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A rifle owner checks the sight at a hunting camp in rural Ontario.

The Canadian Press

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Speed up refugee process?

Re Ottawa To Fund Legal Aid For Refugees In Ontario (Aug. 13): When the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) was created in 1989 by then-prime minister Brian Mulroney, its goal was to be peer-driven – not lawyer-driven.

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The chair at the time, the late Gordon Fairweather, emphasized this key principle for all determination decisions made by the members of each regional board. More importantly, there was to be no appeal process because decisions were to be made based on UN criteria, to which Canada was a signatory. The objective was to streamline refugee determination for the benefit of those seeking asylum.

Now, however, the process has devolved to the courts, with lawyers and judges overturning legitimate decisions made by the IRB. With the backlog still increasing, this continues to slow the system. It is unfortunate that in attempting to expedite refugee determination by increasing legal aid, the government is only adding to an already overburdened process.

Brian Marley-Clarke, Director, Training, Immigration and Refugee Board (1989/90); Calgary

Hunting for gun-logic

Re What We Can Learn From California Gun Laws (Aug. 13): It seems the only “learning” to be found from the California experience is that no matter how enlightened the legislation, it doesn’t reduce/prevent ongoing gun violence/massacres (33 mass shootings since 2000, more than any other state), if the authorities and/or state police “weren’t even aware” of the legislation – or lack the direction to enforce the laws that are available to them. If there is a lesson to be learned, it seems to be … stay out of California.

Bruce Walker, Oakville, Ont.

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Toronto doesn’t have a “gun” problem. It has a “gang” problem. Deal with the gangs, and not only will the number of shootings drastically drop, so will the assaults and other illegal mischief.

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Michel Trahan, Maria, Que.

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I am confused that legitimate owners of firearms intended for hunting feel threatened by restricting the ownership of weapons which hold far more ammunition than can be reasonably necessary for anything other than mass shootings.

Assault-style weapons are designed to kill people. Scatter guns with large magazines are designed to kill or disable at close range. Handguns are designed to kill and be easily concealed.

Since when does a hunter need more than a couple of rounds to harvest game? If you need more than two or three rounds in your magazine, you are a bad shot and should spend time at the practice range – and arguably consider pursuing something other than hunting.

What the gun debate is really about is resistance to amending the perceived “rights” to gun ownership, not about hunting, safety, or common sense. And yes, I am a hunter, and I legally own and store shotguns and ammunition according to the laws.

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David Hughes Glass, Saugeen Township, Ont.

Rx for compassion

Re New CMA President Is A Rebel With A Cause (Aug. 12): The Canadian Medical Association should be congratulated for electing Dr. Sandy Buchman as its new president. In my view, Canadian doctors are terrific at solving medical problems at hand but too often forget about the patient behind the problem.

Process is important, but nothing can replace compassion.

Karin Zabel, Ottawa

Sorrow. But joy, too

Re The Sadder, Bigger Loss (letters, Aug. 13): The emotional and physical costs of caring for people in your family circle who are diagnosed with dementia is an important, often-neglected subject. The physical and emotional burdens are all too real, including the grief from ongoing losses.

When I began a social-work job with those caregivers, I was uncertain what possible help I could offer, but they soon taught me. Mostly women, but men, too. We developed the joint goal of maximizing both their quality of life and the patient’s, constantly adapting anew as the illness causing the dementia progressed. Often, that meant understanding these patients are still people, people with a brain disease. The symptoms are the changes in their personality, behaviour and emotions.

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What is often overlooked in caring for a person with dementia is that while there is immense sorrow, there can be joy: the joy of connecting in unexpected moments, the joy of accomplishment at achieving what seemed impossible, the joy of finding strength you didn’t know you had.

It is easier to cope when you have supports. Support from other people in the family circle, friends, social workers, and other community and government agency workers. When I started in 1995, the quality of those government supports in Ontario was better than it is today: Long-term-care staffing and resources have been reduced, and complex-care beds and free in-home caregiver-respite have been quietly eliminated by both Conservative and Liberal governments.

What remains as a starting place throughout Canada is the local branch of the Alzheimer (and other dementias) Society.

How do you keep your sanity and grace? By reaching out by phone, or online.

Marcia Zalev, MSW, Toronto

First, Brexit. Then …

Re Bolton Says U.S. Would Back No-Deal Brexit (Aug. 13): America’s promised fast work to conclude a (one-sided) U.S.-U.K. free-trade agreement after a no-deal Brexit might well be followed with similar overtures to Germany, France, Italy, Greece and other countries, should they choose to leave the EU.

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It should be increasingly evident that Donald Trump would welcome the end of the EU, because the United States would prefer to negotiate bilateral trade agreements, rather than a pact with the entire European Union.

Not surprisingly, such a turn of events would be celebrated in Moscow as well.

(Congress would need to vote on any trade deal between the U.S. and the U.K. It’s unlikely such a vote would take place before the 2020 election. And Democrats already want changes in the North American free trade deal.)

John Crabb, Stratford, Ont.

CannTrust’s cannabis?

Re CannTrust Breached Rules At Second Facility, Regulator Says (Aug. 13): Health Canada could force CannTrust to destroy the cannabis grower’s unlicensed inventory, reportedly worth tens of millions of dollars. What a waste. If it’s burned, why not invite all Canadians to participate – a national smoke-in, for instance? We could use a brief reprieve from a world full of troubles.

Or better yet, given Canada’s shortage of legal cannabis, perhaps Health Canada could auction it off and donate the proceeds to food banks, homeless shelters or hospitals for sick children.

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Rob Dykstra, Nanaimo, B.C.

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