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FILE PHOTO: North Slope Borough of Utqiagvik, Alaska, tries to protect against coastal erosion from flooding from an increasingly ice-free Beaufort Sea, October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Yereth Rosen/File PhotoYERETH ROSEN/Reuters

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Strong and Free

Re Defending The Arctic Requires Buying F-35s and Modernizing NORAD (Dec. 29): The argument for Canada’s acquisition of F-35s and modernizing NORAD returns to the same old mindset that says: If you are armed to the teeth, you’ll be safe.

Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig famously believed that soldiers mounted on warhorses would always overpower the enemy on the ground. He held this to be true even as machine guns mowed down wave after wave of British, Canadian and colonial forces during the First World War.

We are at a similar moment in the art of war. Things have changed. Potential foes now possess hypersonic missile delivery systems with pinpoint accuracy. An F-35 is essentially the world’s most sophisticated video game, mounted on a rocket with a pilot. It is powerless against these new missiles.

The Arctic is more threatened by global warming than invasion by foreign forces. If incursions are made on Arctic islands, a continental response will ensue. Canada has friends. Meanwhile, the profligate spending on the F-35 would be better diverted to hospitals, schools and a national long-term strategy to adapt to our changing environment.

Hugh McKechnie Newmarket, Ont.

The Saab Gripen E (the only other fighter aircraft still in the running for Canada’s procurement program) would be a much better choice than the F-35. It is significantly cheaper to purchase and much cheaper to operate and maintain. It can land and take off on a highway, and can even have its engine replaced in an hour in a remote location. It is also more suited to harsh Arctic conditions and can easily be upgraded, since it relies largely on software, not hardware.

In 2016, U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona labelled the American F-35 program a “scandal and a tragedy with respect to cost, schedule and performance.” To say the F-35 failed to deliver on its goals would be an understatement.

Assuming that we need a new fighter plane in the first place, the choice should be obvious. Let’s hope the decision is made on merit, not on politics.

Alan Trufal Toronto

The Arctic is heating up at a rate about twice that of the rest of the world. An opening Northwest Passage leads to vast Arctic mineral resources and shortens global maritime transportation. The United States, China, Russia and others are big geopolitical players in the Arctic. Russia wants to expand its boundary in the Arctic Ocean. Canada seems unconcerned. As one example, in 2012 the Conservative government knee-capped funding for the Polar Environmental Atmospheric Research Lab, which had been monitoring ozone depletion, air quality and climate change in the High Arctic.

Canada should be guided by the Golden Boy statue on top of the Manitoba Legislative Building: The statue is northward-facing.

Reiner Jaakson Oakville, Ont.

Quebec Voices

Re Bill 21 Failed Fatemeh Anvari (Opinion, Dec. 28): Thank you, Aden Seaton, for reminding us that there are many Québécois who oppose Bill 21. Much of Canada is being fed an oversimplified narrative that the dichotomy is between Quebeckers, who support the bill, and those outside Quebec, who are horrified. As a voice on the front lines of this state-sponsored religious discrimination, you are reminding us that there are plenty inside La Belle Province who are just as aghast. Stand tall; there are millions of us who are behind you in your struggle.

Adam Green, Ottawa

Antisocial Media?

Re Mendicino Urges Twitter to Crack Down on Abuse of Health Care Workers (Dec. 29): In responding to a call by Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino to remove a tweet ostensibly threatening the life of Canadian Medical Association president Dr. Katharine Smart and her family, Twitter stated, “We recognize the concerns health practitioners have regarding social media, and we are committed to creating healthy experiences on Twitter.” Further, according to The Globe and Mail, Twitter also claimed in a statement that hate and abuse “have no place on our service” and are against company policy.

Does anyone else consider this a credible response to a threat against the life of Dr. Smart and her family, especially in light of the fact that it took a direct appeal from the Minister of Public Safety to remove the abusive tweet?

Bernie M. Farber, chair, Canadian Anti-Hate Network, Toronto

Twitter’s founder, Jack Dorsey, continuously used the American respect for free speech to justify “engagement by enragement.” Minister Mendicino should expect little better from the new management.

David Collier-Brown North York, Ont.

Farewell to a Legend

Re A Life Devoted to Moral Justice (Dec. 27): Desmond Tutu will be missed. There are many wonderful stories about him and his sense of humour. One of my favourites is about how he responded when asked by an eight-year-old girl why he won the Nobel Prize.

“First, my name is easy to remember; second, I am a fantastic dancer; and third, I have a great pair of legs. They are the only reasons.”

People have got it for less.

Alma Javad, Burlington, Ont.

Like millions, I was sorry to hear of Desmond Tutu’s death. The Globe and Mail, like many, used the word “moral” to describe him. I cannot think of any other current religious leaders for whom the descriptor “moral” spontaneously comes to mind. Shame.

Ray Haythornthwaite, Ottawa

Life and Death Decisions

Re Changes To Assisted Dying Rules Put Psychiatrists In An Impossible Position (Opinion, Dec. 28): Dr. Mark Sinyor and Dr. Ari Zaretsky argue that because there is no scientific definition for “enduring and intolerable suffering,” medical assistance in dying (MAID) should not be available to persons suffering from mental illness. The same test (“enduring and intolerable suffering”) applies equally to those with an incurable physical illness such as cancer. If we adopt their reasoning, no one should be entitled to MAID.

Intolerable suffering is a subjective determination. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees all of us the right to make that determination regarding our own lives. Furthermore, not everyone with a mental illness is incompetent to make such a decision. There is no justifiable reason to deprive competent individuals of their Charter rights by discriminating against them based on disability.

Brian Samuels Vancouver

Cheers to Good Health

Re You Are What You Eat (Letters, Dec. 29): Further to your readers’ comments about Leslie Beck’s nutrition takeaways from 2021, I’m careful to include a particular fermented food in my normal diet. Produced from high-nutrition fruit, it is rich in antioxidants, minerals and vitamins, and has had its impurities filtered out. That food is wine.

Harold Kalman Victoria

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