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An Ontario provincial licence plate with a renewal sticker in Mississauga, Ont., on Feb. 22.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

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A little closer

Re With Fierce Resistance, Ukraine Is Foiling Putin’s Victory Plans (April 22): Russia threatens to move closer to Europe with nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles if Sweden and Finland join NATO. Are these the same missiles that can cover long distances when launched from afar? Isn’t this more of the same from a bully who threatens an identical outcome, but within an inch of our face rather than at arm’s length?

Having Russian missiles on Europe’s doorstep, rather than miles away, is a distinction without a difference. The question remains the same: Will they deploy?

Russia knows that NATO has no offensive designs over Russian territory and is no threat per se. The present Russian madness stems, then, from the realization that NATO on its doorstep means that Russia’s doorstep will stay right where it is.

Mike McCrodan Langley, B.C.

Teaching moment

Re How Mental-health Training For Regular Citizens Is Helping Fill The Therapy Gap (April 16): The words of acting platoon chief Steve Jones ring true for many of Canada’s 3,000-plus fire departments: We’d like to see mental-health awareness training – whether the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Working Mind Program, the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment’s R2MR program or the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Resilient Minds program – made available to Canada’s more than 130,000 firefighters.

However, these programs have costs that can be prohibitive for volunteer fire departments already fundraising for basic gear and equipment. We’ve begun scaling and spreading such training resources, paid for by generous donors such as the Motorola Solutions Foundation and Public Safety Canada.

With more funding, we can build this capacity right across the sector.

John McKearney President, Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs; Whistler, B.C.

Anyone can help someone who is considering suicide. While some people arrive at suicidal crisis due to medical factors, many are facing a constellation of social challenges that seem unsolvable.

Being present in the lives of others – noticing changes in their behaviour, asking them directly about suicide, then actively listening and connecting them to the support they need – is something we can all learn to do. Like providing CPR to someone in cardiac distress, we can be the first line of suicide intervention, too.

Seek out an Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training workshop. Help save a life.

Mara Grunau Executive director, Centre for Suicide Prevention; Calgary

Money to burn

Re Doug Ford Sent Me A $440 Licence Plate Renewal Refund, But I Wish He Hadn’t (April 16): Columnist Marcus Gee calls the refund of Ontario licence plate stickers a cheap stunt and an exercise in vote buying. He’s probably right. However, it will probably work.

If there exists a more useless bit of government red tape than licence plate stickers, I don’t know what it is. If more politicians find ways to reduce the bureaucratic trivia I have to deal with, while also allowing me to keep a bit more of my own money, then I’ll happily allow them to purchase at least my vote in exchange.

Jeff Breukelman Richmond Hill, Ont.

I received my licence plate sticker refund for $150. My husband, who died two yeas ago, received his for $190.

Lauralee Morris Brampton, Ont.

Coming weeks after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s dire warnings, Doug Ford’s licence plate fee rebates feel akin to throwing gas on a fire.

A friend and I challenged our network to donate cheques to environmental organizations working on climate change. Nearly 40 people responded and approximately $12,000 was redirected to this cause.

A challenge to all drivers in Ontario: Donate rebates to a worthy cause. And while we’re at it, let Mr. Ford know that his policies to make driving cheaper are a step in the wrong direction.

Dale Hildebrand Toronto

Loss of life

Re Health care is a team sport. Patients and their families need to be on the roster (Opinion, April 2): This has been difficult to write. My mother died in June, 2021. I believe this was a result of COVID-19, although her death will never be registered as such.

COVID-19 policies prohibited me from providing essential care to her in hospital. She was sent home cured of an infection. But she returned so weak that she could not recover her strength.

It was a life she still wanted to live. My help was crucial, as several doctors acknowledged. We lived together and I was her sole caregiver.

After one week in the hospital, she was not fed well nor washed. No one helped her brush her teeth or exercise, let alone give her any comfort. She never recovered, and chose medical assistance in dying.

The barring of family and friends who provide essential care protected hospitals from liability, yet caused untold harm which will never show up on their books.

Claire Bouchard North Saanich, B.C.

Hard facts

Re Justice Through Forensics (Opinion, April 16): It is something of a relief to read an article that suggests concrete actions to deal with racism targeting Indigenous peoples. If reconciliation amounts to little more than declarations about unceded lands and the renaming of some streets, then cynicism will likely be the result.

That the residential school system was unjust, I hope we would all agree. But we need more: more information about individuals in that system, who they were, how they were treated, whether crimes were committed.

Because of absurdly extreme privacy policies in this country, much useful information regarding deaths, both historical and recent, is kept hidden by governments. Privacy outweigh the public interest in finding out how violent deaths have occurred.

Reconciliation requires justice and truth, which in turn need data whether it is found in the ground or in official records. Misguided applications of privacy rights should not be allowed to hinder that work.

Colin Beattie Ottawa

Limit the rise

Re Why We Should Be Wary Of Canada’s Plan To Ban Holocaust Denial (Opinion, April 16): The government is enacting legislation for which Canadian Jews have long advocated: criminalizing Holocaust denial.

The problem isn’t that Holocaust denial is offensive (it is). Denial of documented, historical fact is an indicator of radicalization, rising anti-Semitism and future violence. That should concern all Canadians.

Statistics Canada reports that Jews, just 1 per cent of the population, are victims of 62 per cent of police-reported hate crimes targeting religious minorities. When overall religious hate crime dropped 16 per cent, crimes targeting Jews rose by 5 per cent.

Jew hatred emanates from across the spectrum: Jews are attacked as a religious group, as an ethnic minority, as a nation-state. Criminalizing Holocaust denial is one legal remedy to protect Canadians and address toxic hate.

Jews value freedom of expression but, to protect this cherished Canadian value, we also acknowledge that it is not absolute. Holocaust denial fits under those accepted limits.

Richard Marceau Vice-president of external affairs and general counsel, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs; Ottawa

Wide world of sports

Re Single-sport Betting Comes With Risks, Experts Say (April 22): So betting companies might provide “free money,” such as a $50 sign-up bonus, to use on their apps.

A page taken right from the drug dealer’s handbook: The first one’s free.

Doug Hacking Sarnia, Ont.

Re Ice Wars League Promises ‘Prize Fighting On Ice’ (Sports, April 22): For a Canadian audience, this new combat sport looks like a surefire winner: Hockey enforcers in full gear, on ice, vying to knock one another out.

But the event could be a disappointment. The crowd went to a fight – and a hockey game broke out.

James Schaefer Peterborough, Ont.

Who is …

Re Roach Cracks Jeopardy! Top 10 List (April 22): I enjoyed reading about Mattea Roach and her great win streak on Jeopardy!. It was also fun reading the list of past winners.

But you missed a few, including me: I won twice when I was on Jeopardy! in 1997.

Lynda Pinnington Cambridge, Ont.

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