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Letters to the Editor Aug. 8: Target handguns with a ban? Plus other letters to the editor

STEFAN WERMUTH/AFP/Getty Images

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here: letters@globeandmail.com

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Handguns in Canada

Re It’s Time For Canada To Ban Handguns (editorial, Aug. 7): You call for a handgun ban, then say: “We confess that it’s not clear how much of an impact this would have on crime in Canada …” If it’s not clear, why write this editorial? Why not call for more accurate logging of handgun incidents so that we have data to go on?

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With the advent of large-lift-capacity drones, it’s easier than ever to import illegal handguns from the U.S. It can’t be stopped. If legal handgun owners are selling registered weapons to criminals, then the law needs to be adjusted to increase the penalties.

Have you lived in, or known anyone working in, the remote areas of this country? Handguns are regularly used for protection against grizzly and polar bears by hunters, construction workers, etc. It’s called Using a Firearm for Wilderness Protection, and it’s no joke. I have a friend who regularly carried a handgun to protect tree planters from bears in remote areas of B.C. – and who had to use it to protect human life.

A handgun is immediately accessible because it’s on your hip, not leaning against a tree – 50 feet away – when the bear shows up.

Dale Armstrong, London, Ont.

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I could not agree more with your editorial, but I suggest adding assault weapons to your list. They don’t have any use in a civil society either. This fall, each voter should ask each party’s candidate in their riding what the party’s position is on banning these weapons whose only purpose is to kill.

Margaret McGovern, Toronto

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There is no eraser on a bullet. Carrying a handgun illegally should carry a penalty of 15 years in prison. If this sounds tough, tough. Try asking the victims.

Douglas L. Martin, Hamilton

Trump, Obama, America

Re Democrats Are Starting To Question Obama’s Legacy (Aug. 7): Barack Obama was an extraordinarily articulate, astute politician who never lost sight of the old adage that politics is the art of the possible. Many of the current Democratic presidential candidates clearly don’t realize that the compromises he made were a sign of his strength.

He was confident in his ideas, but realistic enough to understand not all Americans shared his vision. He chose to compromise rather than divide the nation. It seems some Democrats would prefer the divisive strategies employed by Donald Trump, but with a Democratic spin. Mr. Obama will go down in history as one of the great presidents of the United States. It is highly unlikely any of those presidential candidates criticizing him will ever realize that sort of accomplishment. Instead, they will be remembered for handing Mr. Trump his second victory on a silver platter.

Robert McManus, Dundas, Ont.

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Here are some of Lawrence Martin’s characterizations of Donald Trump and the Republican Party (The GOP, On The Road To Defeat – Aug. 7): “demonizer-in-chief,” “hell-bent caravan,” “brandishing of all that is offensive,” “gutless fan boys,” “hypocritical evangelicals,” “they refuse to emerge from their caves,” “more white, more male, more rural enclave.”

Mr. Martin ends by complaining that the targets of his vitriol stir “division, fear and hate.” Perhaps, but what does Mr. Martin think he’s stirring – a calming bedtime hot chocolate?

Rudy Buller, Toronto

Help for pollinators

Re Relax! The Bee-Pocalypse Isn’t Upon Us (Aug. 3): There is compelling peer-reviewed evidence of global declines in many wild pollinators, including native bees.

Bumblebees have declined in southern Ontario and across North America. In Canada, eight bee species are listed as species at risk. In 2015, Canadian scientists listed only 30 per cent of Canada’s 800 wild bee species as being secure. The Monarch butterfly has experienced a 90-per-cent decline over the past 20 years. Scientists have identified habitat loss, pesticide use, climate change and disease as the key drivers of pollinator declines.

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Pollinators need urgent attention, but there is hope. Canadians can help by supporting sustainable agriculture, planting native plants in their gardens, encouraging governments to restore pollinator habitat on a wide scale, and taking action on climate change.

Vicki Wojcik, research director, Pollinator Partnership; Toronto

Bad food, long-term care

Re Hospital Food Should Be Part Of The Healing (Aug. 6): André Picard outlines a situation that is perhaps even more dire in long-term care homes. I spend a lot of time in LTC facilities, visiting or as a volunteer. With few exceptions, the food is inadequate, lacking in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and high-quality protein.

I realize shrinking budgets are a major factor, but it is a question of priorities. As Mr. Picard rightly points out, food is not a “frill,” but an essential aspect of healing and quality of life for patients/residents. One can only hope the “hospital food revolution” will spread through all areas of the health-care system.

Krystyna Higgins, Guelph, Ont.

Escalating drug costs?

Canada’s parliamentary budget office believes that by guaranteeing 10 years of data protection on new biologic drugs, the new North American trade pact will boost drug spending by at least $169-million (Democrats’ Bid To Lower Drug Prices Through Rollback Of Provisions In USMCA Puts Canada In A Tough Spot, Aug. 2).

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This estimate is unduly pessimistic. Drug spending as a proportion of overall health expenditures in Canada actually fell when the government initially strengthened data protection in 2006, according to new research from my organization, the Geneva Network. (Geneva has received funding from a range of public-sector, non-governmental and private- sector organizations, including the pharmaceutical industry).

In fact, Canada’s patented medicine prices underwent a period of deflation in the five years following the introduction of regulatory data protection, according to data from the Patented Medicines Price Review Board.

There’s no reason to believe the new trade deal will raise drug spending in Canada. But it will catalyze the development of new medicines by bolstering intellectual property protections. That would help patients everywhere.

Philip Stevens, founder, Geneva Network; Salisbury, U.K.

Hmm …

Re Hamilton Is Worth The Weekend Visit (Aug. 7): Agreed, but it’s worth a lot more than that! I moved from Toronto to Hamilton 30 years ago and have never regretted it. The city has all of what the article described, and much more. In a nutshell: a livable environment that combines urbanity with ready access to nature.

Ah, but my neighbours are telling me that I’m sending the wrong message. Forget what I said. The smokestacks don’t lie: The pollution is terrible; there’s nothing to do. You should stay away. Please. Let Hamiltonians suffer in peace.

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Richard Harris, Hamilton

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