Style – Jan. 4). I would assume that all candidates, men or women, should be offering substance.

That's why I've made greater equality a centrepiece of my "new politics" campaign. That's why I've released a 10-point plan for a more inclusive Canada.

I'm not alone; other candidates have also made substantive policy announcements. Politics is about vision and translating that vision into action. That's exactly what my campaign is all about.

Niki Ashton, MP for Churchill

Logic be damned

Letter writer M.R. Michaels's argument in favour of Bill C-10, the Safe Streets and Communities Act (Ins And Outs Of Jail – Jan. 6), is the clearest expression yet that Stephen Harper's government is correct in its belief that many Canadian voters have no interest in the statistical reality of lowered crime rates, nor the huge costs of the bill and overwhelming evidence that these policies have failed wherever they've been tried – a fact interpreted by your correspondent to mean whatever harsh measures have been introduced elsewhere simply haven't been harsh enough.

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Michael Lennick, Toronto


In the debate over whether more or less jail time is the appropriate punishment, might I suggest the Singapore solution? A few strokes of the cane, masterfully applied and broadcast on YouTube, and voilà! – the swift and sharp application of punishment would have a quick negative reinforcement of the evil deed.

Edward A. Collis, Burlington, Ont.

Poultry clucking

Murray Booy, chair of the Chicken Farmers of Ontario, says chickens in Ontario are raised in a way that keeps them "protected" against predators (Poultry Pride – letter, Jan. 6). Humans don't protect chickens from predators; humans are the predator.

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Mark Bessoudo, Toronto


Murray Booy says a healthy diet for chickens doesn't include "bugs, worms and blades of grass." We kept chickens for many years, back in England, and they lived on that diet. The eggs and meat were delicious. Mr. Booy should try it!

David Schooling, Oakville, Ont.

Excited delirium

In your editorial on the use of tasers and deaths in police custody (Delirious Over Delirium – Jan. 5), you say "excited delirium" is not a recognized medical condition. According to PubMed, a service provided by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, excited delirium is recognized by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) and the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME).

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When ACEP recognized excited delirium, it concluded in the Journal of Emergency Medicine: "Based upon available evidence, it is the consensus of an American College of Emergency Physicians Task Force that Excited Delirium Syndrome (ExDS) is a real syndrome with uncertain, likely multiple, etiologies."

I believe most of us would agree that, when ACEP and NAME weigh in, the experts are doing their homework and offering their learned opinions.

Steve Tuttle, vice-president of communications, Taser International, Inc., Scottsdale, Ariz.

Just wondering

In your coverage of Thursday night's game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets (Leafs Take Control From Start – Sports, Jan. 6), I was intrigued to read: "The Jets finally mounted something of a counterattack … firing nearly a dozen shots at [Jonas]Gustavsson, who almost seemed surprised by the sudden turn of play."

I'm curious: How did the Leafs goalie almost seem surprised? Was he drinking from his water bottle when the first of the shots was fired? Did he look up from watching the Sweden/Russia junior gold-medal final on his smartphone at the last minute? Was he calling 911 when the Jets crossed the blueline the way Toronto Mayor Rob Ford did when he was accosted by Marg Delahunty?

David Elenbaas, Toronto

This way down

At this time of year, when temperatures soar to their lowest levels, and sagging moods rise to an annual nadir, it's encouraging to hear the good news that "cancer death rates are continuing to fall by small increments" (A War Of Attrition – Globe Index, Jan. 6).

Beth Foster, Montreal

You talkin' to me?

Re My Name Is A Conversation Starter (Facts & Arguments, Jan. 5):

Not Berle or Barrel I vainly cry,

Nor yet a deadly Peril.

Please set my name right just this once

And only call me Beryl!

Beryl Jones, Oakville, Ont.

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