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Much of Canada's power rests in the hands of Justin Trudeau and the Prime Minister's Office.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

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Power of the PM

I have long been troubled by flaws in our Canadian democratic process. Doug Saunders’s column clearly defines this problem: Too much power and control are vested in the prime minister-led inner political circle (The Overpowering PM: It’s Time To Give Authority Back To Canadian MPs, March 9).

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The prime minister holds near dictatorial control at all levels: for nominations, MPs, House of Commons committees, cabinet ministers, and so on. So be slavishly obedient, or you could lose your job.

How does Canada compare with other parliamentary democracies? It ranks at the top end for prime ministerial power, as Mr. Saunders points out. Justin Trudeau talks about happy dialogue and a sharing of beliefs and thoughts, but apparently they’re only valid when they match his own.

Mr. Trudeau came to power exuding a new way; the electorate was excited to expect a better way. What a disappointment.

John Jennings, Burlington, Ont.


Mr. Saunders suggests that it would be good if our MPs were given back their authority. A good idea, but not a feasible one. No prime minister, of any party, will willingly surrender their almost absolute power. MPs will not be given back their authority – they must take it. Alternatively, they can continue to be mindless robots voting as instructed and cheering on demand. Australia has demonstrated a better way. What’s lacking so far is the will.

Phil Ford, Ottawa

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Jody’s law

Re Severity Of SNC Allegations Likely Why Settlement Denied, Minister Says (March 11):

The SNC-Lavalin affair highlights the need for a new law which prohibits corporations or their representatives from meeting with or lobbying any elected or government official with respect to any criminal proceeding.

In this case, SNC’s lobbying of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Privy Council Office to receive a deferred prosecution agreement would be illegal. I propose calling this law Jody’s Law, named for former attorney-general Jody Wilson-Raybould.

Gordon Birnie, Stouffville, Ont.

Doctors speak up

Re Gun Lobby Fights Doctors Advocating For Firearms Restrictions (March 8):

As a family doctor, I am on the front lines of caring for patients who experience things that contribute to violence – poverty, oppression, social exclusion, sexism, racial tension, mental health crises, parenting challenges, disorders of alcohol abuse, and more. Other physicians rescue patients at the end points of gun violence – trauma, disability, psychological destruction, community devastation, and death.

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It is at the heart of our principles as doctors to meaningfully address all of these problems. Attempts to silence us would be a threat to the compassionate voice of health education, preventative care, medical expertise, clinical experience, and the duty to speak for those who can’t address the broad issues of firearm violence, but who are destined to die at the end of a smoking gun. Gun violence is a public health issue, and advocacy is one of our core responsibilities.

Sabrina Akhtar, MD, Toronto

Team player

An aging, underproducing NHL player, earning US$6-million a year, decides to try to earn his pay by fighting more often. For this, Boston Bruins forward David Backes and his team are told by David Shoalts that they should be ashamed of themselves (Bruins’ Old-School Mentality Needs To End, March 9).

If old-school hockey is shameful, why do fans appreciate fights and why do players on both teams salute the participants by banging their sticks on the boards? Are they all too dumb to know better?

Well, Mr. Backes himself, as Mr. Shoalts acknowledges, is “not a one-dimensional intellectually dim athlete.” Indeed he was an academic All-American and has a degree in applied organizational studies. Now he’s a Bruin with brains and brawn, and the courage and honour to take one for the team as needed. No shame in that.

Rudy Buller, Toronto

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Stand up to China

Re Canada Must Develop A Backbone In Its Dealings With China (March 9):

Right on Charles Burton. He is absolutely correct in pointing out how Canada, and more specifically our current government in Ottawa, has totally mishandled its response to China’s recent actions in the Huawei affair (Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case).

Mr. Burton has cited specific examples of China’s refusal to follow international standards of behaviour. As well, China’s mistreatment of three Canadians, while Ms. Meng is allowed almost free rein in Vancouver under supervision, clearly shows reciprocity with respect to rule of law is not in their DNA.

Dictatorships such as China only understand and respect countries that stand up to bullies. Pussyfooting around with China only empowers the regime to keep up its tactics of intimidation.

Roman Zakaluzny, Calgary

Senior shopping moments

I enjoyed Ian Brown’s account of his first Seniors’ Day shopping trip, particularly his exchange with the young cashier about proof of age (Golden Age, March 9).

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It reminded me of my own experience after just turning 65. I had purchased about $200 worth of plants at the local nursery and knew that they offered a 10-per-cent senior discount. But not wanting to assert my new-found status by demanding the discount, I meekly asked the teeny bopper cashier who was totalling up my bill, “Do you have a senior discount here?” I was somewhat taken aback when she quickly replied, “I’ve already included it.”

Ken Dixon, Toronto


While we are honoured to have Mr. Brown join us in the Golden Age, we are shocked that the illustration accompanying his story is a smiling face on a plastic shopping bag. Those of us who have reached his age were born in the days of paper shopping bags and continue to avoid plastic bags whenever we can. Indeed, a truly Golden Age would begin the day that the world eliminated single-use plastic bags.

Allan Q. Shipley, Parksville, B.C.


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Mr. Brown wrote a comprehensive review of the benefits of shopping on Seniors’ Day. As a senior of a decade’s standing, however, I feel he missed one important feature: The music choices played in the stores on Thursdays are invariably a collection of anthems from my misspent youth.

There’s nothing quite like hearing Purple Haze, (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction or My Generation over the sound system to take the edge off shopping for the many lotions, potions, pills and devices that summon depressing intimations of impending mortality.

Brian P. Anthony, Toronto

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