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Former U.S. president Barack Obama meets Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the APEC Summit in Lima, Peru on Nov. 20, 2016.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

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Oh, Obama

Re Obama’s Trudeau Endorsement Marks A Unique Intrusion – And A Gift For The Grits (Oct. 17): I don’t believe Barack Obama would ask Americans to give Donald Trump a mulligan for his alleged misconduct, as detailed in the Mueller report, and endorse his re-election in 2020. Therefore Mr. Obama should not be endorsing Justin Trudeau, not after the findings put forth by the Ethics Commissioner’s report into the SNC-Lavalin affair.

Samuel D. Hyman Vancouver

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Barack Obama is now a private citizen, albeit one with significant influence and high standing among Canadians. Isn’t it obvious that Mr. Obama, someone who has a long-standing history of supporting progressive values, would favour Mr. Trudeau? While unusual to offer a specific endorsement, could Canadians really have any doubt as to which way he leans?

Frank Malone Aurora, Ont.


Rather than rejecting Barack Obama’s endorsement of Justin Trudeau, Canadians should welcome any encouragement to stick to progressive paths, particularly from a former U.S. president. After all, we share much of our environment with the United States, and Mr. Obama was responsible for increased protections of the air we breathe and the water we drink, despite much opposition.

While the Trudeau government’s record on the environment is modest, it has been more progressive than any predecessor’s. That record is all we’ve got as we face climate change consequences. Implicitly, Mr. Obama’s words feel like a challenge to act better than in the past.

Ila Bossons Toronto


With all of the gravitas these words carry, I say to Barack Obama and any foreign political figure who would seek to influence the Canadian election: Take off, eh!

Dan Brennan Belleville, Ont.

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Fair’s fair. Since Justin Trudeau has been endorsed by Barack Obama, perhaps Andrew Scheer should receive a nod from Donald Trump.

Marty Cutler Toronto

Train of thought

Re Hold Off On Cheering Toronto’s Big Transit News (Oct. 17): Yes, it would be nice to have the province of Ontario pay for new transit expansions in Toronto. It would save city taxpayers a little, and perhaps Mayor John Tory’s reputation as well. But is the recently proposed Ontario Line for the subway really an improvement on the Downtown Relief Line that the city has been studying for years? Do the experts at the Toronto Transit Commission really believe that all the work they have done should be dismissed?

We should let these experts, not the politicians, decide what is best for the city. In the end, Torontonians will all pay for it, whether through municipal or provincial taxes.

Barbara Harrison Toronto


Columnist Marcus Gee writes that Premier Doug Ford’s subway line will end at Ontario Place, “no one’s idea of an obvious mass-transit terminus.” It would make eminent sense if the site were transformed into a Ford casino.

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Douglas Higgins Grafton, Ont.

Gut checked

Re Microbiome Research Needs A Gut Check (Opinion, Oct. 12): I wholeheartedly agree that misinformation and misuse of science is a big problem in today’s society. However, I think it is unwise to suggest scientists “take extra care not to hype their work.”

If scientists are not willing or able to share their work with their peers and the general public, the entire structure of scientific inquiry would fall apart. If scientists don’t “hype their work,” they likely wouldn’t receive support and funding to continue pursuing their research, which means projects potentially leading to influential discoveries get cancelled.

Instead of what amounts to suppressing work, more effort should be made to improve communication between scientists and the public. We should encourage the scientific community to speak louder against the misuse of their findings, and to help stop the spread of misinformation that is beginning to endanger public health.

Hayley McKay Graduate student and science communicator, University of Toronto

A history of violence prevention

Re Mother Of Slain Hamilton Teen Says ‘Everyone’ Failed Her Son (Oct. 10): The death of a 14-year-old boy in front of his school and his mother, and the arrest of two teens on first-degree murder charges in the case, is sad evidence of the prevalence of violence in our society. I tried to do my part in violence prevention over two decades ago.

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In 1996, I helped organize a conference on violence prevention in Hamilton-Wentworth. Students from 25 local high schools met together over two days. They identified the extent of violence and bullying in their schools, what action could be taken and, finally, what specific action they were prepared to take. Rules and discipline against bullying seemed ineffective at the time; perhaps students together could create an environment of mutual support and understanding.

The conference was successful and even brought up in Parliament by then local MP Beth Phinney. But unexpectedly, an Ontario teachers’ strike was declared the next year. Teachers involved in the conference were disappointed – the students could not continue without them, and the ideas to better protect their schools died on the vine.

Ronald Bayne MD, emeritus professor of medicine, McMaster University; Victoria

Lessons learned

Re Why We’ve Learned Nothing From Humboldt (Oct. 11): Columnist Gary Mason shows us we’ve actually learned lots from how various levels of government have handled trucking enforcement after the Humboldt tragedy.

We’ve learned that no matter how many reports and inquiries we conduct, there may always be room for one more. We’ve learned that the law can wait to be enforced while another study might contradict it.

We’ve learned that no matter how pointed the directions to the agencies, boards and commissions who regulate the law, they may be ignored. We’ve learned that the responsible ministers may continue to tell us of their concern, all while there continues to be inaction on promises made.

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We’ve learned that the risk of death and other harms from “sleaze and exploitation” may continue as existing enforcement mechanisms remain inert.

Susan Nabors Calgary

Bearing fruit

Re Slice Of Life (First Person, Oct. 16): I have often wondered why more people don’t make the most of the delicious fruit growing in their gardens.

When we moved to our new house over 50 years ago, it was suggested that we plant a serviceberry tree. As an immigrant from Britain without a drop of prairie blood in her veins, a tree described as having a cloud of white flowers in spring, edible berries in early summer and red leaves in the fall was an easy choice.

Sure enough, the tree lived up to its promise, with the family enjoying many pies made from its fruit over the years. Mom was the chief harvester, along with the local robins, with whom we had a tacit agreement: The top of the tree was for them, the lower branches for us – working together in harmony.

Lyn Robinson Burlington, Ont.

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