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George and Shirley Brickenden, photographed in their Toronto apartment on March 21, were granted permission to receive assisted deaths at the same time.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Love till the end

I’m a bit jealous of the Brickenden family (Medically Assisted Death Allows Couple Married Almost 73 Years To Die Together, April 2). I think choice in death is so important, and I know from personal experience how it feels not to have that choice.

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My parents died by suicide together on Dec. 23, 2010. Unfortunately, that was before the Supreme Court of Canada passed the acceptance of medically assisted suicide. I’m jealous because my brother and I didn’t get to talk to our parents about their choice, or prepare ourselves mentally for the loss, or be there with them in their final moments, or say goodbye.

I have no doubt that my parents made the right choice. They were both dying of cancer with rapidly deteriorating health. They were so in love, too. I’ve come to realize that if one had had to live without the other for any length of time, it would have been far worse. But the shock of the loss was so terrible for those of us left behind.

I’m so thankful that the Brickenden family got to celebrate their parents and spend time with them before they passed together, and wanted to thank them for sharing their story.

Devon Hutchinson, Kitchener, Ont.

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CBC’s raison d’être

Konrad Yakabuski argues that public broadcasters should fill in the gaps left unserved by commercial media — nothing more (Will The CBC Find Its Raison D’Être? Not Likely, April 5). As our commercial media retreats from markets large and small, there are more gaps than ever, and CBC’s renewed local emphasis is an attempt to fill the breach.

But CBC shouldn’t just fill gaps, it should also raise the bar for journalism and entertainment.

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A variety of voices is not duplication: It’s diversity. Perhaps the CBC could do a better job of working with private media, but nobody wins if the CBC withdraws from its Broadcasting Act responsibilities. Healthy democracy needs reliable information that is completely free from political or commercial influence. Public broadcasting delivers just that.

A healthy democracy needs reliable information that is completely free from political or commercial influence. Public broadcasting delivers just that.

Daniel Bernhard, executive director, Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, Toronto

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Experience sadly points to Mr. Yakabuski’s predictions being accurate. But we can do better.

Let’s not forget the major success of CBC Radio One, which, despite being plundered for resources to shore up CBC-TV and expand “digital” services, remains Canada’s most popular radio service.

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A unique non-commercial option whose programming is wide-ranging and distinctive, it is the standard of excellence against which public broadcasting in North America is measured.

Kealy Wilkinson, Toronto

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Chaos is on Congress

Your editorial this week on U.S. President Donald Trump concludes: “Unless by some miracle someone can rein him in …” (The Chaos President, April 4). No miracle needed, just the U.S. constitution. Because in a system of checks and balances, it’s the job of Congress to rein him in.

Unfortunately, since the hyperpartisanship of Newt Gingrich and then the intransigence of the Tea Party ideologues, Congress has confused the U.S. system with a Westminster-style Parliamentary one.

So they stonewalled former president Barack Obama as if they were Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, and now see themselves as partisan allies of a Republican president rather than an independent and equally powerful (or, arguably, even more powerful) body whose role is to act as a counterweight against executive overreach. Until the Republican Congress shows some backbone in standing up to Mr. Trump, the world’s preeminent democracy will continue its slide into chaos and authoritarianism.

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Brian P.H. Green, Thunder Bay

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Not that racist

Re On The Basis Of Race (April 5): Having lived in five countries on four continents, I have come to the conclusion that racism is a reflection of the battle of survival humans have waged from the beginning of time. We prefer others of our race, be it as colleagues or as spouses. That is why Canadians are hyphenated after several generations. What matters is the intensity of racism, and Canada is far ahead of other countries in minimizing it, and is continuing to do so. We are moving in the right direction and there is no need to make a fetish of racism.

Sudhir Jain, Calgary

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Canada is big

Letter writer Steen Petersen states that Canadians must cut CO2 emissions by 70 per cent so that Canada goes from generating 1.68 per cent of global CO2 to 0.49 per cent to match its share of world population (Carbon-Policy Illogic, April 5). This completely ignores the size, sparse population and northern clime of Canada. Short of a massive reduction in Canada’s standard of living, the only real method for a 70-per-cent CO2 reduction would be for all Canadians, save for farmers and fisherman, to move to smaller, warmer and more highly populated nations with better mass transit. Italy, anyone?

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John P.A. Budreski, Vancouver

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Crackdown consequences

The only outcome from this move by B.C.’s NDP government will be more patients waiting longer, often anxious and in pain, for scans and procedures that are nominally covered by the public system (B.C. Cracks Down On Doctors’ Illegal Billing With Stiff Penalties, April 5).

I wonder if, next year, when a Vancouver Canucks players injures his ankle, he will have to join the public waiting list for a diagnostic magnetic resonance imaging procedure in British Columbia and miss the majority of his season? Or, if the government will charge and fine WorkSafeBC for continuing to offer generously-enhanced fees to doctors to provide expedited — and necessary — medical services to their particular claimants?

Sadly, as usual, it will simply be the rest of us individual patient sufferers, doing our best to navigate a broken system and alleviate our pains, who will bear the brunt of this latest round of destructive virtue-signalling from government.

Stephen Wiseman, MD, Vancouver

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Travel deals

Questioning the return on investment for sending a Canadian government delegation to Davos is fair, but let’s keep things in perspective (Trudeau Government’s Davos Trip Cost Taxpayers Nearly $700,000: Documents, April 2).

The cost of U.S. President Donald Trump’s routine weekend visits to his club in Florida is more than US$1-million a trip. For many, the only return on investment would be if he stayed there.

Bob Allin, Toronto

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