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A person holds a smartphone set to the opening screen of the ArriveCan app.Giordano Ciampini/The Canadian Press

Side by side

Re “Trudeau’s both-sides games on the war in Gaza are repugnant” (Feb. 14): Hamas is a terrorist group that should be eliminated. I also find that the Israeli government is committing war crimes in Gaza.

Neither position is Islamophobic nor antisemitic. Our government’s position on this issue, then, is correct.

Randall OBrien Hamilton

But a number

Re “ArriveCan accountability” (Letters, Feb. 14): A letter-writer, a former assistant deputy minister at Public Works and Government Services Canada, describes procurement as an art, not a science. This tells me everything I need to know about how the federal government got into the ArriveCan mess.

It also leads me to gasp at what other “art” is out there being painted by a civil service that appears to be nearly 50 per cent larger and half as competent as it should be.

Dave Boone Calgary

Yes, the ArriveCan process was a horrendous mess. And yes, $59.5-million is a great deal of money.

But for perspective, it’s little more than 1/100th of 1 per cent of the current federal budget. Perhaps some of our attention would be better focused on other areas.

John McLeod Toronto

Re “Over, under” (Letters, Feb. 13): There have been differing opinions concerning bonuses and whether they are given routinely as part of employee compensation, or reserved for those who have achieved or exceeded certain goals.

It would be interesting to see how many of the public employees involved in the development, implementation or oversight of the ArriveCan fiasco received performance bonuses. These would be the same individuals that the Auditor-General characterized as showing “a glaring disregard for basic management practices.”

Sadly, I would hazard a guess that most of them, if not all, received bonuses.

Michael Gilman Toronto

How successful would any organization be if it didn’t offer compensation sufficient to attract managers with skills commensurate with the challenges it faces, then additionally didn’t hold them accountable?

My experience working with the public sector was that caps on senior management salaries, while politically expedient, were a false saving. It led to excessive layers of management and higher costs with poor results.

In one organization, for much less money, I replaced three full-time employees (a director, a manager and an administrative assistant) with one consultant three days a week.

John Rankin Burlington, Ont.

Message received

Re “Bill focused on ‘powerful oil lobby’ amounts to needed debate, NDP MP says in response to criticism” (Feb. 13): When I brought in my Non-smokers’ Health Act (adopted 1988) as a private member’s bill, I was scolded as a horrible woman who wanted to ruin people’s enjoyment of smoking and destroy good jobs in a legal industry, including jobs in advertising. Little was known about the harms of smoking then, thanks to that advertising.

Yes, there are good jobs in the oil industry, even the tar sands, but so were there in asbestos and uranium mining. The use of “oil sands” and “oil patch” shows the power of advertising.

Ban it.

Lynn McDonald CM, Toronto

I am a politically centrist Albertan who voted for a Rachel Notley government – three times.

However, I would approve Alberta sovereignty if the rest of the country persists in its delusive efforts to shut down Canada’s oil and gas and other natural resources and industries.

Believe me that the resultant increase in Alberta’s prosperity would far exceed reductions in the prosperity of what’s left of Canada.

Mike Priaro Calgary

Freedom to die?

Re “It’s too late for the Supreme Court. Ottawa needs to step up and fix MAID” (Feb. 12): The medical assistance in dying “regime” is described as promoting “access to death as a benefit,” as if that is somehow unethical, even to those whose suffering cannot be relieved.

I would argue that MAID is the ethical response to rapid advancements in medical technology designed to keep people alive at all costs, often in spite of personal and subjective definitions of quality of life, dignity and existential distress.

MAID supporters are also criticized for “the trivialization of death as a harm to be protected against,” echoing a common medical belief that death is the only thing to be avoided in the mandate to “do no harm.” Yet there are ways of suffering that can be worse than death.

The right to choose a peaceful death, as an alternative to personal experiences of intolerable suffering, should be a sacred and unalienable right that lawyers and politicians cannot deny.

Elizabeth Causton MSW, Victoria

In Canada, we are free.

Our freedom allows us to overeat, overconsume alcohol, smoke and participate in risky activities. We are free to do many things that are potentially harmful to our lives, so long as it does not do harm to others.

I believe legal arguments and political calculations to have MAID or not run contrary to our individual freedoms. Mature, knowledgeable individuals should have the right to decide for themselves how to live and how to die. Full stop.

Jim Houston Oakville, Ont.

When I worked in a provincial ministry 10 years ago, I was struck that complex issues were frequently referred to the legal branch for solutions, even though legal components were small pieces of the puzzle.

In a recent column by Andrew Coyne (”Conservatives discover the Charter can work for them, too” – Feb. 7), there is a quote from Supreme Court Justice Malcolm Rowe on the perils of judicializing: “Court cases tend to be ‘winner-take-all’ contests. If you can win big in court, why compromise through elected institutions?” In other words, bringing in the lawyers may not be the right thing to do.

Ottawa should step up to the plate and stop prevaricating.

Adam Plackett Toronto

Make it stick

Re “The NHL is of two minds about headshots – they’re not tolerated, unless they are” (Sports, Feb. 13): Columnist Cathal Kelly underlines a truth: that the National Hockey League could eliminate headshots and fighting (throw in illegal revenge hits) with stricter penalties.

The constant attempts to dissect head hits by assigning a degree of mens rea only serves to legitimize and prolong the so-called desire to get those hits out of the game.

As long as “no intent” is used to justify dirty hits, the injuries will likely continue to pile up, never mind the distraction from the game.

Robert Milan Victoria

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