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People hold a banner during a march to remember those who died during the overdose crisis and to call for a safe supply of illicit drugs on International Overdose Awareness Day, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, August 31, 2021. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is being urged to decriminalize the possession and use of illicit drugs as a way to combat the opioid crisis that has resulted in thousands of deaths in Canada.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl DyckDARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

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Roll with the punches

Re Parents In Canada Rush To Inoculate Children (Nov. 24): When my granddaughter was younger, I was the one who took her for medical appointments. These often included shots.

I developed a technique when she was about 3 to take away the sting. We’d count to three and she would get the needle. At the same time, she would punch me on my arm.

The distraction worked perfectly and she never cried or complained. When she got older, I was the one who experienced the pain – not her!

Michael Alan Gilbert Toronto

Watch the throne

Re Throne Speech Suggests Trudeau Is Eager To Establish His Legacy – And Hang The Consequences (Nov. 25): The housing plan promised in the Throne Speech offers incentives and programs whereby families can ostensibly compete with investors – and thereby dig themselves into a deep financial hole.

The Liberal government seems to be in love with debt. Why should they worry about millions of Canadians being driven into the same predicament?

Steve Harker Kingston


Amid faltering support for the Liberals, who had the lowest popular vote in Canadian history, and the Conservatives, “almost as unpopular as the Liberals and internally divided,” columnist John Ibbitson “speaks to the declining legitimacy of political institutions in this country.” Rather, this seems to speak to the declining legitimacy of the Liberals and Conservatives.

Canada’s political institutions amount to so much more.

Richard Littlemore Vancouver

Canadians in Ukraine

Re Canada Considers Bolstering Military Mission In Ukraine (Nov. 25): With Russian military amassing on the Ukrainian border, the West should wake up to the need for immediate action before, not after, any tanks roll over a sovereign boundary.

Ukraine has captured the attention of the West by demonstrating that the direction of change, though laborious, will not reverse. But without the unified intervention of Western countries – in non-violent action – Ukraine will stand alone, a David in the jaws of Goliath.

First and foremost, the European Union, backed by the United States, should come forward, slingshot in hand.

Sonia Maryn Edmonton


There are “just shy of 100,000 Russian soldiers” massed on the Ukrainian border. Canada has 200 soldiers parked more than 1,000 kilometres away, training already “battle-hardened” Ukrainian troops. The Russians must be trembling at the thought of even more Canadians on their doorstep.

What is wrong with Canada that we can even contemplate such overseas adventures, at the neglect of an endless list of spending needs at home? Why do we repeatedly offer expensive token gestures in hopes of little more than an international pat on the back?

This isn’t “Canada is back.” I find it’s Canada living foolishly.

Wayne Yetman Toronto

Better lives

Re Haitian Migrants In Colombia Stay On A Perilous Path (Nov. 24): I have been thinking about desperation, the kind that leads tens of thousands of South and Central Americans to risk their lives to reach the United States. It’s born of hunger, poor housing and little or no health care and education, all of which we take for granted in Canada despite inadequacies and inequalities.

What the world needs, even more than caring politicians and funding for international development programs, is more empathy. We should feel the pain of Haitians and other migrants who risk their lives to find safety and enough to eat. Maybe then, individually and as a country, we will be moved to take action.

Michael Craig Owen Sound, Ont.

On safe supply

Re First, Do No Harm (Opinion, Nov. 20): We are researchers evaluating British Columbia’s tentative step toward safer supply.

Robust research and reports from the B.C. Coroners Service indicate that contamination of illicit drug supply – not prescription opioids – is the central driver of the province’s overdose crisis. In this context, inaction would continue to cause harm.

Prescriber-based models of “safer supply” offer one option for responding to this desperate situation. Our preliminary findings show that mortality rates among persons receiving safer supply opioid prescriptions are lower than previous studies of people who inject illicit drugs or receive opioid agonist treatment. We should base policy decisions on rigorous evidence, not anecdotes.

Our continuing evaluation (the protocol was published in BMJ Open in June, 2021) makes use of B.C.’s extensive data systems and the experiences of clients and prescribers. We urge our colleagues not to dismiss such interventions before the scientific evidence supporting or disputing it is generated.

Bernie Pauly PhD University of Victoria

Karen Urbanoski PhD University of Victoria

Amanda Slaunwhite PhD University of British Columbia

Bohdan Nosyk PhD Simon Fraser University


Safe supply’s role is to keep patients alive while they continue to navigate life with a supportive care team; I believe it is the patient and their team that is doing the real work.

Medicine should mature its understanding of society as a whole, including how commonly its citizens suffer trauma and proceed to slip through the cracks. Decriminalization and drug-supply regulation are good outside-of-medicine alternatives to contributor Vincent Lam’s conundrum with the prescription of safe supply.

A reminder to my physician colleagues: In the context of historical trauma, we cannot continue to stigmatize our way out of this one.

Alan Chu MD, FRCPC; clinical assistant professor, anesthesiology, perioperative and pain medicine University of Calgary

Farm team

Re Drowned Animals Are Further Evidence Of A Flawed Farming System (Nov. 23): Let’s be real: Urban gardeners and foragers do not feed cities. Farmers feed cities.

In an Amazon world, farmers are a holdover from a way of life where physical labour and duty to protect the land and everything on it was the norm – especially in the face of unprecedented disaster. Luckily for the rest of us, they’ve been up to the challenge.

I live next to a farm. I’ve always said that if there is reincarnation, I want to come back as one of Arnold’s cows.

Anita Smith Down Kingston

So long

Re Jesus Christ Superstar Actor Arrested For Alleged Role In U.S. Capitol Attack (Nov. 25): So Judas was arrested. That takes typecasting to a whole new level.

Sandy Blazier Mississauga


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