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The science of truth
Professor Jim Woodgett warns of the damage to science of stretching the truth (Science Is Pure, But Scientists Are Human, Aug. 16). He cites 18th-century Augustinian monk Gregor Mendel, a great scientist who is thought nonetheless to have embellished his findings. The chosen example suggests that fabrication is not an everyday occurrence, nor is it restricted to hardened criminals.
We owe the fact that lying is uncommon to the vigilance of the scientific community. Scientists know that the health of their enterprise depends on truth-telling.
Belief in one another is what permits us to build on each other’s work, and therefore what makes us strong. Science remains in good health. So much so that its technological fruits continue to threaten us in new ways, through environmental and military catastrophe.
It is this latter truth that is so urgently in need of telling.
John Polanyi, Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1986), Toronto
SNC saga’s real victim?
Re Trudeau Rejects Call For Apology On SNC (Aug. 16): Motive is not a defence, and the ends do not justify the means. Of course the Prime Minister need not apologize for trying to protect Canadian jobs. He should, however, apologize to Parliament and Canadians for intervening in a way that was clearly improper under longstanding principles. He was told this almost a year ago by the person he appointed as attorney-general, whose sound advice has now been confirmed by the Ethics Commissioner.
The Prime Minister should as well apologize to Jody Wilson-Raybould, ideally adding real substance by withdrawing the Liberal candidate now running against her in the upcoming election.
Doug Ewart, Toronto
Will Jody Wilson-Raybould also apologize for all the political chaos she has created?
This is not a one-way street, despite what many opposition politicians would like you to believe.
The Ethics Commissioner’s report notwithstanding, there are probably as many people who think Justin Trudeau stayed within the bounds of normal political influence as those who do not.
And who knows what a Conservative prime minister would have done in similar circumstances. Maybe it is just time for the Opposition to move on – unless they believe this is the only way to get people to vote Conservative.
Luke Mastin, Toronto
Opinions conflict as to who is the victim and who is the perpetrator in the SNC-Lavalin saga: Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott, SNC, or Justin Trudeau and the old boys’ club?
I believe the real victim is Canada’s competitiveness.
The deferred prosecution agreement is a mechanism created specifically to help Canadian firms compete in global markets that do not always adhere to our squeaky clean ethical standards. SNC was attempting to use a tool that was entirely legitimate; maybe it was pushing the boundaries. If so, rein the company in. Instead, confidence in the firm has been shattered.
Another Canadian global success may go down to squabbling politicians. Is this why Canada cannot build and sustain healthy global corporations?
John Arnott, Toronto
The Ethics Commissioner’s determination of prime ministerial wrongdoing in the SNC-Lavalin case is just one more indicator of the inordinate level of power exercised in government decision-making by corporations.
The fact that this happens even when there are clear rules regarding prosecutorial independence should tell us that corporate interests are likely even more powerful in areas of policy-making, where no such rules exist.
Will the interests of the pharmaceutical and insurance industries scuttle a national universal pharmacare program?
Sid Frankel, associate professor, Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba
Re A Cure For Canada’s High Drug Prices (Aug. 13): The Globe and Mail compares the Liberals’ redesign of the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board to renovations on a house, with the PMPRB being the health-care system’s “plumbing.” The analogy is apt, but the conclusion that the changes are reasonable is wrong.
Other jurisdictions regulate prices in the context of pharmacare programs, which come with access for patients. (Disclosure: My association’s membership includes pharmaceutical companies.) The PMPRB provides no guarantee of access to medicines, which is the jurisdiction of provinces, employers and individuals.
The PMPRB is now mandated to determine what any Canadian is willing to pay for new medicines.
Case studies indicate the quasi-judicial body may ratchet prices down by 40 per cent, 70 per cent and potentially over 90 per cent for rare disease medicines. The restrictive Canadian market will effectively delay or deny access to new medicines for Canadians.
While other jurisdictions leverage pharmacare systems to secure patient access to new medicines using pay-for-performance and other innovative agreements, Canada has duct-taped our 30-year-old plumbing.
The renovated PMPRB relic will limit Canadian access to the pipeline of medical advances in gene therapies, cancer treatments and vaccines.
Jason Field, CEO, Life Sciences Ontario, Toronto
Re Ottawa’s Changes To Drug Pricing Will Hurt Some Canadians (Aug 14.): The assertion that if we moderate the prices of new branded drugs in Canada, drug companies will in turn stop selling their drugs here and reduce their investment in R&D, is laughable.
When has that ever happened anywhere in the world? Even New Zealand, which has some of the lowest prices in the world, has a full array of new drugs on offer.
We have the second-highest drug prices in the industrialized world and some of the lowest R&D investments by pharma in any economy. And they’re going to stop trying to sell drugs in Canada just because we prefer a better deal?
Most new drugs do not represent anywhere near a breakthrough, despite the tens of thousands of dollars the manufacturers would like to extract for them.
Alan Cassels, health policy researcher, Victoria
Shivers on Greenland
Re Greenland Tells Trump It Is Open For Business But Not For Sale (online, Aug. 16): The geopolitical implications for Canada of a U.S.-owned Greenland are potentially disastrous. Look at a globe.
The United States disputes Canada’s claim to the Northwest Passage and maintains it is international waters. Possession of lands at both ends of the passage, Alaska and Greenland, would markedly strengthen the U.S. position. In essence, this has the potential to destroy major elements of Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic.
Of course, it would also give Donald Trump a chance to celebrate a major “conquest,” moving the U.S. up in the current world standings as far as national land areas go. And one gathers size is something he is interested in…
Mary Lazier Corbett, Picton, Ont.
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