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The Canadian Rockies west of Cochrane, Alta. on June 17, 2021.Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

United nation

Re “To restore unity in Canada, we need to build national understanding” (Opinion, Nov. 18): How refreshing to hear from Joe Clark. His generous and pragmatic conception of the nature of this country is sorely missed.

Canadians enjoy abundance, freedom and security virtually unmatched elsewhere. Yet we seem intent on frittering it away.

Government indecision and incompetence are rampant. Politicians seem to offer nothing but petty-minded demagoguery. Parochialism and divisiveness define our politics.

Where are leaders to encourage us to act as a unified nation? Who will exhort us to meet head-on myriad challenges? I look around, but I can’t see anybody.

Our nation’s future – and self-respect – are on the line. If our leaders won’t hold us to account, then maybe we need to do it ourselves. Perhaps Mr. Clark’s “modest suggestion,” that public-policy organizations convene “constructive discussions,” offers a way forward. Nothing else seems to be working.

Where do I sign up?

Neil Macdonald Toronto


Joe Clark’s thoughtful piece reminds me of a fear expressed by Robert Stanfield as he ended his career.

Mr. Stanfield said political parties, which historically built compromise among disparate Canadians, were being displaced by single-issue groups with no tolerance for compromise. He feared where that would lead us.

Mr. Stanfield was prescient. So what do we do now? Further to Mr. Clark’s experience, could ordinary Canadians, supported by experts who only provide the facts and the pros and cons, come up with sensible compromises to some of our nation’s most pressing issues?

How green, how soon? More immigration, less immigration? Higher deficits, lower deficits? Maybe ordinary Canadians could do that. They certainly couldn’t do worse than Parliament or the uncompromising “activists” who dominate national discussions.

Ian Thompson Halifax

Civil debate

Re “When should protest be considered offside?” (Opinion, Nov. 18): Columnist Marsha Lederman continues to present balanced and thoughtful ideas based on fact and reason. But someone should tell her the days of moderation and respect look over.

This is the era of Donald Trump and Pierre Poilievre, when partisan obscenities are flown on flags. Elsewhere, I hear Justin Trudeau telling Canadians which thoughts or opinions are unacceptable. Debating in a civilized and truthful manner seems over.

On the other hand, having reached the ripe, old age of 60, I find Ms. Lederman’s columns have that warm glow of nostalgia. We can dream of a time when sharing reasonable viewpoints didn’t jeopardize personal safety or job security.

My only question is: Can we go back in time?

Robert McManus Hamilton

Doctor in the house?

Re “Canada needs doctors – so why is the country forcing Canadian physicians into exile?” (Opinion, Nov. 18): I hope our federal and provincial health ministers read this. It points out that applying to medical school in most countries is highly competitive, but applying to Canadian medical schools is even more restrictive, with only about 3,000 positions available a year.

The consequences of this restrictive policy is that many well-qualified applicants have to study abroad. A former dean of medicine at the University of Toronto states that “many Canadian schools could triple their intake with no measurable change in the capability of their graduates.” Yet international graduates still face barriers and red tape in trying to return to Canada, while at the same time we have significant shortages of physicians.

In my opinion, it is time for our health ministers to have the political will and courage to facilitate change, to alleviate physician shortages and strain on the health care system.

Eric Paine London, Ont.


Canada absolutely needs more physicians (and nurses, social workers and myriad other health professionals). But leaving aside whether a “calling” for medicine is sufficient to be guaranteed a residency spot, Canadians studying medicine abroad should be aware of limited domestic residency spots before embarking on training in places such as Ireland or the Caribbean, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Residency programs are a critical part of medical education and need capacity to accommodate all qualified Canadian medical graduates. If training capacity could be increased, it would still be limited by the availability of educators and clinical encounters.

It should be noted that the second round of the residency-matching process is generally open to all applicants. This round is still very competitive, certainly. But having reviewed and interviewed residency applicants who completed MDs outside Canada, I’d suggest that these candidates review match-eligibility criteria more thoroughly.

Joshua Gould MD, FRCPC; Corner Brook, N.L.


Re “New University of Toronto medical school to address shortage of health care professionals in Scarborough” (Report on Business, Nov. 21): The way I see it, $130-million is being spent to help support a small geographic area in Ontario with medical manpower needs.

Are we prepared to put a new medical school in Cornwall, Kawartha Lakes, Manitoulin Island etc.? New medical schools should provide new graduates to all jurisdictions in need, in all of Canada.

Let’s have some rational foresight.

S.J. McMurray MD, FCFP; Brockville, Ont.

Take a pass

Re “Canadian seafood company High Liner cuts ties with supplier following forced-labour investigation” (Nov. 18): I think that no company should import any seafood from China.

China is well documented to be engaging in uncontrolled fishing all over the world. Given the precarious state of many seafood stocks, we should send a message that China’s way of doing business is unacceptable.

I personally never eat seafood that comes from China, whether it is produced by slave labour or not.

Jane McCall Delta, B.C.


Aside from the wrenching issue of forced labour, I lost trust in the safety of any food sourced from China more than a decade ago, after the scandal of infant formula contaminated with melamine.

Consequently, we go to considerable lengths to avoid buying any foodstuffs originating in China. Period.

Paul Thiessen Vancouver


Wiggle room

Re “Wiggly, jiggly goodness: Why gelatin is making its way back on to our plates” (Pursuits, Nov. 18): A favourite family story from 1952: My engineer father was finishing his job in Nigeria and considering his next posting. Canada looked interesting.

A local missionary family, who happened to be Canadian, invited us to a teetotal lunch which featured Kool-Aid and a jellied salad. “If that’s what they eat in Canada, we’re not going,” declared my father.

My mother calmed him down, and a year later we did arrive in Canada. But a jellied salad was never seen on our table.

Anne Moon Victoria

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