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Colonial history

Re “France’s ‘Africa problem’ is Canada’s, too” (Aug. 3): France has long sought to maintain a level of influence on its former West African colonies that Canadians would never dream of tolerating from Britain.

Imagine our dollar indexed directly to the pound and devalued by Britain – as happened to the CFA franc in West and Central Africa – without our democratic consent. Or if Britain continued to benefit from preferential trade agreements with a subservient Canadian government.

Senegal was lauded as one of Africa’s most stable democracies. The current government’s steps to deprive the Senegalese people of political and civil rights are still not receiving international censure, in spite of documented evidence of human-rights abuses, torture and killings.

Perhaps no surprise: With its oil and gas reserves soon to be exploited by the French energy company Total, Senegal is a jewel in the post-colonial crown that France – and the European Union – would dread to lose.

V.C. Letemendia Toronto

Warming to it

Re “Instead of grumbling about Canada’s defence spending, Americans should look in their own backyard” (Aug. 3): Global warming will likely make the Northwest Passage a commercial reality well before 2050, providing a link between Asia and Europe that is 7,000 kilometres shorter than the route through the Panama Canal.

Even though many countries do not recognize it as a Canadian waterway, the key points of access to and from the Atlantic to the Pacific are indisputably in Canadian territory. At the choke point of Resolute Bay, the distance between Devon Island and Somerset Island is only 45 km.

We should spend the money to build a large military base at Resolute Bay. This would establish beyond any doubt that Canada controls the Northwest Passage. In the long run, it would be a financial asset rivalling the Panama and Suez canals.

A muscular presence in the Arctic would not only be a part of our defence needs in view of Russia, but also integral to our economic future.

Larry Muller Trent Lakes, Ont.

Human error

Re “As emissions from wildfires soar, is the best way to protect forests more human intervention?” (Aug. 4): Here in Nova Scotia, the two largest wildfires were most likely ignited by careless human activity.

Early, pro-active action by the provincial government to ban open fires and woodland travel could have prevented this tragedy.

Patrick Whiteway Black Rock, N.S.

Call the doctor

Re “Canada has a doctor shortage. But if governments wanted, we could have a doctor surplus” (Report on Business, Aug. 4): There is ample evidence that family medicine is no longer a calling sought by most graduates of our medical schools. Even the majority of those that choose this residency option do not practice comprehensive care, but rather become emergency room physicians, work in walk-ins or seek employment as hospitalists.

The way to improve this escalating situation would be to make family medicine more attractive to new graduates. In 2005, when I was president of the Ontario College of Family Physicians, we initiated the first networks that quickly became family health teams. Our team at North York General Hospital in Toronto now has 93 physicians working in concert with a host of other providers.

Eighteen years later, only one-third of Ontarians have access to team care. Although I agree that we should make it easier for Canadians who received medical education abroad to return home, I feel that poaching physicians from other countries is unethical and unnecessary.

Val Rachlis MD Toronto

I am reminded of my early days running a rotating internship program at a major Toronto teaching hospital.

I had three spots that were unfunded and I was able to use them for foreign graduates (who, in those days, would have a valid licence at the end of the year). The government felt I was taking in graduates from unacceptable schools. The list of unacceptable schools included, among others, Oxford and Cambridge universities.

I suspect the initial difficulties in licensing foreign doctors were a result of “turf protection” and racism, but were continued because of cost containment and then bureaucratic inertia.

Barry Goldlist Professor of medicine, University of Toronto

Bring in Canadian foreign-trained doctors and allow every Canadian access to a family physician. These doctors have excellent training and they have families and older parents here that need their support.

Also, prioritize and fund family medicine residencies and triple availability. Yes, provincial health care costs would increase, but it should lower expenses for emergency rooms, where so many now find their only way to access medical assistance.

I am lucky to have an excellent family physician, but I wonder what I will do when she retires.

Shelagh Barrington Toronto

Paid up

Re “Canada’s new culture minister will have to tackle tech bullies and copyright reform” (Aug. 2): Praising publishers for their support of authors minimizes the costs that students, researchers and school boards faced before the Copyright Act was modernized in 2012.

Still, millions of postsecondary students in Canada continue to pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars per year for textbooks, while their tuition dollars continue to fill campus libraries and computer systems with new content from Canadian authors every year.

Wasiimah Joomun Acting executive director, Canadian Alliance of Student Associations; Ottawa

Help out

Re “BCE’s CEO calls for government assistance for struggling media sector” (Report on Business, Aug. 4): It should be considered a travesty that BCE is coming to the government for assistance following massive profit losses for its second quarter, pinning the blame on unfair competition from U.S. tech giants.

I suggest that BCE take a peek in the mirror, especially regarding its wireless division. I believe the reason they have lost business in this sector is because of abhorrent customer service, not just this quarter but in years past. Customers have gone elsewhere.

Don’t come to taxpayers for financial assistance, for something the company caused itself.

Paul Robertson Lakeshore, Ont.

Game of chicken

Re “International fare” (Letters, Aug. 4): Commenting on the plight of pork producers, a letter-writer notes that “all of agriculture lives within a global environment.” Yet there is supply management.

Our dairy and poultry industry continues to be shielded from global competition and effectively subsidized by Canadian consumers. Even with our escalating food prices, politicians in all major parties refuse to take this on.

In Canada, I see supply management as the real pork barrel – but it doesn’t apply to pork.

Tom MacDonald Ottawa

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