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Letters to the Editor Jan. 21: Drug choice – dead vs. bankrupt? Plus other letters to the editor

Stratospheric prices for some drugs are putting huge pressure on some people with rare illnesses.

Srdjan Zivulovic/REUTERS

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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Dead vs. bankrupt

Horizon Pharma has jacked its price for a rare-disease drug to 65 times the original price – a whopping $325,000 a year – for no discernible reason (Drug Maker Is Gouging, Regulator Says – Jan. 18).

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This not the first time: Think Valeant. Nor will it be the last time. When the government grants patents, it grants the company a virtual monopoly. Why then does the government not exact some demands in exchange, such as price controls? Soon the choice for patients will be pain and death – or bankruptcy.

Rick Walker, Toronto

Death-threat diplomacy

So China’s Ambassador to Canada, Lu Shaye, calls the Huawei executive’s arrest a “backstabbing” betrayal. At least we know where the knife was manufactured (China Warns On Huawei, Jan. 18).

Marty Cutler, Toronto

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By law, Huawei and its subsidiaries must assist China’s government with intelligence work. Effectively, this makes Huawei (and all state-owned companies) an arm of the state. Why is Huawei’s involvement in 5G even a debate?

Sam Perlmutter, Halifax

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Why doesn’t China go after the country that wants to prosecute Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou? China’s conflict shouldn’t be with us, it should use its “death threat diplomacy” on the U.S.

Jamie Alley, Victoria

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China’s ambassador to Canada warns of “repercussions” if the company doesn’t feel the love here. Enough already. There’s a chorus of “Huawei, No Way!” growing louder in the world. It’s time for us to join in and pipe up.

Christian Aagaard, Cambridge, Ont.

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Re A Global Schoolyard, Full Of Bullies (Jan. 17): What China has done is inappropriate and counterproductive, however, President Xi Jingping has built the image of a strongman who won’t tolerate Western plots to contain China, hence his anger. Doing any of the things commentators have suggested (the Taiwan card, cancelling visas) will only infuriate him and the Chinese even more.

We cannot avoid China completely, and must still maintain at least a cordial relationship with China afterward to reduce our dependence on the U.S., which has proven itself to be unreliable. Working with a dictatorship won’t turn us into one. We are too alert for that to happen. Therefore, the suggested provocations are just as counterproductive as what China’s government is doing.

Jason Yan, Aurora, Ont.

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Describing China as a Communist dictatorship is rather charitable. I would have called it a totalitarian thugocracy.

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Paul C. Bennett, Richmond Hill, Ont.

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Although your editorial only mentions China and the U.S., its headline refers to a schoolyard “full of bullies.” Which leads me to wonder why you, and the media in general, refer to Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, Mohammed bin Salman, Recep Tayyip Erdogan et al as “strongmen.”

The only way they can be described as strong is in their willingness to use all the power of the state to maintain their positions. “Bullies” doesn’t begin to describe them; strongmen is a misnomer.

Ray Jones, Toronto

Politics and policing

Re Yes, Premier Ford Can Appoint Whomever He Wants As OPP Head – But He Shouldn’t (Jan. 18): This case involving the appointment of the Premier’s friend to run the provincial police presents a signal opportunity for the Lieutenant-Governor to protect the rule of law. A lieutenant-governor, as the Crown’s representative, has a duty to defend the constitutional order. The threat posed by the political direction of the OPP can’t wait for the next election.

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Jean Jacques Blais, Ottawa

Old-book love

Re Who Wants Old Books? No One (First Person, Jan. 18): I sympathize with Frank Daley and his dilemma of finding “good homes” for his books. I, too, have the fantasy that many people will want my books. When I retired three years ago, I did receive a tax credit for the volumes I donated to the library of the university (McMaster) where I taught, but I was still left with more than a thousand books from my office, plus a similar number of titles at home.

It does seem to be that “nobody wants the old stuff.” The problem for the book lover or bibliophile is succinctly captured in a review of Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Angel’s Game published in The Globe and Mail (Saving The Souls Of Books, June 27, 2009): “Every book, every volume has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and the soul of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it.” I must keep my books as long as I can.

Walter Peace, Burlington, Ont.

Not for poor people

Re Ontario Rolls Back Student Aid In Postsecondary Shakeup (Jan. 18): I am dismayed by the reduction in opportunities for low-income families to access postsecondary education. When Doug Ford says “For the People,” who does he mean? Lowering the tuition by 10 per cent does not assist low-income families and sets up unreasonable fiscal challenges for colleges and universities to absorb this reduction in funding when the funding allocation per student is already so low here.

A postsecondary diploma or degree is one of the best ways to move out of the cycle of poverty. Greater supports should be offered to low-income students rather than creating a system that discourages them from pursuing their career dreams.

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Susan Cross, Kingston

Passions on fire

Re Back In The Game (Jan. 17): Stephanie Nolen’s piece brought to mind a particularly memorable evening a few years ago in Patzcuaro in Mexico.

We were in the main square to see a game played on the cobbled street on one side of the square. Police cars were parked at either end to close off the street. Other cars were angle-parked on one side of that part of the street. After a Purepechan ceremony, the game began.

We watched, wide eyed, from the raised sidewalk opposite the parked cars as two teams, using curved wooden sticks, batted a flaming ball, each team apparently trying to prevent the other from reaching an end. If the ball (still flaming) happened to go under a car, it was simply recovered and play continued. As a ball lost its flame, a new one was taken from a bucket of some sort of fuel, lit, and the game continued. It was wild and exciting.

At some point, a shorts-clad young man from Alaska, a hockey player, was allowed to join a team, apparently unconcerned for his bare legs as no one else was wearing any body protection. The play was fast and rough; if the action came too close to our side of the street, we simply backed away from the flying sparks.

Today we learned that that amazing event was a version of ulama.

Janne Burton, Ross Monk; Toronto

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