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Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati joins Ontario Premier Doug Ford during a campaign stop in Niagara Falls on May 20.Tara Walton/The Canadian Press

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Human rights

Re New York State Court To Determine Whether Zoo Elephant Deserves The Rights Of A Person (May 19): I do not know whether to laugh or cry at the irony of New York State deciding whether or not to provide Happy the elephant her right to “bodily liberty” – while legislators across the United States work to deprive women of theirs.

David Bird Fernie, B.C.

Re Beijing’s Disturbing Abortion-rights Reversal (Opinion, May 14): The problem extends beyond China, with population panic being weaponized globally in attacks on reproductive freedom.

In Iran, reproductive rights have been severely curtailed, with stringent limits on the availability of contraception. Countries across Eastern Europe are combining extreme social conservatism with ethno-nationalistic goals, including opposition to immigration and multiculturalism, to justify stringent abortion restrictions.

Strategic ambitions play a part, too: Vladimir Putin has stated that “Russia’s fate … depends on how many children are born in Russian families.” While birth rate fears are far from the primary driver of the anti-abortion movement in the United States, the issue has found its way into the bitter debate on Roe v. Wade.

I believe declining birth rates are an exaggerated and solvable problem. But that shouldn’t even matter: Reproductive freedom should be a fundamental human right, which must never be conditional on political or demographic goals of any kind.

Alistair Currie Head of campaigns and communications, Population Matters; London

New Ford?

Re Introducing The New-model Doug Ford (May 14): Columnist Marcus Gee points out that Doug Ford these days is “more about spending your money than saving it.” It would be more accurate to say he is privatizing public money.

The main beneficiaries of new and proposed provincial expenditures seem to be development companies, owners of private long-term care homes and purveyors of online learning programs.

Perhaps it’s time to revive some old slogans. How about “socialism for the rich,” or “private affluence amid public squalor?”

Julie Beddoes Toronto

A canvasser for the Progressive Conservatives came to our door last week. My wife sent them away. If I had answered, it would have gone more like so.

“Why do you support the Tories? Do you own a two-storey home in the Greater Toronto Area and a lakefront cottage? Vacation in Europe? Have a large stock portfolio? If the answer is yes to all these questions, then the Tories could be the party for you. Otherwise voting PC only hurts you.”

The party talks a great line about being “friends of workers” (but not minimum wage increases or unions), “caring for the environment” (but not green energy projects or carbon pricing), “supporting families” (but not subsidized daycare) and “lowering taxes” (for guess who?).

But, hey, support the PCs because some day one will win the lottery – then be able to answer yes to all those questions.

Dave Hare Dysart et al, Ont.

Re Has Doug Ford Changed Or Have We? (Opinion, May 21): The narrative about Doug Ford is that he has changed from the initial recklessness of his first term to something safer and no longer subject to visceral fear of him.

Surely Mr. Ford’s term was chaotic on key issues, especially on COVID-19 management and the health and education systems. His campaign makes clear to me that he continues to be the same kind of leader who listens mainly to land developers and a narrowly focused business lobby, one that seeks to regain the old economy at the expense of adequate social services, environmental policy and a fair and green transition.

I think I am far from alone in retaining my visceral fear of Mr. Ford and his gang. Ontario desperately should have more creative leadership to fix social services and the environment and drive a new economy. Mr. Ford seems to be obsessively stuck in the past.

Dale Taylor Richmond Hill, Ont.

Two solitudes

Re All Quebeckers Are Victims Of Bill 96′s Overreach (May 11): Bill 96 should be seen as an affront to Canadians, to anglophone and allophone Quebeckers, to francophone Québécois and to the French language.

Never has the French language been stronger or more widely spoken both in English Canada and Quebec. I find the stipulations of the proposed law anti-democratic, unnecessary and open to abuses petty and small.

The way to promote a language should not be to restrict another, but to proudly celebrate it. To François Legault: Do not be small – soyez grand.

Gerard Shkuda Burlington, Ont.

Up in the air

Re Regular Travel, Public-health Measures Can’t Co-exist: Canadian Airports Council (Report on Business, May 18): Last week, we arrived at Toronto Pearson International Airport on a WestJet flight from Aruba.

We waited on the tarmac for about half an hour and disembarked around 9:30 p.m. We had a connecting flight to Ottawa at 11:15. We didn’t make it because all passengers were made to wait in one huge line to get through customs.

Here’s a suggestion: Separate the people who live in the Greater Toronto Area from those with connecting flights, so that there is at least a chance of those passengers making it. We had to wait at the airport until 4 a.m., only to be told that we could not be put on another flight until 8:30 p.m.

Do you think we’re happy travellers?

Beverly and Rick St Jean Prescott, Ont.

Fish eats you

Re McDonald’s Selling Its Russian Business Over Moscow’s Invasion Of Ukraine (Report on Business, May 17): About 20 years ago, I just had to see Moscow: Red Square, the GUM department store and, down the street, the first McDonald’s in Russia, set up by the Canadian arm of the food giant.

I ordered a Filet-o-Fish. The young staff weren’t sure if they had any because hardly anyone ordered it. All the Muscovites already eating their burgers yelled, “Yes! Yes!” encouraging the servers to go find it.

The manager burrowed into the freezer and triumphantly emerged with something covered in frost. “This is it exactly!” she announced triumphantly. Everyone in Moscow seemed to gather around, laughing and giggling, as the fish feast was then cooked and disappeared into my tummy.

It is one of my treasured memories.

Nance Gelber Toronto

Creeping around

Re Shades of Shade: Gardening When There’s Little Sun (May 12): I recoiled in horror when I saw creeping Jenny recommended as a good shade garden plant.

When I first started gardening, I proudly showed my visiting mother my newly planted garden bed. “You paid for that?!” was her response to the cute, bright-green ground cover I had planted. She warned me that it’s a terribly persistent spreader.

I pulled it out. Twelve years later, I still find stems of Jenny creeping around.

Tuula Talvila Ottawa

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