Rhapsody in booze
Re “Reflections on a life of drinking” (Opinion, May 6) The Globe and Mail is replete with competent, logical, well-researched writers, but Mark Kingwell’s wonderful, Shakespearean soliloquy, his mind sparkling still from within his depleted 130-pound body, is art of a whole new level. His courage, his admission of his gradual tumble into the chaos of alcoholism, the suffering of two liver transplants – yes, those are his facts, but their presentation lifts those facts from confession to artistry.
Thank you, Dr. Kingwell.
David E. Kendall Belfountain, Ont.
I thank Mark Kingwell for this gift. You have sculpted with words an exquisite portal toward a deeper understanding of those who struggle.
Sue Gal Richmond Hill
I would like to know how Mark Kingwell qualified for the transplantation of not one but two precious and incredibly difficult-to-obtain livers after a lifetime of drinking. How many more seriously ill and deserving patients who need a new liver because of disease (and not drinking) were bumped down the list?
Carolyn Brady Victoria
As a member of the liver transplant team that introduced the six-month sobriety rule for patients needing liver transplantation, I must comment on Mark Kingwell’s piece.
In the late 1980s, University Hospital in London was Canada’s undisputed leading liver transplant centre. Our scientific research showed that people were less likely to consent to donation if they knew that it was going to someone with alcoholic liver disease, thus decreasing the supply of a scarce resource. Realizing that in the short term, patients with alcoholic liver disease did as well as others, but concerned that using donated livers for patients with alcoholic disease would deprive others of a chance to be cured of lethal diseases, we asked the University of Western Ontario’s ethics board to resolve this conflict of differing obligations to individuals and to society.
Noting that transplant patients invariably die if they do not follow post-transplant regimens of medication and follow-up, they stated that all patients being considered for liver transplant must demonstrate to the team that they could comply with “reasonable medical advice.” We agreed, as a team, that reasonable medical advice was to demonstrate abstinence for at least six months, with or without counselling. That requirement was adopted in many programs across Canada and elsewhere (though apparently it did not apply in Dr. Kingwell’s case). I will leave the discussion of whether or not it is good societal policy to ethicists.
Cameron Ghent MD Kanata, Ont.
Re “Dene language lessons give Indigenous learners of all ages words they didn’t know they needed” (May 6): Jordee Reid’s efforts to learn Denesuline – an Indigenous language last spoken in her family by her grandmother – is a reminder of the profound harm caused by Canada’s so-called assimilation policies of the 19th and 20th centuries, whose true aim was to annihilate Indigenous culture and identity. Her efforts also honour previous generations of Indigenous people who resisted these policies by continuing to speak their language and to practice their traditions.
Ms. Reid’s remembrance, storytelling and participation in learning the language of her grandmother is an inspiring example of her generation’s commitment to the task. It also stands as a beacon on the complicated and difficult path to reconciliation which the rest of us can use to find our way.
Patrick Bendin Ottawa
Re “Ottawa clamps down on China’s critical-minerals foray, but not prospecting” (Report on Business, May 8) Not only can Chinese firms buy Canadian mining claims, they can also stake them – from China. Not long ago staking claims required boots on the (often very remote) ground and actual corner posts. In Ontario, since 2018, anyone with a prospector’s licence (available online) and access to the internet can stake claims.
As Garry Clark, the executive director of the Ontario Prospectors Association, said at the time, the change would make it easier for everyone. Everyone indeed.
Brooks Rapley Toronto
Re “Poll finds Canadians have high trust in scientists, declining confidence in business leaders and journalists” (May 5): While I was not overly surprised by the findings in the Environics poll on the confidence Canadians have in leaders from various public and private arenas, one thing that was notable by its absence was a measure of the trust we have in pollsters. As a retired researcher who remembers the good old days when careful random selection and tracking of participants in surveys provided a measurable level of confidence in the results, today’s pollsters must contend with a population weary of being asked to give their opinions over the phone, e-mail, and via aggravating pop-up boxes on their computers. If I had to guess, I bet that Canadians’ confidence in the results of pollsters is at an all-time low.
Howard Brunt, Professor Emeritus, University of Victoria North Saanich, B.C.
RIP Horace Krever
Re “Justice Horace Krever, known for his unwavering principles, headed two high-profile public inquiries” (Obituary, May 8): One of Horace Krever’s most notable achievements was Ieading the Royal Commission of Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada. His recommendations formed the foundation of what is our blood system today. Almost a quarter-century later Canadians have access to blood and blood products that are safe and a system that is accountable, in large part due to the principles Justice Krever enumerated. Unlike many royal commissions, his interim and final reports did not just collect dust on a shelf. They influenced transformational change here and in many countries around the world. Those changes are still felt today. Canadians, and especially recipients of blood and blood products, owe Horace Krever their gratitude.
Ian Mumford Ottawa
Re “Nursing shift” (Letters, May 11): I wish to correct the contention that Canada is poaching nurses from abroad to fulfill the nation’s shortage of nurses. I have many years of experience working with and being cared for by wonderful nurses from the Philippines who were not recruited to come here because they were nurses. Many had spent years underemployed, working as personal support workers while preparing for licensing examinations. They are often marvelous nurses – caring, competent and empathetic.
Michael Gordon, MD Toronto
Re “King Charles and Queen Camilla crowned in coronation ceremony that included plenty of pomp – and protest” (May 8): Some aspects of the coronation were superb, particularly the music. The inclusivity was inspiring, with a Greek choir, a gospel choir and multiple races and creeds represented, including a prime minister of the Hindu faith. What a wonderful melding of the colonizer and the colonized. But the ceremony itself was a monstrous accretion of mumbo-jumbo, arcane rituals and baubles to impress the plebs. And as for that vulgar gold state coach …
James A. Duthie Nanaimo, B.C.
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