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Canada's ambassador to China, John McCallum, arrives to brief members of the Foreign Affairs committee regarding China in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

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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‘I misspoke …’

Re McCallum Apologizes For Comments On Huawei Extradition (Jan. 25): Canada’s ambassador to China, John McCallum, says he “misspoke.” The man who orchestrated the admission of more than 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada in the space of six months claims what he said did not accurately represent his own views.

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Mr. McCallum did not lie when he “misspoke.” He recited three arguments that Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s lawyers may well raise to fight her extradition, and that lawyers for the United States will want to refute. He was not confused, then or when he said he “misspoke.”

Mr. McCallum must think that “misspoke” means saying something true that one’s boss later wants repudiated. This is Liberal English usage.

Patrick Cowan, Toronto

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Rather than being fired for misspeaking, John McCallum should be quietly lauded for his “creative incompetence.” Could he have opined on Meng Wanzhou’s defence out of naivety or stupidity? Certainly. On the other hand, just maybe our top officials seized for themselves a second chance at creative incompetence, asking him to be the fall guy. Either way, there is now another layer of inappropriate political commentary to strengthen Ms. Meng’s extradition defence.

When your supposedly main ally asks you to follow the rule of law for its private battles against a powerful rising autocratic state, but does virtually nothing to help in the resulting kidnap-diplomacy of innocent citizens, one might hope our government is capable of being just a tiny bit Machiavellian. In which case, Mr. McCallum might also be praised for his patriotism – and acting skills.

Mary Ellen Cooke, Winnipeg

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Turmoil in Venezuela

Re In Venezuela, A Fight For The Presidency And The Allegiance Of The Armed Forces (Jan. 25): The best way out of the Venezuela debacle is to hold an election supervised by representatives from the U.S., China, Russia and EU to determine whom Venezuelans want as their leader.

While the Western media tend to highlight the anti-Maduro movement, recognition must also be given to the mass of supporters of the current government.

Ed Bodi, Oakville, Ont.

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The Lima Group, including Canada, has cut diplomatic ties with Nicolas Maduro and recognized an opposition leader as the legitimate interim president of Venezuela. This is precisely the action the International Crisis Group warned against. In a prophetic statement issued in December, 2018, the ICG warned that such a move would remove the channels of communication vital for any mediation efforts by the EU or the UN, greatly increase tensions and violence in Venezuela, and even lead to military intervention by other powers, an option President Donald Trump and the head of the OAS have refused to rule out.

Given the overwhelming evidence of a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, surely the appropriate response should be to call upon the Security Council to intervene. The council has been engaged in the diplomacy to end the 50-year civil war in Columbia, and should play the same constructive role in the present Venezuela crisis.

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The Trudeau government’s actions regarding Venezuela are undermining the very rules-based international order it purports to defend.

Scott Burbidge, Port Williams, N.S.

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Re Trump Backs Venezuela Regime Change (Jan. 24): It seems an appropriate time to resurrect an old, but obviously still relevant, joke.

Question: Why has the United States never had a coup d’état?

Answer: It does not have a U.S. embassy.

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I appreciate that many citizens of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Cuba etc. may not find the joke humorous.

Patrick Doherty, Toronto

Drug expenditures, not prices, should be key

Re Let’s Make This The Year Of Pharmacare (Jan. 19): A discussion on pharmacare is needed, but I was disappointed in your editorial, especially its reliance on the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board.

Both the PMPRB and national negotiation focus narrowly on price, however, a cheap drug policy will mainly provide products that most families can afford, but not the expensive drugs that they need. This approach is strongly opposed by major advocacy groups and ignores the key issue of access to health care.

A focus on universality has neglected the more important principle of comprehensive coverage. Patients should receive appropriate medication which requires access to all drugs.

Drug expenditures, not prices, should be the key issue. Expenditures are a product of price times quantity (utilization). Utilization is the major cost driver. It is also the determinant of quality of care and patient safety. We should not ignore these factors in designing a billion-dollar program.

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There are consequences to a cheap drug policy as shown by the increasing shortage of products that have been driven from the market by public programs. The use of restrictive drug lists to save money will also increase shortages for new drugs in a pharmacare program. Designing a benefit program with drug shortages is inappropriate.

In chronic disease, the best outcomes are achieved by using appropriate therapy as early as possible. Currently, we exclude most new drugs in public programs and delay their acceptance with bureaucratic processes based on drug budgets, not patient care.

Somewhere in this discussion patient input and health concerns need to be given more importance.

John A. Bachynsky, professor emeritus, Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Alberta

The Price of PC politics

Re Hydro One Scraps Planned $4.4-Billion Takeover Of Avista (Report on Business, Jan. 24): So now Ontario’s Hydro One has to pay a US$103-million termination fee and will redeem $1.54-billion of debentures because of this provincial government’s meddling in corporate governance.

Isn’t this why we got rid of Ontario Liberals? Because of gas-plant disasters and similar costly mistakes due to political interference? Interference into the private sector should not be the way of Ontario PCs.

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Marion Kirsh, Thornhill, Ont.

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How ironic that the very person who declared Ontario open for business has become the reason for the failure of this multibillion-dollar merger and the resulting tens of millions of dollars in termination fees against Hydro One.

Morley Brown, Mulmur, Ont.

Hmm …

Re Suddenly Haggis Is Piping Hot ... And Not Just In Scotland (Jan. 25): Hold the lung, liver and other innards. I’m more of a lox and cream cheese guy. With the introduction of the haggis bagel, the Scots may be taking things a schmeer too far.

Farley Helfant, Toronto

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