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Protestors take part in a Gay Straight Alliance rally at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton on June 19, 2019.JASON FRANSON/The Canadian Press

Too long?

Re “Ottawa should ask the Supreme Court about MAID for Canadians with mental illness” (Feb. 5): Extending exclusions for medical assistance in dying until 2027 would impose unconscionable suffering contrary to Charter rights. Our Supreme Court can act faster.

No doubt a reference would generate cries of “judicial activism,” but hot issues reliably inspire politicians to engage in legislative inactivism. Canada’s best solution may well be no legislation, as ensued after the 1988 Morgentaler decision on abortion law.

I find that sufficient guardrails are in place in both instances. When it comes to abortion, we’re not debating whether six weeks or 15 weeks, or carve-outs for rape or incest, would be appropriate. Thirty-six years later, we’re confident no one is compelled to abort.

We can be equally confident no one will be compelled to choose MAID. Fundamental justice and equality require it be the individual’s choice.

Ellen Anderson Summerside, PEI

My fundamental question: Are mental-health services equally available across the country?

Ontario has the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Its apparent equivalent here, the BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, struggles for name recognition both within the province and nationally (I hadn’t heard of it until recently).

Will a person with an “irremediable” mental illness in Saskatchewan or Prince Edward Island find the same psychiatric resources as someone located in, say, Hamilton, a major university city? Why seek an escape clause for mental illness without thinking in the first place of the vast disparity in the quality of services (not) at the disposal of people? Will there be more “irremediable” cases in have-not provinces?

Mental-health resources, it seems, are far from fair across the country. So why then talk about medical assistance in dying?

Joerge Dyrkton Anmore, B.C.

An education

Re “Medical experts warn Danielle Smith’s restrictions on gender affirming care will harm vulnerable youth in Alberta” (Feb. 3): People across Canada should know that there are many in Alberta who do not agree with our Premier’s decisions. I am personally horrified and so disappointed.

As a senior, I had little knowledge about gay, trans and bisexual people. I made it a point to educate myself through a university extension course, so that I could perhaps have a little more insight into their lives. It helped, if only to help me realize that such a sensitive area of human life should be respected. People should be allowed space to become what nature has bequeathed them.

My only hope is that through this political bombshell, Canadians will become more sensitive and understanding. Nobody has the perfect answer, not children, parents, the medical field, educators and certainly not our government leaders.

Each child, each family, each situation will be different and require different responses.

G. A. Teske Sherwood Park, Alta.

Something cooking

Re “Food for thought: Canada’s plan to better inform people what they’re buying at the grocery store” (Editorial, Jan. 30): Food labelling may help a bit, but educating children about growing, cooking and buying food is where we should start.

The benefits of nutrition education extend to mental and physical health. Knowledge of where food comes from can help lessen the food industry’s ecological impact, as well as introduce kids to the joys of gardening.

The ability to cook can improve feelings of self-reliance and independence. And in these days of outrageous grocery bills, smarts about recipes and food alternatives can ease that strain.

Finally, the kitchen is a great place to learn about one’s culture and those of other Canadians. Food is a fundamental component of our well-being; the more we know about it, the better.

Nigel Smith Toronto

Worth it

Re “To end toxicity testing on animals, federal funds are needed” (Jan. 30): I was aware that animal testing was inefficient and outdated, and that Canada was finally and thankfully moving away from this cruel and outdated practice. But I was horrified to learn that Canada, unlike other developed countries, provides no public funding to those performing important research on non-animal methods for such testing.

We like to think of ourselves as compassionate people, yet time and again our governments don’t seem to support the public in this regard when it comes to the treatment of animals.

Cheryl Simpson Stratford, Ont.

Fan reaction

Re “Suspension not necessary for accused NHL players, says Gary Bettman” (Feb. 3): There are two diametrically opposed approaches to crisis management.

The first is to get ahead of the story, not delay or obfuscate, be as transparent and honest as circumstances allow and take one’s lumps early. The other is the National Hockey League’s.

Jon Heshka Professor, sports law, Thompson Rivers University; Kamloops, B.C.

All the more reason to spend my money on the Professional Women’s Hockey League.

Sarah Jones Toronto

Breaking news

Re “The slow decline of the news industry is bad news for democracy” (Jan. 31): Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the newspaper would land on my doorstep with a thud, signalling that it was time to get up and learn what was happening in the world. Now my local paper (I read a few each day) lands with barely a sound.

In 1980, my average Saturday paper was 190 pages. On a recent weekend, it was 23 pages.

If I were to hazard a guess, most of the lost pages are revenue-generating, including classifieds, job and movie listings and auto and dining ads, to name a just a few. All gone.

Very worrisome. I miss the thud.

William England Edmonton

As a subscriber to two newspapers, The Globe and Mail and Moncton Times and Transcript, I see firsthand this withering news industry.

The Times and Transcript has been declining for years. The result has brought both reduced content and frequency of publication, thus ensuring diminished coverage of issues throughout the province and its municipalities.

My primary source of news has long been newspapers. I see them as curators of the news we need to know within our different contexts. Television and radio news simply do not fulfill such a role for me. And the internet seems useless without trustworthy sources.

Democracy is indeed in grave danger from the increasing number of demagogues, combined with the stifling of journalism.

“You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”

Peter Belliveau Moncton

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