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Ban 'em all?
Re Ottawa To Outlaw Assault-style Weapons (April 30): This ban is important because I believe it represents a powerful Canadian cultural belief. It makes a collective categorical statement about our attitude toward guns.
Strategies to eliminate these weapons will be challenged and even ignored. But a culture of strong gun control should be further built upon to forever eliminate this scourge from society.
Nigel Smith Toronto
Banning assault weapons should come as a great relief to the majority of Canadians, who have witnessed far too many mass shootings. One does wonder why it’s taken more than 30 years, but at least it has now been done.
But I believe there’s more to do, given that handguns account for the majority of shootings in Canada. Will our politicians have the stomach for taking another step, and dealing with the howls of outrage from the gun lobby? Let’s hope we don’t have to wait 30 more years for a handgun ban.
Steve Soloman Toronto
Justice is Zoomed
Re Shift In Ontario Courts To Remote Work Should Continue After Pandemic, Judicial Leaders Say (April 28): In pursuing technology to enable virtual courts, I worry about the risk of hearings going private. Permitting electronic document-filing is a no-brainer. But hearings before judges in open courts are different. They have been a linchpin of our freedoms since the Magna Carta in 1215 (and the even more important Provisions of Oxford in 1258).
Before high-tech processes in courts are implemented, governments should ensure that access is easily available for free to the public and the press. Not every citizen has a computer, smartphone or an internet connection.
We should never forget that autocracies love closed courts.
Michael Robinson Toronto
We can do it?
Re The Air May Be Clear, But Economic Shutdown Won’t Save The Climate (Opinion, April 25): Columnist Doug Saunders has finally helped me “get it” on the climate issue, telling us that while COVID-19 is likely to cause a 5-per-cent drop in global carbon output, it would require annual reductions of 7.6 per cent for a decade to meet Paris climate accord targets.
Clearly there is a major task ahead of us and I, for one, doubt we will achieve it without further pushing from outside forces greater than us. With a concomitant drop in standards of living and pleasures in life, I simply don’t believe we as a race will succeed in this endeavour.
Penelope Hedges Vancouver
Re Health Care Lessons From The Pandemic (Editorial, April 25): Last year, The Globe’s Kelly Grant reported that Ontario would be “scrapping premiums paid to physicians who perform house calls, unless the patients are frail and elderly or housebound, for a savings of $18.5-million” (Ontario Unveils 11 Changes To Provincial Health Coverage – Aug. 23, 2019). So how, as The Globe’s editorial suggests, are doctors expected to reinvent house calls?
My husband has practised family medicine for 44 years, making many house calls until assorted governments chipped away at the service. Today, he and other Ontario doctors face familiar delaying tactics on payments for virtual consultations, despite being told that, for the first time ever, they would be able to bill OHIP for this service. Still, to continue serving his patients during this crisis, my husband speaks by phone, every day, to 25 to 30 people about their health concerns.
This attitude from the government and, it seems, The Globe’s editorial board, feels ridiculous and unkind. It suggests family doctors aren’t willing to adopt new practice models. I would suggest they are doing their share and more.
This can create an ever-widening gap of distrust from family doctors, with a dollop of insult.
Rhonda Katz Toronto
Re The Blowback Of AIMCo’s Gamble With Market Volatility (Report on Business, April 29): This article illustrates the importance of liability-driven investing and stress testing for pension plans.
In addition to transparency for stakeholders, a pension plan should have significant surplus assets if it is engaged in high-risk strategies. Otherwise, incremental returns can lead to either unwarranted improvements in benefits, inadequate contributions to the plan or both. And then there’s the inevitable black swan event that puts everything at risk!
Bryce Walker FCIA, CFA, past chair, Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan; Waterloo, Ont.
Pension funds are money held in trust to be available when seniors need it. Pension-fund operators should not be chasing high yields because it normally is a result of high risk – not what seniors need.
There used to be stricter rules about the kinds of investments that pension funds could make. But people complained that pension funds were not making the kind of money other funds were, so rules were relaxed. Bottom line: AIMCo’s fiasco did not just happen. It resulted from decisions that assumed pension investments did not have to be as prudent, because things would probably be okay. Which seemed fine until it turned out not to be.
Have we learned anything from this? Have we learned that pension money should be invested – not gambled – with a superabundance of safety, even though this necessarily rules out top returns? I doubt it.
Michael Moore Toronto
Re Better Off (Letters, April 24): A letter writer laments the performance of his RRIF compared with the 3.4-per-cent loss on total assets incurred by AIMCo. This seems to miss the point.
What should matter is that the retirement savings of Albertans has dropped by $4-billion while an investment bank is now $4-billion richer. A loss of this magnitude betrays a complete misunderstanding of the risks involved in complex trading strategies, which are ill-suited to retirement assets.
I believe senior management either did not know this was happening or they didn’t understand the risks. Either way, heads should roll.
Jeremy Klein CFA, chief investment officer, Edison Asset Management Corp.; Ottawa
Touch and go
Re Learning To Cope With The Absence Of Touch (April 27): Neuroscientific accounts of electrochemical processes in biological structures may be of considerable interest to some, but they say nothing about our need, as humans, for compassion. When the present crisis passes, we should examine how our social norms facilitate or hinder satisfaction of that need. Discussions of cortisol level will not, I suggest, contribute usefully to the debate.
Leslie Buck Vancouver
Just like us
Re What Do We Want From Celebrities During COVID? (April 29): Nothing. Stay home and wash their hands.
Robert Milan Victoria
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: firstname.lastname@example.org