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Re Banning E-cigarettes Not Enough To Curb Youth Vaping: Study (Nov. 5): Current restrictions on youth vaping seem insufficient to curb use by youth and young adults. Reducing use usually requires more than a single policy intervention.
When I directed Ontario’s Smoke-Free program, we leveraged public education with a range of other measures to reduce smoking among these groups. This took many forms, including an ambitious social-media strategy and partnerships with communities, public-health units, postsecondary institutions and researchers to actively involve youth in both the development and delivery of educational efforts.
Given the complexities of dealing with both tobacco and cannabis, including a lack of clinical research on vaping effects, public education would be a very useful tool for all of us.
Denis Gertler Toronto
Re Adults Only (Letters, Nov. 7): A spokesman for Imperial Tobacco Canada suggests that a ban on vaping flavours would leave adult smokers with only two choices: quit or die. Wouldn’t the third choice be to vape, without flavouring?
Then again, in the end we all die. Altogether, no prize for logic here.
Richard Harris Hamilton
Re Let’s Put An End To Publicly Funded Catholic Schools (Nov. 2): From time immemorial, the primary purpose of education has been literacy and numeracy – not conformity to a prevailing spirit of our age. I suggest that, instead of defunding Catholic schools in Ontario, the province embrace Mayor John Tory’s idea of extending a level of funding to all accredited, independent schools. Provinces such as Alberta and, to a lesser extent, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, already do that.
While it may seem counterintuitive, the practice should cost less in the long run, because per capita costs to educate students are lower in those schools than in the public system, according to the Fraser Institute. It is evident that parents continue to value school choice for their children: Witness the popularity of Catholic schools as well as French Immersion.
We say we’re stronger in Canada because of our multiculturalism. Let’s actually embrace that fully with funding for all.
Barbara Ferrier Guelph, Ont.
As a country, we claim to have separated church and state. Yet, because of an antiquated ruling on education, Ontario Catholic school students who are gay or transgender, or experience a gender crisis, find themselves to be the objects of painful discrimination.
The original rationale for the establishment of a separate school system seems to no longer exist. In fact, many of the students attending Catholic schools are not even Catholic. It is time for all students in Ontario to be united under one fair, tolerant and equitable system. If parents want their children to attend a separate school, then they should pay for it themselves, just as other parents already do when sending their children to non-Catholic religious schools.
Sheryl Danilowitz Toronto
I believe columnist Marcus Gee proves why Catholics needed, and continue to need, a Catholic education system. He writes that “Catholics are no longer an oppressed minority in need of separate schooling." But Catholic education and values seem to be under continuous attack – Mr. Gee’s column a case in point – and defunding them would be an affront to religious freedom and Section 93 of the 1982 Constitution Act.
In Ontario, Catholics account for about 31 per cent of the population – about 4½ million people, more than some provinces – while about 30 per cent of student enrolment is in separate schools. Essentially, the Catholic population is large enough on its own to support the Catholic system. Let’s not put an end to “publicly” funded Catholic schools.
Rod Borstmayer Oakville, Ont.
Why do public influencers denounce the separate-school system so much? Perhaps it is a constant reproach of their conscience? If so, then that alone is reason enough to publicly fund Catholic schools.
Ricardo Di Cecca Burlington, Ont.
The other side
Re The Other Half (Letters, Nov. 5): In writing about the death of glaciers and the beauty of Mont Blanc (Memory Melt, Nov. 1) the last thing I wanted was to offend people such as a letter writer who related the “frictional and scarring” reality of today’s oil and gas workers. I would plead with him to believe that many of the people and organizations pressing so hard for climate action actually care very much about the future of workers and families who still depend upon the fossil-fuel industry for their living. I know that I do.
Gaye Taylor Ottawa
Re Scientists Sign Letter On ‘Climate Emergency’ (Nov. 6): It may well be that when 11,258 scientists from 153 countries send a warning to humankind that we are facing an unprecedented climate emergency, they are merely stating what many of us have come to accept. But until such declarations result in the kind of draconian global responses required, anything less is yet further indication that our species merits renaming – homo stupidus.
Alan Scrivener Cornwall, Ont.
The story should be not how many scientists signed the letter on climate emergency, but how many did not.
It is difficult, without precise definitions, to cite exact figures, but there were about 6.7 million scientists and engineers in the U.S. work force as of 2017, according to the Congressional Research Service. From this we get a crude estimate of 700,000 such professionals in Canada, of which 409 signed the letter – less than one in 1,000 members of our scientific community.
W. J. Heaney Coquitlam, B.C.
Re Why Don’t More Scientists Run For Office? (Nov. 5): Working as a photo editor for a national magazine for 14 years, as well as a photo consultant for the past 13 years, I calculate I’ve been in contact with as many as 200 scientists. Their knowledge, dedication to research and enthusiasm for communicating to a broad, mostly non-scientific audience has always impressed me.
I agree with contributor Mark Lautens that this underrepresented group should be included when political parties seek candidates. How refreshing it would be to see our elected representatives commit to evidence-based decision-making. In case anyone thinks scientists are all introspective bookworms, the majority of the ones I’ve been privileged to work with are extremely personable and very humble, and many displayed a self-deprecating sense of humour – all useful qualities for a second career in politics.
Margaret Williamson St. Stephen, N.B.
Re Conservative Conclusions (Letters, Nov. 7): A letter writer suggests that “terminated” is the best word to describe Andrew Scheer’s current trials and tribulations as Conservative Leader. I disagree, because that implies Mr. Scheer’s response would be, “I’ll be back.”
Ken DeLuca Arnprior, Ont.
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