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NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq rises in the House of Commons, in Ottawa on May 13, 2021.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

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Common experience

Re MP Says She Found House An ‘Uneasy Place’ (June 17): First Jody Wilson-Raybould and now Mumilaaq Qaqqaq: two female Indigenous MPs who came to Parliament with great hopes of making a positive difference for their people.

What’s going on? So very sad. Two lost opportunities. Parliament, with all its resources, should be a nurturing place where one can attain their dreams – not a place of torment – and where such diversity and influence is desperately needed.

John Pringle Victoria

By the numbers

Re The Timmins Tag Team (June 12): There were two sentences in this article that resonated with me: “These are otherwise young, healthy people. Their only health problem is their substance-use disorder.” We as a society allowed 31 people in a city of 45,000 to die from a substance-use disorder.

I would like to submit some other numbers for consideration (from 2017, the most recent year for which I was able to obtain data). Drug overdose deaths in Canada: 4,105. Drug overdose deaths in Portugal: 51. Adjusting for population size, the equivalent number of drug overdose deaths in Portugal would have been 186. If Timmins was the size of Portugal, there would have been 6,975 deaths of otherwise healthy people.

It is beyond infuriating that our governments’ inactions are allowing so many unnecessary deaths to occur, especially when a proven set of policies are available that could be adopted to keep these people alive.

Michael Boissevain PhD, Victoria


Re I, Spy (Opinion, June 12): As one who was both a consumer of intelligence and senior player in the oversight of CSIS and the RCMP, I welcome this balanced analysis of a complex issue. One question to closely be examined is the quality and usefulness of the extremely expensive product which human intelligence-gathering yields.

Trying to persuade someone to betray their country out of greed, fear or lust, for that is what we’re discussing here, is a messy business, and the information it produces is often unreliable. The only successful human intelligence campaign of the Second World War was that carried out by the Soviet Union against Britain and the United States. The Cold War and subsequent experience provides little evidence our track record has improved.

The collection of foreign human intelligence by legal means is the work of a professional diplomatic service. The distinctive characteristic of a foreign human intelligence service is that it operates illegally. Experience shows the oversight necessary to control such clandestine activities can be difficult to sustain.

We should proceed with great care on this subject if we are to avoid a monumental, costly policy blunder.

J.S. Stanford Former associate undersecretary, External Affairs; former deputy solicitor-general; Ottawa

Fish tales

Re Something Fishy (Opinion, June 12): In the debate over fish pain, I find that the evidence falls firmly on the side of fish.

In one compelling study, zebrafish injected with acid were willing to pay a cost (swimming into a dangerous area) to receive a painkiller, whereas those injected with benign saline stayed put. A 2016 article titled “Why fish do not feel pain,” published in the journal Animal Sentience, generated more than 40 responses from scholars, practically all rebuttals. Given that fish demonstrate tool use, face recognition, mental mapping, virtue, problem-solving, planning, collaboration and learning by observation, to name but a few skills, should we be surprised that they have basic capacity for pain and suffering?

Such questions may soon become moot. More than a dozen new companies – funded by hundreds of millions of dollars – are developing and producing both plant-based and cultured (lab-grown) seafood products, from shrimp to sushi.

Jonathan Balcombe Biologist; author, What a Fish Knows; Belleville, Ont.

Glad to hear there’s new impetus to do away with the practice of catch-and-release. I’ve never understood its rationale nor believed that it is as benign as claimed, and nothing in this article convinces me otherwise.

As for the long history of catch-and-release, why would that be an argument in its favour? The only thing it seems to demonstrate is human penchant for dominating our environment, rather than living in harmony.

It was, however, good to see a discussion of the devastating impact of many commercial fisheries; we need more awareness of the importance of making careful choices when buying fish.

Nancy McFadden Calgary

I abhor any and all so-called sports that involve animals, unless the animal involved has given written permission. In his defence of fly fishers, contributor Mark Hume writes that “it’s a way of finding their place in nature.” But what about the place in nature sought by the prey?

In my opinion, it is immoral to seek pleasure at the expense of others.

Ken Pattern Vancouver

I have often felt that instead of “catch-and-release,” this method of fishing should be called “catch, torture and release to die.” I could never understand why it has been considered an acceptable practice.

A good day on the water for many sport fishers is catching and letting go fish after fish, knowing full well that many of them are not going to live to be caught another day. In fishing derbies, where the biggest fish is the one to keep in hopes of winning a prize, they are caught and thrown back in favour of bigger. How can this possibly be good for the conservation of declining fish stock?

The consequences of this type of fishing should be addressed before the fish population collapses.

Yvonne Andre Campbell River, B.C.

I read this article with pleasure. I have always considered catch-and-release repugnant. If one doesn’t want to eat fish, do not go fishing. If one wants to maintain fish stocks, do not go fishing.

To think that fish are supposed to not feel pain seems foolish when I see them struggle on hooks. Imagine the outcry if this cruelty were inflicted on dogs or cats.

I have caught and eaten a lot of fish in my time, and plan to continue doing so. But I do my best to make the end for the fish as quick and painless as possible.

Chas Low Victoria

Wonder how we sports-fishing enthusiasts would feel if a horse decided to drag us on our backs in the forest just for fun and “horsing around?” I am sure he would feel good knowing he let us live (for the next time) after having his fun for the day.

Kadir John Hussein Oakville, Ont.

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