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Iranian demonstrators react during a protest against the killing of the Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force, and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who were killed in an air strike at Baghdad airport, in front of United Nations office in Tehran, Iran on Jan. 3, 2020.

Wana News Agency/Reuters

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The U.S. and Iran

Re U.S. Air Strike Kills Senior Iranian General (Jan. 3): In the past, a headline such as “U.S. air strike kills senior Iranian general“ would have had me thinking about its geopolitical implications. But these days I find myself more concerned about how the news will play to Donald Trump’s base. I imagine he will claim this assassination as his, and say that only he had the nerve to do it – all with a view not for what this means for the world, but for the U.S. election in November.

What sad, cynical times these are: Welcome to the twenties. Let’s hope we survive them.

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Nigel Brachi Edmonton


Let’s see: an impending U.S. election, drone strikes, more troops being sent to the Middle East and escalating tensions with Iran. Anyone remember Wag The Dog, the 1997 Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman film in which a war is manufactured to boost the approval ratings of a beleaguered president?

Ray Arnold Richmond, B.C.

Australia and climate change

Re Mourning A Disappearing World (Opinion, Jan. 4): As a pediatric ICU doctor, I never thought that when I told a family the cause of their child’s death, their first comment would be about the weather. Nor did I ever think I would repeatedly see children stranded in hospital because their communities are displaced from unprecedented flooding. I never thought I would be able to see the effects of climate change in my routine practice. ICU sees the tip of the iceberg; surely as a society we would act before it would get to this point.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. Climate change directly and indirectly deleteriously affects human health, and the prevention of these illnesses lies far out of the reach of medicine.

As I watch the coverage of the fires raging in Australia, I am disappointed by the majority of media coverage – few mention climate change – with some exceptions such as The Globe and Mail. Reporting on wildfires or other relevant natural disasters without commenting on the cause feels incomplete and too commonplace. Would there be discussions about a mass shooting without mention of the gun lobby?

More complete reporting would help keep our governments accountable and may help motivate the expansive legislative changes needed to counter this issue, and that leaves no one behind. Until then, I’ll keep tending to my iceberg and hope, in a strange twist of irony, that it doesn’t keep expanding.

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Anna Gunz MD, London, Ont.

Conservatives and conservatism

Re A Conservative Fix? It’s Not Complicated (Editorial, Jan. 3): As the Conservative Party of Canada looks for strategies to “reconfigure its identity” in order to win over Liberal voters, it should be clear-eyed about an immutable law of branding: Change takes time, resources and consistency.

Conservative strategists lack the first if the minority government falls in a few years. A brand described by voters as old, traditional and closed requires more than a cosmetic fix. These character traits run deep, and only bold policies and actions can signal change.

Hopefully the next leader will have strong name recognition. This person may embody a progressive conservative vision for Canada, but unless it’s authentically delivered, the platform may be dismissed as a new look with the same taste.

Strategists should also rethink the party’s addiction to attack ads – the ones that painted Stéphane Dion as not a leader, Michael Ignatieff as only visiting and Justin Trudeau as not ready and not as advertised. They may hurt the opponent, but they do little to build one’s brand.

Conservatives should focus instead on redefining their core beliefs – or else their competitors will do it for them, as was amply demonstrated during the last election campaign.

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Éric Blais Toronto


Is it the role of a political party such as the Conservatives to adopt policy that will get it elected? Or is it rather to propose policy that, in the party’s belief, is correct and try to demonstrate why these are the best policies?

Other parties have long held to policies they believe in, without hope (at least in the near term) of forming government. Would the NDP be advised to abandon its traditional support of unions or its position on corporate tax to gain more seats? Would the Green Party be recommended to adopt policy that accommodates coal-fired electricity generation? Should the Bloc Québécois try appealing to vote-rich Ontario?

Perhaps the next Conservative leader should consider which is more important: following your conscience or forming government? Perhaps all political leaders should choose conscience over policy. Hypocrisy, once exposed, is not an attractive leadership attribute.

Stuart McRae Toronto

Less fast and less furious

Re IndyCar Walks Away From Pocono Raceway – And Its Troubled Legacy (Sports, Dec. 31) and The Patent Race To Make Auto Racing Safer: Money, Ideas And Scribbles On Napkins (Online, Dec. 30): Reporter Grant Robertson notes that IndyCars are racing at nearly 85 kilometres an hour faster than when the Pocono Raceway was opened in 1971. One way to make auto racing safer would be to limit speeds by putting stricter limits on engine displacement. However, in 2022, IndyCar will increase displacement from 2.2 litres to 2.4 L, along with a substantial increase in horsepower.

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Another way would be to place different requirements for different tracks, which already happens to some extent. For example, turbocharging could be prohibited on unusually dangerous raceways. These approaches do not require any special innovations or patent licensing. What makes motor racing exciting is the competitiveness of the race and the skill of the drivers, with all cars operating under the same technical rules.

Bruce Couchman Ottawa

Ice and fire

Re Canada’s First Artificial Ice Rink Opens (Moment In Time, Dec. 20): This writer witnessed the dramatic fire that consumed the Patrick family’s ice facility in Vancouver in 1936.

The night before it burned down, the arena was used for a big boxing match featuring noted pugilist Max Baer. The morning of the fire, my mother took me, as a four-year-old, and put my head out the living room window to see the flames and smoke just two blocks away. The fire was fierce enough to be seen from Victoria to the west and Gibsons Landing up the coast.

My father ran through the fire lines and brought two elderly ladies from the boathouses near the ice rink to safety. My father then took two buckets to my great aunt’s boathouse, jumped in the harbour and threw water on her home, saving it from being consumed by the flames. This story of my father’s actions was a front-page story in the Vancouver Sun the next day.

Patrick Duffy North Vancouver

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