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Donald Barry of Calgary says that 'if Jason Kenney [seen here on Nov. 15, 2019] has nothing to hide, he should guarantee the election commissioner’s investigation will reach its conclusion.'

JASON FRANSON/The Canadian Press

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A drop in the oil sands

Re Alberta Election Commissioner Removed Amid Probe Into UCP (Nov. 19): The Alberta government has announced that it will cancel the contract of the province’s election commissioner, with no guarantee that his investigation of the United Conservative Party’s 2017 leadership campaign will continue. Finance Minister Travis Toews’s claims of government efficiency seem implausible.

The savings of $1-million over five years is minuscule, especially when one considers that Alberta is spending $30-million on a war room to take on oil sands opponents, $2.5-million on an independent commissioner to investigate the finances of environmental groups and $650,000 on a "fair deal” panel. The purpose of all three is deeply political.

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If Jason Kenney has nothing to hide, he should guarantee the election commissioner’s investigation will reach its conclusion. Otherwise, there may be a permanent cloud over him, his government and his party.

Donald Barry Calgary

Wait a minute

Re Via, Infrastructure Bank Look To Hire Engineering Team For New Quebec City-Toronto Line (Report on Business, Nov. 19): A feature of a proposed $4-billion to $6-billion dedicated passenger rail line will be that trains could “travel as fast as 177 kilometres an hour.” Last month, I was on a train in China which reached a speed of 305 km/h.

If we are to spend billions on a train line, it makes no sense to aim for maximum speeds attained last century, when technology now exists to make much higher speeds possible.

Peter Deslauriers Montreal

Health care in the world

Re Lawyer Compares B.C. Health-care Act Challenge To Past Constitutional Cases (Nov. 19): Clinics such as Brian Day’s Cambie Surgical Centre specialize in quick, relatively simple procedures in order, I believe, to maximize profit. But a key question I have not heard Dr. Day address is this: If postoperative complications arise, where does the patient go to get treatment? I’m fairly sure the answer is that they go into the public system. If that’s the case, then this is an instance of privatizing the profit and socializing the costs.

How ethical is that? Shouldn’t private clinics be responsible for dealing with any problems that arise from their activities?

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James Duthie Nanaimo, B.C.


Re All For One? (Letters, Nov. 18): A letter-writer extols the virtues of the French health-care system. As in virtually every developed country, France has both public and private health care for patients. What are we to emulate from the French experience? Certainly not monopolistic government-run health care.

I believe it is time for a rational, non-politicized discussion about the shortcomings of publicly funded health care in Canada and the solutions to those deficiencies. Private care may not be the answer, but excessive wait times must be addressed.

James Waddell MD, FRCSC; Toronto


I am in a unique position because I have experienced health care in four countries in the past 50 years. The winner: France.

We lived there for most of the 1970s and 1980s, and my family doctor’s office was in an 18th-century villa overlooking the Bois de Boulogne. Cost for an office visit: not one sou.

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We lived in Britain in the early 1970s. There were long waits in decrepit buildings. At least I spent a lot of time looking out the window where Sir Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin on Praed Street in London.

We have also lived in the United States for 20 years. Visits to family physicians were the same day and specialists in a week. The downside was hours and hours putting in claims and wrangling with insurers.

We kept U.S. health insurance when moving to Ontario. (Wouldn’t you?) In 2012, I was told the wait time for a hip replacement was two years. But after calling a renowned surgeon in Washington, I was on the operating table five weeks later. He also told me that the degeneration in my hip was so bad that it was broken. Thank God for U.S. health insurance – if you can afford it.

Canada was great when we lived in Ottawa for parts of the 1970s and 1980s. Today in the Niagara Health System? I would use the word pathetic.

If one has health problems and is considering a move to Niagara, I would say: Don’t.

Elizabeth Masson Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

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Vaping rules? Part 1

Re Time To Treat E-cigarettes Like Cigarettes (Editorial, Nov. 18): I agree that cigarettes are massively more hazardous than vaping. But The Globe’s editorial also states that "the market for a product designed solely to reduce the health risks associated with nicotine addiction would be small, and have limited growth potential.” Say what?

Our world has more than one billion cigarette smokers and six million of them die each year, according to the World Health Organization and the U.S. National Cancer Institute. This is a public-health catastrophe, but also an extraordinary opportunity to use rational regulatory policies to put cigarettes at a marketplace disadvantage.

We can leverage disruptive technology to empower consumers to make better health decisions, protect youth and ultimately relegate cigarettes to history’s ashtray. I believe we will not get there by protecting them from competition, but by shaping market forces through truthful information and the incentives to act on it.

Vaping regulations should be directed at achieving these societal goals.

David Sweanor Chair of the advisory board, Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics at the University of Ottawa

I see that youth are vaping to address specific social needs: creating a sense of belonging with a community of peers, for example, or managing difficult emotions such as anxiety and loneliness. Many perceive vaping as safe; the unforeseen consequences of vaping as harm reduction for adults may be that young people now rationalize their use based on this information. They also seem ambivalent about the addictive quality of nicotine that remains inherent in vaping.

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Socially engaged school curriculum on these issues is urgently needed.

Anne Languedoc Squamish, B.C.


The horse has long since left the barn, but it’s too bad “nicotine-laced vapours” weren’t restricted to prescriptions for cigarette smokers who want to quit.

Teens and hipsters would probably still vape to be cool and to get high, but maybe – without the addiction factor – not as much. And perhaps it would sink in that flavours such as bubblegum and gummy bear are pretty lame.

Debbie McKeil Burtts Corner, N.B.

Your husband, woof

Re My Husband Dresses Like A Slob. How Do I Improve His Fashion Sense? (Nov. 19): Columnist David Eddie advises a reader to re-educate her surly, slovenly husband using stealthy dog training methods. Why is it up to her to change his bad behaviour?

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She should leave him in his kennel when she goes out with friends. If she’s concerned about getting home late, she can leave some extra kibble and water.

Lindy Williams Ottawa


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